Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 November 14, 2015: Second Democratic Candidates Debate in Des Moines, Iowa Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Democratic Candidates Debate in Des Moines, Iowa
November 14, 2015

Source: UCSB, The American Presidency Project 

PARTICIPANTS:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton;
Former Governor Martin O’Malley (MD);
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT);
MODERATORS:
Nancy Cordes (CBS News);
Kevin Cooney (CBS News);
John Dickerson (CBS News); and
Kathie Obradovich (The Des Moines Register)

DICKERSON: Before we start the debate here are the rules. The candidates have one minute to respond to our questions and 30 seconds to respond to our follow-up. Any candidate who is attacked by another candidate gets 30 seconds for rebuttal. Here’s how we’ll keep time, after a question is asked the green light goes on. When there are 15 seconds left the candidate gets a yellow warning light.

And when time’s up the light turns red. That means stop talking. [laughter] Those are the rules. So let’s get started. You will each have one minute for an opening statement to share your thoughts about the attacks in your Paris and lay out your visions for America. First, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Well, John, let me concur with you and with all Americans who are shocked and disgusted by what we saw in Paris yesterday.

Together, leading the world, this country will rid our planet of this barbarous organization called ISIS.

I’m running for president, because as I go around this nation, I talk to a lot of people. And what I hear is people’s concern that the economy we have is a rigged economy. People are working longer hours for lower wages, and almost all of the new income and wealth goes to the top one percent.

And then on top of that, we’ve got a corrupt campaign finance system in which millionaires and billionaires are pouring huge sums of money into super PACS heavily influencing the political process.

What my campaign is about is a political revolution — millions of people standing up and saying, enough is enough. Our government belongs to all of us, and not just the hand full of billionaires.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Sanders.

Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, our prayers are with the people of France tonight, but that is not enough. We need to have a resolve that will bring the world together to root out the kind of radical jihadist ideology that motivates organizations like ISIS, a barbaric, ruthless, violent jihadist terrorist group.

This election is not only about electing a president. It’s also about choosing our next commander-in-chief. And I will be laying out in detail, what I think we need to do with our friends and allies in Europe and elsewhere to do a better job of coordinating efforts against the scourge of terrorism. Our country deserves no less, because all of the other issues we want to deal with depend upon us being secure and strong.

DICKERSON: Governor O’Malley.

O’MALLEY: My heart, like all of us in this room, John, and all the people across our country, my hearts go out to the people of France in this moment of loss. Parents, and sons, and daughters and family members, and as our hearts go out to them and as our prayers go out to them, we must remember this, that this isn’t the new face of conflict and warfare, not in the 20th century but the new face of conflict and warfare in the 21st century.

And there is no nation on the planet better able to adapt to this change than our nation. We must able to work collaboratively with others. We must anticipate these threats before they happen. This is the new sort of challenge, the new sort of threat that does, in fact, require new thinking, fresh approaches and new leadership.

As a former mayor and a former governor, there was never a single day, John, when I went to bed or woke up without realizing that this could happen in our own country. We have a lot of work to do, to better prepare our nation and to better lead this world into this new century.

DICKERSON: All right, thank you, Governor. Thank all of you.

The terror attacks last night underscore biggest challenge facing the next president of the United States. At a time of crisis, the country and the world look to the president for leadership and for answers.

So, Secretary Clinton, I’d like to start with you. Hours before the attacks, President Obama said, “I don’t think ISIS is gaining strength.” Seventy-two percent of Americans think the fight against ISIS is going badly. Won’t the legacy of this administration, which is– which you were a part of, won’t that legacy be that it underestimated the threat from ISIS?

CLINTON: Well, John, I think that we have to look at ISIS as the leading threat of an international terror network. It cannot be contained, it must be defeated.

There is no question in my mind that if we summon our resources, both our leadership resources and all of the tools at our disposal, not just military force, which should be used as a last resort, but our diplomacy, our development aid, law enforcement, sharing of intelligence in a much more open and cooperative way — that we can bring people together.

But it cannot be an American fight. And I think what the president has consistently said– which I agree with– is that we will support those who take the fight to ISIS. That is why we have troops in Iraq that are helping to train and build back up the Iraqi military, why we have special operators in Syria working with the Kurds and Arabs, so that we can be supportive.

But this cannot be an American fight, although American leadership is essential.

DICKERSON: But as — Secretary Clinton, the question was about, was ISIS underestimated? And I’ll just add, the president referred to ISIS as the JVU (sic), in a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations in June of 2014 said, “I could not have predicted the extent to which ISIS could be effective in seizing cities in Iraq.”

So you’ve got prescriptions for the future, but how do we even those prescript prescriptions are any good if you missed it in the past?

CLINTON: Well, John, look, I think that what happened when we abided by the agreement that George W. Bush made with the Iraqis to leave by 2011, is that an Iraqi army was left that had been trained and that was prepared to defend Iraq. Unfortunately, Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, set about decimating it. And then, with the revolution against Assad — and I did early on say we needed to try to find a way to train and equip moderates very early so that we would have a better idea of how to deal with Assad because I thought there would be extremist groups filling the vacuum.

So, yes, this has developed. I think that there are many other reasons why it has in addition to what happened in the region, but I don’t think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility. I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself.

DICKERSON: Okay, Governor O’Malley, would you critique the administration’s response to ISIS. If the United States doesn’t lead, who leads?

O’MALLEY: John, I would disagree with Secretary Clinton respectfully on this score.

This actually is America’s fight. It cannot solely be America’s fight.

America is best when we work in collaboration with our allies. America is best when we are actually standing up to evil in this world. And ISIS, make no mistake about it, is an evil in this world.

ISIS has brought down a Russian airliner. ISIS has now attacked a western democracy in — in France. And we do have a role in this. Not solely ours, but we must work collaboratively with other nations.

The great failing of these last 10 or 15 years, John, has been our failing of human intelligence on the ground. Our role in the world is not to roam the globe looking for new dictators to topple. Our role in the world is to make ourselves a beacon of hope. Make ourselves stronger at home, but also our role in the world, yes, is also to confront evil when it rises. We took out the safe haven in Afghanistan, but now there is, undoubtedly, a larger safe haven and we must rise to this occasion in collaboration and with alliances to confront it, and invest in the future much better human intelligence so we know what the next steps are.

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, you said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?

SANDERS: Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world — this is what the CIA says — they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops ask you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.

But, of course, international terrorism is a major issue that we have got to address today. And I agree with much of what the Secretary and the Governor have said. But let me have one area of disagreement with the Secretary.

I think she said something like the bulk of the responsibility is not ours. Well, in fact, I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and to ISIS.

Now, in fact, what we have got to do — and I think there is widespread agreement here — is the United States cannot do it alone. What we need to do is lead an international coalition which includes very significantly the Muslim nations in that region who are going to have to fight and defend their way of life.

DICKERSON: Quickly, just let me ask you a follow-up on that, Senator Sanders.

When you say the disastrous vote on Iraq, let’s just be clear about what you’re saying. You’re saying Secretary Clinton, who was then Senator Clinton, voted for the Iraq war. And are you making a direct link between her vote for that or and what’s happening now for ISIS. Just so everybody…

SANDERS: I don’t think any — I don’t think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the massive level of instability we are seeing right now. I think that was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the more than history of the United States.

DICKERSON: Alright. Let’s let Secretary Clinton respond to that.

CLINTON: Thank you, John.

Well, thank you, John.

I think it’s important we put this in historic context. The United States has, unfortunately, been victimized by terrorism going back decades.

In the 1980s, it was in Beirut, Lebanon, under President Reagan’s administration, and 258 Americans, marines, embassy personnel, and others were murdered. We also had attacks on two of our embassies in Tanzania, Kenya, when my husband was president. Again, Americans murdered. And then, of course, 9/11 happened, which happened before there was an invasion of Iraq.

I have said the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. But I think if we’re ever going to really tackle the problems posed by jihadi extreme terrorism, we need to understand it and realize that it has antecedents to what happened in Iraq and we have to continue to be vigilant about it.

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders let me just follow this line of thinking. You criticized then, Senator Clinton’s vote.

Do you have anything to criticize in the way she performed as Secretary of State?

SANDERS: I think we have a disagreement, and the disagreement is that not only did I vote against the war in Iraq. If you look at history, John, you will find that regime change — whether it was in the early ’50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Salvador Allende in Chile, whether it is overthrowing the government of Guatemala way back when — these invasions, these toppling of governments, regime changes have unintended consequences. I would say that on this issue, I’m a little bit more conservative than the Secretary…

DICKERSON: Alright.

SANDERS: … And that I am not a great fan of regime change.

DICKERSON: Senator let me…

O’MALLEY: John, may I — may I interject here? Secretary Clinton also said we — it was not just the invasion of Iraq which Secretary Clinton voted for and has since said was a big mistake — and, indeed, it was.

But it was also the cascading effects that followed that. It was also the disbanding of many elements of the Iraqi army that are now showing up as part of ISIS. It was country after country without making the investment in human intelligence to understand who the new leaders were and the new forces were that are coming up.

We need to be much more far thinking in this new 21st century era of — of nation state failures and conflict. It’s not just about getting rid of a single dictator. It is about understanding the secondary and third consequences that fall next.

DICKERSON: All right, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, of course, each of these cases needs to be looked at individually and analyzed. Part of the problem that we have currently in the Middle East is that Assad has hung on to power with the very strong support of Russia and Iran and with the proxy of Hezbollah being there basically fighting his battles.

So I don’t think you can paint with a broad brush. This is an incredibly complicated region of the world. It’s become more complicated. And many of the fights that are going on are not ones that the United States has either started or have a role in. The Shi’a-Sunni split. The dictatorships have suppressed people’s aspirations. The increasing globalization without any real safety valve for people to have a better life. We saw that in Egypt. We saw a dictator overthrown. We saw a Muslim brotherhood president installed, and then we saw him ousted and the army back.

So, I think we’ve got to understand the complexity of the world that we are facing and no place is more so than in the Middle East.

DICKERSON: I understand. Quickly, Senator.

SANDERS: The Secretary’s obviously right. It is enormously complicated. But here’s something that I believe we have to do as we put together an international coalition, and that is we have to understand that the Muslim nations in the region — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan — all of these nations, they’re going to have to get their hands dirty, their boots on the ground. They are going to have to take on ISIS.

This is a war for the soul of Islam. And those countries who are opposed to Islam, they are going to have to get deeply involved in a way that is not the case today. We should be supportive of that effort. So should the UK, so should France. But those Muslim countries are going to have to lead the effort. They are not doing it now.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Well, I think — I think that is very unfair to a few you mentioned, most particularly Jordan, which has put a lot on the line for the United States, has also taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, and has been, therefore, subjected to threats and attacks by extremists themselves.

I do agree that in particular, Turkey and the Gulf nations have got to make up their minds. Are they going to stand with us against this kind of jihadi radicalism or not? And there are many ways of doing it. They can provide forces. They can provide resources. But they need to be absolutely clear about where they stand.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you, Secretary Clinton, a question about leadership.

We’re talking about what role does America take?

Let me ask you about Libya. So Libya is a country in which ISIS has taken hold in part because of the chaos after Muammar Gaddafi. That was an operation you championed. President Obama says this is the lesson he took from that operation. In an interview he said, the lesson was, do we have an answer for the day after? Wasn’t that suppose to be one of the lessons that we learned after the Iraq war? And how did you get it wrong with Libya if the key lesson of the Iraq war is have a plan for after?

CLINTON: Well, we did have a plan, and I think it’s fair to say that of all of the Arab leaders, Gaddafi probably had more blood on his hands of Americans than anybody else. And when he moved on his own people, threatening a massacre, genocide, the Europeans and the Arabs, our allies and partners, did ask for American help and we provided it.

And we didn’t put a single boot on the ground, and Gaddafi was deposed. The Libyans turned out for one of the most successful, fairest elections that any Arab country has had. They elected moderate leaders. Now, there has been a lot of turmoil and trouble as they have tried to deal with these radical elements which you find in this arc of instability, from north Africa to Afghanistan.

And it is imperative that we do more not only to help our friends and partners protect themselves and protect our own homeland, but also to work to try to deal with this arc of instability, which does have a lot of impact on what happens in a country like Libya.

DICKERSON: Governor O’ Malley I want to ask you a question and you can add whatever you’d like to. But let me ask you, is the world too dangerous a place for a governor who has no foreign policy experience?

O’MALLEY: John, the world is a very dangerous place, but the world is not too dangerous of a place for the United States of America, provided we act according to our principles, provided we act intelligently. I mean, let’s talk about this arc of instability that Secretary Clinton talked about.

Libya is now a mess. Syria is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess. As Americans, we have shown ourselves to have the greatest military on the face of the planet, but we are not so very good at anticipating threats and appreciating just how difficult it is to build up stable democracies, to make the investments and sustainable development that we must as a nation if we are to attack the root causes of these sorts of instability.

And I wanted to add one other thing, John, and I think it’s important for all of us on this stage. I was in Burlington, Iowa. And a mom of a service member of ours who served two duties in Iraq said, Governor O’ Malley, please, when you’re with your other candidates and colleagues on stage, please don’t use the term ‘boots on the ground’. Let’s don’t use the term ‘boots on the ground’.

My son is not a pair of boots on the ground. These are American soldiers and we fail them when we fail to take into account what happens the day after a dictator falls and when we fail to act with a whole of government approach with sustainable development, diplomacy, and our economic power in alignment with our principles.

CLINTON: Well, I think it’s perfectly fair to say that we invested quite a bit in development aid. Some of the bravest people that I had the privilege of working with as secretary of state were our development professionals who went sometimes alone, sometimes with our military, into very dangerous places in Iraq, in Afghanistan, elsewhere.

So, there does need to be a whole of government approach, but just because we’re involved and we have a strategy doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to dictate the outcome. These are often very long- term kinds of investments that have to be made.

[crosstalk]

SANDERS: When you talk about the long-term consequences of war, let’s talk about the men and women who came home from war. The 500,000 who came home with PTSD, and traumatic brain injury. And I would hope in the midst of all of this discussion, this country makes certain that we do not turn our backs on the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us, and that we stand with them as they have stood with us.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, you mentioned radical jihadists. Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack showed and the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization, radical Islam?

CLINTON: I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we’re at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists who have —

DICKERSON: Just to interrupt. He didn’t say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don’t…

CLINTON: I think THAT you can talk about Islamists who clearly are also jihadists, but I think it’s not particularly helpful to make the case that Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with, that we’ve got to reach out to Muslim countries.

We’ve got to have them be part of our coalition. If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam, that was one of the real contributions, despite all the other problems, that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a Mosque in Washington, we are not at war with Islam or Muslims.

We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression. And, yes, we are at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.

DICKERSON: The reason I ask is you gave a speech at Georgetown University in which you said, that it was important to show, quote, “respect, even for one’s enemies. Trying to understand and in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view.” Can you explain what that means in the context of this kind of barbarism?

CLINTON: I think with this kind of barbarism and nihilism, it’s very hard to understand, other than the lust for power, the rejection of modernity, the total disregard for human rights, freedom, or any other value that we know and respect.

Historically, it is important to try to understand your adversary in order to figure out how they are thinking, what they will be doing, how they will react. I plead that it’s very difficult when you deal with ISIS and organizations like that whose behavior is so barbaric and so vicious that it doesn’t seem to have any purpose other than lust for killing and power and that’s very difficult to put ourselves in the other shoe.

[crosstalk]

DICKERSON: Just quickly, do either of you, radical Islam, do either of you use that phrase?

SANDERS: I don’t think the term is what’s important. What is important to understand is we have organizations, whether it is ISIS or Al Qaida, who do believe we should go back several thousand years. We should make women third-class citizens, that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted, that they are a danger to modern society.

And that this world, with American leadership, can and must come together to destroy them. We can do that. And it requires an entire world to come together, including in a very active way, the Muslim nations.

DICKERSON: Governor O’ Malley, you have been making the case when you talk about lack of forward vision, you’re essentially saying that Secretary Clinton lacks that vision and this critique matches up with this discussion of language. The critique is that the softness of language betrays a softness of approach. So if this language — if you don’t call it by what it is, how can your approach be effective to the cause? that’s the critique.

O’MALLEY: I believe calling it what it is, is to say radical jihadis. That’s calling it what it is. But John, let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that all of our Muslim American neighbors in this country are somehow our enemies here. They are our first line of defense.

And we are going to be able to defeat ISIS on the ground there, as well as in this world, because of the Muslim Americans in our country and throughout the world who understand that this brutal and barbaric group is perverting the name of a great world religion. And now, like never before, we need our Muslim American neighbors to stand up and to — and to be a part of this.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, the French president has called this attack an act of war.

CLINTON: Yes.

DICKERSON: A couple of days ago you were asked if you would declare war on ISIS and you said no. What would you say now?

CLINTON: Well, we have an authorization to use military force against terrorists. We passed it after 9/11.

DICKERSON: And you think that covers all of this?

CLINTON: It certainly does cover it. I would like to see it updated.

DICKERSON: If you were in the Senate, would you be okay with the commander in chief doing that without it coming back to you?

CLINTON: No, it would have to go through the Congress, and I know the White House has actually been working with members of Congress. Maybe now we can get it moving again so that we can upgrade it so that it does include all the tools and everything in our arsenal that we can use to try to work with our allies and our friends, come up with better intelligence.

You know, it is difficult finding intelligence that is actionable in a lot of these places, but we have to keep trying. And we have to do more to prevent the flood of foreign fighters that have gone to Syria, especially the ones with western passports, that come back. So there’s a lot of work we need to do and I want to be sure what’s called the AUMF, has the authority that is needed going forward.

DICKERSON: Senator, let me just — let’s add to whatever you’ve got to say. Refugees. You’ve been a little vague on what you would do about the Syrian refugees. What’s your view on them now?

SANDERS: Let me do that but let me pick up on an issue, a very important issue that we have not yet discussed. This nation is the most powerful military in the world. We’re spending over $600 billion a year on the military and yet, significantly less than 10 percent of that money is used to be fighting international terrorism.

We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars maintaining 5,000 nuclear weapons. I think we need major reform in the military, making it more cost effective, but also focusing on the real crisis that faces us.

The Cold War is over. And our focus has got to be on intelligence, increased manpower, fighting internationally targets. So, in terms of refugees, I believe that the United States has the moral responsibility with Europe, with Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia to make sure that when people leave countries like Afghanistan and Syria with nothing more than the clothing on their back that, of course, we reach out.

Now, what the magic number is, I don’t know, because we don’t know the extent of the problem. But I certainly think that the United States should take its full responsibility in helping those people.

DICKERSON: Governor O’Malley, you have a magic number. I think it’s 65,000. Does that number go up or down based on what happened yesterday?

O’MALLEY: John, I was the first person on this stage to say that we should accept the 65,000 Syrian refugees that were fleeing the sort of murder of ISIL, and I believe that that needs to be done with proper screening. But accommodating 65,000 refugees in our country today, people of 320 million, is akin to making room for 6.5 more people in a baseball stadium with 32,000.

There are other ways to lead and to be a moral leader in this world, rather than at the opposite end of a drone strike. But I would want to agree with something that Senator Sanders says. The nature of warfare has changed. This is not a conflict where we send in the third divisions of Marines. This is a new era of conflict where traditional ways of huge standing armies are not as — serve our purposes as well as special ops, better intelligence and being more proactive.

DICKERSON: Just very quickly, 65,000, the number stays?

O’MALLEY: That’s what I understand is the request from the international…

DICKERSON: But for you, what would you want?

O’MALLEY: I would want us to take our place among the nations of the world to alleviate this sort of death and the specter we saw of little kids’ bodies washing up on a beach.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you a question from twitter which has come in and this is a question on this issue of refugees. The question is, with the U.S. preparing to absorb Syrian refugees, how do you propose we screen those coming in to keep citizens safe?

CLINTON: I think that is the number one requirement. I also said that we should take increased numbers of refugees. The administration originally said 10. I said we should go to 65, but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine, whatever resources it takes because I do not want us to, in any way, inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country.

But I want to say a quick word about what Senator Sanders and then Governor O’Malley said. We do have to take a hard look at the defense budget and we do have to figure out how we get ready to fight the adversaries of the future, not the past. But we have to also be very clear that we do have some continuing challenges.

We’ve got challenges in the South China Sea because of what China is doing in building up these military installations. We have problems with Russia. Just the other day, Russia allowed a television camera to see the plans for a drone submarine that could carry a tactical nuclear weapon. So we’ve got to look at the full range and then come to some smart decisions about having more streamlined and focused approach.

DICKERSON: Alright. Senator Sanders, I’m sorry. We’re going to have to take a break now. We will have more of the Democratic debate here from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. [applause]

[commercial break]

DICKERSON: Want to turn now from terrorism to another important issue for many Americans, the financial squeeze on the the middle class. For that, we go to my CBS News Colleague, Nancy Cordes.

Nancy?

CORDES: John, thanks so much.

We’ve learned a lot during the course of this campaign about the things that you’d like to do that you say would help the middle class, but we haven’t heard quite as much about who would pick up the tab.

So Secretary Clinton, first to you. You want to cap individuals’ prescription drug costs at $250 a month. You want to make public college debt-free. You want community college to be free altogether. And you want mandatory paid family leave. So who pays for all that? Is it employers? Is it the taxpayers, and which taxpayers?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, it isn’t the middle class. I have made very clear that hardworking, middle-class families need a raise, not a tax increase. In fact, wages adjusted for inflation haven’t risen since the turn of the last century, after my husband’s administration. So we have a lot of work to do to get jobs going again, get incomes rising again. And I have laid out specific plans — you can go to my web site, hillaryclinton.com, and read the details. And I will pay for it by, yes, taxing the wealthy more, closing corporate loopholes, deductions, and other kinds of favorable treatment. And I can do it without raising the debt, without raising taxes on the middle class and making it reasonably manageable within our budget so that we can be fiscally responsible at the same time.

CORDES: But a quick follow-up on that $250-a-month cap. Wouldn’t the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies just pass that cost on to the consumers in the form of higher premiums?

CLINTON: Well, we’re going to have to redo the way the prescription drug industry does business. For example, it is outrageous that we don’t have an opportunity for Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. In fact, American consumers pay the highest prices in the world for drugs that we help to be developed through the National Institute of Health and that we then tested through the FDA.

So there’s more to my plan than just the cap. We have to go after price gouging and monopolistic practices and get Medicare the authority to negotiate.

CORDES: Governor O’Malley, you also want to make public college debt-free. You want…

O’MALLEY: That’s right.

CORDES: … states to freeze tuition. You’ve got your own family leave plan. How would you pay for it? In Maryland, you raised the sales tax, you raised the gas tax and you raised taxes on families making over $150,000 a year. Is that the blueprint?

O’MALLEY: Nancy, the blueprint in Maryland that we followed was yes, we did in fact raise the sales tax by a penny and we made our public schools the best public schools in America for five years in a row with that investment. And yes, we did ask everyone — the top 14 percent of earners in our state to pay more in their income tax and we were the only state to go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuitions.

So while other candidates will talk about the things they would like to do, I actually got these things done in a state that defended not only a AAA bond rating, but the highest median income in America. I believe that we pay for many of the things that we need to do again as a nation, investing in the skills of our people, our infrastructure, and research and development and also climate change by the elimination of one big entitlement that we can no longer afford as a people, and that is the entitlement that many of our super wealthiest citizens feel they are entitled to pay — namely, a much lower income tax rate and a lower tax rate on capital gains.

I believe capital gains, for the most part, should be taxed the same way we tax income from hard work, sweat, and toil. And if we do those things, we can be a country that actually can afford debt-free college again.

CORDES: Senator Sanders, you want to make public college free altogether. You want to increase Social Security benefits and you want to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. So you said that to do some of these things, you’ll impose a tax on top earners. How high would their rate go in a Sanders administration?

SANDERS: Let me put those proposals– and you’re absolutely right. That is what I want to do. That is what is going to have to happen, if we want to revitalize and rebuild the crumbling middle class.

In the last 30 years, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth. And I know that term gets my Republican friends nervous. The problem is, this redistribution has gone in the wrong direction. Trillions of dollars have gone from the middle class and working families to the top one-tenth of one percent who have doubled the percentage of wealth they now own.

Yes, I do believe that we must end corporate loopholes, such that major corporations year after year pay virtually zero in federal income tax, because they’re stashing the money in the Cayman Islands.

Yes, I do believe there must be a tax on Wall Street speculation. We bailed out Wall Street. It’s their time to bail out the middle class, help our kids be able to go to college tuition-free.

So we pay for this by do demanding that the wealthiest people and the largest corporations, who have gotten away with murder for years, start paying their fair share.

CORDES: But let’s get specific. How high would you go? You have said before you would go above 50 percent.

How high?

SANDERS: We haven’t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent. But it will be…[laughter]

I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower. [applause]

But — but we are going to end the absurdity, as Warren Buffet often remind us.

O’MALLEY: That’s right.

SANDERS: That billionaires pay an effective tax rate lower than nurses or truck drivers. That makes no sense at all. There has to be real tax reform, and the wealthiest and large corporations will pay when I’m president.

O’MALLEY: And may I point out that under Ronald Reagan’s first term, the highest marginal rate was 70 percent. And in talking to a lot of our neighbors who are in that super wealthy, millionaire and billionaire category, a great numbers of them love their country enough to do more again in order to create more opportunity for America’s middle class.

CORDES: Secretary Clinton, Americans say that health care costs and wages are their top financial concerns. And health care deductibles, alone, have risen 67 percent over the past five years.

Is this something that Obamacare was designed to address? And if not, why not?

CLINTON: Well, look, I believe that we’ve made great progress as a country with the Affordable Care Act. We’ve been struggling to get this done since Harry Truman. And it was not only a great accomplishment of the Democratic Party, but of President Obama.

I do think that it’s important to defend it. The Republicans have voted to repeal it nearly 60 times. They would like to rip it up and start all over again, throw our nation back into this really contentious debate that we’ve had about health care for quite some time now.

I want to build on and improve the Affordable Care Act. I would certainly tackle the cost issues, because I think that once the foundation was laid with a system to try to get as many people as possible into it, to end insurance discrimination against people with preexisting conditions or women, for example, that, yes, we were going to have to figure out how to get more competition in the insurance market, how to get the costs of — particularly, prescription drugs, but other out-of-pocket expenses down.

But I think it’s important to understand there’s a significant difference that I have with Senator Sanders about how best to provide quality, affordable health care for everyone. And it’s– it’s a worthy debate. It’s an important one that we should be engaged in.

CORDES: It is — it is a worthy debate. Senator Sanders, a quick response, and then we’ll get into health care again later.

SANDERS: I am on the committee that helped write the Affordable Care Act. We have made some good progress.

Now what we have to take on is the pharmaceutical industry that is ripping off the American people every single day. I am proud that I was the first member of Congress to take Americans over the Canadian border to buy breast cancer drugs for one-tenth the price they were paying in the United States.

But at the end of the day, no doubt, the Affordable Care Act is a step forward. I think we all support it. I believe we’ve got to go further.

I want to end the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege. [applause]

And also — also, what we should be clear about is we end up spending — and I think the secretary knows this — far more per capita on health care than any other major country, and our outcomes, health care outcomes are not necessarily that good.

O’MALLEY: All right, Nancy, I really wish you’d come back to me on this on this one, John…

DICKERSON: All right, I am sorry, Governor, we’re going to have to go, I apologize.

O’MALLEY: Because we have found a way to reduce hospital costs, so whenever we come…

DICKERSON: Governor — Governor, you’re breaking the rules. [laughter]

I’m sorry, we’re going to have to cut for a commercial. We’ll be right back here from Drake University here in Des Moines, Iowa.

O’MALLEY: Thank you.

[commercial break]

DICKERSON: There is a lot of presidential history here in Iowa. It hosted the first in the nation caucuses. Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch, and tonight, we are in Polk County, named for our 11th president, with three people who hope to be number 45.

Joining my now to question them are Iowans Kevin Cooney of KCCI and Kathie Obradovich, of the Des Moines Register.

Kevin?

COONEY: Thanks, John.

Candidates, we’ve already heard your answers on what you would do with Syrian refugees, but a crucial part of the immigration debate here at home is control of our own borders.

Republicans say the borders — securing borders is a top priority. Democrats say they want to plan for comprehensive immigration reform. So, Governor O’Malley, are you willing to compromise on this particular issue to focus on border security first in favor of keeping the country safe?

O’MALLEY: Well, Mr. Cooney, we’ve actually been focusing on border security to the exclusion of talking about comprehensive immigration reform.

In fact, if more border security and these — and more and more deportations were going to bring our Republican brothers and sisters to the table, it would have happened long ago. The fact of the matter is — and let’s say it in our debate, because you’ll never hear this from that immigration-bashing carnival barker, Donald Trump, the truth of the matter is… [applause]

The truth of the matter is, net immigration from Mexico last year was zero. Fact check me. Go ahead. Check it out. But the truth of the matter is, if we want wages to go up, we’ve got to get 11 million of our neighbors out of off the book shadow economy, and into the full light of an American economy.

That’s what our parents and grandparents always did. That’s what we need to do as a nation.

Yes, we must protect our borders. But there is no substitute for having comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people, many of whom have known no other country but the United States of America. Our symbol is the Statue of Liberty. It is not a barbed wire fence.

COONEY: Thank you. Now, Secretary Clinton said you would go further than the President when it comes to taking executive action to implement immigration reforms. But the President’s already facing legal trouble on this. We’ve seen it more just in the past week. Realistically, how could you go further with executive action?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I know that the President has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. And my reading of the law and the Constitution convinces me that the President has the authority that he is attempting to exercise with respect to dreamers and their parents, because I think all of us on this stage agree that we need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Border security has always been a part of that debate. And it is a fact that the net immigration from Mexico and South has basically zeroed out.

So, what we want to do is to say, look, we have 11 million people who have been here, many of them for decades. They have children who are doing so well, I’ve met and worked with dreamers. I think any parent would be so proud of them. So let’s move toward what we should be doing as a nation and follow the values of our immigration history and begin to make it possible for them to come out of the shadows and to have a future that gives them a full chance of citizenship. [applause]

COONEY: Kathie.

OBRADOVICH: Senator Sanders, you’ve actually talked about immigration as being a wage issue in the United States. And I want to actually go directly to the wage issue now.

You called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour everywhere in the country. But the President’s former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, has said a national increase of $15 could lead to undesirable and unintended consequences of job loss.

What level of job loss would you consider unacceptable?

SANDERS: Kathie, let me say this. You know, no public policy doesn’t have, in some cases, negative consequences. But at the end of the day, what you have right now are millions of Americans working two or three jobs because their wages that they are earning are just too low.

Real inflation accounted for wages has declined precipitously over the years. So I believe that, in fact, this country needs to move towards a living wage. It is not a radical idea to say that if somebody works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. It is not a radical idea to say that a single mom should be earning enough money to take care of her kids. So I believe that over the next few years, not tomorrow, but over the next few years, we have got to move the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour. And I apologize to nobody for that.

OBRADOVICH: You said there are consequences… [applause]

You said there are consequences for — for any policy. Do you think job losses are a consequence that are…

SANDERS: This is what I think — this is what many economists believe that one of the reasons that real unemployment in this country is 10 percent, one of the reasons that African American youth unemployment and underemployment is 51 percent is the average worker in America doesn’t have any disposable income.

You have no disposable income when you are make 10, 12 bucks an hour. When we put money into the hands of working people, they’re going to go out and buy goods, they’re going to buy services and they’re going to create jobs in doing that. Kathie, that is the kind of economy I believe, put money in the hands of working people, raise the minimum wage to 15 buck an hour.

O’MALLEY: Kathie, this was not merely theory in Maryland. We actually did it. Not only were we the first state in the nation to pass a living wage. We were the first to pass a minimum wage. And the U.S. chamber of commerce, which hardly ever says nice things about Democratic governors anywhere, named our state number one for innovation and entrepreneurship.

We defended the highest median income in the country. And so, look, the way that — a stronger middle class is actually the source of economic growth. And if our middle class makes more money, they spend more money, and our whole economy grows. We did it, and it worked, and nobody headed for the hills or left the state because of it.

OBRADOVICH: You’re calling for a $15 an hour wage now but why did you stop at $10.10 in your state?

O’MALLEY: $10.10 was all I could get the state to do by the time I left in my last year. But two of our counties actually went to $12.80 and their county executives, if they were here tonight, would also tell you that it works.

The fact of the matter is, the more our people earn, the more money they spend, and the more our whole economy grows. That’s American capitalism.

SANDERS: Let me just…

CLINTON: Kathie, I think — Kathie the…

SANDERS: Let me just add to that. Just because this is not an esoteric argument. You’re seeing cities like Seattle. You’re seeing cities like San Francisco, cities like Los Angeles doing it, and they are doing it well and workers are able to have more disposable income.

CLINTON: But I do take what Alan Krueger said seriously. He is the foremost expert in our country on the minimum wage, and what its effects are. And the overall message is that it doesn’t result in job loss. However, what Alan Krueger said in the piece you’re referring to is that if we went to $15, there are no international comparisons.

That is why I support a $12 national federal minimum wage. That is what the Democrats in the Senate have put forward as a proposal. But I do believe that is a minimum. And places like Seattle, like Los Angeles, like New York City, they can go higher. It’s what happened in Governor O’Malley’s state. There was a minimum wage at the state level, and some places went higher. I think that is…

O’MALLEY: Didn’t just happen.

CLINTON: I think that is the smartest way to be able to move forward because if you go to $12 it would be the highest historical average we’ve ever had.

O’MALLEY: Come on now. Yeah, but look. It should always be going up. Again, with all do respect to Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: But you would index it — you would index it to the median wage. Of course, you would. Do the $12 and you would index it. But I…

O’MALLEY: I think we need to stop taking our advice from economists on Wall Street…

CLINTON: He’s not wall street.

O’MALLEY: … And start taking advice…

CLINTON: That’s not fair. He’s a progressive economist.

[crosstalk]

DICKERSON: You have — you have given me the perfect segue. We are going to talk about Wall Street, but now we’ve got to go do a commercial.

We’re coming to the end of the first hour. But there’s another hour behind it and we’re going to talk about Wall Street so hang with us.

[commercial break]

DICKERSON: Good evening again, as we begin the second half of the debate. Joining me in the questioning are the candidates — of the candidates are CBS news congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, Kevin Cooney of CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI, and Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines register.

As those who watched the first hour know, our topic is Wall Street. For those just joining us, welcome. Senator — excuse me, Secretary Clinton, I went to the past there for a moment. Senator Sanders recently said, quote, “People should be suspect of candidates who receive large sums of money from Wall Street and then go out and say ‘Trust me. I’m going to really regulate wall street’.

So you’ve received millions of dollars in contributions and speaking fees from from Wall Street companies. How do you convince voters that you are going to level the playing field when you’re indebted to some of its biggest players?

CLINTON: Well, I think it’s pretty clear that they know that I will. You have two billionaire hedge fund managers who started a super PAC and they’re advertising against me in Iowa as we speak. So they clearly think I’m going to do what I say I will do and you can look at what I did in the Senate.

I did introduce legislation to reign in compensation. I looked at ways that the shareholders would have more control over what was going on in that arena. And specifically said to Wall Street, that what they were doing in the mortgage market was bringing our country down. I’ve laid out a very aggressive plan to reign in Wall Street — not just the big banks.

That’s a part of the problem and I am going right at them. I have a comprehensive, tough plan. But I went further than that. We have to go after what is called the shadow banking industry. Those hedge funds. Look at what happened in ’08, AIG, a big insurance company, Lehman Brothers, an investment bank helped to bring our economy down. So, I want to look at the whole problem and that’s why my proposal is much more comprehensive than anything else that’s been put forth.

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders you said that the donations to Secretary Clinton are compromising. So what did you think of her answer?

SANDERS: Not good enough. [applause]

Here’s the story. I mean, you know, let’s not be naive about it. Why do — why, over her political career has Wall Street been a major — the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so.

Here is the major issue when we talk about Wall Street. It ain’t complicated. You have six financial institutions today that have assets of 56 percent, equivalent to 56 percent of the GDP In America. They issue two-thirds of the credit cards and one-third of the mortgages.

If Teddy Roosevelt, a good Republican, were alive today, you know what he’d say? “Break them up.” Reestablish Glass-Steagall. And Teddy Roosevelt is right. That is the issue. Now I am the only candidate up here that doesn’t have a super PAC. I am not asking Wall Street or the billionaires for money. I will break up these banks. Support community banks and credit unions. That’s the future of banking in America.

DICKERSON: Great follow up because you — and Secretary Clinton, you will get a chance to respond.

You said they know what they’re going to get. What are they going to get?

SANDERS: I have never heard a candidate never, who has received huge amounts of money from oil, from coal, from Wall Street, from the military industrial complex, not one candidate say, oh, these campaign contributions will not influence me. I’m going to be independent. Well, why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? they expect to get something. Everybody knows that.

Once again, I am running a campaign differently than any other candidate. We are relying on small campaign donors, 750,000 of them, 30 bucks a piece. That’s who I’m indebted to.

CLINTON: Well John, wait a minute. Wait a minute, he has basically used his answer to impune my integrity. Let’s be frank here.

SANDERS: No, I have not.

CLINTON: Oh, wait a minute, senator. You know, not only do I have hundreds of thousands of donors, most of them small. And I’m very proud that for the first time a majority of my donors are women, 60 percent. [applause]

So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.

So, you know, it’s fine for you to say what you’re going to say, but I looked very carefully at your proposal. Reinstating Glass- Steagall is a part of what very well could help, but it is nowhere near enough. My proposal is tougher, more effective, and more comprehensive because I go after all of Wall Street not just the big banks.

O’MALLEY: John, please, it’s– personal privilege, John.

DICKERSON: Hold on. He was attacked. [applause]

O’MALLEY: John, John,

DICKERSON: Hold on, he was attacked. Glass-Steagall…

[crosstalk]

SANDERS: So was I, John. Let me get a chance to respond. This issue touches on two broad issues. It’s not just Wall Street. It’s campaign — a corrupt campaign finance system. And it is easy to talk the talk about ending Citizens United, but what I think we need to do is show by example that we are prepared to not rely on large corporations and Wall Street for campaign contributions, and that’s what I’m doing.

In terms of Wall Street, I respectfully disagree with you, madam secretary, in the sense that the issue here is when you have such incredible power and such incredible wealth. When you have Wall Street spending $5 billion over a 10-year period to get — to get deregulated, the only answer they know is break them up, reestablish Glass-Stegall.

DICKERSON: All right. Senator, we have to get Governor O’ Malley in.

Governor, along with your answer, how many Wall Street veterans would you have in your administration?

O’MALLEY: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ve said this before. I don’t — I believe that we actually need some new economic thinking in the White House. And I would not have Robert Rubin or Larry Summers, with all due respect, Secretary Clinton, to you and to them, back on my council of economic advisers.

DICKERSON: Anyone from Wall Street?

O’MALLEY: They are the architects. Sure, we’ll have an inclusive group but I won’t be taking my orders from Wall Street. And look, let me say this. I put out a proposal. I was on the front lines when people lost their homes, when people lost their jobs. I was on the front lines as a governor fighting against — fighting that battle.

Our economy was wrecked by the big banks of Wall Street. And Secretary Clinton, when you put out your proposal on Wall Street, it was greeted by many as, quote, unquote, “Weak tea”. It is weak tea. It is not what the people expect of our country.

We expect that our president will protect the main street economy from excesses on Wall Street. And that’s why Bernie’s right. We need to reinstate a modern version of Glass-Steagall and we should have done it already. [applause]

CLINTON: Well, you know, governor, I know that when you had a chance to appoint a commissioner for financial regulation, you chose an investment banker in 2010. So for me, it is looking at what works and what we need to do to try to move past what happened in ’08.

And I will go back and say again, AIG was not a big bank. It had to be bailed out and it nearly destroyed us. Lehman Brothers was not a big bank. It was an investment bank. And its bankruptcy and its failure nearly destroyed us. So I’ve said, if the big banks don’t play by the rules, I will break them up.

SANDERS: The big banks–

CLINTON: And I will also go after executives who are responsible for the decisions that have such bad consequences for our country. [applause]

SANDERS: Look–

DICKERSON: Hold on.

SANDERS: I don’t know and with all due respect to the secretary, Wall Street played by the rules? Who are we kidding? The business model of Wall Street is fraud. That’s what it is. [applause]

And we have — and let me make this promise. One of the problems we have had — I think all Americans understand this, is whether it’s Republican administrations or Democratic administrations, we have seen Wall Street and Goldman Sachs dominate administrations. Here’s my promise– Wall Street representatives will not be in my cabinet. [applause]

DICKERSON: All right, I want to switch to the — switch to the issue of guns here.

Secretary Clinton, you said that Senator Sanders is not tough enough on guns, but basically he now supports roughly the same things you do. So can tell us what the exact difference is going forward between the two of you on the issue of gun control?

CLINTON: Well, I think that there are different records. I — you know, know that Senator Sanders had a different vote than I did when it came to giving immunity to gun makers and sellers. That was a terrible mistake. It basically gave the gun lobby even more power to intimidate legislators, not just in Washington but across the country.

But just think about this– since we last debated in Las Vegas, nearly 3,000 people have been killed by guns. Twenty-one mass shootings, including one last weekend in Des Moins where three were murdered. Two hundred children have been killed. This is an emergency. There are a lot of things we’ve got to do in our country, reigning in Wall Street is certainly one of them. I agree with that.

That’s why I’ve got such a good plan. But we have to also go after the gun lobby and 92 percent of Americans agree we should have universal background checks. Close the gun show loophole, close the online loophole and… [applause]

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, I want to…

CLINTON: I will do everything I can as president to get that accomplished.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, just a quick follow-up. You say that Senator Sanders took a vote that — on immunity that you don’t like. So if he can be tattooed by a single vote and that ruins all future opinions by him on this issue, why then isn’t he right when he says your wrong vote on Iraq tattoos you forever in your judgment?

CLINTON: I — I said I made a mistake on Iraq, and I would love to see Senator Sanders join with some of my colleague in addition the Senate that I see in the audience. Let’s reverse the immunity. Let’s put the gun makers and sellers on notice that they’re not going to get away with it. [applause]

SANDERS: Let’s do more — let’s do more than reverse the immunity. Let’s…

DICKERSON: But was that a mistake, Senator?

SANDERS: Let me hear if there’s any difference between the Secretary and myself. I have voted time and again to — for — for the background check, and I want to see it improved and expanded. I want to see us do away with the gun show loophole.

In 1988, I lost an election because I said we should not have assault weapons on the streets of America. We have to do away with the strawman proposal. We need radical changes in mental health in America so somebody who is suicidal or homicidal can get the emergency care they need. We have — I don’t know that there’s any disagreement here…

O’MALLEY: Oh, yes there is. [laughter

SANDERS: We have got to come forward with a consensus that in fact will work.

DICKERSON: Senator, a mistake or not, your immunity vote? Quickly, before I go to…

SANDERS: There were parts of that bill which agree with parts — I disagree. I am certainly, absolutely, willing to look at that bill again and make sure there’s a stronger bill.

DICKERSON: So not a mistake?

O’MALLEY: John, this is another one of those examples. Like we have a — we have a lot of work to do and we’re the only nation on the planet that buries as many of our people from gun violence as we do.

In my own state, after the children in that Connecticut classroom were gunned down, we passed comprehensive gun safety legislation with background checks, ban on assault weapons, and Senator, I think we do need to repeal that immunity that you granted to the gun industry.

But Secretary Clinton, you’ve been on three sides of this. When you ran in 2000, you said that we needed federal robust regulations. Then, in 2008, you were portraying yourself as Annie Oakley and saying that we don’t need those regulations on the federal level and now you’re coming back around here.

So John, there’s a big difference between leading by polls and leading with principle. We got it done in my state by leading with principal and that’s what we need to do as a party for comprehensive gun safety.

SANDERS: With all — with all due respect… [applause]

I think it’s fair to say that Baltimore is not now one of the safest cities in America, but the issue is…

O’MALLEY: But it’s a lot safer. It’s saved a lot of lives along the way, Senator.

SANDERS: The issue is — I believe, and I believe this honestly, and I don’t know that there’s much difference on guns between us. But I believe coming from a state that has virtually no gun control, I believe that I am in position to reach out to the 60 or 70 percent of the American people who agree with us on those issues. The problem is…

DICKERSON: Hold on.

SANDERS: … people all over this country — not you, Secretary Clinton — are shouting at each other. And what we need to do is bring people together to work on the agreement where there is broad consensus and that’s what I intend to do.

[crosstalk]

O’MALLEY: I’d like to take a matter of personal privilege here…

CLINTON: But wait, I just want to say this Senator. There is broad consensus, 92 percent in the most recently poll of Americans want gun safety measures…

SANDERS: Absolutely.

CLINTON: … and 85 percent of gun owners agree.

SANDERS: Yes.

CLINTON: We’ve got the consensus, what we’re lacking is political leadership…

SANDERS: Yes.

CLINTON: … and that’s what you and others can start providing in the Senate. [applause]

SANDERS: Yes, I agree.

DICKERSON: Sorry. I’m going to bring in Nancy Cordes with a question from twitter about this exchange.

CORDES: There was a lot of conversation on twitter about guns, but also about your conversation on campaign finance.

And Secretary Clinton, one of the tweets we saw said this, “I’ve never seen a candidate invoke 9/11 to justify millions of Wall Street donations until now.” The idea being, yes, you were a champion of the community after 9/11, but what does that have to do with taking big donations?

CLINTON: Well, I’m sorry that whoever tweeted that had that impression because I worked closely with New Yorkers after 9/11 for my entire first term to rebuild. So, yes, I did know people. I’ve had a lot of folks give me donations from all kinds of backgrounds say, I don’t agree with you on everything, but I like what you do. I like how you stand up. I’m going to support you, and I think that is absolutely appropriate. [applause]

SANDERS: Well, I — if I might. I think the issue here is — and I applaud Secretary Clinton. She did. She’s the senator from New York. She worked — and many of us supported you — in trying to rebuild that devastation. But at the end of the day, Wall Street today has enormous economic and political power. Their business model is greed and fraud. And for the sake of our economy, they must — the major banks must be broken up.

CORDES: Hold on.

O’MALLEY: John, I think somewhere between…

CORDES: Senator Sanders — I’m sorry. Senator Sanders, but what is it in Secretary Clinton’s record that shows you that she’s been influenced by those donations?

[crosstalk]

SANDERS: Well, (inaudible) the major issue right now is whether or not we reestablish Glass-Steagall. I led the effort, unfortunately unsuccessfully, against deregulation because I knew when you merge large insurance companies and investment banks and commercial banks it was not going to be good. The issue now is do we break them ?up do we reestablish Glass-Steagall. And Secretary Clinton, unfortunately, is on the wrong side.

CLINTON: Well, I’ll tell you who is on my side. Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, who said my plan for what we should do to reign in Wall Street was more comprehensive and better. Paul Volcker, one of the leading lights of trying to reign in the excesses, has also said he does not support reinstating Glass-Steagall.

So, I mean this may seem like a bit of an arcane discussion. I have nothing against the passion that my two friends here have about reinstating Glass-Steagall. I just don’t think it would get the job done. I’m all about making sure we actually get results for whatever we do. [applause]

DICKERSON: Final word. Final word, Governor O’Malley, before we go to commercial.

O’MALLEY: John, there is not a serious economist who would disagree that the six big banks of Wall Street have taken on so much power and that all of us are still on the hook to bail them out on their bad bets. That’s not capitalism, Secretary Clinton. That’s crony capitalism. That’s a wonderful business model. If you place bad bets, the taxpayers bail you out. But if you place good ones, you pocket it.

Look, I don’t believe there’s the model — there’s lots of good people that work in finance, Secretary Sanders, but Secretary Clinton, we need to step up and we need to protect Main Street from Wall Street and you can’t do that by — by campaigning as the candidate of Wall Street. I am not the candidate of Wall Street…

SANDERS: Let me…

O’MALLEY: … and I encourage everybody watching this tonight to please, acknowledge that by going online at martinomalley.com and help me wage this campaign for real American capitalism. [applause]

DICKERSON: We have to — we have to go for a commercial, Senator. I’m sorry. We have to go for a commercial here. We’ll be right back with the Democratic debate here in Des Moines, Iowa on CBS.

[commercial break]

DICKERSON: Back now in Des Moines with the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Senator Sanders, I want to start with you. Let’s say you’re elected president. Congratulations.

SANDERS: Thank you. [applause]

Looking forward to it.

DICKERSON: You’ve said you’ll have a revolution.

SANDERS: Yes.

DICKERSON: But there’s a conservative revolution going on in America right now. As John Boehner knows and as Democrats know, who have lost in state houses across the country.

SANDERS: Right.

DICKERSON: Those conservatives are watching tonight and probably shaking their heads. So how do you deal with that part of the country? The revolution’s already happening, but on the other side?

SANDERS: And we are going to do a political revolution, which brings working people, young people, senior citizens, minorities together.

Because every issue that I am talking about– paid family and medical leave, breaking up the banks on Wall Street, asking the wealth to pay their fair share of taxes, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour — every one of those issues is supported by a significant majority of the American people.

The problem is, that as a result of a corrupt campaign finance system, Congress is not listening to the American people. Its listening to the big money interest.

What the political revolution is about is bringing people together to finally say, enough is enough. This government belongs to us. Not just the billionaires.

DICKERSON: Senator, as a 30-second follow-up, we’ve heard already tonight this figure, 92 percent of support for background checks.

Let’s look at that as an example. There was something 92 percent of the public was for. There had been these mass shootings. There was emotional support behind it.

SANDERS: Yes.

DICKERSON: Bipartisan support.

SANDERS: Yes.

DICKERSON: The president, the full force of his office.

SANDERS: Yeah.

DICKERSON: It went nowhere. That’s the model you’re talking about. Nothing happened.

SANDERS: What we need is leadership in this country which revitalizes American democracy, and makes people understand that if they stand up and fight back and take on the billionaire class, we can bring about the change that we need.

If we are not successful, if we continue the same old, same old of Washington being run by corporate lobbyists and big-money interests, nothing changes.

What I am very happy in this campaign that we have had rallies with tens of thousands of people, mostly young people. What the polls are showing is that we are actually defeating the secretary among younger people. We’re giving young people and working people hope that real change can take place in America.

That’s what the political revolution is about.

DICKERSON: A question from Kathie Obradovich.

OBRADOVICH: Yes, Senator Sanders, you famously said in the last debate that you were sick and tired of hearing about your damn e- mails. But then you told the Wall Street Journal that the question about whether or not Secretary Clinton’s e-mails compromised classified information were valid questions.

So which is it? Is it an issue or is it not?

SANDERS: No. That’s just media stuff.

I was sick and tired of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail. I am still sick and tired of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. [laughter]

And the issue is, the problem is, the front pages every day were dealing with it. I didn’t know I had so much power. But after I said that, we’re not hearing so much about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

What I would like for the media now is for us to be talking about why the middle class is disappearing, why we have more people in jail than any other country, why we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, and we’re the only major country on Earth without paid family and medical leave.

We’ve gotten off the Hillary’s e-mails, good. Let’s go to the major issues facing America. [applause]

OBRADOVICH: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.

Secretary Clinton, your response.

CLINTON: I agree completely. [applause]

I couldn’t have said it better myself. But I did want to — I wanted to follow up.

Look, we need more Americans to be involved in the political process. And I give Senator Sanders a lot of credit for really lighting a fire under many people — young, old, everybody — who sees a chance to be involved and have their voice heard.

Look at what’s happening with the Republicans. They are doing everything they can to prevent the voices of Americans to be heard. [applause] They’re trying to prevent people from registering to vote. So, we do need to take on the Republicans very clearly and directly. But the other thing I just wanted quickly to say is, I think President Obama deserves more credit than he gets for what he got done in Washington, despite the Republican obstructionists. [applause]

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, just one more question on the e- mail question.

For Democrats, there’s an FBI investigation going on. Can you satisfy Democrats, who might worry about an another shoe dropping, that you and your staff have been totally truthful to them, and that another shoe is not going to drop?

CLINTON: I think after 11 hours, that’s pretty clear, yes. [applause]

And, you know, I do think it’s important to do exactly what Senator Sanders said, and that is to start talking about the issues that the American people really care about, and that they talk to each of us about.

And to contrast, even — there are differences among us. You’ve heard some of those tonight. I still want to get back to health care, because I think that’s a worthy topic to explore.

But the differences among us pale compared to what’s happening on the Republican side. And if you listen to what they say — and I had a chance over those 11 hours to watch and listen, as well as what I see in their debates — they are putting forth alarming plans.

I mean, all of us support funding Planned Parenthood. All of us believe climate change is real. All of us want equal pay for equal work.

They don’t believe in any of that. So let’s focus on what this election is really going to be about. [applause]

DICKERSON: Race relations is another issue everyone cares about, and we’re going to switch to that now.

Governor O’Malley, let me ask you a question. The head of the FBI recently said it might be possible that some police forces are not enforcing the law, because they’re worried about being caught on camera. The acting head of the drug enforcement administration said a similar thing.

Where are you on this question? And what would do you if you were president, and two top members of your administration were floating that idea?

O’MALLEY: John, I think the — I think the call of your question is how can we improve both public safety in America and race relations in America, understanding how very intertwined both of those issues are in a very, very difficult and painful way for us as a people.

Look, the truth of the matter is that we should all feel a sense of responsibility as Americans to look for the things that actually work to save and redeem lives, and to do more of them, and to stop doing the things that don’t.

For my part, that’s what I have done in 15 years of experience as a mayor and as a governor. We restored voting rights to 52,000 people. We decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

I repealed the death penalty. And we also put in place a civilian review board. We reported openly discourtesy, and lethal force and brutality complaints.

This is something that — and I put forward a new agenda for criminal justice reform that is informed by that experience. So as president, I would lead these efforts, and I would do so with more experience and probably the attendance at more grave sites than any of the three of us on this stage when it comes to urban crime, loss of lives.

And the truth is I have learned on a very daily basis that, yes, indeed, black lives matter.

DICKERSON: All right, Governor… [applause]

Senator Sanders, one of your former colleagues, an African- American member of Congress, said to me recently that a young African- American man had asked him where to find hope in life. And he said, “I just don’t know what to tell him about being young and black in America today.”

What would you tell that young African-American man?

SANDERS: Well, this is what I would say, and the Congressman was right. According to the statistics that I’m familiar with, a black male baby born today stands a one in four chance of ending up in the criminal justice system.

Fifty-one percent of high school African-American graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

We have more people in jail today than any other country on earth. We’re spending $80 billion locking people up, disproportionately Latino and African American.

We need, very clearly, major, major reform in a broken criminal justice system. From top to bottom. And that means when police officers out in a community do illegal activity — kill people who are unarmed who should not be killed, they must be held accountable. It means that we end minimum sentencing for those people arrested. It means that we take marijuana out of the federal law as a crime and give states the freedom to go forward with legalizing marijuana.

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton, you told some Black Lives Matter activists recently that there’s a difference between rhetoric in activism and what you were trying to do, was — get laws passed that would help what they were pushing for.

But recently, at the University of Missouri, that activism was very, very effective. So would you suggest that kind of activism take place at other universities across the country?

CLINTON: Well, John, I come from the ’60s, a long time ago. There was a lot of activism on campus — Civil Rights activism, antiwar activism, women’s rights activism — and I do appreciate the way young people are standing up and speaking out.

Obviously, I believe that on a college campus, there should be enough respect so people hear each other. But what happened at the university there, what’s happening at other universities, I think reflects the deep sense of, you know, concern, even despair that so many young people, particularly of color, have…

You know, I recently met with a group of mothers who lost their children to either killings by police or random killings in their neighborhoods, and hearing their stories was so incredibly, profoundly heartbreaking. Each one of them, you know, described their child, had a picture. You know, the mother of the young man with his friends in the car who was playing loud music and, you know, some older white man pulled out a gun and shot him because they wouldn’t turn the radio down.

Or a young woman who had been performing at President Obama’s second inauguration coming home, absolutely stellar young woman, hanging out with her friends in a park getting shot by a gang member.

And, of course, I met the mothers of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and so many of them who have lost their children.

So, your original question is the right question. And it’s not just a question for parents and grandparents to answer. It’s really a question for all of us to answer, every single one of our children deserves the chance to live up to his or her god-given potential. And that’s what we need to be doing to the best of our ability in our country.

DICKERSON: All right, over to Kevin Cooney.

COONEY: Senator — Senator Sanders, we’ve heard a lot about this, your offer — you want to offer free tuition to public universities and colleges.

A couple of questions about this. 63 percent of those who enroll graduate.

First question, isn’t this throwing a lot of money away if we’re looking at a third of these people are not going to complete college?

SANDERS: No, it is not throwing — it is an extraordinary investment for this country.

Germany, many other countries do it already. In fact, if you remember, 50, 60 years ago, the University of California, City University of New York were virtually tuition-free.

Here is the story — it’s not just the college graduates should be $50,000 or $100,000 in debt. More importantly, I want kids in Burlington, Vermont, or Baltimore, Maryland, who are in the sixth grade or the eighth grade, who don’t have a lot of money, whose parents — like my parents — may never have gone to college.

Do you know where I’m going, Kevin? I want those kids to know that if they study hard, they do their homework, regardless of the income of their families, they will in fact be able to get a college education because we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. This is revolutionary for education in America. It will give hope to millions of young people.

COONEY: Well, one of the things you want to do is to have the states pay for about a third of this $70 billion plan, correct?

SANDERS: Yes.

COONEY: There are 16 states that are running budget deficits right now. Where are are they expected to come up with this?

SANDERS: Well, I think that they’re be pretty smart, because I think a lot of the states will do the right thing, and I think those states that don’t will pay a heavy penalty.

Bottom line here is, in the year 2015, we should look at a college degree the same way we looked at a high school degree 50 or 60 years ago.

If you want to make it into the middle class — I’m not saying in all cases — we need plumbers, and we need carpenters, and electricians, that’s for sure, and they should get help as well. But bottom line now, is in America, in the year 2015, any person who has the ability and the desire should be able to get an education, college education, regardless of the income of his or her family. And we must substantially lower, as my legislation does, interest rates on student debt.

COONEY: Governor O’Malley, jump in now.

O’MALLEY: Okay, thank you. I have — look, I would agree with much of what Senator Sanders says, Kevin.

I believe that actually affordable college, debt-free college is the goal that we need to attain as a nation. And, unlike my two distinguished colleagues on this stage, I actually made college more affordable and was the only state that went four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition.

I respectfully disagree with Senator Sander’s approach. I believe that the goal should be debt-free college. I believe that our Federal Government needs to do more on pell grants. States need to stop cutting higher education, and we should create a new block grant program that keeps the states’ skin in the game, and we should lower these outrageous interest rates that parents and kids are being charged by their own government. 7 percent and 8 percent to go to college?

I mean, my dad went to college on a G.I. Bill after coming home from Japan, flying 33 missions. My daughters went to college on a mountain of bills.

We were proud of them on graduation day, but we’re going to be proud every month for the rest of our natural lives. It — it doesn’t need to be that way. We can have debt-free college in the United States.

CLINTON: Kevin, if I could just jump in. I — I believe that we should make community college free. We should have debt-free college if you go to a public college or university. You should not have to borrow a dime to pay tuition. I want to use pell grants to help defray the living expenses that often make a difference, whether a young person can stay in school or not.

I disagree with free college for everybody. I don’t think taxpayers should be paying to send Donald Trump’s kids to college. I think it ought to be a compact — families contribute, kids contribute. And together we make it possible for a new generation of young people to refinance their debt and not come out with debt in the future.

COONEY: All right, Nancy Cordes has a question.

CORDES: Back to health care, by popular demand. First to you, Senator Sanders.

You’d prefer to scrap Obamacare and move to a single-payer system, essentially Medicare for all.

You say you want to put the private insurance companies out of business. Is it realistic to think that you can pull the plug on a $1 trillion industry?

SANDERS: It’s not going to happen tomorrow. And it’s probably not going to happen until we have real campaign finance reform and get rid of all these superpacs, and the power of the insurance companies and the drug companies.

But at the end of the day, Nancy, here is the question — in this great country of ours, with so much intelligence and so much capability, why do we remain the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right? Why do we continue to get ripped off by the drug companies who can charge us any prices they want? Why is it that we are spending per capita far, far more than Canada, which is 100 miles away from my door, that guarantees health care to all people?

It will not happen tomorrow. But when millions of people stand up and are prepared to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies, it will happen, and I will lead that effort.

Medicare for all, single-payer system is the way we should go.

CORDES: Secretary Clinton, back in — Secretary Clinton, back in 1994, you said that momentum for a single-payer system would sweep the country. That sounds Sanders-esque. But you don’t feel that way anymore, why not?

CLINTON: No. Revolution never came. I waited and I got the scars to show for it.

We now have this great accomplishment known as the Affordable Care Act, and I don’t think we should have to be defending it among Democrats. We ought to be working to improve it and prevent Republicans from both underming it and even repealing it.

I have looked at — I have looked at the legislation that Senator Sanders has proposed, and basically, he does eliminate the Affordable Care Act, eliminates private insurance, eliminates Medicare, eliminates Medicaid, Tricare, children’s health insurance program — puts it all together in a big program which he then hands over to the states to administer.

And I have to tell you, I would not want — if I lived in Iowa, Terry Branstad administering my health care. I — I think — I think as Democrats we ought to proudly support the Affordable Care Act, improve it, and make it the model that we know it can be.

SANDERS: Well, let me just say something.

DICKERSON: Thirty seconds.

SANDERS: We don’t eliminate Medicare. We expand Medicare to all people. And we will not, under this proposal, have a situation that we have right now with the Affordable Care Act where you have states like South Carolina, and many other Republican states, that because of their right wing political ideology, are denying millions of people the expansion of Medicaid that we passed in the Affordable Care Act. Ultimately, we have got to say as a nation, Secretary Clinton, is health care a right of all people or is it not? I believe it is a right.

O’MALLEY: May I jump in here for 30 seconds on health care?

DICKERSON: I’m sorry, governor. We’ve got to take a break or the machine breaks down. You’re watching the Democratic debate here on CBS. [applause]

[commercial break]

DICKERSON: We begin the final segment of this debate with something none of you saw coming. Something quite unexpected. Soon after your inauguration, you will face a crisis. All presidents do. What crisis you have experienced in your life that suggests you’ve been testd and can face that inevitable challenge? Secretary Clinton, you first.

CLINTON: Well, there are so many, I don’t know where to start. [laughter]

I guess the one I — I would pick is the fact that I was part of a very small group that had to advise the president about whether or not to go after Bin Laden. I spent a lot of time in the situation room as secretary of state and there were many very difficult choices presented to us.

But probably that was the most challenging because there was no certainty attached to it. The intelligence was by no means absolute. We had all kinds of questions that we discussed and, you know, at the end, I recommended to the president that we take the chance to do what we could to find out whether that was bin Laden and to finally bring him to justice.

It was an excruciating experience. I couldn’t talk to anybody about it. In fact, after it happened, the president called my husband — he called all the former presidents and he said to Bill, “Well I assume Hillary has told you about this.” And Bill said, “No, no, she hasn’t.” There was nobody to talk to and it really did give me an insight into the very difficult problems presidents face.

DICKERSON: Governor O’ Malley, what crisis proves that you’re tested?

O’MALLEY: John, I don’t think that there is a crisis at the state or local level that really you can point to and say, therefore, I am prepared for the sort of crises that any man or woman who is commander in chief of our country has to deal with.

But I can tell you this. I can tell you that as a mayor and as a governor, I learned certain disciplines which I believe are directly applicable to that very, very powerful and most important of all jobs in the United States, the president, whose first and primary duty is to protect the people of our country.

You learn that threats always change. You learn to create a security cabinet. You learn to create feedback mechanisms. You learn to constantly evaluate and understand the nature of the threats that you are being faced with.

I have been tried under many different emergencies and I can tell you that in each of those emergencies, whether they were inflicted by drug gangs, whether they were natural emergencies, I knew how to lead and I knew how to govern because I know how to manage people in a crisis and be very clear about the goal of protecting human life.

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders what, experience would you draw on in a crisis?

SANDERS: John, I had the honor of being chairman of the U.S. Senate committee on Veterans’ Affairs for two years. And in that capacity, I met with just an extraordinary group of people from World War II, from korea, vietnam, all of the wars. People came back from Iraq and Afghanistan without legs, without arms.

And I was determined to do everything that I could to make VA health care the best in the world, to expand benefits to the men and women who put their lives on the line to defending.

We brought together legislation supported by the American Legion, the VFW, the DOD, Vietnam Vets, all of the veterans organizations, which was comprehensive. Clearly the best piece of veterans’ legislation brought forth in decades.

I could only get two Republican votes on that. We ended up with 56 votes. We needed 60. So what I had to do then is go back and start working on a bill that wasn’t the bill that I wanted. Sit down with people like John Mccain. Sit down with people like Jeff Miller, the Republican chairman of the house, and work on a bill.

It wasn’t the bill that I wanted, but yet it turned out to be one of the more significant pieces of veterans’ legislation passed in recent history. So the crisis was I lost what I wanted. But I had to stand up and come back and get the best that we could.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Sanders… [applause]

We’ve ended the evening on crisis, which underscores and reminds us again of what happened last night. Now, let’s move to closing statements.

Governor O’Malley, you’re first.

O’MALLEY: John, thank you, and to all of the people in Iowa, for the role you have performed in this presidential selection process.

If you believe that our country’s problems and the threats that we face in this world can only be met with new thinking, new and fresh approaches, then I ask you to join my campaign.

Go on to martinomalley.com. No hour is too short, no dollar too small. If you — we will not solve our nation’s problems by resorting to the divisive ideologies of our past, or by returning to polarizing figures from our past.

We are at the threshold of a new era of American progress, but it’s going to require that we act as Americans, based on our principles, here at home, making an economy that works for all of us. And, also, acting according to our principles and constructing a new foreign policy of engagement and collaboration, and doing a much better job of identifying threats before they back up into military corners.

There is no challenge too great for the United States to confront, provided we have the ability and the courage to put forward new leadership that can move us to those better and safer and more prosperous days. I need your help. Thank you very, very much. [applause]

DICKERSON: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, thank you very much to CBS and everyone here this evening for giving us another chance to appear before you. I’ve heard a lot about me in this debate, and I’m going to keep talking and thinking about all of you because ultimately, I think the president’s job is to do everything possible, everything that she can do to lift up the people of this country. [applause]

Starting with our children and moving forward. I’ve spent my entire life, since I started as a young lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund, trying to figure out how we can even the odds for so many people in America, this great country of ours, who are behind, who don’t have a chance.

And that’s what I will do as your president. I will work my heart out. I need your help. All of you in Iowa, I need you to caucus for me. Please go to hillaryclinton.com and be part of making this country what we know it can and should be. [applause]

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: John — John, this country today has more income and wealth inequality than any major country on Earth. We have a corrupt campaign finance system dominated by Super PACs. We are the only major country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all people. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty, and we’re the only country in the world — virtually the only country that doesn’t guarantee paid family and medical leave.

That’s not the America that I think we should be. But in order to bring about the changes that we need, we need a political revolution. Millions of people are going to have to stand up, turn off the TV, get involved in the political process and tell the big- money interest that we are taking back our country. Please go to berniesanders.com. Please become part of the political revolution. Thank you. [applause]

[commercial break]

DICKERSON: And the candidates are thanking each other for a good debate. Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley now two debates in the books, with four more to come.



Citation: Presidential Candidates Debates: “Democratic Candidates Debate in Des Monies, Iowa,” November 14, 2015. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=110910.

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Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 October 13, 2015: First Democratic Candidates Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Transcript

ELECTION 2016

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016

Democratic Candidates Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada
October 13, 2015

Source: UCSB, The American Presidency Project 

PARTICIPANTS:
Former Governor Lincoln Chafee (RI);
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton;
Former Governor Martin O’Malley (MD);
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT);
Former Senator Jim Webb (VA);

MODERATORS:
Anderson Cooper (CNN);
Dana Bash (CNN);
Don Lemon (CNN); and
Juan Carlos Lopez (CNN en Espanol)

COOPER: I’m Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us. We’ve already welcomed the candidates on stage. They are in place at their podiums. Before we dive into the issues, I want to quickly explain some of the groundrules tonight.

As the moderator, I’ll ask questions, followups and guide the discussion. I’ll be joined in the questioning by CNN’s Juan Carlos Lopez and Dana Bash, a well as Don Lemon who will share questions from Democrats around the country. Each candidate will get one minute to answer questions, and 30 seconds for followups and rebuttals. I’ll give candidates time to respond if they have been singled out for criticism.

Our viewers should know that we have lights that are visible to the candidates to warn them when their time is up.

I want the candidates to be able to introduce themselves to our audience. Each candidate will have two minutes to introduce themselves.

Let’s begin with Governor Chafee.

Governor?

CHAFEE: Thank you, Anderson.

Thank you, CNN, and thank you Facebook for organizing this debate.

Not only will Americans be electing a new president next year, we also will be electing a world leader. Voters should assess the candidate’s experience, character and vision for the future as they make this important decision.

I’m the only one running for president that has been a mayor, a United States senator, and a governor. As mayor, I brought labor peace to my city and kept taxes down. I was reelected three times. As a senator, I earned a reputation for courageous votes against the Bush-Cheney tax cuts the favored the wealthy, against the tragedy of the Iraq war, for environmental stewardship, for protection of our civil liberties. I served on the Foreign Relations Committee and I chaired the Middle East Subcommittee for four years.

As governor, I came in at the depths of the recession and we turned my state around. Rhode Island had the biggest drop of the unemployment rate over my four budgets of all but one state. It happens to be Nevada, where we’re having this debate. I’m very proud that over my almost 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I’ve always been honest. I have the courage to take the long-term view, and I’ve shown good judgment. I have high ethical standards.

As we look to the future, I want to address the income inequality, close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. I want to address climate change, a real threat to our planet. And I believe in prosperity through peace. I want to end these wars.

I look forward to the discussion ahead.

Thank you [applause]

COOPER: Thank you very much, Governor. [applause]

Senator Webb, you have two minutes.

WEBB: Thank you.

You know, people are disgusted with the way that money has corrupted our political process, intimidating incumbents and empowering Wall Street every day, the turnstile government that we see, and also the power of the financial sector in both parties.

They’re looking for a leader who understands how the system works, who has not been coopted by it, and also has a proven record of accomplishing different things. I have a record of working across the political aisle. I’ve also spent more than half of my professional life away from politics in the independent world of being an author, a journalist, and a sole proprietor.

In government service, I’ve fought and bled for our country in Vietnam as a Marine. I spent years as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy — in the Reagan administration.

In the senate, I spoke about economic fairness and social justice from day one. I also wrote and passed the best piece of veterans education legislation in history, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. I brought criminal justice reform out of the political shadows and into the national discussion. I led what later became called the Strategic Pivot to Asia two years before President Obama was elected.

I know where my loyalties are.

My mother grew up in the poverty of east Arkansas chopping cotton, picking strawberries. Three of her seven siblings died in childhood. My wife, Hong, came to this country as a refugee from war torn Vietnam — learned English, a language that was not spoken at home, and earned her way into Cornell Law School. I have five daughters. Amy works with disabled veterans, Sarah is an emergency room nurse, Julia is a massage therapist, Emily and Georgia are still in school. My son Jim fought as an infantry Marine on the bloody streets of Ramadi.

You may be sure that in a Webb administration, the highest priority will be the working people who every day go out and make this country stronger at home, and who give us the right reputation and security overseas under a common sense foreign policy. [cheering and applause]

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, you have two minutes.

O’MALLEY: My name is Martin O’Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore, former governor of Maryland, a life long democrat, and most importantly, a husband, and a father.

My wife Katie and I have four great kids, Grace, and Tara, and William and Jack. And, like you, there is nothing we wouldn’t do to give them healthier and better lives. There are some things that I have learned to do better in life than others. And, after 15 years of executive experience, I have learned how to be an effective leader.

Whether it was raising the minimum wage, making our public schools the best in America, passing marriage equality, the DREAM Act, and comprehensive gun safety legislation, I have learned how to get things done because I am very clear about my principals.

Thanks to President Obama, our country has come a long way since the Wall Street crash of 2008. Our country’s doing better, we are creating jobs again. But we elected a president, not a magician, and there is urgent work that needs to be done right now. For there is a — deep injustice, an economic injustice that threatens to tear our country apart, and it will not solve itself. Injustice does not solve itself.

What I’m talking about is this, our middle class is shrinking. Our poor families are becoming poorer, and 70 percent of us are earning the same, or less than we were 12 years ago. We need new leadership, and we need action. The sort of action that will actually make wages go up again for all American families.

Our economy isn’t money, it’s people. It’s all of our people, and so we must invest in our country, and the potential of our kids to make college a debt free option for all of our families, instead of settling our kids with a lifetime of crushing debt.

And, we must square our shoulders to the great challenge of climate change and make this threat our opportunity. The future is what we make of it. We are all in this together. And, the question in this election is whether you and I still have the ability to give our kids a better future. I believe we do, that is why I am running for president, and I need your help.

Thank you. [applause]

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, thank you very much. Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Anderson, thank you very much. I think most Americans understand that our country today faces a series of unprecedented crises. The middle class of this country for the last 40 years has been disappearing. Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and yet almost all of the new income and wealth being created is going to the top one percent.

As a result of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, our campaign finance system is corrupt and is undermining American democracy. Millionaires and billionaires are pouring unbelievable sums of money into the political process in order to fund super PACs and to elect candidates who represent their interests, not the interests of working people.

Today, the scientific community is virtually unanimous: climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and we have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren.

Today in America, we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. African-American youth unemployment is 51 percent. Hispanic youth unemployment is 36 percent. It seems to me that instead of building more jails and providing more incarceration, maybe — just maybe — we should be putting money into education and jobs for our kids. [applause]

What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have. Thank you. [applause]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, thank you, and thanks to everyone for hosting this first of the Democratic debates.

I’m Hillary Clinton. I have been proud and privileged to serve as first lady, as a senator from New York, and as secretary of state. I’m the granddaughter of a factory worker and the grandmother of a wonderful one-year-old child. And every day, I think about what we need to do to make sure that opportunity is available not just for her, but for all of our children. I have spent a very long time — my entire adult life — looking for ways to even the odds to help people have a chance to get ahead, and, in particular, to find the ways for each child to live up to his or her God-given potential.

I’ve traveled across our country over the last months listening and learning, and I’ve put forward specific plans about how we’re going to create more good-paying jobs: by investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy.

At the center of my campaign is how we’re going to raise wages. Yes, of course, raise the minimum wage, but we have to do so much more, including finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them.

And then we have to figure out how we’re going to make the tax system a fairer one. Right now, the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much. So I have specific recommendations about how we’re going to close those loopholes, make it clear that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share, and have a series of tax cuts for middle-class families.

And I want to do more to help us balance family and work. I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it’s about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world. [applause]

During the course of the evening tonight, I’ll have a chance to lay out all of my plans and the work that I’ve done behind them. But for me, this is about bringing our country together again. And I will do everything I can to heal the divides — the divides economically, because there’s too much inequality; the racial divides; the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community — so that we work together and, yes, finally, fathers will be able to say to their daughters, you, too, can grow up to be president. [applause]

COOPER: Thank you, all. It is time to start the debate.

Are you all ready? [applause]

All right. Let’s begin. We’re going to be discussing a lot of the issues, many of the issues, important issues that you have brought up. But I want to begin with concerns that voters have about each of the candidates here on this stage that they have about each of you.

Secretary Clinton, I want to start with you. Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency.

You were against same-sex marriage. Now you’re for it. You defended President Obama’s immigration policies. Now you say they’re too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the “gold standard”. Now, suddenly, last week, you’re against it.

Will you say anything to get elected?

CLINTON: Well, actually, I have been very consistent. Over the course of my entire life, I have always fought for the same values and principles, but, like most human beings — including those of us who run for office — I do absorb new information. I do look at what’s happening in the world.

You know, take the trade deal. I did say, when I was secretary of state, three years ago, that I hoped it would be the gold standard. It was just finally negotiated last week, and in looking at it, it didn’t meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans.

And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, “this will help raise your wages.” And I concluded I could not.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, though, with all due respect, the question is really about political expediency. Just in July, New Hampshire, you told the crowd you’d, quote, “take a back seat to no one when it comes to progressive values.”

Last month in Ohio, you said you plead guilty to, quote, “being kind of moderate and center.” Do you change your political identity based on who you’re talking to?

CLINTON: No. I think that, like most people that I know, I have a range of views, but they are rooted in my values and my experience. And I don’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment.

You know, when I left law school, my first job was with the Children’s Defense Fund, and for all the years since, I have been focused on how we’re going to un-stack the deck, and how we’re gonna make it possible for more people to have the experience I had.

You know, to be able to come from a grandfather who was a factory worker, a father who was a small business person, and now asking the people of America to elect me president.

COOPER: Just for the record, are you a progressive, or are you a moderate?

CLINTON: I’m a progressive. But I’m a progressive who likes to get things done. And I know… [applause] …how to find common ground, and I know how to stand my ground, and I have proved that in every position that I’ve had, even dealing with Republicans who never had a good word to say about me, honestly. But we found ways to work together on everything from…

COOPER: Secretary…

CLINTON: …reforming foster care and adoption to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures…

COOPER: …thank you…

CLINTON: …8 million kids. So I have a long history of getting things done, rooted in the same values…

COOPER: …Senator…

CLINTON: …I’ve always had.

COOPER: Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?

SANDERS: Well, we’re gonna win because first, we’re gonna explain what democratic socialism is.

And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent — almost — own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.

That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.

Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people. [applause]

COOPER: Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people. The question is really about electability here, and that’s what I’m trying to get at.

You — the — the Republican attack ad against you in a general election — it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you’re not a capitalist.

Doesn’t — doesn’t that ad write itself?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let’s look at the facts. The facts that are very simple. Republicans win when there is a low voter turnout, and that is what happened last November.

Sixty-three percent of the American people didn’t vote, Anderson. Eighty percent of young people didn’t vote. We are bringing out huge turnouts, and creating excitement all over this country.

Democrats at the White House on down will win, when there is excitement and a large voter turnout, and that is what this campaign is doing.

COOPER: You don’t consider yourself a capitalist, though?

SANDERS: Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don’t.

I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires. [applause]

COOPER: Just let me just be clear. Is there anybody else on the stage who is not a capitalist?

CLINTON: Well, let me just follow-up on that, Anderson, because when I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.

And I don’t think we should confuse what we have to do every so often in America, which is save capitalism from itself. And I think what Senator Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have.

But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America. And it’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities we’re seeing in our economic system.

But we would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history…

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

CLINTON: … of the world. [applause]

SANDERS: I think everybody is in agreement that we are a great entrepreneurial nation. We have got to encourage that. Of course, we have to support small and medium-sized businesses.

But you can have all of the growth that you want and it doesn’t mean anything if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. So what we need to do is support small and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of our economy, but we have to make sure that every family in this country gets a fair shake…

COOPER: We’re going to get…

SANDERS: … not just for billionaires.

COOPER: We’re going to have a lot more on these issues. But I do want to just quickly get everybody in on the question of electability.

Governor Chafee, you’ve been everything but a socialist. When you were senator from Rhode Island, you were a Republican. When you were elected governor, you were an independent. You’ve only been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should Democratic voters trust you won’t change again?

CHAFEE: Anderson, you’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. Whether it’s…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: It seems like pretty soft granite. I mean, you’ve been a Republican, you’ve been an independent.

CHAFEE: Did you hear what I said? On the issues. I have not changed on the issues. I was a liberal Republican, then I was an independent, and now I’m a proud Democrat. But I have not changed on the issues.

And I open my record to scrutiny. Whether it’s on the environment, a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, fiscal responsibility, aversion to foreign entanglements, using the tools of government to help the less fortunate.

Time and time again, I have never changed. You’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues. So I have not changed.

COOPER: Then why change labels?

CHAFEE: The party left me. There’s no doubt about that. There was no room for a liberal moderate Republican in that party. I even had a primary for my reelection in 2006. I won it. But the money poured in to defeat me in Rhode Island as a Republican. That’s what we were up against.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, the concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore’s mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April.

The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?

O’MALLEY: Yes, actually, I believe what she said was that there’s a lot of policies that have led to this unrest.

But, Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999…

COOPER: She actually — just for the record, when she was asked which policies, to name two, she said zero tolerance. I mean, there’s a number of old policies that we’re seeing the results of. That distress of communities, where communities don’t want to step forward and say who killed a 3-year-old, it’s a direct result of these failed policies.

O’MALLEY: Well, let’s talk about this a little bit. One of the things that was not reported during that heartbreaking night of unrest in Baltimore was that arrests had actually fallen to a 38-year low in the year prior to the Freddie Gray’s tragic death.

Anderson, when I ran for mayor of Baltimore back in 1999, it was not because our city was doing well. It was because we allowed ourselves to become the most violent, addicted, and abandoned city in America.

And I ran and promised people that together we could turn that around. And we put our city on a path to reduce violent crime, or part one (ph) crime by more than any other major city in America over the next 10 years.

I did not make our city immune to setbacks. But I attended a lot of funerals, including one for a family of seven who were firebombed in their sleep for picking up the phone in a poor African-American neighborhood and calling the police because of drug dealers on their corner.

We’ve saved over a thousand lives in Baltimore in the last 15 years of people working together. And the vast majority of them were young and poor and black. It wasn’t easy on any day. But we saved lives and we gave our city a better future, improving police and community relations every single day that I was in office.

COOPER: In one year alone, though, 100,000 arrests were made in your city, a city of 640,000 people. The ACLU, the NAACP sued you, sued the city, and the city actually settled, saying a lot of those arrests were without probable cause.

O’MALLEY: Well, I think the key word in your followup there was the word “settle.” That’s true. It was settled. Arrests peaked in 2003, Anderson, but they declined every year after that as we restored peace in our poorer neighborhoods so that people could actually walk and not have to worry about their kids or their loved ones of being victims of violent crime.

Look, none of this is easy. None of us has all the answers. But together as a city, we saved a lot of lives. It was about leadership. It was about principle. And it was about bringing people together.

COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

O’MALLEY: Thank you.

COOPER: Senator Webb, in 2006, you called affirmative action “state-sponsored racism.” In 2010, you wrote an op/ed saying it discriminates against whites. Given that nearly half the Democratic Party is non-white, aren’t you out of step with where the Democratic Party is now?

WEBB: No, actually I believe that I am where the Democratic Party traditionally has been. The Democratic Party, and the reason I’ve decided to run as a Democrat, has been the party that gives people who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power a voice. And that is not determined by race.

And as a clarification, I have always supported affirmative action for African Americans. That’s the way the program was originally designed because of their unique history in this country, with slavery and the Jim Crow laws that followed. What I have discussed a number of times is the idea that when we create diversity programs that include everyone, quote, “of color,” other than whites, struggling whites like the families in the Appalachian mountains, we’re not being true to the Democratic Party principle of elevating the level of consciousness among our people about the hardships that a lot of people who happen to be have — by culture, by the way.

COOPER: Senator Webb, thank you very much.

Let’s move on to some of the most pressing issues facing our country right now, some of the biggest issues right now in the headlines today. We’re going to start with guns. The shooting in Oregon earlier this month, once again it brought the issue of guns into the national conversation. Over the last week, guns have been the most discussed political topic on Facebook by two to one.

Senator Sanders, you voted against the Brady bill that mandated background checks and a waiting period. You also supported allowing riders to bring guns in checked bags on Amtrak trains. For a decade, you said that holding gun manufacturers legally responsible for mass shootings is a bad idea. Now, you say you’re reconsidering that. Which is it: shield the gun companies from lawsuits or not?

SANDERS: Let’s begin, Anderson, by understanding that Bernie Sanders has a D-minus voting rating (ph) from the NRA. Let’s also understand that back in 1988 when I first ran for the United States Congress, way back then, I told the gun owners of the state of Vermont and I told the people of the state of Vermont, a state which has virtually no gun control, that I supported a ban on assault weapons. And over the years, I have strongly avoided instant background checks, doing away with this terrible gun show loophole. And I think we’ve got to move aggressively at the federal level in dealing with the straw man purchasers.

Also I believe, and I’ve fought for, to understand that there are thousands of people in this country today who are suicidal, who are homicidal, but can’t get the healthcare that they need, the mental healthcare, because they don’t have insurance or they’re too poor. I believe that everybody in this country who has a mental crisis has got to get mental health counseling immediately.

COOPER: Do you want to shield gun companies from lawsuits?

SANDERS: Of course not. This was a large and complicated bill. There were provisions in it that I think made sense. For example, do I think that a gun shop in the state of Vermont that sells legally a gun to somebody, and that somebody goes out and does something crazy, that that gun shop owner should be held responsible? I don’t.

On the other hand, where you have manufacturers and where you have gun shops knowingly giving guns to criminals or aiding and abetting that, of course we should take action.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, is Bernie Sanders tough enough on guns?

CLINTON: No, not at all. I think that we have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence. This has gone on too long and it’s time the entire country stood up against the NRA. The majority of our country… [applause] … supports background checks, and even the majority of gun owners do.

Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady bill. Since it was passed, more than 2 million prohibited purchases have been prevented. He also did vote, as he said, for this immunity provision. I voted against it. I was in the Senate at the same time. It wasn’t that complicated to me. It was pretty straightforward to me that he was going to give immunity to the only industry in America. Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers. And we need to stand up and say: Enough of that. We’re not going to let it continue. [applause]

COOPER: We’re going to bring you all in on this. But, Senator Sanders, you have to give a response.

SANDERS: As a senator from a rural state, what I can tell Secretary Clinton, that all the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence that we are seeing.

I believe that there is a consensus in this country. A consensus has said we need to strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole, that we have to address the issue of mental health, that we have to deal with the strawman purchasing issue, and that when we develop that consensus, we can finally, finally do something to address this issue.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, you passed gun legislation as governor of Maryland, but you had a Democratic-controlled legislature. President Obama couldn’t convince Congress to pass gun legislation after the massacres in Aurora, in Newtown, and Charleston. How can you?

O’MALLEY: And, Anderson, I also had to overcome a lot of opposition in the leadership of my own party to get this done. Look, it’s fine to talk about all of these things — and I’m glad we’re talking about these things — but I’ve actually done them.

We passed comprehensive gun safety legislation, not by looking at the pollings or looking at what the polls said. We actually did it. And, Anderson, here tonight in our audience are two people that make this issue very, very real. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are here from Colorado. And their daughter, Jessie, was one of those who lost their lives in that awful mass shooting in Aurora.

Now, to try to transform their grief, they went to court, where sometimes progress does happen when you file in court, but in this case, you want to talk about a — a rigged game, Senator? The game was rigged. A man had sold 4,000 rounds of military ammunition to this — this person that killed their daughter, riddled her body with five bullets, and he didn’t even ask where it was going.

And not only did their case get thrown out of court, they were slapped with $200,000 in court fees because of the way that the NRA gets its way in our Congress and we take a backseat. It’s time to stand up and pass comprehensive gun safety legislation as a nation. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to be able to respond, 30 seconds.

SANDERS: I think the governor gave a very good example about the weaknesses in that law and I think we have to take another look at it. But here is the point, Governor. We can raise our voices, but I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not.

Our job is to bring people together around strong, commonsense gun legislation. I think there is a vast majority in this country who want to do the right thing, and I intend to lead the country in bringing our people together.

O’MALLEY: Senator — Senator, excuse me.

[crosstalk]

O’MALLEY: Senator, it is not about rural — Senator, it was not about rural and urban.

SANDERS: It’s exactly about rural.

O’MALLEY: Have you ever been to the Eastern Shore? Have you ever been to Western Maryland? We were able to pass this and still respect the hunting traditions of people who live in our rural areas.

SANDERS: Governor…

O’MALLEY: And we did it by leading with principle, not by pandering to the NRA and backing down to the NRA.

SANDERS: Well, as somebody who has a D-minus voting record…

[crosstalk]

O’MALLEY: And I have an F from the NRA, Senator.

SANDERS: I don’t think I am pandering. But you have not been in the United States Congress.

O’MALLEY: Well, maybe that’s a healthy thing. [laughter]

SANDERS: And when you want to, check it out. And if you think — if you think that we can simply go forward and pass something tomorrow without bringing people together, you are sorely mistaken.

COOPER: Let me bring in somebody who has a different viewpoint. Senator Webb, your rating from the NRA, you once had an A rating from the NRA. You’ve said gun violence goes down when more people are allowed to carry guns. Would encouraging more people to be armed be part of your response to a mass shooting?

WEBB: Look, there are two fundamental issues that are involved in this discussion. We need to pay respect to both of them. The first is the issue of who should be kept from having guns and using firearms. And we have done not a good job on that.

A lot of them are criminals. And a lot of the people are getting killed are members of gangs inside our urban areas. And a lot of them are mentally incapacitated. And the shooting in Virginia Tech in ’07, this individual had received medical care for mental illness from three different professionals who were not allowed to share the information.

So we do need background checks. We need to keep the people who should not have guns away from them. But we have to respect the tradition in this country of people who want to defend themselves and their family from violence.

COOPER: Senator…

WEBB: May I? People are going back and forth here for 10 minutes here. There are people at high levels in this government who have bodyguards 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average American does not have that, and deserves the right to be able to protect their family.

COOPER: Senator — Governor Chafee, you have an F rating from the NRA, what do you think about what Senator Webb just said?

CHAFEE: Yes, I have a good record of voting for gun commonsense safety legislation, but the reality is, despite these tragedies that happen time and time again, when legislators step up to pass commonsense gun safety legislation, the gun lobby moves in and tells the people they’re coming to take away your guns.

And, they’re successful at it, in Colorado and others states, the legislators that vote for commonsense gun safety measures then get defeated. I even saw in Rhode Island. So, I would bring the gun lobby in and say we’ve got to change this. Where can we find common ground? Wayne Lapierre from the NRA, whoever it is, the leaders. Come one, we’ve go to change this. We’re not coming to take away your guns, we believe in the Second Amendment, but let’s find common ground here.

COOPER: I want to…

O’MALLEY: …Anderson, when the NRA wrote to everyone in our state — when the NRA wrote to members in our state and told people with hunting traditions lies about what our comprehensive gun safety legislation is, I wrote right back to them and laid out what it actually did. And that’s why, not only did we pass it, but the NRA didn’t…

SANDERS: …Excuse me…

O’MALLEY: …dare to petition a referendum…

SANDERS: …I want to make…

O’MALLEY: …Because we built a public consensus…

COOPER: …I want to move on to another issue, which is in the headlines right now, another crisis making headlines.

Secretary Clinton, Russia, they’re challenging the U.S. in Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, they’ve lied about who they’re bombing. You spearheaded the reset with Russia. Did you underestimate the Russians, and as president, what would your response to Vladimir Putin be right now in Syria?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, we got a lot of business done with the Russians when Medvedev was the president, and not Putin. We got a nuclear arms deal, we got the Iranian sanctions, we got an ability to bring important material and equipment to our soldiers in Afghanistan.

There’s no doubt that when Putin came back in and said he was going to be President, that did change the relationship. We have to stand up to his bullying, and specifically in Syria, it is important — and I applaud the administration because they are engaged in talks right now with the Russians to make it clear that they’ve got to be part of the solution to try to end that bloody conflict.

And, to — provide safe zones so that people are not going to have to be flooding out of Syria at the rate they are. And, I think it’s important too that the United States make it very clear to Putin that it’s not acceptable for him to be in Syria creating more chaos, bombing people on behalf of Assad, and we can’t do that if we don’t take more of a leadership position, which is what I’m advocating.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, what would you do differently.

SANDERS: Well, let’s understand that when we talk about Syria, you’re talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You’re talking about groups of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You’re talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa.

I’m the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and in that capacity I learned a very powerful lesson about the cost of war, and I will do everything that I can to make sure that the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria.

COOPER: On this issue of foreign policy, I want to go to…

CLINTON: …Well, nobody does. Nobody does, Senator Sanders.

COOPER: I want to go to Dana Bash. Dana?

BASH: Governor Chafee, you were the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. You say Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because she voted in favor of using force in Iraq. She has since said that her vote was a mistake. Why isn’t that good enough?

CHAFEE: Well, we just heard Senator Sanders say that it’s the worst decision in American history. That’s very significant, the worst decision in American history, I just heard from Senator Sanders.

So, as we look ahead, if you’re going to make those poor judgment calls, a critical time in our history, we just finished with the Vietnam era, getting back into another quagmire — if you’re looking ahead, and you’re looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — I know because I did my homework, and, so, that’s an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that’s what’s important. [applause]

BASH: Secretary Clinton, he’s questioning your judgment.

CLINTON: Well, I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then Senator Obama, debating this very issue. After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State.

He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him… [applause] …in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues.

You know, I — I agree completely. We don’t want American troops on the ground in Syria. I never said that. What I said was we had to put together a coalition — in fact, something that I worked on before I left the State Department — to do, and yes, that it should include Arabs, people in the region.

Because what I worry about is what will happen with ISIS gaining more territory, having more reach, and, frankly, posing a threat to our friends and neighbors in the region and far beyond.

So I think while you’re talking about the tough decision that President Obama had to make about Osama bin Laden, where I was one of his few advisers, or putting together that coalition to impose sanctions on Iran — I think I have a lot of evidence…

[crosstalk]

BASH: Senator Sanders — Senator Sanders, I want to bring you in here. My question for you is, as a congressman, you voted against the Iraq War. You voted against the Gulf War. You’re just talking about Syria, but under what circumstances would a President Sanders actually use force?

SANDERS: Let me just respond to something the secretary said. First of all, she is talking about, as I understand it, a no-fly zone in Syria, which I think is a very dangerous situation. Could lead to real problems.

Second of all, I heard the same evidence from President Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld about why we should overthrow Saddam Hussein and get involved in the — I would urge people to go to berniesanders.com, hear what I said in 2002. And I say, without any joy in my heart, that much of what I thought would happen about the destabilization, in fact, did happen.

So I think…

BASH: All right. [applause]

SANDERS: I think the president is trying very hard to thread a tough needle here, and that is to support those people who are against Assad, against ISIS, without getting us on the ground there, and that’s the direction I believe we should have (inaudible).

COOPER: But, Senator Sanders, you didn’t answer the question. Under what — under what circumstances would you actually use force?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, I voted, when President Clinton said, “let’s stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo,” I voted for that. I voted to make sure that Osama bin Laden was held accountable in Afghanistan.

When our country is threatened, or when our allies are threatened, I believe that we need coalitions to come together to address the major crises of this country. I do not support the United States getting involved in unilateral action.

(UNKNOWN): You’re at work with our allies.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: I’m gonna bring you all in on this. Governor — Governor O’Malley, Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: I don’t believe that any…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton voted to authorize military force in Iraq, supported more troops in Afghanistan. As Secretary of State, she wanted to arm Syrian rebels and push for the bombing of Libya. Is she too quick to use military force?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, no president — no commander in chief — should take the military option off the table, even if most of us would agree that it should be the last option.

What disturbed people so much about — and I would agree with Senator Sanders on this — leading us into Iraq under false pretenses and telling us, as a people, that there were weapons of mass destruction there was — was one of the worst blunders in modern American history.

But the reason why people remain angry about it is because people feel like a lot of our legislators got railroaded in a war fever and by polls. And I remember being at a dinner shortly before that invasion. People were talking at — and saying, “it’ll take us just a couple years to rebuild democracy,” and I thought, “has this world gone mad?”

Whenever we go — and contrary to John Quincy Adams’ advice — “searching the world for monsters to destroy,” and when we use political might to take a — at the expense of democratic principle, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our [inaudible].

COOPER: Does she — does she want to use military force too rapidly?

O’MALLEY: I believe that, as president, I would not be so quick to pull for a military tool. I believe that a no-fly zone in Syria, at this time, actually, Secretary, would be a mistake.

You have to enforce no-fly zones, and I believe, especially with the Russian air force in the air, it could lead to an escalation because of an accident that we would deeply regret.

I support President Obama. I think we have to play a long game, and I think, ultimately — you want to talk about blunders? I think Assad’s invasion of Syria will be seen as a blunder.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, just for the record, on the campaign trail, you’ve been saying that Secretary Clinton is always quick for the — for the military intervention. Senator — Secretary Clinton, you can respond.

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I…

WEBB: Anderson, can I come into this discussion at some point?

COOPER: Well — yes, you’ll be coming in next, but she was directly quoted, Senator.

WEBB: Thank you. I’ve been standing over here for about ten minutes, trying.

COOPER: OK.

WEBB: It’s just — it’s gone back and forth over there.

COOPER: Secretary?

CLINTON: Well, I am in the middle, here, and… [laughter]

Lots of things coming from all directions.

WEBB: You got the lucky [inaudible].

CLINTON: You know, I have to say, I was very pleased when Governor O’Malley endorsed me for president in 2008, and I enjoyed his strong support in that campaign. And I consider him, obviously, a friend.

Let me say — because there’s a lot of loose talk going on here — we are already flying in Syria just as we are flying in Iraq. The president has made a very tough decision. What I believe and why I have advocated that the no-fly zone — which of course would be in a coalition — be put on the table is because I’m trying to figure out what leverage we have to get Russia to the table. You know, diplomacy is not about getting to the perfect solution. It’s about how you balance the risks.

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: And I think we have an opportunity here — and I know that inside the administration this is being hotly debated — to get that leverage to try to get the Russians to have to deal with everybody in the region and begin to move toward a political, diplomatic solution in Syria.

COOPER: Thank you, Secretary.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Senator Webb, you said as president you would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was, in your words, “inevitable.” Should Secretary Clinton have seen that attack coming?

WEBB: Look, let’s start — I’ve been trying to get in this conversation for about 10 minutes — let’s start with why Russia is in Syria right now. There are three strategic failings that have allowed this to occur. The first was the invasion of Iraq, which destabilized ethnic elements in Iraq and empowered Iran. The second was the Arab Spring, which created huge vacuums in Libya and in Syria that allowed terrorist movements to move in there. And the third was the recent deal allowing Iran to move forward and eventually acquire a nuclear weapon, which sent bad signals, bad body language into the region about whether we are acquiescing in Iran becoming a stronger piece of the formula in that part of the world.

Now, I say this as someone who spent five years in the Pentagon and who opposed the war in Iraq, whose son fought in Iraq, I’ve fought in Vietnam. But if you want a place where we need to be in terms of our national strategy, a focus, the greatest strategic threat that we have right now is resolving our relationship with China. And we need to do this because of their aggression in the region. We need to do it because of the way they treat their own people.

COOPER: Senator…

WEBB: And I would say this. I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes. I will say this.

COOPER: You’re over your time as of now.

WEBB: I will — well, you’ve let a lot of people go over their time. I would say this…

COOPER: You agreed to these debate rules.

WEBB: … to the unelected, authoritarian government of China: You do not own the South China Sea. You do not have the right to conduct cyber warfare against tens of millions of American citizens. And in a Webb administration, we will do something about that.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want you to be able to respond.

SANDERS: Pardon me?

COOPER: I’d like you to be able to respond and get in on this.

SANDERS: Well, I think Mr. Putin is going to regret what he is doing. I think that when he gets into that…

COOPER: He doesn’t seem to be the type of guy to regret a lot.

SANDERS: Well, I think he’s already regretting what he did in Crimea and what he is doing in the Ukraine. I think he is really regretting the decline of his economy. And I think what he is trying to do now is save some face. But I think when Russians get killed in Syria and when he gets bogged down, I think the Russian people are going to give him a message that maybe they should come home, maybe they should start working with the United States to rectify the situation now.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, on the campaign trail, Governor Webb has said that he would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was inevitable. Should you have seen that attack coming?

CLINTON: Well, let’s remember what was going on. We had a murderous dictator, Gadhafi, who had American blood on his hands, as I’m sure you remember, threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people. We had our closest allies in Europe burning up the phone lines begging us to help them try to prevent what they saw as a mass genocide, in their words. And we had the Arabs standing by our side saying, “We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi.”

Our response, which I think was smart power at its best, is that the United States will not lead this. We will provide essential, unique capabilities that we have, but the Europeans and the Arabs had to be first over the line. We did not put one single American soldier on the ground in Libya. And I’ll say this for the Libyan people…

COOPER: But American citizens did lose their lives in Benghazi.

CLINTON: But let — I’ll get to that. But I think it’s important, since I understand Senator Webb’s very strong feelings about this, to explain where we were then and to point out that I think President Obama made the right decision at the time.

And the Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951. And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy. Because of the Arab Spring, because of a lot of other things, there was turmoil to be followed.

But unless you believe the United States should not send diplomats to any place that is dangerous, which I do not, then when we send them forth, there is always the potential for danger and risk.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

WEBB: Can I…

[crosstalk]

O’MALLEY: Anderson, I think we are learning…

[crosstalk]

O’MALLEY: Anderson, I think there’s lessons to be learned from Benghazi. And those lessons are that we need to do a much better job as a nation of having human intelligence on the ground so that we know who the emerging next generation leaders are that are coming up to replace a dictator when his time on this planet ends.

And I believe that’s what Chris Stevens was trying to do. But he did not have the tools. We have failed as a country to invest in the human intelligence that would allow us to make not only better decisions in Libya, but better decisions in Syria today.

And it’s a huge national security failing.

COOPER: Senator Webb, I want you to be able to respond.

WEBB: Thank you.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: This is not about Benghazi per se. To me it is the inevitability of something like Benghazi occurring in the way that we intervened in Libya. We had no treaties at risk. We had no Americans at risk. There was no threat of attack or imminent attack.

There is plenty of time for a president to come to the Congress and request authority to use military force in that situation. I called for it on the Senate floor again and again. I called for it in Senate hearings.

It is not a wise thing to do. And if people think it was a wise thing to do, try to get to the Tripoli airport today. You can’t do it.

COOPER: Secretary (sic) Webb, you served in Vietnam. You’re a marine. Once a marine, always a marine. You served as a marine in Vietnam. You’re a decorated war hero. You eventually became secretary of the navy.

During the Vietnam War, the man standing next to you, Senator Sanders, applied for status as a conscientious objector. Given his history, can he serve as a credible commander-in-chief?

WEBB: Everybody makes their decisions when the time there is conscription. And as long as they go through the legal process that our country requires, I respect that. And it would be for the voters to decide whether Senator Sanders or anyone else should be president.

I will say this, coming from the position that I’ve come from, from a military family, with my brother a marine, my son was a marine in Iraq, I served as a marine, spending five years in the Pentagon, I am comfortable that I am the most qualified person standing up here today to be your commander-in-chief.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, tell an American soldier who is watching right now tonight in Afghanistan why you can be commander-in- chief given that you applied for conscientious objector status.

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let me applaud my good friend Jim Webb for his service to this country in so many ways. [applause]

Jim and I, under Jim’s leadership, as he indicated, passed the most significant veterans education bill in recent history. We followed suit with a few years later passing, under my leadership, the most significant veterans’ health care legislation in the modern history of this country. [applause]

When I was a young man — I’m not a young man today. When I was a young man, I strongly opposed the war in Vietnam. Not the brave men like Jim who fought in that war, but the policy which got us involved in that war. That was my view then. [cheering and applause]

I am not a pacifist, Anderson. I supported the war in Afghanistan. I supported President Clinton’s effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do.

Yes, I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort that we have got to exercise diplomacy. But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Very quickly, 30 seconds for each of you. Governor Chafee, who or what is the greatest national security threat to the United States? I want to go down the line.

CHAFEE: OK. I just have to answer one thing that Senator Webb said about the Iran deal, because I’m a strong proponent of what President Obama — and he said that because of that the Iran deal that enabled Russia to come in.

No, that’s not true, Senator Webb. I respect your foreign policy chops. But Russia is aligned with Iran and with Assad and the Alawite Shias in Syria. So that Iran deal did not allow Russia to come in.

COOPER: OK. Senator, I can give you 30 seconds to respond.

WEBB: I believe that the signal that we sent to the region when the Iran nuclear deal was concluded was that we are accepting Iran’s greater position on this very important balance of power, among our greatest ally Israel, and the Sunnis represented by the Saudi regime, and Iran. It was a position of weakness and I think it encouraged the acts that we’ve seen in the past several weeks.

COOPER: Thirty seconds for each of you. Governor Chafee, what is the greatest national security threat to the United States?

CHAFEE: It’s certainly the chaos in the Middle East. There’s no doubt about it.

COOPER: OK.

CHAFEE: And it all started with the Iraq invasion.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: I believe that nuclear Iran remains the biggest threat, along with the threat of ISIL; climate change, of course, makes cascading threats even more (inaudible).

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, the greatest national security threat?

CLINTON: I — I think it has to be continued threat from the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear material that can fall into the wrong hands. I know the terrorists are constantly seeking it, and that’s why we have to stay vigilant, but also united around the world to prevent that.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, greatest national security threat?

SANDERS: The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: Our greatest long-term strategic challenge is our relation with China. Our greatest day-to-day threat is cyber warfare against this country. Our greatest military-operational threat is resolving the situations in the Middle East.

COOPER: All right. We’re going to take a short break. Do these candidates see eye to eye on an issue that is driving a big wedge between Republicans? That is next.

We’ll be right back. [applause]

[commercial break]

COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in Nevada, in Las Vegas, at the Wynn Resort for the first Democratic presidential debate. The questions continue.

We begin with Secretary Clinton. Secretary Clinton, you are going to be testifying before Congress next week about your e-mails. For the last eight months, you haven’t been able to put this issue behind you. You dismissed it; you joked about it; you called it a mistake. What does that say about your ability to handle far more challenging crises as president?

CLINTON: Well, I’ve taken responsibility for it. I did say it was a mistake. What I did was allowed by the State Department, but it wasn’t the best choice.

And I have been as transparent as I know to be, turning over 55,000 pages of my e-mails, asking that they be made public. And you’re right. I am going to be testifying. I’ve been asking to testify for some time and to do it in public, which was not originally agreed to.

But let’s just take a minute here and point out that this committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee. [applause]

It is a partisan vehicle, as admitted by the House Republican majority leader, Mr. McCarthy, to drive down my poll numbers. Big surprise. And that’s what they have attempted to do.

I am still standing. I am happy to be part of this debate. [applause]

And I intend to keep talking about the issues that matter to the American people. You know, I believe strongly that we need to be talking about what people talk to me about, like how are we going to make college affordable? How are we going to pay down student debt?

COOPER: Secretary…

CLINTON: How are we going to get health care for everybody…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, with all due respect, it’s a little hard — I mean, isn’t it a little bit hard to call this just a partisan issue? There’s an FBI investigation, and President Obama himself just two days ago said this is a legitimate issue.

CLINTON: Well, I never said it wasn’t legitimate. I said that I have answered all the questions and I will certainly be doing so again before this committee.

But I think it would be really unfair not to look at the entire picture. This committee has spent $4.5 million of taxpayer money, and they said that they were trying to figure out what we could do better to protect our diplomats so that something like Benghazi wouldn’t happen again. There were already seven committee reports about what to do. So I think it’s pretty clear what their obvious goal is.

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: But I’ll be there. I’ll answer their questions. But tonight, I want to talk not about my e-mails, but about what the American people want from the next president of the United States. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Let me say this. [applause]

Let me say — let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. [applause]

CLINTON: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.

SANDERS: You know? The middle class — Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America. [applause]

CLINTON: Thank you, Bernie. Thank you. [applause]

COOPER: It’s obviously very popular in this crowd, and it’s — hold on. [applause]

I know that plays well in this room. But I got to be honest, Governor Chafee, for the record, on the campaign trail, you’ve said a different thing. You said this is a huge issue. Standing here in front of Secretary Clinton, are you willing to say that to her face?

CHAFEE: Absolutely. We have to repair American credibility after we told the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he didn’t. So there’s an issue of American credibility out there. So any time someone is running to be our leader, and a world leader, which the American president is, credibility is an issue out there with the world. And we have repair work to be done. I think we need someone that has the best in ethical standards as our next president. That’s how I feel.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?

CLINTON: No.

COOPER: Governor — Governor… [applause]

Governor O’Malley… [applause]

Governor, it’s popular in the room, but a lot of people do want to know these answers.

Governor O’Malley, you expressed concern on the campaign trail that the Democratic Party is, and I quote, “being defined by Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.”

You heard her answer, do you still feel that way tonight?

O’MALLEY: I believe that now that we’re finally having debates, Anderson, that we don’t have to be defined by the email scandal, and how long — what the FBI’s asking about. Instead, we can talk about affordable college, making college debt free, and all the issues. Which is why — and I see the chair of the DNC here, look how glad we are actually to be talking about the issues that matter the most to people around the kitchen table.

We need to get wages to go up, college more affordable…

COOPER: …Thank you, governor.

O’MALLEY: …we need to make American 100 percent clean electric by 2050.

COOPER: I want to talk about issues of race in America, for that I want to start of with Don Lemon.

LEMON: Alright, Anderson, thank you very much. I’m not sure how to follow that, but this question is about something that has tripped some of the candidates up out on the campaign trail. Can you hear me?

Can’t hear me in the room. OK, here we go again, as I said…

WILKINS: …law school. My question for the candidates is, do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?

COOPER: The question from Arthur…

LEMON: …There we go…

COOPER: …Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter? Let’s put that question to Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Black lives matter. [cheering] And the reason — the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she’s going to end up dead in jail, or their kids… [applause] …are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system… [applause] …In which we have more people in jail than China. And, I intended to tackle that issue. To make sure that our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells. [applause]

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, the question from Arthur was do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, the point that the Black Lives Matter movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color.

When I ran for Mayor of Baltimore — and we we burying over 350 young men ever single year, mostly young, and poor, and black, and I said to our legislature, at the time when I appeared in front of them as a mayor, that if we were burying white, young, poor men in these number we would be marching in the streets and there would be a different reaction.

Black lives matter, and we have a lot of work to do to reform our criminal justice system, and to address race relations in our country. [applause]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, what would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn’t?

CLINTON: Well, I think that President Obama has been a great moral leader on these issues, and has laid out an agenda that has been obstructed by the Republicans at every turn, so… [applause] …So, what we need to be doing is not only reforming criminal justice — I have talked about that at some length, including things like body cameras, but we also need to be following the recommendations of the commissioner that President Obama empanelled on policing. There is an agenda there that we need to be following up on.

Similarly, we need to tackle mass incarceration, and this may be the only bi-partisan issue in the congress this year. We actually have people on both sides of the aisle who have reached the same conclusion, that we can not keep imprisoning more people than anybody else in the world.

But, I believe that the debate, and the discussion has to go further, Anderson, because we’ve got to do more about the lives of these children. That’s why I started off by saying we need to be committed to making it possible for every child to live up to his or her god given potential. That is…

COOPER: …Thank you, Senator…

CLINTON: …really hard to do if you don’t have early childhood education…

COOPER: Senator…

CLINTON: …if you don’t have schools that are able to meet the needs of the people, or good housing, there’s a long list… [applause] …We need a new New Deal for communities of color…

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: I hope I can get that kind of time here. As a President of the United States, every life in this country matters. At the same time, I believe I can say to you, I have had a long history of working with the situation of African Americans.

We’re talking about criminal justice reform, I risked my political life raising the issue of criminal justice reform when I ran for the Senate in Virginia in 2006. I had democratic party political consultants telling me I was committing political suicide.

We led that issue in the congress. We started a national debate on it. And it wasn’t until then that the Republican Party started joining in.

I also represented a so-called war criminal, an African American Marine who was wounded — who was convicted of murder in Vietnam, for six years. He took his life three years into this. I cleared his name after — after three years.

COOPER: Thanks, sir.

WEBB: And I put the African American soldier on the Mall. I made that recommendation and fought for it. So, if you want someone who is — can stand up in front of you right now and say I have done the hard job, I have taken the risks, I am your person.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, let’s talk about income inequality. Wages and incomes are flat. You’ve argued that the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time since the 1920s. We’ve had a Democratic president for seven years. What are you going to be able to do that President Obama didn’t?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, let’s remember where we were when Bush left office. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. And I know my Republican friends seem to have some amnesia on this issue, but the world’s financial crisis was on — the world’s financial markets system was on the verge of collapse. That’s where we were.

Are we better off today than we were then? Absolutely. But the truth is that for the 40 years, the great middle class of this country has been disappearing. And in my view what we need to do is create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; pay equity for women workers; and our disastrous trade policies, which have cost us millions of jobs; and make every public college and university in this country tuition free. [applause]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: I’ll let you jump in a moment. Everybody will get in on this in a moment.

Secretary Clinton, how would you address this issue? In all candor, you and your husband are part of the one percent. How can you credibly represent the views of the middle class?

CLINTON: Well, you know, both Bill and I have been very blessed. Neither of us came from wealthy families and we’ve worked really hard our entire lives. And I want to make sure every single person in this country has the same opportunities that he and I have had, to make the most of their God-given potential and to have the chances that they should have in America for a good education, good job training, and then good jobs.

I have a five point economic plan, because this inequality challenge we face, we have faced it at other points. It’s absolutely right. It hasn’t been this bad since the 1920s. But if you look at the Republicans versus the Democrats when it comes to economic policy, there is no comparison. The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House and that’s why we need to have a Democrat in the White House in January 2017.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, (inaudible).

O’MALLEY: Yes. Anderson, I want to associate myself with many of the items that the senator from Vermont mentioned, and I actually did them in our state. We raised the minimum wage, passed the living wage, invested more in infrastructure, went four years in a row without a penny’s increase in college tuition.

But there’s another piece that Senator Sanders left out tonight, but he’s been excellent about underscoring that. And that is that we need to separate the casino, speculative, mega-bank gambling that we have to insure with our money, from the commercial banking — namely, reinstating Glass-Steagall.

Secretary Clinton mentioned my support eight years ago. And Secretary, I was proud to support you eight years ago, but something happened in between, and that is, Anderson, a Wall Street crash that wiped out millions of jobs and millions of savings for families. And we are still just as vulnerable Paul Volcker says today.

We need to reinstate Glass-Steagall and that’s a huge difference on this stage among us as candidates.

COOPER: Just for viewers at home who may not be reading up on this, Glass-Steagall is the Depression-era banking law repealed in 1999 that prevented commercial banks from engaging in investment banking and insurance activities.

Secretary Clinton, he raises a fundamental difference on this stage. Senator Sanders wants to break up the big Wall Street banks. You don’t. You say charge the banks more, continue to monitor them. Why is your plan better?

CLINTON: Well, my plan is more comprehensive. And frankly, it’s tougher because of course we have to deal with the problem that the banks are still too big to fail. We can never let the American taxpayer and middle class families ever have to bail out the kind of speculative behavior that we saw.

But we also have to worry about some of the other players — AIG, a big insurance company; Lehman Brothers, an investment bank. There’s this whole area called “shadow banking.” That’s where the experts tell me the next potential problem could come from.

CLINTON: So I’m with both Senator Sanders and Governor O’Malley in putting a lot of attention onto the banks. And the plan that I have put forward would actually empower regulators to break up big banks if we thought they posed a risk. But I want to make sure we’re going to cover everybody, not what caused the problem last time, but what could cause it next time.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton just said that her policy is tougher than yours.

SANDERS: Well, that’s not true.

[laughter]

COOPER: Why?

SANDERS: Let us be clear that the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, where fraud is a business model, helped to destroy this economy and the lives of millions of people. [applause]

Check the record. In the 1990s — and all due respect — in the 1990s, when I had the Republican leadership and Wall Street spending billions of dollars in lobbying, when the Clinton administration, when Alan Greenspan said, “what a great idea it would be to allow these huge banks to merge,” Bernie Sanders fought them, and helped lead the opposition to deregulation. [applause]

Today, it is my view that when you have the three…

COOPER: Senator…

SANDERS: …largest banks in America — are much bigger than they were when we bailed them out for being too big to fail, we have got to break them up. [applause]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you have to be able to respond. He brought you up.

CLINTON: Yeah.

You know, I — I respect the passion an intensity. I represented Wall Street, as a senator from New York, and I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 — before the big crash that we had — and I basically said, “cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes! Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors.”

I took on the Bush administration for the same thing. So I have thought deeply and long about what we’re gonna do to do exactly what I think both the senator and the governor want, which is to rein in and stop this risk.

And my plan would have the potential of actually sending the executives to jail. Nobody went to jail after $100 billion in fines were paid… [applause]

COOPER: [inaudible]

CLINTON: …and would give regulators the authority to go after the big banks.

COOPER: Thank you. Thank you. Senator Sanders…

CLINTON: But I’m telling you — I will say it tonight. If only you look at the big banks, you may be missing the forest for the trees.

[crosstalk]

WEBB: Bernie, say my name so I can get into this.

SANDERS: I will, just a second.

WEBB: OK. Thank you. [laughter]

SANDERS: I’ll tell him.

In my view, Secretary Clinton, you do not — Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress. [applause]

And we have gotta break off these banks. Going to them…

CLINTON: So…

SANDERS: …and saying, “please, do the right thing”…

CLINTON: …no, that’s not what…

SANDERS: …is kind of naive.

CLINTON: …that — I think Dodd-Frank was a very…

WEBB: Anderson, I need to jump in (inaudible).

CLINTON: …good start, and I think that we have to implement it. We have to prevent the Republicans from ripping it apart. We have to save the Consumer Financial Protection board, which is finally beginning to act to protect consumers. [applause]

We have work to do. You’ve got no argument from me. But I know, if we don’t come in with a very tough and comprehensive approach, like the plan I’m recommending, we’re gonna be behind instead of ahead…

COOPER: Governor O’Malley? Where do you stand?

CLINTON: …on what the next crisis could be.

O’MALLEY: Anderson, look, this is — the big banks — I mean, once we repealed Glass-Steagall back in the late 1999s (ph), the big banks, the six of them, went from controlling, what, the equivalent of 15 percent of our GDP to now 65 percent of our GDP.

And — (inaudible) right before this debate, Secretary Clinton’s campaign put out a lot of reversals on positions on Keystone and many other things. But one of them that we still have a great difference on, Madam Secretary, is that you are not for Glass-Steagall.

You are not for putting a firewall between this speculative, risky shadow banking behavior. I am, and the people of our country need a president who’s on their side, willing to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street.

We have to fulfill…

COOPER: Secretary Clinton…

O’MALLEY: …our promise.

COOPER: I have to let you respond. [applause]

CLINTON: Well, you know, everybody on this stage has changed a position or two. We’ve been around a cumulative quite some period of time. [laughter]

You know, we know that if you are learning, you’re gonna change your position. I never took a position on Keystone until I took a position on Keystone.

But I have been on the forefront of dealing with climate change, starting in 2009, when President Obama and I crashed (ph) a meeting with the Chinese and got them to sign up to the first international agreement to combat climate change that they’d ever joined.

So I’m…

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: …not taking a back seat to anybody on my values…

COOPER: Thank…

CLINTON: …my principles and the results that I get.

COOPER: Senator Sanders… [applause]

Senator Sanders, in 2008, congressional leaders were told, without the 2008 bailout, the U.S. was possibly days away from a complete meltdown. Despite that, you still voted against it.

As president, would you stand by your principles if it risked the country’s financial stability?

SANDERS: Well, I remember that meeting very well. I remember it like it was yesterday. Hank Paulson, Bernanke came in, and they say, “guys, the economy is going to collapse because Wall Street is going under. It’s gonna take the economy with them.”

And you know what I said to Hank Paulson? I said, “Hank, your guys — you come from Goldman Sachs. Your millionaire and billionaire friends caused this problem. How about your millionaire and billionaire friends paying for the bailout, not working families in this country?”

So to answer your question, no, I would not have let the economy collapse. But it was wrong to ask the middle class to bail out Wall Street. And by the way, I want Wall Street now to help kids in this country go to college, public colleges and universities, free with a Wall Street speculation tax. [applause]

COOPER: We’re going to talk about that in a minute.

But, Senator Webb, I want to get you in. You have said neither party has the guts to take on Wall Street. Is the system rigged?

WEBB: There is a reality that I think we all need to recognize with respect to the power of the financial sector.

And let me just go back a minute and say that on this TARP program, I introduced a piece of legislation calling for a windfall profits tax on the executives of any of these companies that got more than $5 billion, that it was time for them, once they got their compensation and their bonus, to split the rest of the money they made with the nurses and the truck drivers and the soldiers who bailed them out. With respect to the financial sector, I mean, I know that my time has run out but in speaking of changing positions and the position on how this debate has occurred is kind of frustrating because unless somebody mentions my name I can’t get into the discussion.

COOPER: You agreed to these rules and you’re wasting time. So if you would finish your answer, we’ll move on.

WEBB: All right. Well, I’m trying to set a mark here so maybe we can get into a little more later on. This hasn’t been equal time.

But if you want to look at what has happened, if we look at the facts in terms of how we’re going to deal with this, since that crash, in the last 10 years, the amount of the world’s capital economy that Wall Street manages has gone from 44 percent to 55 percent.

That means the Wall Street money managers are not risking themselves as the same way the American people are when they’re going to get their compensation. They’re managing money from all over the world.

We have to take that into consideration when we’re looking at ways to regulate it.

COOPER: Governor Chafee, you have attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999 you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger.

CHAFEE: The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I’d just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office, it was my very first vote.

COOPER: Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?

CHAFEE: I’d just arrived at the Senate. I think we’d get some takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5. It was the…

COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor…

CHAFEE: But let me just say…

COOPER: … what does that say about you that you’re casting a vote for something you weren’t really sure about?

CHAFEE: I think you’re being a little rough. I’d just arrived at the United States Senate. I’d been mayor of my city. My dad had died. I’d been appointed by the governor. It was the first vote and it was 90-5, because it was a conference report.

But let me just say about income inequality. We’ve had a lot of talk over the last few minutes, hours, or tens of minutes, but no one is saying how we’re going to fix it. And it all started with the Bush tax cuts that favored the wealthy.

So let’s go back to the tax code. And 0.6 percent of Americans are at the top echelon, over 464,000, 0.6 Americans. That’s less than 1 percent. But they generate 30 percent of the revenue. And they’re doing fine.

COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

CHAFEE: So there’s still a lot more money to be had from this top echelon. I’m saying let’s have another tier and put that back into the tax bracket. And that will generate $42 billion.

COOPER: I want to bring in Dana Bash.

CHAFEE: And then we can help the middle class and hard-earning Americans — hard-working Americans.

COOPER: Dana?

BASH: Thank you.

CNN visited college campuses, along with Facebook. And not surprisingly college affordability was among the most pressing issue.

Senator Sanders, you’ve mentioned a couple of times you do have a plan to make public colleges free for everyone. Secretary Clinton has criticized that in saying she’s not in favor of making a college free for Donald Trump’s kids.

Do you think taxpayers should pick up the tab for wealthy children?

SANDERS: Well, let me tell you, Donald Trump and his billionaire friends under my policies are going to pay a hell of a lot more in taxes today — taxes in the future than they’re paying today. [applause]

But in terms of education, this is what I think. This is the year 2015. A college degree today, Dana, is the equivalent of what a high school degree was 50 years ago.

And what we said 50 years ago and a hundred years ago is that every kid in this country should be able to get a high school education regardless of the income of their family. I think we have to say that is true for everybody going to college.

I think we don’t need a complicated system, which the secretary is talking about, the income goes down, the income goes down, if you’re poor you have to work, and so forth and so on.

I pay for my program, by the way, through a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will not only make public colleges and universities tuition-free, it will substantially lower interest rates on college debt, a major crisis in this country. [applause]

BASH: And, Secretary Clinton, it’s not just college tuition that Senator Sanders is talking about, expanding Social Security and giving all Americans Medicare. What’s wrong with that?

CLINTON: Well, let me address college affordability, because I have a plan that I think will really zero in on what the problems are. First, all the 40 million Americans who currently have student debt will be able to refinance their debt to a low interest rate. That will save thousands of dollars for people who are now struggling under this cumbersome, burdensome college debt.

As a young student in Nevada said to me, the hardest thing about going to college should not be paying for it. So then we have to make it more affordable. How do we make it more affordable? My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition.

But I do believe — and maybe it’s because I worked when I went through college; I worked when I went through law school — I think it’s important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That’s why I call it a compact.

BASH: Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: But, yes, I would like students to work 10 hours a week…

BASH: Can you answer the…

SANDERS: … in order to make it possible for them to afford their education. And I want colleges to get their costs down. They are outrageously high in what they’re charging.

BASH: Secretary Clinton, the question was not just about tuition, though. It was about Senator Sanders’ plan to expand Social Security, to make Medicare available to all Americans. Is that something that you would support? And if not, why not?

CLINTON: Well, I fully support Social Security. And the most important fight we’re going to have is defending it against continuing Republican efforts to privatize it.

BASH: Do you want to expand it?

CLINTON: I want to enhance the benefits for the poorest recipients of Social Security. We have a lot of women on Social Security, particularly widowed and single women who didn’t make a lot of money during their careers, and they are impoverished, and they need more help from the Social Security system.

And I will focus — I will focus on helping those people who need it the most. And of course I’m going to defend Social Security. I’m going to look for ways to try to make sure it’s solvent into the future. And we also need to talk about health care at some time, because we agree on the goals, we just disagree on the means.

SANDERS: When the Republicans — when the Republicans in the Congress and some Democrats were talking about cutting Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans, for the so-called chained CPI, I founded a caucus called the Defending Social Security Caucus.

My view is that when you have millions of seniors in this country trying to get by — and I don’t know how they do on $11,000, $12,000, $13,000 a year — you don’t cut Social Security, you expand it. And the way you expand it is by lifting the cap on taxable incomes so that you do away with the absurdity of a millionaire paying the same amount into the system as somebody making $118,000. You do that, Social Security is solvent until 2061 and you can expand benefits.

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Senator Sanders, I want to bring it over to Juan Carlos Lopez from CNN en Espanol. We’re obviously in Nevada. It’s had the highest percentage of undocumented immigrants of any state in the country as of last year. Juan Carlos?

LOPEZ: Gracias, Anderson. Senator Sanders, in 2013, you voted for immigration reform. But in 2007, when Democrats controlled Congress and the Bush White House was onboard, you voted against it. Why should Latino voters trust you now when you left them at the altar at the moment when reform was very close?

SANDERS: I didn’t leave anybody at the altar. I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they’re working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they’re thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason. Tom Harkin, a very good friend of Hillary Clinton’s and mine, one of the leading labor advocates, also voted against that.

LOPEZ: Tom Harkin isn’t running for president. You are.

SANDERS: I know that. But point being is that progressives did vote against that for that reason. My view right now — and always has been — is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.

O’MALLEY: And Juan Carlos — Juan Carlos…

LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley wants to open up Obamacare to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children, including almost 90,000 people right here in Nevada. Do you?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I want to make sure every child gets health care. That’s why I helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I want to support states that are expanding health care and including undocumented children and others.

I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor O’Malley has recommended, so that they would get the same subsidies.

I think that is — it raises so many issues. It would be very difficult to administer, it needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, when we finally do get to it.

LOPEZ: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Juan Carlos, I think what you’ve heard up here is some of the old thinking on immigration reform, and that’s why it’s gridlocked. We need to understand that our country is stronger in every generation by the arrival of new American immigrants. That is why I have put out a policy for comprehensive immigration reform, that is why I would go further than President Obama has on DACA, and DAPA.

I mean, we are a nation of immigrants, we are made stronger by immigrants. Do you think for a second that simply because somebody’s standing in a broken que on naturalization they’re not going to go to the hospital, and that care isn’t going to fall on to our insurance rates? I am for a generous, compassionate America that says we’re all in this together. We need comprehensive

COOPER: Senator Webb…

O’MALLEY: …immigration reform. It’ll make wages go up in America $250 for every year…

LOPEZ: Senator Webb, do you support the undocumented immigrants getting Obamacare?

WEBB: I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Let me start by saying my wife is an immigrant. She was a refugee, her family escaped from Vietnam on a boat– her entire extended family, after the communists took over, when hundreds of thousands of people were out there and thousands of them were dying. Went to two refugee camps, she never spoke English in her home, and she ended, as I said, graduating from Cornell Law School. That’s not only American dream, that’s a value that we have with a good immigration system in place. No country has — is a country without defining its borders. We need to resolve this issue. I actually introduced an amendment in the 2007 immigration bill…

LOPEZ: …Thank you, Senator.

WEBB: …Giving a pathway to citizenship to those people who had come here, and put down their roots, and met as a series of standards…

COOPER: …Thank you, Senator.

WEBB: …lost (ph) — I introduced that in 2007 — We need a comprehensive reform, and we need to be able to define our borders.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: I want to follow up because I think underneath Juan Carlos’ important questions, there is such a difference between everything you’re hearing here on this stage, and what we hear from the Republicans. [applause]

O’MALLEY: Here. Here.

(CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Demonize hard-working immigrants who have insulted them. You know, I came to Las Vegas in, I think, May. Early may. Met with a group of DREAMers, I wish everybody in America could meet with this young people, to hear their stories, to know their incredible talent, their determination, and that’s why I would go further…

COOPER: …Secretary…

CLINTON: …than even the executive orders that President Obama has signed when I’m president.

(CROSS TALK)

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you. Two of your rivals from your left, Governor O’Malley, and Senator Sanders, want to provide instate college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Where do you stand on that?

CLINTON: My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing.

COOPER: So, on the record, you believe that undocumented immigrants should get instate college tuition.

CLINTON: If their states agree, then we want more states to do the same thing.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, we actually did this in my state of Maryland. We passed… [applause]

O’MALLEY: We passed a state version of the DREAM Act…

(CHEERING)

O’MALLEY: …And a lot of the xenophobes, the immigrant haters like some that we’ve heard like, Donald Trump, that carnival barker in the Republican party…

(CHEERING) (APPLAUSE)

O’MALLEY: Tried to mischaracterize it as free tuition for illegal immigrants. But, we took our case to the people when it was petitioned to referendum, and we won with 58 percent of the vote. The more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that’s true of children who have yet to be naturalized…

COOPER: …Senator…

O’MALLEY: …but will become American citizens…

COOPER: Senator Sanders, you talked about your record on the Veteran affairs committee. You served on that committee for the last eight years, including two years as its chairman while veterans died waiting for health care. You and Senator McCain ultimately addressed the issue with bi-partisan legislation. Why did it take 18 Inspector General reports, and a CNN investigation, and others, before you and your colleagues took action?

SANDERS: Well, I was chairman for two years, and when I was chairman we did take action. What we did is pass a $15 billion dollar piece of legislation which brought in many, many new doctors, and nurses into the V.A. so that veterans in this country could get the health care when they needed it, and not be on long waiting lines.

And, the other part of that legislation said that if a veteran is living more than 40 miles away from a V.A. facility, that veteran could get health care from the community health center, or the private sector. As a result of that legislation, we went further in than any time in recent history in improving health care for the men and women of this country who put their lives on the line to defend them.

COOPER: Governor Chafee, you and Hillary Clinton both voted for the Patriot Act which created the NSA surveillance program. You’ve emphasized civil liberties, privacy during your campaign. Aren’t these two things in conflict?

CHAFEE: No, that was another 99 to one vote for the Patriot Act, and it was seen as at the time modernizing our ability to do what we’ve always done to tap phones which always required a warrant. And I voted for that.

COOPER: Do you regret that vote?

CHAFEE: No, no. As long as you’re getting a warrant, I believe that under the Fourth Amendment, you should be able to do surveillance, but you need a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says. And in the Patriot Act, section 215 started to get broadened too far. So I would be in favor of addressing and reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you regret your vote on the Patriot Act?

CLINTON: No, I don’t. I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 9/11 to put in place the security that we needed. And it is true that it did require that there be a process. What happened, however, is that the Bush administration began to chip away at that process. And I began to speak out about their use of warrantless surveillance and the other behavior that they engaged in.

We always have to keep the balance of civil liberties, privacy and security. It’s not easy in a democracy, but we have to keep it in mind.

COOPER: Senator — Senator Sanders, you’re the only one on this stage who voted against the Patriot Act in 2001… [applause]

SANDERS: It was 99 to one and I was maybe the one. I don’t know.

COOPER: … and the reauthorization votes. Let me ask you, if elected, would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?

SANDERS: I’m sorry?

COOPER: Would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Of course.

COOPER: You would, point blank.

SANDERS: Well, I would shut down — make — I’d shut down what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me. But it’s not just government surveillance. I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well.

If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.

O’MALLEY (?): Anderson, the NSA…

COOPER: Governor Chafee, Edward Snowden, is he a traitor or a hero?

CHAFEE: No, I would bring him home. The courts have ruled that what he did — what he did was say the American…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: Bring him home, no jail time?

CHAFEE: … the American government was acting illegally. That’s what the federal courts have said; what Snowden did showed that the American government was acting illegally for the Fourth Amendment. So I would bring him home.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, hero or traitor?

CLINTON: He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.

COOPER: Should he do jail time?

ClINTON: In addition — in addition, he stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, Snowden? [applause]

O’MALLEY: Anderson, Snowden put a lot of Americans’ lives at risk. Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin. If he really believes that, he should be back here.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, Edward Snowden?

SANDERS: I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.

COOPER: Is he a hero?

SANDERS: He did — he did break the law, and I think there should be a penalty to that. But I think what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration before he is (inaudible).

COOPER: Senator Webb, Edward Snowden?

WEBB: I — well, I — I would leave his ultimate judgment to the legal system. Here’s what I do believe. We have a serious problem in terms of the collection of personal information in this country. And one of the things that I did during the FISA bill in 2007, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was introduce with Russ Feingold two amendments basically saying, “We understand the realities of how you have to collect this broad information in the Internet age, but after a certain period of time, you need to destroy the personal information that you have if people have not been brought — if criminal justice proceedings have not been brought against them.”

We’ve got a vast data bank of information that is ripe for people with bad intentions to be able to use. And they need to be destroyed.

COOPER: Another — another question for each of you, starting with Governor Chafee.

Name the one thing — the one way that your administration would not be a third term of President Obama.

CHAFEE: Certainly, ending the wars. We’ve got to stop these wars. You have to have a new dynamic, a new paradigm. We just spent a half-billion dollars arming and training soldiers, the rebel soldiers in Syria. They quickly join the other side. We bombed the…

[crosstalk]

COOPER: President Obama’s generals right now are suggesting keeping troops in Afghanistan after the time he wanted them pulled out. Would you keep them there?

CHAFEE: I’d like to finish my question — my answer.

And also we just bombed a hospital. We’ve had drone strikes that hit civilian weddings. So I would change how we — our approach to the Middle East. We need a new paradigm in the Middle East.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, how would you be different than President Obama’s administration?

O’MALLEY: I would follow through on the promise that the American people thought we made as Democratic Party, to protect the Main Street economy from recklessness on Wall Street. I would push to separate out these too-big-to-jail, too-big-to-fail banks, and put in place Glass-Steagall, a modern Glass-Steagall that creates a firewall so that this wreckage of our economy can never happen again.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term of President Obama?

CLINTON: Well, I think that’s pretty obvious. I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had up until this point, including President Obama.

COOPER: Is there a policy difference?

CLINTON: Well, there’s a lot that I would like to do to build on the successes of President Obama, but also, as I’m laying out, to go beyond. And that’s in my economic plans, how I would deal with the prescription drug companies, how I would deal with college, how I would deal with a full range of issues that I’ve been talking about throughout this campaign to go further.

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: I have a lot of respect for president Obama. I have worked with him time and time again on many, many issues. But here’s where I do disagree. I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Webb, how would you not be a third term for Obama?

WEBB: I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but I — Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come. And I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff. And if there would be a major difference between my administration and the Obama administration, it would be in the use of executive authority.

I came up as a committee counsel in the Congress, used to put dozens of bills through the House floor every year as a committee counsel on the Veterans Committee. I have a very strong feeling about how our federal system works and how we need to lead and energize the congressional process instead of allowing these divisions to continue to paralyze what we’re doing. So I would lead — working with both parties in the Congress and working through them in the traditional way that our Constitution sets (ph).

COOPER: Senator Sanders, he cited you. You don’t hear a lot of Democratic presidential candidates talking about revolution. What do you mean?

SANDERS: What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what’s going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know. [applause]

And when people come together in a way that does not exist now and are prepared to take on the big money interest, then we could bring the kind of change we need.

O’MALLEY: Anderson, I actually have talked about a revolution. What we need is a green energy revolution. We need to move America to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050 and create 5 million jobs along the way.

COOPER: And we want to — and we’re going to talk more about climate change and environmental issues coming up. Some of the candidates have tried marijuana, as have pretty much — probably everybody in this room.

(LAUGHTER)

Others have not. Does that influence — does it influence their views on legalization? Find out that and others ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to this CNN Democratic presidential debate. It has been quite a night so far. We are in the final block of this debate. All the candidates are back, which I’m very happy to see.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: It’s a long story. Let’s continue, shall we?

Secretary Clinton, welcome back.

CLINTON: Well, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: You know, it does take me a little longer. That’s all I can say.

COOPER: That’s right. Secretary Clinton, Governor O’Malley says the presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth between two royal families. This year has been the year of the outsider in politics, just ask Bernie Sanders. Why should Democrats embrace an insider like yourself?

CLINTON: Well, I can’t think of anything more of an outsider than electing the first woman president, but I’m not just running because I would be the first woman president. [applause]

CLINTON: I’m running because I have a lifetime of experience in getting results and fighting for people, fighting for kids, for women, for families, fighting to even the odds. And I know what it takes to get things done. I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground. And I think we’re going to need both of those in Washington to get anything that we’re talking about up here accomplished.

So I’m very happy that I have both the commitment of a lifetime and the experience of a lifetime to bring together to offer the American people.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, do you want to tell Secretary Clinton why she shouldn’t get the crown?

O’MALLEY: Well, actually, you know, we had this conversation. And I will share with you that I’ve traveled all around the country, Anderson, and there’s two phrases I keep hearing again and again and again. And they’re the phrases “new leadership” and “getting things done.”

We cannot be this dissatisfied with our gridlocked national politics and an economy where 70 percent of us are earning the same or less than we were 12 years ago, and think that a resort to old names is going to move us forward.

I respect what Secretary Clinton and her husband have done for our country. But our country needs new leadership to move forward.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, you have to be able to respond, if you want.

CLINTON: Well, I would not ask anyone to vote for me based on my last name. I would ask them to listen to what I’m proposing, look at what I’ve accomplished in the Senate, as secretary of of state, and then draw your own conclusion.

I certainly am not campaigning to become president because my last name is Clinton. I’m campaigning because I think I have the right combination of what the country needs, at this point, and I think I can take the fight to the Republicans, because we cannot afford a Republican to succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States.

COOPER: (inaudible). [applause]

Senator Sanders, does she have the right stuff?

SANDERS: I think — I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics. I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire, who has raised substantial sums of money, and I do not have a super PAC. [applause]

I am not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, and in fact, tonight, in terms of what a political revolution is about, there are 4,000 house parties — 100,000 people in this country — watching this debate tonight who want real change in this country.

COOPER: we’ve got — we — a lot of questions we’ve got about climate change, and we’re gonna go to Don Lemon. Don?

LEMON: All right. This one is for Martin O’Malley. Anderson, Governor O’Malley, this is from Anna Bettis from Tempe, Arizona. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: As a young person, I’m very concerned about climate change and how it will affect my future. As a presidential candidate, what will you do to address climate change?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Governor O’Malley, please tell Anna how you would protect the environment better than all the other candidates up on that stage.

O’MALLEY: Yeah.

Anna, I have put forward a plan — and I’m the only candidate, I believe, in either party to do this — to move America forward to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.

We did not land a man on the moon with an all-of-the-above strategy. It was an intentional engineering challenge, and we solved it as a nation. And our nation must solve this one.

So I put forward the plan that would extend the investor tax credits for solar and for wind. If you go across Iowa, you see that 30 percent of their energy now comes from wind. We’re here in Las Vegas, one of the most sustainable cities in America, doing important things in terms of green building, architecture and design.

We can get there as a nation, but it’s going to require presidential leadership. And as president, I intend to sign as my very first order in office the — an order that moves us as a nation and dedicates our resources to solving this problem and moving us to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050.

COOPER: Governor…

O’MALLEY: We can do it.

COOPER: …Governor O’Malley, thank you very much. [applause]

Senator Webb, you have a very different view than just about anybody else on this stage, and unlike a lot of Democrats. You’re pro-coal, you’re pro-offshore drilling, you’re pro-Keystone pipeline. Are — again, are you — the question is, are you out of step with the Democratic party?

WEBB: Well, the — the question really is how are we going to solve energy problems here and in the global environment if you really want to address climate change?

And when I was in the Senate, I was an all-of-the-above energy voter. We introduced legislation to bring in alternate energy as well as nuclear power. I’m a strong proponent of nuclear power. It is safe, it is clean. And really, we are not going to solve climate change simply with the laws here.

We’ve done a good job in this country since 1970. If you look at China and India, they’re the greatest polluters in the world. Fifteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in one of those two countries. We need to solve this in a global way. It’s a global problem and I have been very strong on — on doing that. The — the agreements — the so-called agreements that we have had with China are illusory in terms of the immediate requirements of the — of the Chinese government itself.

So let’s solve this problem in an international way, and then we really will have a — a way to address climate change.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, are you tougher on — on climate change than Secretary Clinton?

SANDERS: Well, I will tell you this. I believe — and Pope Francis made this point. This is a moral issue. The scientists are telling us that we need to move extremely boldly.

I am proud that, along with Senator Barbara Boxer, a few years ago, we introduced the first piece of climate change legislation which called for a tax on carbon.

And let me also tell you that nothing is gonna happen unless we are prepared to deal with campaign finance reform, because the fossil fuel industry is funding the Republican Party, which denies the reality of climate change… [applause]

…and certainly is not prepared to go forward aggressively.

This is a moral issue. We have got to be extremely aggressive in working with China, India, Russia.

COOPER: Senator — thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: The planet — the future of the planet is at stake.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, I want you to be able to respond, then I’m gonna go to (ph) (inaudible).

CLINTON: Well, that — that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. When we met in Copenhagen in 2009 and, literally, President Obama and I were hunting for the Chinese, going throughout this huge convention center, because we knew we had to get them to agree to something. Because there will be no effective efforts against climate change unless China and India join with the rest of the world.

They told us they’d left for the airport; we found out they were having a secret meeting. We marched up, we broke in, we said, “We’ve been looking all over for you. Let’s sit down and talk about what we need to do.” And we did come up with the first international agreement that China has signed.

Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, it’s now gone much further.

COOPER: Thank you.

CLINTON: And I do think that the bilateral agreement that President Obama made with the Chinese was significant. Now, it needs to go further, and there will be an international meeting at the end of this year, and we must get verifiable commitments to fight climate change from every country gathered there.

COOPER: Dana Bash?

BASH: Secretary Clinton, you now support mandated paid family leave.

CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

BASH: Carly Fiorina, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company, argues, if the government requires paid leave, it will force small businesses to, quote, “hire fewer people and create fewer jobs.” What do you say not only to Carly Fiorina, but also a small-business owner out there who says, you know, I like this idea, but I just can’t afford it?

CLINTON: Well, I’m surprised she says that, because California has had a paid leave program for a number of years. And it’s…

BASH: It’s on the federal level.

CLINTON: Well, but all — well, on a state level, a state as big as many countries in the world. And it has not had the ill effects that the Republicans are always saying it will have. And I think this is — this is typical Republican scare tactics. We can design a system and pay for it that does not put the burden on small businesses.

I remember as a young mother, you know, having a baby wake up who was sick and I’m supposed to be in court, because I was practicing law. I know what it’s like. And I think we need to recognize the incredible challenges that so many parents face, particularly working moms.

I see my good friend, Senator Gillibrand, in the front row. She’s been a champion of this. We need to get a consensus through this campaign, which is why I’m talking about it everywhere I go, and we need to join the rest of the advanced world in having it.

BASH: But Secretary — Secretary Clinton, even many people who agree with you might say, look, this is very hard to do, especially in today’s day and age. There are so many people who say, “Really? Another government program? Is that what you’re proposing? And at the expense of taxpayer money?”

CLINTON: Well, look, you know, when people say that — it’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say, “You can’t have paid leave, you can’t provide health care.” They don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They’re fine with big government when it comes to that. I’m sick of it. [applause]

You know, we can do these things. [applause]

We should not be paralyzed — we should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, “big government this, big government that,” that except for what they want to impose on the American people. I know we can afford it, because we’re going to make the wealthy pay for it. That is the way to get it done.

COOPER: Thank you. Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: Yeah, Dana, here’s the point: Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby. We are the only major country. That is an international embarrassment that we do not provide family — paid family and medical leave. [applause]

Second of all, the secretary is right. Republicans tell us we can’t do anything except give tax breaks to billionaires and cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s not what the American people want.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: Anderson, in our state, we actually expanded family leave. And I have to agree with Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. Look, the genius of our nation is that we find ways in every generation to include more of our people more fully in the economic life of our country, and we need to do that for our families, and especially so that women aren’t penalized in having to drop out of the workforce. My wife, Katie, is here with our four kids. And, man, that was a juggle when we had little kids and — and keeping jobs and moving forwards. We would be a stronger nation economically if we had paid family leave.

COOPER: Governor, thank you. The issue now, particularly in this state, is recreational marijuana. I want to go to Juan Carlos Lopez.

LOPEZ: Thank you, Anderson.

Senator Sanders, right here in Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. You’ve said you smoked marijuana twice; it didn’t quite work for you. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?

SANDERS: I suspect I would vote yes. [applause]

And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs… [applause] …which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, we we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.

O’MALLEY: Juan Carlos? [applause]

LOPEZ: Secretary Clinton, you told Christiane Amanpour you didn’t smoke pot when you were young, and you’re not going to start now. [laughter]

When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, you told her let’s wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington. It’s been more than a year since you’ve said that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?

CLINTON: No. I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.

So, I think we’re just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result that Senator Sanders was talking about where we have a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton, thank you. I want to go to Don Lemon with another Facebook question.

LEMON: Alright, Anderson. This is for Senator Sanders, OK? This is from Carrie (ph) Kang (ph) from Manassas, Virginia, would like would like to ask the Senator, “President Obama has had a difficult time getting Republicans to compromise on just about every agenda. How will you approach this going forward, and will it be any different?”

Senator?

SANDERS: The Republican party, since I’ve been in the Senate, and since President Obama has been in office, has played a terrible, terrible role of being total obstructionists. Every effort that he has made, that some of us have made, they have said no, no, no.

Now, in my view, the only way we can take on the right wing republicans who are, by the way, I hope will not continue to control the Senate and the House when one of us elected President… [applause] …But the only way we can get things done is by having millions of people coming together. If we want free tuition at public colleges and universities, millions of young people are going to have to demand it, and give the Republicans an offer they can’t refuse.

If we want to raise the minimum wage to $15 bucks an hour, workers are going to have to come together and look the Republicans in the eye, and say, “We know what’s going on. You vote against us, you are out of your job.” [applause]

COOPER: We’re going to hear from all the candidates coming up. We’re going to take a short break. More from the candidates in a moment. [applause]

[commercial break]

COOPER: And welcome back to the final round of the CNN Democratic presidential debate.

This is a question to each of you. Each of you, by the way, are going to have closing statements to make. Each of you will have 90 seconds. But a final question to each of you. If you can, just try to — 15 seconds if you can.

Governor Chafee, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” You’ve all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of? [laughter]

CHAFEE: I guess the coal lobby. I’ve worked hard for climate change and I want to work with the coal lobby. But in my time in the Senate, tried to bring them to the table so that we could address carbon dioxide. I’m proud to be at odds with the coal lobby.

COOPER: Governor O’Malley?

O’MALLEY: The National Rifle Association. [applause]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians. [laughter]

Probably the Republicans. [laughter and applause]

COOPER: Senator Sanders?

SANDERS: As someone who has taken on probably every special interest that there is in Washington, I would lump Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry at the top of my life of people who do not like me. [applause]

COOPER: Senator Webb?

WEBB: I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.

COOPER: All right. Time for closing statements. Each of you will have 90 seconds.

Governor Chafee, let’s begin with you.

CHAFEE: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you, CNN. And thank you, Facebook, for sponsoring this debate.

America has many challenges confronting us — ending the perpetual wars, addressing climate change, addressing income inequality, funding education, funding infrastructure, funding healthcare, helping black Americans, helping Native Americans. We have many challenges. Who is best able to confront these challenges?

I’ve served in government at many levels. I know what it’s like to solve problems at the local level because I did it as mayor. I know how to get legislation passed through Congress because I did it as a senator. I know how to turn around a state because I did as governor of Rhode Island.

But what I’m most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. I have high ethical standards. And what I’m most proud of is my judgment, particularly in the Iraq war vote. There was a lot of pressure — political pressure, public pressure. But I did my homework and I did not believe that the evidence was there that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And we live now with the consequences.

So that kind of judgment is what we want in a president going forward. And I’m running for president to end the wars. I want to be the peacemaker. I am a proven peacemaker. Please go to Chafee 2016 to learn more about me. Thank you. [applause]

COOPER: Governor Chafee, thank you very much. Senator Webb, your final statement for 90 seconds.

WEBB: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure to be with you tonight. You’ve heard a lot of promises up here; you’ve heard a lot of rhetoric. They all seem to happen during campaigns, and then once the election’s over, people start from scratch again and try to get things done.

One of the things I can promise you, if you look at my record, in and out of government, is that I’ve always been willing to take on a complicated, something unpopular issues, and work them through, the complex issues, and work them through in order to have the solution.

We did it with criminal justice reform. We’ve had a lot of discussion here about criminal justice reform. We did it in other ways. We need a national political strategy for our economy, for our social policy, for social justice, and, by the way, for how you run and manage the most complex bureaucracy in the world, which is the federal government.

I know how to lead. I did it in Vietnam, I did it in the Pentagon, I did it in the Senate, and if you will help me overcome this cavalcade of — of financial irregularities and money that is poisoning our political process, I am ready to do that for you in the White House.

COOPER: Senator Webb, thank you very much.

Governor O’Malley, you have 90 seconds.

O’MALLEY: Anderson, thank you.

I am very, very grateful to have been able to be on this stage with this distinguished group of candidates tonight. And what you heard tonight, Anderson, was a very, very — and all of you watching at home — was a very, very different debate than from the sort of debate you heard from the two presidential Republican debates. [applause]

On this stage — on this stage, you didn’t hear anyone denigrate women, you didn’t hear anyone make racist comments about new American immigrants, you didn’t hear anyone speak ill of another American because of their religious belief.

What you heard instead on this stage tonight was an honest search for the answers that will move our country forward, to move us to a 100 percent clean electric energy grid by 2050, to take the actions that we have always taken as Americans so that we can actually attack injustice in our country, employ more of our people, rebuild our cities and towns, educate our children at higher and better levels, and include more of our people in the economic, social, and political life of our country.

I truly believe that we are standing on the threshold of a new era of American progress. Unless you’ve become discouraged about our gridlock in Congress, talk to our young people under 30, because you’ll never find among them people that want to bash immigrants or people that want to deny rights to gay couples. [applause]

That tells me we are moving to a more connected, generous, and compassionate place, and we need to speak to the goodness within our country. [applause]

COOPER: Governor O’Malley, thank you very much.

Senator Sanders, final, closing thoughts, 90 seconds.

SANDERS: This is a great country, but we have many, many serious problems. We should not be the country that has the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country and more wealth and income inequality than any other country.

We should not be the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all of our people as a right of citizenship and we should not be the only major country that does not provide medical and — and parental leave — family and parental leave to all of our families.

Now, at the end of our day, here is the truth that very few candidates will say, is that nobody up here, certainly no Republican, can address the major crises facing our country unless millions of people begin to stand up to the billionaire class that has so much power over our economy and our political life.

Jim Webb is right: Money is pouring in to this campaign through super PACs. We are doing it the old-fashioned way: 650,000 individual contributions. And if people want to help us out, BernieSanders.com. We are averaging $30 bucks apiece. We would appreciate your help. [applause]

COOPER: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Thank you very much, Anderson. And thanks to all the viewers who tuned in tonight.

I think what you did see is that, in this debate, we tried to deal with some of the very tough issues facing our country. That’s in stark contrast to the Republicans who are currently running for president.

What you have to ask yourself is: Who amongst us has the vision for actually making the changes that are going to improve the lives of the American people? Who has the tenacity and the ability and the proven track record of getting that done?

Now, I revere my late mother, and she gave me a lot of good advice. But one of the best pieces of advice she gave me was, you know, the issue is not whether or not you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up.

America’s been knocked down. That Great Recession, 9 million people lost their jobs, 5 million lost their homes, $13 trillion in wealth disappeared. And although we’ve made progress, we’re standing but not running the way America needs to.

My mission as president will be to raise incomes for hard-working middle-class families and to make sure that we get back to the basic bargain I was raised with: If you work hard and you do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead.

Please join me in this campaign. Please come and make it clear that America’s best days are still ahead. Thank you very much. [applause]

COOPER: Well, that does it for this Democratic presidential debate. On behalf of everyone at CNN, we want to thank the candidates, our debate partners at Facebook, the Wynn Resort, and the Democratic National Committee. Thanks also to Dana Bash, Juan Carlos Lopez, and Don Lemon. We’ll be back in Las Vegas December 15th, when CNN hosts our next Republican presidential debate. That will be moderated by my colleague, Wolf Blitzer.

 

December 15, 2011: FOX News / Iowa Republican Party Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Sioux City, Iowa December 15, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:

Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (GA);

Former Governor Jon Huntsman (UT);

Representative Ron Paul (TX);

Governor Rick Perry (TX);

Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and

Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)

MODERATOR:

Bret Baier (Fox News)

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, since our last debate, your position in this race has changed dramatically. You are now physically at the center of the stage, which means you’re at the top of the polls, yet many Republicans seem conflicted about you. They say that you’re smart, that you’re a big thinker. At the same time, many of those same Republicans worry deeply about your electability in a general election, saying perhaps Governor Romney is a safer bet.

Can you put to rest once and for all the persistent doubts that you are, indeed, the right candidate on this stage to go up and beat President Obama?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, let me just say to you and to all of our viewers, Merry Christmas. This is a great time for us to be here. And I hope that everybody across the country has a very joyous Christmas season.

I’ve been around long enough that I remember at this exact time in 1979 when Ronald Reagan was running 30 points behind Bill Clinton — behind Jimmy Carter. And if people had said, “Gosh, electability is the number-one issue,” they wouldn’t have nominated him.

What they said was: He believes what he’s talking about. He has big solutions. He can get the economy growing. He understands foreign policy, and he’s the person I want to have debate Jimmy Carter. He carried more states against Carter than FDR carried against Herbert Hoover in 1932.

I believe I can debate Barack Obama, and I think in seven three- hour debates, Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on in trying to defend a record that is terrible and an ideology that is radical.

MODERATOR: Mr. Speaker, Governor Romney…[applause]

Governor Romney just yesterday said you’re an unreliable conservative. Now, obviously, he’s your opponent. He’s your opponent. But even Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said today he respects you greatly, but he openly questioned whether you had the discipline and focus to be president.

GINGRICH: Well, those are two different questions. The first — let me take them one by one, very quickly. I have a 90 percent American Conservative Union voting record for 20 years. I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt. Pretty conservative. The first wealth entitlement reform of your lifetime, in fact, the only major entitlement reform until now was welfare. Two out of three people went back to work or went to school. Pretty conservative. First tax cut in 16 years, largest capital gains tax cut in American history, unemployment came down to 4.2 percent. Pretty conservative.

I think on the conservative thing, it’s sort of laughable to suggest that somebody who campaigned with Ronald Reagan and with Jack Kemp and has had a 30-year record of conservatism, is somehow not a conservative?

MODERATOR: And what about the concerns from Iowa governor Branstad?

GINGRICH: I think people have to watch my career and decide. I spent 16 years working to create the first Republican majority in 40 years. I spent years helping create the first balanced budgets. I am the longest serving teacher in the senior military, 23 years teaching one and two-star generals and admirals the art of war. I think it’s fair to say that my commitment to disciplined, systematic work is — is fairly obvious. You know, people just have to decide.

Part of the difference is, I do change things when conditions change. And part of the difference is I strive for very large changes and I’m prepared to really try to lead the American people to get this country back on the right track. And that’s a very large change.

MODERATOR: Now to my colleague, Megyn Kelly.

MODERATOR: A similar question to you, Congressman Paul. You have some bold ideas. Some very fervent supporters and probably the most organized ground campaign here in Iowa. But there are many Republicans inside and outside of this state who openly doubt whether you can be elected president. How can you convince them otherwise? And if you don’t wind up winning this nomination, will you pledge here tonight that you will support the ultimate nominee?

PAUL: Well, you know, fortunately for the Republican party this year, probably every — anybody up here could probably beat Obama, so. [laughter] [applause]

PAUL: So the challenge isn’t all that great on how we’re going to beat Obama. I think he’s beating himself. I think really the question is, is what do we have to offer? And I have something different to offer. I emphasize civil liberties. I emphasize a pro-American foreign policy, which is a lot different than policemen of the world. I emphasize, you know, monetary policy and these things that the other candidates don’t — don’t talk about. But I think the important thing is the philosophy I’m talking about is the Constitution and freedom.

And that brings people together. It brings independents into the fold and it brings Democrats over on some of these issues. So, therefore, I see this philosophy as being very electable, because it’s an America philosophy. It’s the rule of law. And it — it means that, you know, we ought to balance the budget. It opens up the door for saying — supporting my willingness to cut $1 trillion out of the budget the first year. [applause]

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, no one has spent more time in Iowa than you. You have visited every county in the state. And yet while we have seen no fewer than four Republican candidates surge in the polls, sometimes in extraordinary ways, so far your campaign and you have failed to catch fire with the voters. Why?

SANTORUM: Well I’m counting on the people of Iowa to catch fire for me. That’s — that’s what this plan was all about from day one, is to go to all 99 counties and do already almost 350 town hall meetings here in Iowa. We’re organizing. We have a very clear message. That’s the thing that’s going to pay off for us in the end. And we present a clear contrast that really nobody else in this race does.

We present the contrast of someone who’s been a strong conviction conservative. You know where I stand. You can trust me because I’ve been there and I’ve done it. And I did it as a leader. When I was in the leadership, if you were a conservative and you had an issue that you wanted to get voted on or you wanted to get done in the United States Senate, you came to Rick Santorum. Because I was the guy fighting for the conservative cause when it was popular, and when it was unpopular.

The speaker had a conservative revolution against him when he was the speaker of the House. I had conservatives knocking down my door because I was the effective advocate for the principles that they believed in. That’s the contrast. We have — we need someone who’s strong in their political and personal life to go out and contrast themselves with the president and make him the issue in this campaign. And that’s why Iowans are beginning to respond. They like the accountability. They like the fact that I’ve been there and — and met with them and believe in them to lead this country.

MODERATOR: Chris Wallace? [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you Brett. Governor Romney, I want to follow up on Brett’s line of questioning to the speaker. Because many of our viewers tell us that they are supporting Newt Gingrich because they think that he will be tougher than you in taking the fight to Barack Obama in next fall’s debates. Why would you be able to make the Republican case against the president more effectively than the speaker?

ROMNEY: Well lets step back and talk about what’s really happening in the country. What we’re finding across America is a lot of people are really hurting. 25 million people out of work, stopped looking for work or in part-time work that need full-time jobs. A lot of people in the middle-class who have seen incomes go down as the cost of their living has gone up and up and up. The American people care very deeply about having a president who’d get America right again.

And all of us on this stage have spoken over the last several debates about the fact that government doesn’t create jobs, but the private sector does. I spent my life, my career in the private sector. I understand, by the way from my successes and failures what it’s going to take to put Americans back to work with high-paying jobs.

I can debate President Obama based upon that understanding. And I’ll have credibility on the economy when he doesn’t. My successes include some businesses that were successful, like Staples and Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, and a steel mill in the middle of Indiana, some things I learned from.

And, by the way, some failures. I remember when founders of Jet Blue came to me and said, invest in us. I said, well, that will never work. Got it wrong. Now one of my favorite airlines.

I know what it takes to get this economy going. The president doesn’t. The proof is in his record. It’s terrible. My record shows that I can get America working again. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, no one questions your conservative credentials, but what about your appeal to independents who are so crucial in a general election? If you are fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, how would you counter the efforts by the Barack Obama campaign to paint you as too conservative to moderate voters?

BACHMANN: Well, it’s very clear in the last five years I have won four elections as the first Republican woman ever to win out of the state of Minnesota. And I did that by attracting not only Republicans but also independents and Democrats as well.

Because people wanted to know, who could they trust? They knew that in me they may not always agree with me but they knew that I was a woman who said what she meant and meant what she said. And they respected that level of authenticity and sincerity.

And They also knew that I was an action person. That I wasn’t just going to sit on my hands. I was going to work and serve them. And that is what I’ve done. I have worked very hard in the United States Congress in the brief time that I have been there.

I’m 55 years old. I spent 50 years as a real person. And now five years going toe-to-toe with Barack Obama, taking him on, on every issue from Dodd-Frank to cap and trade to illegal immigration to “Obama-care.” And I will do that as president of the United States. That is my proven track record. [applause]

MODERATOR: Neil Cavuto?

MODERATOR: Thank you, Bret. Governor Perry, by your own admission, you are not a great debater. You have said as much, and downplayed debating skills in general. But if you were to become your party’s nominee, you would be going up against an accomplished debater in Barack Obama.

There are many in this audience tonight, sir, who fear that possibility. And don’t think you are up to the fight. Allay them of their concerns.

PERRY: Well, I want to share something with you. That as each one of these debates — I’m kind of getting where I like these debates. As a matter of fact, I hope Obama and I debate a lot. And I’ll get there early. And we will get it on and we will talk about our differences, which are great.

I’ll talk about what we have done in the state of Texas. I’ll talk about passing a balanced budget amendment to the United States Congress. I’ll talk about having the type of part-time Congress that I think Americans are ready for.

And, you know, there are a lot of people out there — I understand it, you know, there are a lot of folks that said Tim Tebow wasn’t going to be a very good NFL quarterback. There are people that stood up and said, well, he doesn’t have the right throwing mechanisms, or he doesn’t — you know, he is not playing the game right.

And, you know, he won two national championships. And that looked pretty good. We’re the national champions in job creation back in Texas. And so — but am I ready for the next level? Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, your campaign has been praised by moderates but many question your ability to galvanize Republicans, and energize the conservative base of the party. They are especially leery of your refusal to sign on to a no-tax-hike pledge. How can you reassure them tonight?

HUNTSMAN: I think people, Neil, are coming around to finding that I am the consistent conservative in this race. They are coming around to find that I am not going to pander. I am not going to contort myself into a pretzel to please any audience I’m in front of. And I’m not going to sign those silly pledges.

And you know what else? I’m not going to show up at a Donald Trump debate. [laughter] [applause]

HUNTSMAN: This nation has been downgraded. This nation is on the cusp of the third government shutdown. We have been kicked around as people. We are getting screwed as Americans. And I’m here to tell you, we are going to lead charge in doing what must be done in addressing the two deficits we have.

We have an economic deficit in this country, and is it going to shipwreck the next generation unless we can deal with it. And we have a trust deficit. People in this country don’t trust the institutions of power anymore.

We need to go to Congress and we need to say, you need term limits. We need to go to Congress and say, we need to close that revolving door that allows members of Congress to file on out and lobby.

And we need to go to Wall Street and say, no trust there either, because we have banks that are “too big to fail.” And I’m telling you, Neil, I’m the person who is going to leave the charge on all of the above and fix the economic deficit, but I’m going fix this country’s trust deficit, because we’re too good as people to be in the hole we’re in and we deserve better. [applause]

MODERATOR: As Governor Huntsman just mentioned, there is a real drama playing out real-time in Washington right now with the threat of yet another government shutdown, the possibility that millions of Americans could see their payroll taxes go up. If you’re president, as is the case now, and you are at lagerheads with one chamber of congress, how would you handle this situation?

30 seconds down the line. Start with Senator Santorum.

SANTORUM: Well, you do what leaders do. They go out and try to bring people together. They tell a narrative and remind Americans who we are and how we solve our problems. This country is a great country because we believe in free people.

In 2008, the American public were convinced by Barack Obama that they needed someone to believe in, that they could believe in. We now understand that what we need is some president who believes in them. That is the narrative. Go out and motivate the American public, have them talk to their representatives in Washington to pass solutions that believe in bottom up, how we built America, free markets, free people.

MODERATOR: Governor perry?

PERRY: After three years, you would think this president could learn how to work in Washington, D.C. If there has ever been a greater example of on-the-job training, this is it. Couldn’t have been at a worst time for America.

We need a president who has that governing, executive experience, someone who understands how to work with both sides of the aisle. Frankly, we should never have gotten this point at all.

The idea that he walked away from the work at hand and we had a supercommittee, that was put in place, that was going to fail on its face, that is the type of leadership that this president has been an absolute failure at and the type that I have been working at as the governor of Texas for the last 11 years.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Bret, this is a question that ought to take longer than 30 seconds, even 60 seconds. This is the question of the presidency. What is leadership?

I had the disadvantage of some respects of becoming governor and a state with a legislature 85 percent Democrat. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. To get anything done, I had to learn how to get respect of the speaker of the house and the senate president and Democratic leaders. I found a way to do that, to find common ground from time to time. And when crisis arose, we were able to work together. That is what has to happen.

There are Democrats who love America as Republicans do, but we need to have a leader in the White House, that knows how to lead. I have had four leadership experiences in my life where I have lead enterprises. I want to use that experience to get America right again. And I will do it as president.

MODERATOR: We will have many more questions about gridlock in Washington and this topic overall. But Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: I want to start by reinforcing what Governor Romney just said. Leadership is the key. When you have a Sal Alinsky radical who is a campaigner in chief who doesn’t do the job of president, because he’s too busy trying to run for re-election, the constitution can’t work. I helped Ronald Reagan when Tip O’Neil was speaker to get enough votes to pass the Reagan program despite a Democratic majority.

As speaker, one reason some people aren’t happy with my leadership I worked things out with Bill Clinton to get welfare reform, a tax cut and four balanced budgets signed in a way that required bipartisanship, because you couldn’t get anything done otherwise. So leadership matters immensely in getting this done.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: The main problem we have is the government is too big and the debt is too big and you have to cut spending so you have to get people to come together. They have been coming together to increase spending for decades. We have to get them to come together to do the opposite.

But there are two factions up there, one wants welfare and the other want warfare around the world and policing the world. So you go to people who like warfare you say give me half of the cuts that have to be in the welfare. Go to welfare people and say give me the cuts to cut the oversea warfare spending and bring people together and live up to what they say.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: As president of the United States I would have called all 535 members of congress to come sit down in Washington last summer looking at the debt ceiling crisis. And what I would have done is said there are three principles we are going to follow, because the first one needs to be no new taxes. We’re taxed enough already.

The second principle needed to be that government can’t spend any more money than what it is taking in.

And the third principle had to be that we were going to follow the constitution of the United States. What that would have meant we would have looked at $15 trillion debt in the eye and said we are not going to add one more cent to it. We are going to prioritize our spending. And we’re going to put the reform in these long-term programs now, not wait eight months or five months. We are going to reform right now.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman.

HUNTSMAN: Leadership is action, not words. And I learned a very important lesson about this when I ran for governor in 2004. I promised the people of my state as governor that we would create the finest state in America for business. I ran on a flat-tax proposal. It took us two years; we got it delivered.

Flat — I hear a lot of people talking about tax reform and a flat — we actually got one done. The finest business in the United States, we delivered to our people. Health care reform without a mandate. The list went on and on and on.

I ran for re-election. I got almost 80 percent of the vote, not because I’m a great politician, but I learned some lessons in leadership, that people want to be told where you can take them, and then they want you to deliver.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have many more interesting questions coming up. We have a new feature for you tonight, as well. How well are the candidates answering the questions? We’re asking you to weigh in on Twitter. Tweet the candidate’s last name and the hash-tag #answer if you think they’re tackling the question or the hash-tag #dodge if you think they’re avoiding the question. Then you can go to foxnews.com/debate to see those results.

Now, during the break, you can head there and check it out. And if you have a suggested question or a follow-up to something you’ve heard, tweet @bretbaier. We’ll be using some of those suggested questions tonight.

MODERATOR: After the break, the candidates on the increasingly sharp tone of this campaign, the economy, and a topic that has not been raised in any of the debates so far. Stay with us.

[commercial break]

[begin video clip]

STRAWN: Good evening from Sioux City in northwest Iowa. I’m Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa GOP. Four years after repelling Barack Obama to the White House, Iowa has seen a surge of new Republican voters as Iowa Republicans have posted 33 straight months of voter registration gains. And as those Republicans prepare to vote in just 19 days, we understand the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being first in the nation.

And because the fight to reclaim the White House extends far beyond Iowa’s borders, we want you to be the first to know. So text “Iowa” to 91919 to know the results and other updates. Thank you and now let’s return to the final debate before the January 3 Iowa Caucus.

[end video clip]

MODERATOR: Thank you Mr. Chairman and welcome back to Sioux City Iowa and the Republican presidential debate. For the next round of questions, I turn to my colleague, Chris Wallace.

MODERATOR: Thanks Brett. Candidates, I’m going to call this section, for lack of a better word, D.C. Culture. Governor Romney, I’m going to begin with you. Speaker Gingrich says that you should give back the millions of dollars you made, in his words, “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.” You respond that he has, in your words, “an extraordinary lack of understanding of how the economy works.”

But his comments dovetail with arguments you hear from Democrats that your belief in, what’s called, the creative destruction of capitalism, shows a hardheartedness. What do you think of what Speaker Gingrich had to say about you? And are you vulnerable to that kind of attack?

ROMNEY: I think it’s a great opportunity for us. Because I think the president is going to level the same attack. He’s going to go after me and say, you know, you — in businesses that you’ve invested in, they didn’t all succeed. Some failed. Some laid people off. And he’ll be absolutely right. But if you look at all the businesses we invested in, over 100 different businesses, they added tens of thousands of jobs.

In — in the real world that the president has not lived in, I — I actually think he doesn’t understand that not every business succeeds. That not every entrepreneur is lucky enough to do as well as the entrepreneurs that I described at Bright Horizons and Staples and that steel company and many, many others. I myself have had the chance of leading four different organizations. Each of those was highly successful, in part because of hard work and in part because of good luck.

In the real world, some things don’t make it. And I believe I’ve learned from my successes and my failures. The president I’ll look at and say, Mr. President, how — how did you do when you were running General Motors as the president, took it over? Gee, you closed down factories. You closed down dealerships. And he’ll say, well I did that to save the business. Same thing with us, Mr. President. We did our very best to make those businesses succeed. I’m — I’m pleased that they did and I’ve learned the lessons of how the economy works.

This president doesn’t know how the economy works. I believe to create jobs, it helps to have created jobs.

MODERATOR: Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, on the Freddie Mac website in 19 — in rather 2007 you said this, I like the GSE, or government sponsored enterprise like Freddy Mac model, making home ownership more affordable is a policy goal that I believe conservatives should embrace. Now in an earlier debate, a recent debate, you said that politicians like Barney Frank, who in your words, profited from the environment that led to the financial meltdown, should go to jail.

Now that it turns out that you were on the Freddie Mac payroll to the tune of more than $1.6 million, how do you answer critics who say that you’re being hypocritical.

GINGRICH: I think pretty straightforward. Barney Frank was in public office with direct power over Freddie Mac. He exploited that power just as Chris Dodd was in public office when he got special bargains from Countrywide, a firm that went broke. They were using power. I was a private citizen, engaged in a business like any other business. Now, if you read the whole thing that they posted, I said they need more regulations and I want to go back to my point about helping people buy houses.

I worked for years with Habitat for Humanity. I think it’s a good conservative principle to try to find ways to help families that are right at the margin learn how to budget, learn how to take care of a house, learn how to buy a house. And I — I’m not going to step back from the idea that in fact we should have as a goal, helping as many Americans as possible be capable of buying homes. And when you look for example at electric membership co-ops, and you look at credit unions, there are a lot of government sponsored enterprises that are awfully important and do an awfully good job.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul you are — and having been in this town for what 48 hours now, you are all over Iowa TV these days with a negative ad about Speaker Gingrich. You accuse him of selling access and playing the corrupt revolving door game. What about the explanation that you just heard, that he’s in the private sector and this is free enterprise?

PAUL: Well he has a different definition of the private sector than I have. Because it’s a GSE, government sponsored enterprise. That’s completely different. It’s — it’s a government agency. They get the money and the sponsorship. They get mixed up. It’s — it’s the worst kind of economy.

You know, pure private enterprise, more closely probably to what Governor Romney is involved with, but if it’s government-sponsored, it’s a mixture of business and government. It’s very, very dangerous. Some people say, if it goes to extreme, it becomes fascism, because big business and big government get together.

So, yes, they get money. And I was talking about that for a long time, the line of credit, the excessive credit from the Federal Reserve, the Community Reinvestment Act for 10 years or so. The Austrian economists knew there was a bubble. And at this time, nobody was listening or doing anything in the Congress.

And then to go to work for them and get money from them, it literally is — it’s literally coming from the taxpayer. They went broke. We had to bail them out. So indirectly, that was money that he ended up getting. They’re still getting money from a government- sponsored enterprise. It’s not a free-market enterprise.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, 30 seconds to respond?

GINGRICH: Well, let me just go back to what I said a minute ago. The term government-sponsored enterprise has a very wide range of things that do a great deal of good. Go across this state and talk to people in the electric membership co-ops. Go across this state and talk to people in the credit unions. There are a lot of very good institutions that are government-sponsored.

And, frankly, the idea that anything which in any way has ever touched government could raise questions about doctors dealing with Medicare and Medicaid and a whole range of other government activities. There are many things governments do. I did no lobbying of any kind for any organization. And that was — that was a key part of every agreement we had.

MODERATOR: Well, let me pick up with that with you, Congresswoman Bachmann, because you accused Speaker Gingrich of peddling his influence with congressional Republicans to help the companies that paid him tens of millions of dollars since he’s left office. Given his denial over time and again tonight that he’s — denies ever having lobbied, what is your evidence, hard evidence that he engaged in influence-peddling?

BACHMANN: Well, it’s the fact that — that we know that he cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That’s the best evidence that you can have, over $1.6 million. And, frankly, I am shocked listening to the former speaker of the House, because he’s defending the continuing practice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

There’s a big difference between a credit union and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And they were the epicenter of the mortgage financial meltdown. I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy, because they, frankly, need to go away, when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That’s absolutely wrong. We can’t have as our nominee for the Republican Party someone who continues to stand for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They need to be shut down, not built up. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, the easiest answer is, that’s just not true. What she just said is factually not true. I never lobbied under any circumstance. I never went in and suggested in any way that we do this.

In fact, I tried to help defeat the housing act when the Democrats were in charge of the House. And if you go back and talk to former Congressman Rick Lazio, he’ll tell you, when we were passing housing reform while I was speaker, I never at any time tried to slow down the reform effort. In fact, I helped him pass the reform bill. And I think some of those people ought to have facts before they make wild allegations.

BACHMANN: Let me — let me…

MODERATOR: Yes, go ahead. Congresswoman?

BACHMANN: Well, after the debates that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything that I said was true. And the evidence is that Speaker Gingrich took $1.6 million. You don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get them to do your bidding.

And the bidding was to keep this grandiose scam of Freddie Mac going. That’s — that is something that our nominee can’t stand for. We have to shut down these government enterprises. And we’ve got to end them. And I think that’s shocking that he’s saying that.

GINGRICH: And let me just say two things…

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, quickly. [applause]

GINGRICH: OK, I want to say two things. First, my policy is to break up both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is not anything like what she just described.

Second, I want to state unequivocally, for every person watching tonight, I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment. Because I — the truth is, I was a national figure who was doing just fine, doing a whole variety of things, including writing best-selling books, making speeches. And the fact is, I only chose to work with people whose values I shared and having people have a chance to buy a house is a value I believe still is important in America.

MODERATOR: Now to Neil Cavuto with questions about the economy.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, not to make you a target, but you…

GINGRICH: It goes with being right here.

MODERATOR: You just responded this morning, sir, tweeted originally and with follow-up statements as a major break through of this plan on the part of Republican congressman Paul Ryan working with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden to find a sort of updated way to keep Medicare solvent. This would involve a choice, those who like the program as it is can stick with it. They will be a private option, et cetera.

But earlier on, this might have confused Congressman Ryan and others for whom you had said was the initial Medicare fix that it was right wing social engineering. Later on you backed off that comment, said there was much you could find in Mr. Ryan’s plan to like.

Can you blame Governor Romney for saying you have a consistency problem on this issue?

GINGRICH: I’m not in the business of blaming Governor Romney. I’m in the business to try and understand what we can do as a policy. If you go back and look at the “Meet the Press” quote I didn’t want reference him. And I’ll come back and say it again, a free society should make very big decisions with the support of the people.

Now you can earn that support. You can win a communications argument. Reagan was very, very good at that. But the only point I was making on “Meet the Press” is when you are going to have a major change, you have to communicate with the American people in order to ensure that they are for you.

Now Governor Romney came up, frankly, with a very good variation on the Ryan plan which allowed the maintenance of the current system. Paul has adopted that. And I think did a very brave act by Senator Ron Wyden, you now have a Democrat willing to co-sponsor the bill. I’ve endorsed the concept today. I think it is a big step forward. And I think Governor Romney deserves some of the credit for having helped figure out a way to make this thing workable.

So, I think it’s a nice thing to actually have a bipartisan plan in Washington that we could actually look at in a positive way and hope would help save Medicare.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney do you want to respond to that compliment?

ROMNEY: Yeah. Thank you.

Yeah, I hope people understand just how big today is for this country. We all understand that the spending crisis is extraordinary with $15 trillion now in debt, with the president that’s racked up as much debt as all the other presidents combined.

But there is another problem we have, which is our national balance sheet. Which are the obligations that we have made, that we have no funding behind. And it adds up to $62 trillion.

And today Republicans and Democrats came together with Senator Wyden and Congressman Paul Ryan to say we have a solution to remove that $62 trillion. This is a big day for our kids and grand kids. It’s an enormous achievement. It means we finally have the prospect of dealing with somebody which has the potential of crushing our future generations and a good Democrat and a good Republican came together.

This is the impact of people on both sides of the aisle that care about America at a critical time. And I applaud him. It’s good news.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, as you have been warning, we are on the brink of another government shutdown because of the spending that you call out of control. But haven’t you contributed to that spending problem yourself, sir, supporting over the years earmarks that have benefited your district and your state?

Back in 2009, you explained this by saying if I can give my district any money back, I encourage that. I don’t think that the federal government should be doing it but if they are going to allot the money, I have a responsibility to represent my people.

Isn’t that what they call a mixed message, congressman?

PAUL: Well, it’s a mixed question is the problem, because the real message is you should include in your question also you have never voted once for an earmark.

No, it’s a principle that I deal with, because if the government takes money from you and you fill out your tax form, you take your deductions. I look at that the same way in our communities. They take our money, they take our highway funds. and we have every right to apply for them to come back.

As a matter of fact, it’s a bigger principle for me than that. I think this whole thing is out of control on the earmarks, because I think the congress has an obligation to earmark every penny, not to deliver that power to the executive branch. What happens when you don’t vote for the earmarks it goes in to the slush fund, the executive branch spends the money then you have to grovel to the executive branch and beg and plead and say oh, please return my highway funds to me.

So if this whole principle of budgeting that is messed up, but I never vote, I never voted for an earmark. But I do argue the case for my — the people I represent to try to get their money back if at all possible.

MODERATOR: But isn’t that the same thing of having your cake and eating it too? You can complain about earmarks but then if there are provisions there that help your district or your state that’s different? If 434 other members felt the same way, how would we ever fix the problem?

PAUL: Yes, but you’re missing the point. I don’t complain about earmarks, because it is the principle of the Congress meeting their obligation. But if everybody did what I did, there would be no earmarks. The budget would be balanced and we’d be cutting about 80 percent of the spending. So that would be the solution. [applause]

PAUL: But you also want to protect the process. You want to emphasize the responsibility of the Congress, and not delivering more power to the president. I would be a different kind of president. I wouldn’t be looking for more power.

Everybody wants to be a powerful executive and run things. I, as the president, wouldn’t want to run the world. I don’t want to police individual activities and their lifestyle. And I don’t want to run the economy.

So that is an entirely different philosophy, but it’s very, very much in our tradition and in a tradition of our Constitution. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, you said the only way to stop our spending problem is to get Congress to stop spending. Quoting you, sir, you said: “I vetoed 82 bills in my first year as governor of Texas. I have a record of keeping spending under control.”

But as Texas agriculture commissioner, you oversaw a loan guarantee program that, as The Austin American-Statesman reported at the time, had so many defaults that the state had to stop guaranteeing bank loans to start-ups in the agribusiness, and eventually bailed out the program with the tax-payer money.

So aren’t you guilty of the same behavior you rail against as a presidential candidate?

PERRY: Well, two things. Number one, don’t believe everything you read in The Austin American-Statesman. And the second side of it is, we had that program put in place and the state did not bail out, those programs worked as they were supposed to work. Just like in any bank or any business, you are going to have some that fail.

But I want to go back and talk about just a second the issue of where we had a big back-and-forth about whether Newt was involved in untoward activity or not. And I’ll be real honest with you, the issue we ought to be talking about on this stage is how you really overhaul Washington, D.C.

And the idea that you can’t tell the difference between lobbying and consulting, the idea that we have Congress staying there as many days as they do and the salary that they have, that is the reason I have called for a part-time Congress.

Cut their pay in half. Cut their time in Washington in half. Cut their staff in half. Send them home. Let them get a job like everybody else back home has and live within the laws of which they passed. [applause]

PERRY: We do that and you pass a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, and the conversations that we’ve been having up here will be minor.

MODERATOR: By the way, Governor, they worked 151 days last year. How much more would constitute part-time?

PERRY: I would suggest to you maybe 140 days every other year like we do in Texas. [laughter] [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, as you’re probable familiar, sir, the Chinese have just left huge tariffs of up to 22 percent on imports of some American sport utility vehicles, larger American cars.

Now as a former ambassador to China and one who has argued for an adult conversation with Beijing, how would you respond to what some are calling a childish move on the part of a country that routinely flouts international trade rules?

HUNTSMAN: Well, it’s a large and complicated relationship. It’s part trade, it’s part North Korea, it’s part Iran, part Pakistan, part Burma, part South China Sea, party military-to-military engagement. You move one end of the relationship, it impacts the other.

The best thing to do, invite a few dissidents who are seeking freedom and want to expand democracy in China to the United States embassy, the kind of thing that I used to do. That is what matters to the Chinese people who are looking for change and looking for reform these days.

That is the kind of thing that over time is going to create enough swell of change and reform in that country that is going to make the U.S.-China relationship successful longer term.

Because eventually, we need more than just a transactional relationship. We need shared values infused into this relationship. Let’s face it, the 21st Century will only have two relationships that matter: the United States and China.

For that to succeed, we need shared values. That is democracy. That is human rights. That is recognition of the role of the Internet in society. That is greater tolerance toward religion, and so much more.

As president of the United States, I would drive that home. And I would make it a relationship that worked.

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, right now American companies have trillions parked overseas because of the very high tax rates here. Would you support a tax holiday to bring that money back, but only under, as some Democrats have suggested, the condition that these companies hire workers with that money?

SANTORUM: Yes, what I proposed in the “Made in the USA” plan is that if money has been made overseas, that it can come back at 5.5 percent rate, which is what we did back in 2004, and it did cause a lot of money to come back. But I put a special rate, zero, if they bring it back and invest it in plant and equipment in America.

We need to rebuild the manufacturing base of this country. When I traveled around to all of these counties in Iowa, I went to a lot of small towns, like Sidney and Hamburg down in Fremont County, and I was in — the other day in Newton, where they’ve lost jobs to overseas. Why? Because we’re not competitive.

We need to have our capital be competitive and — and come here free so they can invest it. We need to cut the corporate tax on manufacturers to zero. Why? Because there’s a 20 percent cost differential between America and our nine top trading partners. And we — and that’s excluding labor costs.

We need to get our taxes down. We need to repeal regulations. I promise to repeal every single Obamacare regulation. Every single Obama regulation that cost businesses over $100 million, I can repeal it. I can’t repeal laws, but as a president, you can repeal — excuse me, regulations. And I will repeal every single one of them so business can get going in this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Neil.

This question is from Twitter. And it is for you, Governor Romney. @LeonJamesPage tweets, “Over the next 10 years, in what sector or industries will most of the new jobs be created?”

ROMNEY: The great thing is, the free market will decide that. Government won’t. And we have in a president someone who, again, doesn’t understand how the economy works and thinks that, as a government, he can choose, for instance, which energy sector is going to be successful. So he invests as a venture capitalist in certain car companies that have electric battery power, not understanding that perhaps Toyota and G.M. could do a better job than Tesla and Fisker.

The president decides to go into Solyndra because he thinks that solar power is going to be the future. Look, let markets determine what the future course of our economy will be.

What do I happen to think will be the future? I think manufacturing is going to come back. I think manufacturing, for some of the reasons Rick just indicated, it’s going to come back to the U.S. I also think, of course, that high-tech is going to be an extraordinarily source — extraordinary source of growth for a long time in this country.

And energy. We have extraordinary energy resources in this country. Opening those up — our president holds them off, doesn’t give them the permits to start drilling and getting the natural gas and oil — those are some of the areas that are extraordinarily powerful. This economy has every potential to continue to lead the world. Our president thinks America is in decline. It is if he’s president. It’s not if I’m president. This is going to be an American century. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Governor Romney.

Now to Megyn Kelly with the next round of questions. And this is a new topic, the judiciary.

MODERATOR: This is something we have heard pressure little about in this election, but something that’s an important issue for a lot of voters.

Speaker Gingrich, let me start with you. You have proposed a plan to subpoena judges to testify before Congress about controversial decisions that they make. In certain cases, you advocate impeaching judges or abolishing courts altogether. Two conservative former attorneys general have criticized your plan, saying it alters the checks and balances of the three branches of government. And they used words like “dangerous,” “outrageous,” and “totally irresponsible.” Are they wrong?

GINGRICH: Well, the first half is right. It alters the balance, because the courts have become grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful, and I think, frankly, arrogant in their misreading of the American people. [applause]

There’s an entire paper at newt.org — I’ve been working on this project since 2002, when the Ninth Circuit Court said that “one nation under God” is unconstitutional in the Pledge of Allegiance. And I decided, if you had judges who were so radically anti-American that they thought “one nation under God” was wrong, they shouldn’t be on the court. Now, we have… [applause]

I taught a short course in this at the University of Georgia Law School. I testified in front of sitting Supreme Court justices at Georgetown Law School. And I warned them: You keep attacking the core base of American exceptionalism, and you are going to find an uprising against you which will rebalance the judiciary.

We have a balance of three branches. We do not have a judicial dictatorship in this country. And that’s what the Federalist papers promised us. And I would — just like Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and FDR — I would be prepared to take on the judiciary if, in fact, it did not restrict itself in what it was doing.

MODERATOR: What of the former attorney general? [applause]

These are conservative former attorneys generals who have criticized the plan, as I say, dangerous, ridiculous, outrageous, totally irresponsible.

GINGRICH: Sure. I’d ask, first of all, have they studied Jefferson, who in 1802 abolished 18 out of 35 federal judges? Eighteen out of 35 were abolished.

MODERATOR: Something that was highly criticized.

GINGRICH: Not by anybody in power in 1802. [laughter] [applause]

Jefferson himself was asked, is the Supreme Court supreme? And he said, that is absurd. That would be an oligarchy. Lincoln repudiates the Dred Scott decision in his first inaugural address in 1861 and says, no nine people can make law in this country. That would be the end of our freedom. So I would suggest to you, actually as a historian, I may understand this better than lawyers. And as lawyers those two attorneys general are behaving exactly like law schools, which have overly empowered lawyers to think that they can dictate to the rest of us. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann. [applause]

MODERATOR: You heard Speaker Gingrich — you heard Speaker Gingrich reference the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and that is one of the courts that he has suggested abolishing. It is a left-leaning court and as he points out, as he has done before, he believes it’s an activist court because in part it was the court that — that issued a ruling striking down “under God” in the pledge years ago. A decision that was reversed by the Supreme Court leader.

Do you agree that the Ninth Circuit should be abolished? And if so, what would then happen if a Democratic president came into office and we had a democratically controlled Congress that later took aim at the right-leaning federal courts. Where would it end?

BACHMANN: Well where it needs to end is under the Constitution of the United States. That’s the real issue. Are the courts following the Constitution or aren’t they following the Constitution? It isn’t just Congress that gets it wrong, it’s the courts that get it wrong as well.

MODERATOR: But what do you do about it?

BACHMANN: Well what we need to do about it is have the — both the president and the United States Congress take their authority back and I would agree with Newt Gingrich that I think that the Congress and the president of the United States have failed to take their authority. Because now we’ve gotten to the point where we think the final arbitrator of law is the court system. It isn’t. The intention of the founders was that the courts would be the least powerful system of government.

And if we give to the courts, the right to make law, then the people will have lost their representation. They need to hold onto their representation. That’s why I commend Iowans, because they chose not to retain three judges that decided that marriage would be… [applause]

BACHMANN: …and Iowans decided to take their Constitution back. That’s what the American people need to do, take the Constitution back and as president of the United States, I would only appoint judges to the Supreme Court who believe in the original intent of the Constitution.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul let me ask you, do you believe in — in what the two candidates have said? That it would potentially be OK to abolish courts like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals entirely, or judges, impeach them if Congress and the president don’t decide — decide they don’t like their rulings?

PAUL: Well the Congress can get rid of these courts. If — if a judge misbehaves and is unethical and gets into trouble, the proper procedure is impeachment. But to subpoena judges before the Congress, I’d really question that. And if you get too careless about abolishing courts, that could open up a can of worms. Because it — you — there — there could be retaliation. So it should be a more serious — yes we get very frustrated with this. But the whole thing is, if you just say, well we’re going to — OK there are 10 courts, lets get rid of three this year because they ruled a — a way we didn’t like.

That — that to me is, I think opening up a can of worms for us and it would lead to trouble. But I really, really question this idea that the — the Congress could subpoena judges and bring them before us. That’s a real affront to the separation of the powers.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, many people believe that the way to reign in, so-called activist judges is to be careful in appointing or nominating the judges in the first place. As governor of Massachusetts, you passed over Republicans for three quarters of the judicial vacancies you faced, instead nominating Democrats or Independents. With that track record, why should Republicans believe that you will appoint conservatives to the bench if you become president?

ROMNEY: Well I have to let you know that in Massachusetts, I actually don’t get to appoint the judges. I get to nominate them. They go before something known as the Governor’s Council. It consists of, I believe, seven members, all of whom are elected Democrats. And so to be able to get my appointments through, I had to have people of both parties. And the people I put forward, all were individuals who I vetted very carefully to make sure they would follow the rule of law.

These were largely people going into criminal courts. I chose overwhelmingly people who had been prosecutors in their prior experience. And so we had that kind of justice. Now, let — let me note that the key thing I think the president is going to do, is going to be with the longest legacy. It’s going to be appointing Supreme Court and justices throughout the judicial system. As many as half the justices in the next four years are going to be appointed by the next president.

This is a critical time to choose someone who believes in conservative principles. Now I — I don’t believe that it makes a lot of sense to have Congress overseeing justices. The — the — the only group that has less credibility than justices perhaps is Congress. So lets not have them be in charge of overseeing the — the justices. [applause]

ROMNEY: However — however, we don’t call it we the judges. We call it we, the people. And we do have the ability to remove justices that need to be impeached. We also have the ability to pass new amendments if we think a justice is taken the nation in the wrong direction. And where a statute has been misinterpreted, congress can write a statute that clarifies that point. We have ability to rein in excessive judges.

MODERATOR: All right. And I just want to go quickly down the line. With just a name, favorite Supreme Court justice. Senator Santorum — current.

SANTORUM: I have to say of these folks over here have been talking about taking on the courts. I have done it. I actually campaigned in Iowa against those justices and I was the only one on this panel that did it, number one.

Number two, when the partial birth abortion status struck down by the Supreme Court, George Bush got elected we actually went back and I worked with Henry Hyde and we passed another bill, told the Supreme Court they were wrong. Passed it, George Bush signed it and it was overturned.

We can talk about reform and doing something to confront the courts, or you can actually go out and make it happen. I made it happen. And it’s tops.

MODERATOR: And quickly down the line, favorite current Supreme Court justice.

PERRY: I’ll be as quickly as I can, but when I talk about overhauling Washington, D.C., one of the things I talk about besides a part-time congress is no longer having lifetime terms for the federal bench. I think that is one of the ways that you keep these unaccountable legislators from rogues to try to dictate to the rest of us. And I would say, you know, you pick Alito, Roberts, Thomas, pick one.

MODERATOR: All right. Would you pick one, please.

ROMNEY: Yes. Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Scalia.

MODERATOR: All right. Speaker Gingrich.

GINGRICH: I think that is a pretty darned good list. And I would sign up for those guys. Scalia is probably the most intellectual of the four. They’re all four terrific judges.

I mean, if we had nine judges as good as those four we would be happy with the Supreme Court.

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: From my point they’re all good and they’re all bad, because our country a long time ago split freedom up to two pieces — personal liberty and economic liberty. And the judges, as is congress and as is nation, think it’s two issues. It’s but one issue. So therefore, congress is on this issue as well as our judges.

MODERATOR: Last chance to say a name.

PAUL: No, I’m not going to — all of them are good and all of them are bad. How is that?

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann?

BACHMANN: Well, I do think that there are good justices. And I would put Antonin Scalia at the top of the list. I would also include Clarence Thomas and John Roberts and Alito. I think they are all marvelous. It could be easy to pick any one of them.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: One of the reasons I’m optimistic about the future of this country is because we have rule of law. Let’s face it. One of the great things that this country has that very few other countries have. So the Judiciary is critically important.

It’s also important to note that governors actually some experience appointing judges. You got to make those hard decisions. And as I reflect on those who today serve I’ve got to say Justice Roberts and Justice Alito fit the bill very, very nicely.

MODERATOR: Thank you, all.

MODERATOR: That was a valiant effort.

MODERATOR: I tried. I tried.

MODERATOR: Coming up, there is a lot of ground to cover in this next hour. The threat from Iran and other foreign policy hot spots, up- and-down oil prices, immigration and border issues, and controversial social issues. Stay with us. Remember, tweet @bretbaier with a question or followup. We’ll be right back.

[commercial break]

MODERATOR: Welcome back to Sioux City, Iowa, and the Republican presidential debate. [applause]

Fired-up crowd, they’re ready for hour number two. And we begin hour number two with an important topic, foreign policy.

Congressman Paul, many Middle East experts now say Iran may be less than one year away from getting a nuclear weapon. Now, judging from your past statements, even if you had solid intelligence that Iran, in fact, was going to get a nuclear weapon, President Paul would remove the U.S. sanctions on Iran, included those added by the Obama administration. So, to be clear, GOP nominee Paul would be running left of President Obama on the issue of Iran?

PAUL: But I’d be running with the American people, because it would be a much better policy. For you to say that there is some scientific evidence and some people arguing that maybe in a year they might have a weapon, there’s a lot more saying they don’t have it.

There’s no U.N. evidence of that happening. Clapper at the — in our national security department, he says there is no evidence. It’s no different than it was in 2003. You know what I really fear about what’s happening here? It’s another Iraq coming. There’s war propaganda going on. [applause]

And we’re arguing — to me, the greatest danger is that we will have a president that will overreact and we will soon bomb Iran. And the sentiment is very mixed. It’s — it’s very mixed even in Israel. You know, there — the — a head of the security for Israel, who just recently retired, said that it wouldn’t make sense to do this, to take — to take them out, because they might be having a weapon. So I would say that the greatest danger is overreacting. There is no evidence that they have it. And it would make more sense — if we lived through the Cold War, which we did, with 30,000 missiles pointed at us, we ought to really sit back and think and not jump the gun and believe that we are going to be attacked. That’s how we got into that useless war in Iraq and lost so much in Iraq. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul, the — the question was based on the premise that you had solid intelligence, you actually had solid intelligence as President Paul, and yet you still at that point would — would pull back U.S. sanctions and again, as a GOP nominee, would be running left of President Obama on this issue?

PAUL: Yes. All we’re doing is promoting their desire to have it. Ehud Barak, the defense minister for Israel, said that — that, if he were in — in Iran, he would probably want a nuclear weapon, too, because they’re surrounded, for geopolitical reasons. So that’s an understanding.

So the fact that they are surrounded, they have a desire. And how do we treat people when they have a nuclear weapon? With a lot more respect. What did we do with Libya? We talked to them. We talked them out of their nuclear weapon. And then we killed them.

So, it makes more sense to work with people. And the whole thing is that nuclear weapons are loaded over there. Pakistan, India, Israel has 300 of them. We have our ships there. We’ve got to get it in a proper context. We don’t need another war. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Understood. And you make that point quite a lot. I’m going to — I’ll try one more time. Iran is reportedly running exercises on closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key passage, as you know, for global trade. Now what should the U.S. response be if Iran were to take that dramatic step?

PAUL: This is — the plans are on the book. All they talk about is, when are we, the West, going to bomb Iran? So why wouldn’t they talk about — they don’t have a weapon, they don’t have a nuclear weapon, why wouldn’t they try to send out some information there and say, you know, if you come and bomb us, we might close the Straits of Hormuz down.

So already the president, and I think he is wisely backing off on the sanctions, because it’s going to be an economic calamity if you take all the oil out of Europe. So I think that makes sense.

He knows these sanctions are overreaching. Sanctions are an act of war when you prevent goods and services from going into a country. We need to approach this a little differently. We have 12,000 diplomats in our services. We ought to use a little bit of diplomacy once in a while. [applause]

MODERATOR: OK. Just a reminder again, that little friendly beep is when you wrap up. Senator Santorum, you have a very different thought about the threat from Iran. For several years, according to the U.S. military leaders, Iran has provided training, funding, and lethal arms to jihadists killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are those acts of war?

SANTORUM: They have been continually. They just tried to plan an attack here in this country, killing the Saudi ambassador. They have been at war with us since 1979. The IEDs that have killed so many soldiers, they are manufactured in Iran.

This is — Iran is not any other country. It is a country that is ruled by the equivalent of al Qaeda on top of this country. They are a radical theocracy. The principle virtue of the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to President Ahmadinejad, is not freedom, opportunity, it’s martyrdom.

The idea, Ron, that mutual assured destruction, like the policy during the Cold War with the Soviet Union would work on Iran when their principle virtue is martyrdom, is — mutual assured destruction with respect to Iran would not be any kind of, you know, idea of preventing a war. It would be an inducement to a war.

This is what their objective is. Their objective is to in fact create a calamity. This is what their theology teaches. They believe that it is their mission to take on the West. They don’t hate us because of what we do or the policies we have. They hate us because of who we are and what we believe in.

And we need to make sure that they do not have a nuclear weapon. And we should be working with the state of Israel right now. We should use covert activity. And we should be planning a strike against their facilities and say, if you do not open up those facilities and not close them down, we will close them down for you. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, this week President Obama said the U.S. asked Iran to give our downed high-tech drone back. As you know, the Iranians have it on display. They claim they are extracting data from it and they have no intention of giving it back.

Yesterday you called the president’s response, quote, “extraordinarily weak and timid.” Now in your book you write, quote, “weakness invites challenges, acts of intimidation, acts of aggression, and sometimes war.”

So in this case, are President Obama’s actions inviting war?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Does timidity and weakness invite aggression on the part of other people? Absolutely. A strong America, a strong America is the best ally peace has ever known. This is a president with — the spy drone being brought down, he says pretty please? A foreign policy based on pretty please? You have got to be kidding.

This is a president who fundamentally believes that this next century is the post-American century. Perhaps it’s going to be the Chinese century. He is wrong. It has to be the American century. America has to lead the free world. [applause]

ROMNEY: And the free world has to lead the entire world. The right course under President Obama’s plans is to shrink our military, thinking somehow if we appease or accommodate the tyrants of the world, that the world will be safer. He’s wrong.

The right course for America is to strengthen our economy, our values, our families, and our military. We need to rebuild our Navy and go from nine ships a year to 15. We need to modernize our Air Force. We need 100,000 new additional troops in our military. We need to take care of our veterans in the way they deserve.

It is time for us to recognize once again a strong military does not create war. A strong America prevents people from trying to test us around the world. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, today is the official end of the U.S. military operations in Iraq, and there is real concern, as you know, about growing Iranian influence inside Iraq. Also, the deputy prime minister there has expressed concerns about the country possibly slipping into civil war. Are there any circumstances as president where you would send U.S. troops back in to Iraq?

BACHMANN: Well, I think clearly the biggest mistake that President Obama has made — and there are many when it comes to foreign policy — has been the decision that he made regarding Iraq. He was essentially given on a silver platter victory in Iraq, and he’s choosing intentionally to lose the peace.

And we all know what’s going to happen. We know that Iran is going to be the hegemon and try to come into Iraq and have the dominant influence. And then Iraq will essentially have dominance from the Persian Gulf all the way to the Mediterranean through its ally, Syria.

And with all due respect to Ron Paul, I think I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security than the one that we just heard from Ron Paul. And I’ll tell you the reason why. [applause]

And the reason — the reason — the reason why I would say that is because we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally, Israel, off the face of the map, and they’ve stated they will use it against the United States of America.

Look no further than the Iranian constitution, which states unequivocally that their admission — their mission is to extend jihad across the world and eventually to set up a worldwide caliphate. We would be fools and knaves to ignore their purpose and their plan. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Obviously, I would like to see a lot less nuclear weapons. I — I don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I would like to reduce them, because there would be less chance of war.

But to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk. Yeah, there are some radicals, but they don’t come here to kill us because we’re free and prosperous. Do they go to Switzerland and Sweden? I mean, that’s absurd.

If you think that is the reason, we have no chance of winning this. They come here and explicitly explain it to us. The CIA has explained it to us. It said they come here and they want to do us harm because we’re bombing them.

What is the whole world about the drone being in Iran? And we’re begging and pleading, and how are we going to start a war to get this drone back? Why were we flying the drone over Iran? Why do we have to bomb so many countries? Why are we in — have 900 bases, 130 countries, and we’re totally bankrupt? How are you going to rebuild the military when we have no money? How are we going to take care of the people? [applause]

So I think — I think this wild goal to have another war in the name of defense is the dangerous thing. The danger is really us overreacting. And we need a strong national defense. And we need to only go to war with a declaration of war, and just carelessly flouting it and starting these wars so often.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, is Congressman Paul…

[crosstalk]

BACHMANN: And the point would be — can I respond to that? Can I…

MODERATOR: Go ahead.

BACHMANN: Can I respond? And the problem would be the greatest under-reaction in world history if we have an avowed madman who uses that nuclear weapon to wipe nations off the face of the Earth. And we have an IAEA report that just recently came out that said, literally, Iran is within just months of being able to obtain that weapon. Nothing could be more dangerous than the comments that we just heard.

[crosstalk]

MODERATOR: All right, 30 seconds, Dr. Paul.

PAUL: There is no U.N. report that said that. It’s totally wrong on what — what you just said.

BACHMANN: It’s an IAEA report.

PAUL: That — that is not — that is not true. They — they produced information that led you to believe that, but they have no evidence. There’s no — been no enrichment of these bombs.

BACHMANN: And if we agree with that…[booing]… if we agree with that, the United States’ people could be at risk of our national security.

PAUL: OK. She took my time, so I’d like — I’d like to finish. If she thinks we live in a dangerous world, she ought to think back when I was drafted in the 1962 with nuclear missiles in Cuba. And Kennedy calls Khrushchev and talks to them, and talks them out of this so we don’t have a nuclear exchange.

And you’re trying to dramatize this, that we have to go and — and treat Iran like we’ve treated Iraq and kill a million Iraqis, and 8,000-some Americans have died since we’ve gone to war. You cannot solve these problems with war. You can solve the problems if we follow our constitution and go to war only when we declare the war, win them and get them over with instead of this endless fighting and this endless attitude that we have enemy all around the world.

BACHMANN: But as president, I stand on the side of…

MODERATOR: Thank you — we have been liberal with our friendly ding.

Mr. Speaker, you have been openly critical of the United Nations. For example on the topic of Palestinian efforts for statehood at the U.S. you said, quote, “we don’t need to fund a corrupt institution to beat up on our allies.”

In a Gingrich administration would the United States leave the UN?

GINGRICH: No, but we would dramatically reduce our reliance on it. And we’d confront certain realities. People talk about a peace process. 11 missiles were fired in Israel last month, last month. Over 200 missiles fired at Israel this year. You think if we had 11 missiles fired in the United States we — well, this president anyway would say gee, maybe we could communicate and you would like us more.

But I don’t think there is — you know, I think most of us, most Americans would say you know if you are firing missiles at me, that may not be a good gesture. OK? The United Nations camps that we have helped fund have been training grounds for terrorism.

As Congressman Bachmann pointed out the last time we debated, she was over there with textbooks that are clearly teaching terrorism that are indirectly funded by the United States through the UN.

We have no obligation to lie and every obligation to tell the truth about how bad the UN bureaucracy is and why it ought to be fixed or we ought to radically cut what we’re paying.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, do you agree?

HUNTSMAN: I think the United Nations serves a useful purpose in the area of peacekeeping and some humanitarian work. Beyond that, I hate the anti-Americanism. I hate the anti-Israel sentiment.

But let me tell you what this nation needs and what it is going to get under a Huntsman administration. It needs a new foreign policy. We need to update it a little bit. We are still trapped a little bit in the Cold War, George Tenet mind set.

I want to make sure that first and foremost we have a foreign policy, and a the national security strategy that recognizes that we have to fix our core here at home. We are weak. This economy is broken. When we are strong, we project values of goodness that transform and change people like no military can — liberty, democracy, human rights and free markets.

We have got to fix this core first and foremost if we are going to be effective overseas. And that is what i want to focus on.

Second of all, I want to make sure that…

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, that is the time.

HUNTSMAN: Let me just get the second point.

Second of all, I want a foreign policy — I want a foreign policy that is driven by economics first. Let me just tell you, its used to break my heart sitting in embassy in Beijing the second largest embassy in the world looking at Afghanistan with 100,000 troops. We are securing the place, the Chinese go in and they win the mining concession. There is something wrong with that picture.

We need to change the way we’re doing business.

MODERATOR: OK. Two dings in that one.

Governor Perry, given the grim details of the recent United Nations report on the Syrian regime killing and torturing its own people, thousands of people said to be killed at the hands of the Assad regime. At what point should the U.S. consider military intervention there?

PERRY: Well, I have already called for a overfly zone — no fly zone over Syria already. They are Iran’s partner. They are attached at the hip. And we have to stand firm with our ally in that region, Israel. There needs to be no space between the United States and Israel. And this administration has absolutely bungled.

It is the most muddled foreign policy that I can ever remember in my lifetime whether it was in ’09 when we had the opportunity either covertly, overtly or other ways of helping the Iranian citizens as they were trying to overthrow that repressive regime, whether it was working with Mubarak, and trying to have a moderate to come in and replace him, whether it was leading from behind, as we have seen in Libya, and now we have seen this president, as Mitt and Newt have both talked about, asking the Iranians to give us back that drone.

What we should have done is one of two things — we either destroy it or we retrieve it. He took a third route, which was the worst and the weakest, and that is to do nothing.

MODERATOR: Now to my colleague Neil Cavuto — Neil?

MODERATOR: Candidates, I want to move on if we can to energy issues. And Speaker Gingrich, I would like to begin with you. As you know, the president, sir, has rejected any efforts to tie a payroll tax cut extension with the Keystone pipeline and to reopen it and to explore reopening it as well.

He says that any other way to connect the two would be akin to adding an extraneous issue. Given his opposition and — and the likelihood that the Keystone issue could be up in the air for a year or more, how do you recommend Republicans deal with this to force the issue?

GINGRICH: You know, Neil, I sometimes get accused of using language that’s too strong, so I’ve been standing here editing. [laughter]

I’m very concerned about not appearing to be zany. And…[laughter]

But — but I want to paint a picture for all of us. The Iranians are practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz. The Canadian prime minister has already said to the American president, if you don’t want to build this pipeline to bring — create 20,000 American jobs and bring oil through the United States to the largest refinery complex in the world, Houston, I want to put it straight west in Canada to Vancouver and ship the oil direct to China, so you’ll lose the jobs, you’ll lose the throughput, you’ll lose 30 or 40 years of work in Houston.

And the president of the United States cannot figure out that it is — I’m using mild words here — utterly irrational to say, I’m now going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco, so that we’re going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians, and do so in a way that makes no sense to any normal, rational American. [applause]

MODERATOR: No offense, sir, but you didn’t answer my question. [laughter]

What would — what would you do to try to move on this within a year?

GINGRICH: What — what should the congressional Republicans do? They should attach it to the middle-class tax cut, send it to president, force him to veto it, send it a second time. We had to send welfare reform to Bill Clinton three times. He vetoed it twice. By the third time, the popular outrage was so angry, 92 percent of the country wanted to have welfare reform, he decided to sign it. It happened to be an election year.

I’d say to the president, you want to look like you are totally out of touch with the American people? Be my guest, but I’m not backing down when we’re right and you are totally wrong. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, on the same issue [inaubible] the delay, as you’ve pointed out, stands to threaten thousands of jobs, in a recent speech, you said potentially up to 100,000 jobs. But the president’s supporters say a rushed decision could cost the environment a great deal more. What I’d like to ask you, Governor, is there any condition under which a President Huntsman would say the need to protect our land trumps the need to provide more jobs?

HUNTSMAN: It’s always going to be a balancing act. We’ve got land that everybody respects and appreciates, but the job we’ve got to undertake as American people is to fuel our future.

We have no choice. I mean, our economy has hit the wall. I want to get rid of that heroin-like addiction we have based on imported oil. Three hundred billion dollars transfers every year from this country to a lot of unpredictable and relationships that are no more than transactional.

In order to get to where this country needs to be, we need a relationship with Canada from which we can draw raw materials. But I also want to make sure that I’m able as president to disrupt the oil monopoly. There’s a one-product monopoly in terms of product distribution in this country. If we’re going to achieve real energy independence, we’re going to have to be able to draw from a multiplicity of products like natural gas.

We wake up to the reality [inaubible] in this country that we have more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil, I say, how stupid are we? When are we going to get with the picture and start converting to transportation, converting to manufacturing, converting to electricity and power generation? It is completely within our grasp.

It’s going to require a president who understands that — that delicate balance and who’s going to be able to go out with an aggressive plan toward energy independence — independence that gets it done for this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann, you — you were very critical, Congresswoman, of the extended shutdown after the BP oil spill that I believe lasted upwards of five, six months, in terms of a moratorium. I was wondering, though, Congresswoman, if you were president and there were such a disaster again, what would be an acceptable period for oil drilling to cease, for you to get to the bottom of a problem?

BACHMANN: Well, what we needed to do was find out what the true cause of the problem was. And the Obama administration wasn’t willing to have a true and thoughtful investigation to get to the bottom of it.

President Obama jumped to conclusions, and he put a moratorium on accessing American oil in the Gulf region that actually hurt the economy more than the original disaster. But I wanted to add something on Keystone. Keystone is extremely important, the pipeline.

This pipeline is one that would have brought at least 20,000 jobs, at least $6.5 billion worth of economic activity. And if I was president of the United States, I wouldn’t have taken the decision that President Obama did. His entire calculus was based upon his reelection effort. Because quite frankly, the radical environmentalists said to President Obama, you pass Keystone, we’re not going to do your volunteer door-to-door work.

That’s what Barack Obama has done to this country. He’s put his reelection over adding jobs and making the United States energy independent. I would have made the decision as president of the United States, we would put Keystone online immediately. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Perry, you — you have railed against the special treatment of Ford and Solyndra as have the other candidates here tonight. And particularly the tax code incentives for green technologies and allowances that have been made for this industry. But it’s nexus, governor you have afforded the same attention to the oil industry. Back in 2003, you signed a bill that reduced the tax paid by some natural gas companies that have helped them reap since, better than $7 billion in tax savings. So I — I guess what I’m saying is, are you guilty of the same behavior as governor, favoring an industry, that you claim this president has, favoring the green industry?

PERRY: Today is the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights. And one of those, the Tenth Amendment, I like a lot. And the reason is because that’s how our founding fathers saw this country set up. Where we had these laboratories of innovation. It — it should be in the purview and the decision making process of a state. If they want to put tax policies in place that helps make them be more competitive.

PERRY: We did it not only for the oil and gas industry, but we also did it for the alternative industry — alternative energy industry. And the wind industry. They came in droves, made Texas the number one wind energy producing state in the nation. But government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers from Washington, D.C. That’s the difference. If in the states — I’ll promise you Terry Branstad in this state, he knows how to put tax policy, regulatory policy in place to make his state be more competitive. And you need 50 states out there competing with each other and Washington out of their hair. [applause]

MODERATOR: Thank you Neil. And a reminder, go to Foxnews.com/debate to see how well the candidates are answering the questions with your votes. Coming up, we’ll ask about border issues, immigration and a topic that got a lot of attention on Twitter, plus some controversial social issues as well. Stay tuned. [applause]

[commercial break]

MODERATOR: Welcome back to Sioux City, Iowa. And our Republican presidential debate here in northwestern Iowa.

These people tend to like it I think so far. I think they do. You have to next round of questions on board issues and immigration.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Bret.

The question is for you, Governor Perry. This topic received traffic on Twitter. You have joined the 57 House Republicans who have called for the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, to resign in the wake of the failed federal gun tracking program Operation Fast and Furious.

So far, there is no clear proof that Mr. Holder knew about the controversial aspects of this operation. And he points out that he actually helped stop it when it came to his attention. Are you and other Republicans politicizing this issue as General Holder claims?

PERRY: If I’m the president of the United States, and I find out that there is an operation like Fast and Furious and my attorney general didn’t know about it, I would have him resign immediately. You cannot, the president of the United States comes to El Paso, Texas, earlier this year and proclaims that the border of Texas and Mexico, the U.S. border with Mexico is safer than it’s ever been.

Well, let me tell you, I’ve been dealing with this issue for 11 years. I’ve sent Texas Ranger recon teams there. Our law enforcement men and women face fire from across the border or in the U.S. side from these drug cartels. It is not safe there. Our country is at jeopardy.

If we are going to be able to defend America, from Iran, from Hezbollah, from Hamas, that are using Mexico as a border, as a way to penetrate in the southern part of the United States. Venezuela has the largest Iranian embassy in the world there. We know what is going on. It is time for this country to have a real conversation about a Monroe Doctrine again like we did against the Cubans in the 60s.

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, what say you to the attorney general’s claim that the Republicans are politicizing this issue?

SANTORUM: I would agree with Governor Perry that if he was the attorney general under me, I would have him — I would fire him. I wouldn’t have him resign, I’d fire him. This is something he should have been aware of, something that should have been stopped, it shouldn’t have started in the first place.

I think Governor Perry is also right. And this is something I’ve been saying now for many years, which is we need to pay much more attention to what is going on in our own hemisphere, not only do they have the largest embassy in Venezuela, there are flights from Tehran, from Damascus to Caracas. And those flights stop at a military base before they come into the civilian base.

There are training camps, jihaddist training camps in Central and South America. They’re working with the drug cartels. And they are planning assaults on the United States. That is what we know is going on right now. And we are doing — this president has ignored that threat. Has insulted our allies like Honduras and Colombia, deliberately. Has embraced — as he has the other scoundrels in the Middle East, has embraced Chavez and Ortega and others in Central and South America, not promoting our values and interests.

We need a brand new initiative, an initiative that says that we will promote our values in this region and we will stop the spread of terrorism in Central and South America. [cheering and applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, last week you said that the 11 million illegal immigrants now in this country must return to their countries of origin before they can apply for legal status.

You also said that we are not going to go around and round up the 11 million. Why would these illegal immigrants voluntarily leave America just to apply for a chance at legal status, especially when they have your assurance that if they stay put we are not going to round them up?

ROMNEY: Let me tell you how that works. We are going to have an identification card for people who come here legally. The last campaign, actually, Rudy Giuliani talked about this time and time again.

We would have a card, a little plastic card, bio-information on it. Individuals who come here legally have that card. And when they apply for a job, they are able to show that to the employer. The employer must then check it with E-Verify or a similar system.

Newt Gingrich points out, let Federal Express — or not Federal Express, American Express or MasterCard or Visa process that, immediately determine if the card is valid or not.

So people come here legally, they’ve got that card. If employers hire people without that card, the employer gets sanctioned just like they do for not paying taxes. Very serious sanctions.

So you say to people who are here illegally today, you are not going to be able to work here unless you register, unless — and we will give you transition period of time, and then ultimately you have got to go home, apply for permanent residency here or citizenship, if you want to try and do that, but get in line behind everyone else.

My view is, people who have come here illegally, we welcome you to apply but you must get at the back of the line, because there are millions of people who are in line right now that want to come here legally. I want those to come here legally. Those that are here illegally have to get in line with everybody else. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich, is that realistic?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start and say that Congressman Steve King has just introduced the IDEA act, which would in fact reinforce this model. Because it would take away all tax deductibility for anyone who is employed illegally, and once you have something like E-Verify effectively working, you really build a big sanction.

We disagree some on what you do with very, very long-term people here. I think somebody who has been here 25 years and has family here and has local family supporting them ought to have some kind of civilian certification.

But let me say on this whole issue of immigration. On day one, I would drop all the lawsuits against Arizona, South Carolina, and Alabama. It is wrong for the government. [cheering and applause]

GINGRICH: I would propose — I would propose cutting off all federal aid to any sanctuary city that deliberately violated federal law. [cheering and applause]

GINGRICH: And I would begin the process of completing control of the border by January 1st, 2014. Those steps would begin to fundamentally change the entire way of behavior towards getting control of legality in the United States. [applause]

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman, a recent FOX News poll showed that 66 percent of voters believe that the government should allow a pass to citizenship for the illegal immigrants who are already here in this country.

Nearly three-quarters of Latinos agree. Given these majorities and given the growing importance of the Latino vote in the general election, does the Republican presidential candidate need to take a more moderate approach on this issue if he hopes to defeat President Obama?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I think the Republican candidate has to speak based on our values, the values of the Republican Party. Limited government, pro-growth, these are the things that the Hispanic and the Latino populations are going to be looking for.

You don’t need to pander. You just need to be — we need to be who we are. But in terms of immigration, and illegal immigration, this president has so screwed up this economy, nobody is coming anymore. There is nothing to come for. I mean, there’s not a problem today. Just take a look at the numbers coming across.

I mean, the numbers, it was posted the other day, lowest in four decades. So I say, you know, we have got to secure the border, of course. We have got to deal with the 11, 12 million people who are here.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that legal immigration is an engine of growth for this country. Half of the Fortune 500 companies in this country today were founded by immigrants.

We have lost probably — well, our market share of travel and tourism has gone from 7 percent to 12 percent because our visa system is so screwed up in this nation. So you’ve got to look at the Department of Homeland Security.

You’ve got to completely remake the way that people are moving back and forth, our H1-B visa system, how we are dealing with the movement of people, how we are dealing with immigration. This is an economic development opportunity and we are missing it. [applause]

MODERATOR: Chris Wallace has the next round of questions.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Bret. Governor Romney, you have changed your position in the last 10 years on abortion, on gay rights, on guns. You say keeping an open mind is a strength, but some of your critics say that every one of these moves has been to your political advantage. When you were running in Massachusetts, you took liberal positions. Running now as president, you take more conservative positions. Is that principle or is it just politics?

ROMNEY: Well, I’ll begin by taking exception with your list there. I did change my…

MODERATOR: Which — which one?

ROMNEY: Gay rights.

MODERATOR: Well…

ROMNEY: I’m firmly in support of people not being discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation. At the same time, I oppose same-sex marriage. That’s been my position from the beginning.

With regards to abortion, I changed my mind. With regards to abortion, I had the experience of coming in to office, running for governor, saying, you know, I’m going to keep the laws as they exist in the state. And they were pro-choice laws, so effectively I was pro-choice.

Then I had a bill come to my desk that didn’t just keep the laws as they were, but would have created new embryos for the purpose of destroying them. I studied it in some depth and concluded I simply could not sign on to take human life. I vetoed that bill. [applause]

I went to the — to the Boston Globe. I described for them why I am pro-life. Every decision I took as governor was taken on the side of life. I am firmly pro-life.

I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life over, what, 19 — 17, 18, 19 years has told me that sometimes I was wrong. Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself.

MODERATOR: If I may just pick up, you say the one issue which I was wrong on was gay rights. Correct, sir?

ROMNEY: Mm-hmm. What was the — what was the — I don’t recall the whole list, but I…

[crosstalk]

MODERATOR: It was abortion, gay rights, and guns.

ROMNEY: You know, I’ve always supported the Second Amendment. And — and we had a piece of legislation that came to our desk that would have — that provided an assault weapon ban. The gun lobby favored it because it also did things that the gun lobby wanted. Working with them, we decided to sign the bill. So you can say, well, I’ve changed my position on that, but I’ve been pro-gun and continue to be pro-gun.

MODERATOR: If I may, sir, in 1994, when you were running for the Senate, you wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans in which you said, “I am more convinced than ever before that, as we seek full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent,” who was Ted Kennedy.

In 1994, you also said you supported not only an assault weapons ban, but also a five-day waiting period. And in 2002, when you were running as governor, you said that you supported the tough gun control laws in Massachusetts. And then as you say in 2004, you also signed an assault weapons ban.

So you are still more of a champion of gay rights than Ted Kennedy was?

ROMNEY: I think — I think — I think you just said exactly what I said, which is this.

MODERATOR: I…

ROMNEY: Let me — let me go back and say that. I do not believe in discriminating against people based upon their sexual orientation. There are some people that do. I had a member of my administration, my cabinet who was — who was gay. I didn’t ask justices that I was looking to appoint — rather, people who are applicants for jobs — what their sexual orientation was.

I believe as a Republican, I had the potential to fight for antidiscrimination in a way that would be even better than Senator Kennedy, as a Democrat, was expected to do so.

At the same time, Chris, in 1994 — and throughout my career — I’ve said I oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. My view is — let me tell you — protects — protect the sanctity of marriage, protect the sanctity of life. That’s my view. I’ve had it for many years.

Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Senator Santorum, you have campaigned on social issues as much or perhaps more than any other candidate on this stage. Are you persuaded that Governor Romney has made these changes or what he says in some cases are not changes, based on principle and not political expedience?

SANTORUM: Governor Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was faced with a Supreme Court decision that said that same-sex — that traditional marriage was unconstitutional. In that court decision, the court said that they did not have the power to change the law in Massachusetts and rule same-sex marriage legal. Why? Because in the Massachusetts constitution, it states specifically that only the governor and the legislature can change marriage laws.

Governor Romney — the court then gave the legislature a certain amount of time to change the law. They did not. So Governor Romney was faced with a choice: Go along with the court, or go along with the constitution and the statute. He chose the court and ordered people to issue gay marriage licenses, and went beyond that. He personally as governor issued gay marriage licenses. I don’t think that is an accurate representation of his position of saying tolerance versus substantively changes in the laws.

I’ve had a strong, consistent track record of standing up for the values of this country, not discriminating. It had a no- discrimination policy in my office. But we’re not talking about discrimination. We’re talking about changing the basic values of our country.

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond, sir. [applause]

ROMNEY: That is a very novel understanding of what our Supreme Court of Massachusetts did. I think everybody in Massachusetts and the legal profession in Massachusetts and my legal counsel indicated that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts determined that under our constitution, same-sex marriage was required. And the idea that somehow that was up to me to make a choice as to whether we had it or not is a little unusual. We got together with our legislature and I fought leading an effort to put in place a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to overturn the court’s decision to make marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

This is something I battled in the year I had after their decision. I fought it every way I possibly could. I went to Washington, testifying in favor of a federal amendment to define marriage as a relationship between man and a woman.

Let me tell you, I want to make it very clear, I have been a champion of protecting traditional marriage that continues to be my view. If I somehow missed somewhere I’m happy to get corrected. But that is something I feel very deeply.

MODERATOR: All right. Congresswoman Bachmann, you say that Speaker Gingrich has a, quote, “inconsistent record on life” and you singled out comments he made recently that life begins with the implantation of a fertilized egg, not at conception. What is your concern?

BACHMANN: Well, my concern is the fact that the Republican Party can’t get the issue of life wrong. This is a basic part of our party. Just last night we gathered in Des Moines to talk about this issue, because it’s that crucial to our party. And one of the concerns that I had is that when Speaker Gingrich was Speaker of the House he had an opportunity to de-fund Planned Parenthood. And he chose not to take it. That is a big issue.

And also I think even more troubling when he was in Washington, D.C., he made an affirmative statement that he would not only support but he would campaign for Republicans who are in support of the barbaric procedure known as partial birth abortion. I could never do that.

And as a matter of fact, George Wilt asked the question of Speaker Gingrich. he said this: he said, “is it a virtue to tolerate infanticide?” This is a seminal issue and something we can’t get wrong. As president of the United States, I will be 100 percent pro- life from conception until natural death.

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Sometimes Congressman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts very accurate. I had ad 98.5 percent right to life voting record in 20 years. The only …

MODERATOR: Go ahead. I’m…

GINGRICH: The only difference was that they didn’t like the initial welfare reform bill, which every other conservative group had said had nothing in it on abortion. Period. That’s the only one in 20 years.

I believe that life begins at conception. The conversation we’re having which is an ABC interview, I was frankly thinking about proposing a commission to look at fertility, because I think there is a challenge with what happens to embryos, who I think should be regarded as life because by definition they have been conceived. I am against any kind of experimentation on embryos. And I think my position on life actually has been very clear and very consistent.

MODERATOR: Let me just ask you — no. I want to ask you a direct question, if I may, speaker. That was your rebuttal to Congresswoman Bachmann.

BACHMANN: Can I rebuttal, because have a rebuttal for getting my facts wrong?

MODERATOR: Absolutely, congresswoman.

BACHMANN: Because this isn’t just once, I think it’s outrageous to continue to say over and over through the debate that I don’t have my facts right. When as a matter of fact, I do. I’m a serious candidate for president of the United States. And my facts are accurate.

Speaker Gingrich said that he would actively support and campaign for Republicans who got behind the barbaric practice of partial birth abortions. This is not a small issue. This is a big issue.

I think George Will was right when he asked that question. What virtue is there in tolerating infanticide?

MODERATOR: We are way over time. So I’m just going to ask you for 30 seconds to respond on the that specific issue.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, what I said on that particular issue is I wouldn’t go out and try to purge Republicans. Now, I don’t see how you are going to govern the country if you are going to run around and decide who you are going to purge. The fact is, twice when I was speaker we moved the end of partial-birth abortion. Clinton vetoed it. We worked very hard. And Rick Santorum has been a leader on this issue.

I have consistently opposed partial birth abortion. I, in fact, would like to see us go much further than that and eliminate abortion as a choice. And I said as president I would de-fund Planned Parenthood and shift the money to pay for adoption services to give young women a choice of life rather than death.

MODERATOR: Thank you, speaker.

GINGRICH: Thank you, Chris. Candidates, Ronald Reagan famously espoused his 11th Commandment: Thou shall not…

PROTESTER: [off-mike]

MODERATOR: I’m sorry. Thank you. Thank you very much.

PROTESTER: [off-mike]

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Well — well, let me just finish this question. We’re running out of time.

Ronald Reagan famously espoused the 11th Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican. Yet to varying degrees, during this campaign, you’ve all broken that one way or another, broken that vow. So I guess the question is, how do you balance on the one hand trying to win the nomination with on the other hand not weakening the eventual nominee to the point where he or she is less electable than President Obama?

Down the row, Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: We have a responsibility to vet the candidates. That’s what — look, I’ve been at 350 town hall meetings. I’ve been kicked pretty hard by a lot of Iowans about the positions I hold, and that’s what — that’s the process. The process is, let’s find out who can stand up. Let’s find out who has the best record, who’s the most — who’s the person that can have that — the consistency of — of going out there and finding for the principles that we believe in.

Because I — let me assure you, the other side’s going to kick very, very hard, and we have to have someone who can stand up for it, fight, and holds those convictions deep so they can fight the good fight in the fall and win this presidency.

MODERATOR: Governor Perry?

PERRY: Yeah, there’s a — there’s an — as a matter of fact, I think that was the Republican chairman, not Ronald Reagan, that actually said that.

MODERATOR: Well, he espoused it. That’s what I said.

PERRY: Right, indeed he did. But there’s an NFL player — his name doesn’t come to mind — but he said, if you don’t get your tail kicked every now and then, you’re not playing at a high enough level. And I just want to give all of you all credit for letting me play at a high enough level and for training me the way that you have. [laughter]

MODERATOR: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Yeah, we can handle it. And — and there’s nothing — there’s nothing that’s been said by — by these folks on this stage about me that I’m not going to hear 100 times from — from President Obama. He’s going to have a — what, $1 billion to go after me or whoever our nominee is? We’re — we’re going to give each other what we need to for people to understand who we are.

But let’s not forget this. Let’s every day remember that, time and time again, this — it’s President Obama we’ve got to be talking about. He has unveiled himself as a president that’s not — not the right person to lead this country. [applause]

MODERATOR: Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, I think it’s pretty clear, if you look at my ads, if you look at my website, if you look at what — how I’ve operated in the debates, that while I reserve the right to correct attacks against my — against me, overall I’ve tried very hard to talk about very big solutions to be — to go to the American people with the communication about, what do we need to do?

And I’ve said consistently, these are all friends of mine. Any of these folks would be better than Barack Obama in the White House. Any of them would be great in the next administration. [applause]

Our only opponent is Barack Obama. And we need to come out of this process remembering: Beating him is what we collectively have to do. [applause]

MODERATOR: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: You know, the media has a responsibility and we have a responsibility, and I think exposing our opponents to what they believe in and their flip-flop, I think the reason maybe that we had to do more this year is maybe the media is messing up and they haven’t asked enough questions, that we have to fill in and ask these questions and get this information out.

So, no, I think it’s a responsibility on us. I think there should be lines drawn. I think there are some things below the belt. I don’t think — but I don’t like the demagoguing, the distortion, and taking things out of context. I don’t like that. But when they disagree on an issue, important issues, then we should expose it.

MODERATOR: Congresswoman Bachmann? [applause]

BACHMANN: Ronald Reagan also brought clarity to the — his opponents that he had in his primaries, as well. And he famously asked the question, in 1980, are we better off today than we were four years under Jimmy Carter? And I think the republic is in far worse shape today under Barack Obama’s leadership.

That’s what we’re exposing now. Who will be — who will continue that legacy of Ronald Reagan? And who will take Barack Obama on toe to toe and hold him accountable? And I think that I’ll be the best one to do that on the stage.

MODERATOR: Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: I actually worked for Ronald Reagan. And I think he would have been the first to stand up and say: Debate is good. It must be respectful, and it must be rigorous.

A rigorous debate will lead to greater trust. And the one thing this nation needs desperately today is heightened trust, in our institutions, in our tax code, in our wars abroad, in Congress, toward Wall Street.

And I’m here to tell you that this kind of debate over time is going to elevate the trust level in whomever makes it out as the nominee. That will allow us to beat Barack Obama.

Thank you. [applause]

MODERATOR: Well, that is it for our debate tonight. Thank you all very much. Our thanks to the candidates, their staffs, the Iowa Republican Party, and to all the great people here in Sioux City, and, of course, in Iowa. They could not have been more hospitable.