January 23, 2012: MSNBC / NBC News / National Journal / Tampa Bay Times / Florida Council of 100 Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Tampa, Florida January 23, 2012

PARTICIPANTS:
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (GA);
Representative Ron Paul (TX);
Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA); and
Former Senator Rick Santorum (PA)

MODERATOR:
Brian Williams (NBC News)

WILLIAMS: As for topics, it’s a wide-open evening, so let’s begin.

First of all, since we last gathered, three of you on stage have enjoyed victories, an unprecedented moment in the modern era, three separate candidates, three separate victories. Congratulations to you. In all three contests, the voters made it clear to pollsters and elsewhere that electability was a crucial element to them, a crucial argument this year.

And so, speaker Gingrich, on electability to begin with, your rival, your opponent on this stage, Governor Romney, was out today calling you erratic, a failed leader, and warning that your nomination for this party could perhaps result in what he called an “October surprise a day.” So given the fact that he went after you today on this topic of electability, your response tonight, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, in 1980, when Ronald Reagan started the year about 30 points behind Jimmy Carter and when the Republican establishment described his economic ideas as “voodoo economics,” Reagan just cheerfully went out and won the debate, won the nomination, and won the general election carrying more states than Herbert Hoover carried — than Roosevelt carried against Herbert Hoover. I would suggest that a solid conservative who believes in economic growth through lower taxes and less regulation, who believes in an American energy program, who believes in a strong national defense, and who has the courage to stand up to the Washington establishment, may make the Washington establishment uncomfortable, but is also exactly the kind of bold, tough leader the American people want, they’re not sending somebody to Washington to manage the decay. They’re sending somebody to Washington to change it, and that requires somebody who’s prepared to be controversial when necessary.

WILLIAMS: And about your problems, your departure from the speakership in the ’90s, what’s the case you make to the American people and voters in Republican primary contests about how you’ve changed, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, the case I make is that, when I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets, the only time in your lifetime, Brian, that we’ve had four consecutive balanced budgets. Most people think that’s good.

We were down to 4.2 percent unemployment; 11 million new jobs were created. Most people think that’s good. We reformed welfare. And two out of three people went to work or went to school. People think that’s good.

I left the speakership after the 1998 election because I took responsibility for the fact that our results weren’t as good as they should be. I think that’s what a leader should do. I took responsibility, and I didn’t want to stay around, as Nancy Pelosi has. I wanted to get out and do other things. I founded four small businesses. And I’m very comfortable that my four years as speaker, working with a Democratic president, achieved the kind of conservative values that most Republicans want to have in a president.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, for his part, the speaker said about you that were dancing on eggs during this campaign, a good salesman with a weak product. And even Chris Christie, one of the most popular politicians in this country, speaking on your behalf, said this weekend your challenge is “going to be how to connect with people.”

Same question to you about electability.

ROMNEY: Well, I think this is going to come down to a question of leadership. I think as you choose the president of the United States, you’re looking for a person who can lead this country in a very critical time, lead the free world, and the free world has to lead the entire world.

I think it’s about leadership, and the Speaker was given an opportunity to be the leader of our party in 1994. And at the end of four years, he had to resign in disgrace.

Now, in the 1970s, he came to Washington. I went to work in my first job in the 1970s at the bottom level of a consulting firm. In the 1990s, he had to resign in disgrace from this job as Speaker.

I had the opportunity to go off and run the Olympic winter games. In the 15 years after he left the speakership, the Speaker has been working as an influence peddler in Washington. And during those 15 years, I helped turn around the Olympics, helped begin a very successful turnaround in the state of Massachusetts.

The Speaker — when I was fighting against cap and trade, the Speaker was sitting down with Nancy Pelosi on a sofa encouraging it. When I was fighting to say that the Paul Ryan plan to solve Medicare was bold and right, he was saying that it was right wing social engineering.

So we have very different perspectives on leadership, and the kind of leadership that our conservative movement needs not just to get elected, but to get the country right.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I’m not going to spend the evening trying to chase Governor Romney’s misinformation. We’ll have a site at Newt.org by tomorrow morning. We’ll list everything — he just said at least four things that are false. I don’t want to waste the time on them. I think the American public deserve a discussion about how to beat Barack Obama, the American public deserves a discussion of what we would do about the economy. And I just think this is the worst kind of trivial politics.

I mean, he said at least four things that were false. We have an ad in which both John McCain and Mike Huckabee in 2007 and 2008 explain how much they think Governor Romney can’t tell the truth.

I just suggest people look at them. Don’t listen to me, don’t believe me. Just look at the ad with Mike Huckabee and Senator McCain and you will understand exactly what you just saw.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, to your electability, let’s talk about the southern base of the GOP. Among those who describe themselves as very conservative, only one in five have gone your way.

How is that going to bode well for the longer campaign?

ROMNEY: Had a great record, as you know, in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire voters overwhelmingly supported me. Actually, among Republicans in New Hampshire, I got the biggest support that we have seen among Republicans, even including Ronald Reagan, that far back. So I’m pleased I will be able to connect well with our Republican base.

But let’s go back to what the Speaker mentioned with regards to leadership, and that is — I mean, we don’t have to take my word for the facts. They’re accurate. I will point out that they are accurate. But the truth is that the members of his own team, his congressional team, after his four years of leadership, they moved to replace him. They also took a vote, and 88 percent of Republicans voted to reprimand the Speaker, and he did resign in disgrace after that.

This was the first time in American history that a Speaker of the House has resigned from the House. And so that was the judgment rendered by his own people as to his leadership.

Look, don’t forget at the end of the Speaker’s term as Speaker, his approval rating was down to 18 percent. We suffered historic losses after his four years in office.

And I’ll make this other point, which is we just learned today that his contract with Freddie Mac was provided by the lobbyists at Freddie Mac. I don’t think we can possibly retake the White House if the person who’s leading our party is the person who was working for the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac was paying Speaker Gingrich $1,600,000 at the same time Freddie Mac was costing the people of Florida millions upon millions of dollars.

WILLIAMS: Do you realize last week, Governor, you said that — you complained that too much of your time on stage lately has been spent on negativity vis-a-vis the other candidates? You pledged to spend your time going after the incumbent president, yet here we are again.

ROMNEY: I’ll tell you why, which is I learned something from that last contest in South Carolina, and that was I had incoming from all directions, was overwhelmed with a lot of attacks. And I’m not going to sit back and get attacked day in and day out without returning fire.

I would like not to have the kind of attacks that came against me. There were two ads run by Speaker Gingrich. Outside fact- checking groups said these ads were false, and yet they continue to run them, and one by his campaign, and one by a PAC, in his benefit. And I know he can’t control that, but those ads were pretty heavy on me. So I’m going to point out things I think people need to know.

It was Republicans who replaced him in the House, voted to reprimand him. And it was the head lobbyist of Freddie Mac with whom he had a contract at a time when Floridians were suffering as a result in part of Freddie Mac.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, 30 seconds before I move on.

GINGRICH: Now, wait a second. I mean, he just went on and on and on, making a whole series of allegations. First of all, he may have been a good financier; he’s a terrible historian.

The fact is, the vote on the Ethics Committee was in January of 1997. I asked the Republicans to vote yes because we had to get it behind us. The Democrats had filed 84 ethics charges for a simple reason: We had taken control of the House after 40 years, and they were very bitter.

And the fact is, on every single ethics charge of substance that was dismissed in the end, the only thing we did wrong is we had one lawyer written by letters — I mean, written one letter, and the one letter was in error. I didn’t pay a fine. I paid the cost of going through the process of determining it was wrong.

I left two years later, and, frankly, we were right to get it behind us because the tax cut that led to economic growth, the four balanced budgets all came after that vote. So you have all this stuff just jumbled up. Apparently your consultants aren’t very good historians. What you ought to do is stop and look at the facts.

And the fact is, we won the House for the third time in 1998, but the margin wasn’t big enough. So I am the only speaker up to that point since the 1920s who had led the Republican Party to three consecutive victories. By the way, in 2006 when you chaired the Governors Association, we lost governorships. And in the four years that you were governor, we lost seats in the Massachusetts legislature. So I think as a party builder, the 20 years I spent building the House Republican Party stands pretty good as an example of leadership.

WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, you have labeled this choice as being between an erratic and a moderate. You come in here tonight with one victory in Iowa. Where is your path to the top here?

SANTORUM: Well, I think if you’ve learned anything about this election, that any type of prediction is going to be wrong. The idea that this was a two-person race has been an idea that has been in fashion now for eight months, and it’s been wrong about eight times.

And so we’re looking at this race trying to paint a positive vision for our country. You ask my path to victory. My path to victory is to tell the people of Florida and tell the people of this country of someone who’s here that presents a very clear contrast with the president of the United States, someone that will make him the issue in this race, not the Republican candidate, someone who has a track record of being a strong conservative, someone who has a vision, a bold vision to reach out to the voters that I reached out and was successful in getting when I ran for the Senate in Pennsylvania twice, a state we haven’t won for the presidency since 1988. I won it twice, once in a year where George Bush lost the state by five and I won it by six.

How did I do it? I had plans out there that included everybody, plans like I have today, talking about manufacturing, talking about things that – – that are touchstones with the Reagan Democrats that provided that 49- state win.

We talked about faith. We talked about family. We talked about jobs. We talked about limited government. And that message was one that connected in a state — well, just like Florida, that’s one of those key states that we’re going to win. And that sets me apart, really, from anybody else on this stage as someone who’s been victorious with a strong, principled conservative message.

WILLIAMS: And yet, Senator, you are former Senator Santorum, having lost your home state by 18 points.

SANTORUM: Yeah, well, if I was the only guy that lost an election that year in Pennsylvania, that would be maybe a big statement, but our gubernatorial candidate lost by more than I did. We lost five congressional seats. And it was an historic loss in our statehouse. It was a meltdown year. We lost 23 out of 33 senators.

And probably unlike a lot of other candidates, when you’re running in an election year that you know you’re running against a headwind, a lot of folks crouch down, they get out of the way of the wind and try to sneak in. I stood tall, stood for what I believed in, talked about issues like the threat of Iran on the horizon, talked about the need to reform Social Security and Medicare, talked about the issues that, well, now we’re all talking about today, as I did at a time when nobody wanted to hear that message.

I also was running with a president who was sitting at about 35 percent favorable, and I was standing by him and trying to reform Social Security, and trying to fight the war and win the war in Iraq, and I stand by that.

And one of the things I figured out when I was running in that tough election year, there’s one thing worse than losing an election, and that’s not standing for the principles that you hold.

WILLIAMS:Congressman Paul, there is no denying you have an enthusiastic base support — base of support. We could hear them outside tonight. Yet there was that recent interview, you were asked if while campaigning you envision yourself in the Oval Office, and you said, “Not really, but I think it’s a possibility.”

So that begs the question about your path and when you will give an honest answer about perhaps your third-party plans going forward. Are you in this regardless of the outcome to your right here on this stage?

PAUL: Well, unlike others, maybe they sit around and daydream about being in the White House. I just don’t sit around daydreaming about it, but I’m in a race, I’m in a good race.

You talk about electability. Why don’t we take on the first three states and take everybody 30 years and under? I’m doing pretty darned well. I’m winning that vote.

But what about if you compare my name to Obama? I do quite well, if not better, than the rest.

So, to say that there has only been three races, and talk about not being electable, I think is a bit of a stretch. As a matter of fact, the delegates haven’t even been appointed in Iowa yet. I mean, quite frankly, we have a pretty good chance of getting a good sum of those because of the organization.

We only had a straw vote. I mean, this argument on who won, it was a straw vote. I mean, the delegates is what counts.

But I do want to address the earlier discussion that you had about 1997. I had been out of Congress for 12 years, and I went back in ’96 and arrived there in ’97. It was chaotic, let me tell you.

It was a mess, and it was a mess for 12 years. And Newt had a big job on his hands, but he really had to attack the conservatives. He did it boldly.

And quite frankly, I think the reason — he didn’t not run for Speaker, you know, two years later. He didn’t have the votes. That was what the problem was. So this idea that he voluntarily reneged and he was going to punish himself because we didn’t do well in the election, that’s just not the way it was.

WILLIAMS: Let me come at it this way. If Newt Gingrich emerges from the GOP primary process as the nominee of the party, do you go your own way?

PAUL: Well, I have done a lot of that in my lifetime.

WILLIAMS: I should be more specific. Will you run as a third- party candidate?

PAUL: I have no plans to do that, no intention. And when I have been pressed on it, and they asked me why, and I said, I don’t want to. But I haven’t been an absolutist. When I left Congress, I didn’t have plans on going back, but I did after 12 years. I went back to medicine. So, no, I don’t have any plans to do that. No.

WILLIAMS: Would you support a Newt Gingrich as nominee of the GOP?

PAUL: Well, he keeps hinting about attacking the Fed, and he talks about gold. Now if I could just change him on foreign policy, we might be able to talk business. [laughter]

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, are you willing to adjust to pick up an endorsement from Texas?

GINGRICH: Well, I got one on Friday from Governor Perry, which I liked a lot as a starting point. So I like endorsements from Texas.

And Congressman Paul is right. There’s an area — I think what he has said about the Federal Reserve and what he has said about the importance of monetary policy, the proposal I’ve issued for a gold commission, which hearkens back to something that he and Jesse Helms helped develop, on which he served on in 1981, and the fact that we have people of the caliber of Lew Lehrman and Jim Grant, who have agreed they would chair such a commission, I think they’re areas we can work on.

There are places we disagree very deeply. Iran is a good example. But there are places — you know, you build a coalition by trying to find ways you can work together, and frankly we could work together a lot more than either one of us could work with Barack Obama.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, a question you know is coming because of what you have set in motion for tomorrow when you release one year’s tax returns and your estimates for 2011. We know it’s not a matter of producing them. You said during the McCain vetting process you turned over 23 years which you had at the ready because, to quote you, you’re something of a packrat.

So, prior to tomorrow, can you tell us tonight what’s in there that’s going to get people talking? What’s in there that’s going to be controversial? What’s in there that you may find yourself defending?

ROMNEY: No surprises, Brian. The most extensive disclosure that I made was the financial disclosure requirements under the law. We each had to do that, and I laid out what my assets are and where they are, and people have been looking at that. It’s very similar to what it was four years ago. And so my income tax will show that that’s where the profits and rewards came.

The real question is not so much my taxes, but the taxes of the American people. The real question people are going to ask is, who’s going to help the American people at a time when folks are having real tough times?

And that’s why I put forward a plan to eliminate the tax on savings for middle income Americans. Anyone making under $200,000 a year, I would eliminate the tax on interest, dividends and capital gains. People need help to be able to save their money.

I’ll also bring the corporate tax rate down to 25 percent as quickly as possible and then begin a process of reshaping the entire tax code. It’s far too complex, it’s far too intrusive, it’s far too great.

ROMNEY: I would like to lower the rates, broaden the base, akin to what we saw in the Bowles-Simpson plan, which, by the way, the president commissioned and then simply brushed aside. We need to go back to that, get our rates down, and get a pro-growth tax policy in this country.

WILLIAMS: So, across this country tomorrow, when people learn the details of the tax return you release — and, of course, you’ll be under pressure to release more years after that — nothing will stick out, nothing will emerge that will be talked about by this time tomorrow night?

ROMNEY: Oh, I’m sure people will talk about it. I mean, you’ll see my income, how much taxes I’ve paid, how much I’ve paid to charity. You’ll see how complicated taxes can be. But — but I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more.

I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes. So I’ll — I’ll point out that that’s the case.

And will there will discussion? Sure. Will it be an article? Yeah. But is it entirely legal and fair? Absolutely. I’m proud of the fact that I pay a lot of taxes.

And the fact is, there are a lot of people in this country that pay a lot of taxes. I’d like to see our tax rate come down and focus on growing the country, getting people back to work. That’s our problem in this country right now. We’ve got a lot of people out of work. Let’s let them start paying taxes because they got jobs again.

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, what will satisfy you?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, he said the other day when he indicated he was going to release it, that was the right thing to do. It’s actually a tradition his father started in 1967. I think it’s the right thing to do.

The biggest thing I think will be — and I think you indicated the other day that you pay something like a 15 percent marginal rate. My position is not to attack him for paying a 15 percent marginal rate. I have in my tax proposal an alternative flat tax on the Hong Kong model, where you get to choose what you want, and our rate’s 15 percent. So I’m prepared to describe my 15 percent flat tax as the Mitt Romney flat tax. I’d like to bring everybody else down to Mitt’s rate, not try to bring him up to some other rate. WILLIAMS: And — yes, Governor? [crosstalk]

ROMNEY: Mr. Speaker, is the tax on capital gains also 15 percent or is it zero?

GINGRICH: Zero.

ROMNEY: Well, under that — under that plan, I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years.

GINGRICH: Well, if that — and if you created enough jobs doing that — it was Alan Greenspan who first said the best rate, if you want to create jobs for capital gains, is zero. My number-one goal is to create a maximum number of jobs to put the American people back to work. It’s a straightforward argument.

WILLIAMS: And, Governor, how about your father’s model of 12 years’ worth of returns?

ROMNEY: You know, I agree with my dad on a lot of things, but we also disagree. And — and going out with 12 years of returns is not something I’m going to do. I’m putting out two years, which is more than anyone else on this stage. I think it’ll satisfy the interests of the American people to see that I pay my taxes, where I give my charitable contributions to, and I think that’s the right number.

WILLIAMS: More broadly, Governor, just an aside, have you been surprised at the degree to which your wealth has become an issue? You spoke rather forcefully in South Carolina over the weekend on Saturday night about this, about the degree to which you’ve had to defend, as you put it, your success in business.

ROMNEY: Yeah, I knew that was going to come from the Obama team. I understood that. We see that on the left. I was surprised to see people in the Republican Party pick up the weapons of the left and start using them to attack free enterprise. I think those weapons will be used against us. I think it’s very unfortunate.

I will not apologize for having been successful. I did not inherit what my wife and I have, nor did she. What we have — what — what I was able to build, I built the old-fashioned way, by earning it, by working hard. And I was proud of the fact that we helped create businesses that grew, that employed people.

And these are not just high-end financial jobs. We helped start Staples, for instance. It employs 90,000 people. These are middle- income people. There are entry-level jobs, too. I’m proud of the fact that we helped people around the country, Bright Horizons children centers, the Sports Authority, Steel Dynamics, a new steel company. These employ people, middle-income people.

And the nature of America is individuals pursuing their dreams don’t make everyone else poorer; they help make us all better off. And so I’m not going to apologize for success or apologize for free enterprise. I believe free enterprise is one of the things that — that we have to reinvigorate in this country if we want to get people working again.

WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, Governor Romney has said — and he said again tonight — he expected these attacks from the other side. He’s been taking fire as he would from the Democrats from the group on this stage. That means you. That includes you.

ROMNEY: I didn’t mean to include…

SANTORUM: No, I have — I have not. I have not fired at Governor Romney on — on — on his — his work at Bain Capital. In fact, I’ve been maybe unique in that regard that I haven’t.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in free markets. I believe Governor Romney can go out and — and earn whatever he can. And hopefully he creates jobs by earning that money and investing in companies.

My only question with Governor Romney is that, you know, to be a great defender of capitalism and talk about the importance of — of capitalism and free markets, and in the case of Bain, constructive capitalism and destructive capitalism.

My question to Governor Romney and to Speaker Gingrich, if you believe in capitalism that much, then why did you support the bailout of Wall Street, where you had an opportunity to allow destructive capitalism to work, to allow a failure of a — of a system that needed to fail because people did things that in capitalism pay — you pay a price?

And we should have allowed those financial institutions to go through the bankruptcy process, and we would have had resulted not what we are seeing here in Florida with this lengthy recession/depression of the housing market. You would have seen the effects of what Governor Romney advocated for and advocates today at Bain Capital, which is allowing companies that do not do their job, cannot be competitive, make mistakes, to fail and pay the price, instead of having government come in and prop them up.

WILLIAMS: And Speaker Gingrich, just tonight, two hours ago, in fact, you released your ’06 contract with Freddie Mac. We alluded to this earlier.

Your company was paid $25,000 a month, $300,000 for the year. But it didn’t provide a further explanation of services for Freddie Mac.

Why one year’s worth? Governor Romney today used the expression “work product.” He wants to see your work product, and the word “lobbying” has been thrown around, and you strongly disagree with that.

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, if you read the contract — and we can go back and check the other years. We had to work through the process of getting an approval because it was a confidentiality agreement.

But if you read the contract which we have posted, and the Center for Health Transformation had to get permission to post, it says very clearly supposed to do consulting work. The governor did consulting work for years. I have never suggested his consulting work was lobbying.

So let me start right there. There is no place in the contract that provides for lobbying. I have never done any lobbying.

Congressman J.C. Watts, who for seven years was the head of the Freddie Mac Watch Committee, said flatly he has never been approached by me. The fact is that Congressman Rick Lazio, who is chairman of the Housing Subcommittee, said he has never been approached by me. And the only report in the newspaper was “The New York Times” in July of 2008, which said I told the House Republicans they should vote no, not give Freddie Mac any money, because it needed to be reformed. So there’s no — [crosstalk]

WILLIAMS: So you never peddled influence, as he described tonight?

GINGRICH: What?

WILLIAMS: You never peddled influence, as Governor Romney accused you of tonight?

GINGRICH: You know, there is a point in the process where it gets unnecessarily personal and nasty. And that’s sad.

The fact is I have had a very long career of trying to represent the people of Georgia and, as Speaker, the people of the United States. I think it’s pretty clear to say that I have never, ever gone and done any lobbying.

In fact, we brought in an expert on lobbying law and trained all of our staff. And that expert is prepared to testify that he was brought in to say here is the bright line between what you can do as a citizen and what you do as a lobbyist. And we consistently, for 12 years, running four small businesses, stayed away from lobbying, precisely because I thought this kind of defamatory and factually false charge would be made.

ROMNEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, you were — on this stage, at a prior debate, you said you were paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac for an historian — as an historian. They don’t pay people $25,000 a month for six years as historians. That adds up to about $1.6 million.

They weren’t hiring you as an historian. And this contract proves that you were not an historian. You were a consultant.

GINGRICH: I was a consultant.

ROMNEY: It doesn’t say that you provided historical experience, it said that you were as a consultant. And you were hired by the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac, not the CEO, not the head of public affairs. By the chief lobbyist at Freddie Mac.

You also spoke publicly in favor of these GSEs, these government- sponsored entities, at a very time when Freddie Mac was getting America in a position where we would have had a massive housing collapse. You could have spoken out aggressively. You could have spoken out in a way to say these guys are wrong, this needs to end. But instead, you were being paid by them. You were making over $1 million at the same time people in Florida were being hurt by millions of dollars.

GINGRICH: Well, this is a good example. As a businessman, you know that the gross revenue of Bain wasn’t your personal income.

We had a company. The company had three offices. The company was being paid. My share annually was about $35,000 a year. And the fact is I offered strategic advice, largely based on my knowledge of history, including the history of Washington.

Government-sponsored enterprises include, for example, telephone cooperatives, rural electric cooperatives, federal credit unions. There are many different kinds of government-sponsored enterprises, and many of them have done very good things. And in the early years, before some people, particularly Jim Johnson and other Democrats, began to change the model you could make a pretty good argument that in the early years, those housing institutions were responsible for a lot of people getting a lot of good housing.

ROMNEY: There’s no question about that, but we’re talking about one. We’re talking about Freddie Mac.

GINGRICH: Right.

ROMNEY: And that one did a lot of bad for a lot of people. And you were working there making over $1 million for your entities — [crosstalk]

GINGRICH: For the entities. As long as we agree, for the entities.

ROMNEY: Owned by you. I don’t know whether 100 percent owned by you, but I presume. Owned by you, over $1.6 million. And you said it was $300,000. It was $1.6 million. That’s a difference.

GINGRICH: So, Mitt, what — Mitt, what’s the gross revenue of Bain in the years you were associated with it? What’s the gross revenue?

ROMNEY: Very — very substantial. But I think it’s irrelevant compared to the fact…

GINGRICH: No.

ROMNEY: … that you were working for Freddie Mac.

GINGRICH: Wait a second. Wait a second. Very substantial.

ROMNEY: You were working for Freddie…[crosstalk]

GINGRICH: Did Bain ever do any work with any company which did any work with the government, like Medicare…

ROMNEY: We didn’t — we didn’t do — we didn’t…

GINGRICH: … Medicaid?

ROMNEY: We didn’t do any work with the government. I didn’t have an office on K Street. I wasn’t a lobbyist. I didn’t — had never worked — I’ve never worked in Washington. You were working…

GINGRICH: So — so…

ROMNEY: We have congressmen who also say that you came and lobbied them in favor…

GINGRICH: I didn’t lobby them.

ROMNEY: You have congressmen who say…[crosstalk]

ROMNEY: … that you came and lobbied them with regards to Medicare Part D, at the same time…

GINGRICH: Now, wait. Whoa, whoa.

ROMNEY: … your center was taking in contributions…

GINGRICH: You just jumped a long way over here, friend.

ROMNEY: Well, another — another area of influence-peddling.

GINGRICH: No, not — now, let me be very clear, because I understand your technique, which you used on McCain, you used on Huckabee, you’ve used consistently, OK? It’s unfortunate, and it’s not going to work very well, because the American people see through it.

I have always publicly favored a stronger Medicare program. I wrote a book in 2002 called “Saving Lives and Saving Money.” I publicly favored Medicare Part D for a practical reason, and that reason is simple. The U.S. government was not prepared to give people anything — insulin, for example — but they would pay for kidney dialysis. They weren’t prepared to give people Lipitor, but they’d pay for open-heart surgery. That is a terrible way to run Medicare.

I am proud of the fact — and I’ll say this in Florida — I’m proud of the fact that I publicly, openly advocated Medicare Part D. It has saved lives. It’s run on a free enterprise model. It also included health savings accounts and it include Medicare alternatives, which gave people choices.

And I did it publicly, and it is not correct, Mitt — I’m just saying this flatly, because you’ve been walking around this state saying things that are untrue — it is not correct to describe public citizenship, having public advocacy as lobbying. Every citizen has the right to do that.

ROMNEY: They sure do.

GINGRICH: And what I did on behalf of Medicare…

ROMNEY: They sure do.

GINGRICH: … I did out in the open, publicly, and that is my right as a citizen.

WILLIAMS: Gentlemen…

ROMNEY: Here’s why it’s a problem, Mr. Speaker. Here’s why it’s a problem. And that is, if you’re getting paid by health companies, if your entities are getting paid by health companies that could benefit from a piece of legislation, and you then meet with Republican congressmen and encourage them to support that legislation, you can call it whatever you’d like. I call it influence-peddling.

It is not right. It is not right. You have a conflict. You are — you are being paid by companies at the same time you’re encouraging people to pass legislation which is in their favor.

WILLIAMS: Governor…

ROMNEY: This is — you spent now 15 years in Washington on K Street. And — and this is a real problem, if we’re going to nominate someone who not only had a record of — of great distress as the speaker, but that has worked for 15 years lobbying.

WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, we’ve let this go because of the state of the race, and a certain amount of this conversation, I guess, had to happen. We — this also has to happen. We have to go to a break. We’ll come back. We’ll talk about foreclosure. We’ll talk about foreign policy. We’ll welcome in the other two gentlemen to this conversation when we continue from Tampa. [applause]

[commercial break]

WILLIAMS: Welcome back to what has already become an interesting night in Tampa, Florida. Gentlemen, welcome back to you.

And, Senator Santorum, let’s begin this segment with you. Since we’ve been nibbling around the edges of the foreclosure crisis, since, what, 40 percent of homeowners in this state are underwater, 53 percent of the homes in Tampa, Florida, are worth less today than before this crisis. Was it too easy? Did vehicles of the U.S. government make it too easy to own a home in America?

SANTORUM: Well, the answer, unfortunately, is yes to that. And there were several of us in the United States Senate back in 2005 and 2006 who saw this on the horizon, who saw the problem with Freddie and Fannie, and tried to move forth with a bill — I was on the Banking Committee. We voted a bill out of committee to try to solve this problem, to constrain Fannie and Freddie, and there were a lot of people out there fighting that, including Harry Reid and his minions on the other side of the aisle.

I sent — I signed a letter, along with 24 other senators, that said, we either do something now, stop the filibuster of this bill, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, all of whom were in the Senate at the time. They were filibustering this bill to allow reform of Fannie and Freddie. And we said, if this doesn’t happen, if we don’t constrain these two behemoths from continuing to underwrite this subprime mortgage problem, then we’re going to have a collapse. Unfortunately, that proved — proved to be true.

The problem now is, what are you going to do about it? And what I’ve said is that, as you heard me say before, let capitalism work. Allow these — allow these banks to — to realize their losses. And create an opportunity for folks who have houses to realize their losses and at least help them out.

That’s why I proposed in my tax plan — and I talk about five areas where I allow deductions — well, one of them would be, be able to deduct losses from the sale of your home. Right now, you can’t do that. You have to pay gains, depending on the amount, but you can’t deduct the losses.

This is something I think is important temporarily to put in place to allow people the freedom to be able to go out and get out from underneath these houses that they’re holding onto and at least get some relief from the federal government for doing so.

WILLIAMS: Congressman Paul, should that be any role for the government? Are those folks owed anything for being under?

PAUL: Well, the government owes them a free market and a sound monetary system, but they didn’t give it to them. They gave them a mess. They gave them a financial system that literally created this problem.

And it was compounded — first, the line of credit to the — to the Federal Reserve, it was excessive. Everybody now admits in Washington interest rates were kept too low, too long.

But not only that, in addition to that, it was an insult to injury, because they kept interest rates especially low with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and there was a line of credit there, and it was a guarantee. As a matter of fact, I had introduced legislation 10 years before the bubble burst to eliminate that line of credit. But then the Community Reinvestment Act added more fuel to it, you know, forcing banks to make loans that are risky loans.

So the whole bubble was easily seen. The consequences were anticipated. It was all government manufactured. But the question is, is what do you do after you come upon a mess that the government and the politicians created?

The best thing you can do is get out of the way, because you want the prices to come down so that people will start buying them again, but politicians can’t allow that to happen. Our policies in Washington still has been to try to stimulate houses and keep — keep prices up.

But this whole thing about how we get involved in this low interest rate to stimulate the economy, almost everybody in Washington now in almost all spectrums of the economic sphere do not believe in wage and price controls, but they believe in controlling interest rates. That’s one-half of the whole economy, and here we have a bunch of guys getting in a room in secret, deciding what interest rates should be, and they create this mess. So, yes, we need to get out of the way, but instead the debt has to be liquidated.

The mortgage derivatives was a monster. A lot of people made a lot of money on that. But guess what? The Federal Reserve, to the tune of trillions and trillions of dollars, as well as TARP funds, were used to bail out the people that made all this money.

Guess what happened to the bad debt? It should have been wiped off the book. They should have gone bankrupt. It was dumped on the taxpayers, and the taxpayers still have it. And as long as you maintain that debt on the books, you’re not going to have growth.

This is why Japan hasn’t recovered. We’re in four years now, and it’s going to continue until we understand who creates the business cycle, how it happens, and what you have to do to get out of it.

WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, 30 seconds, please, on this, starting with Governor Romney.

To help these homeowners or not?

ROMNEY: To help them? Of course we help them.

Pam Mati here in Florida is cracking down on people who are committing fraud, number one. Number two, you have to get government out of the mess. Government has created the mess.

Number three, you’re going to have to help people see if they can’t get more flexibility from their banks. Right now, with Dodd- Frank, we made it harder for banks to renegotiate mortgages to help people get out.

And finally, you’ve got to get the economy going again with people having jobs. With Florida with 9.9 percent unemployment, and with 18 percent real unemployment in this state, and underemployment, you’re not going to get housing recovered unless you get jobs created again.

WILLIAMS: Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, I think, first of all, if you could repeal Dodd- Frank tomorrow morning, you would see the economy start to improve overnight. I mean, people don’t realize this bill is — a little bit of what Congressman Paul said.

The fact is Dodd-Frank has led the biggest banks to get bigger. It is crushing independent banks. It has an anti-housing bias. Federal regulators are slowing down and making it harder to make loans for housing, and it is crippling small business borrowing.

All those things are a function of a bill passed by the Democrats called Dodd-Frank. If they would repeal it tomorrow morning, you would have a better housing market the next day.

WILLIAMS: Do you really think the financial system is overregulated? That’s the second mention of Dodd-Frank tonight.

GINGRICH: I really think that when — yes, of course it’s overregulated. When you put that much power in the Treasury under Geithner, you know, it’s an invitation to corruption.

When you have a bias in the bill which makes the big banks get bigger, exactly the opposite of what a rational policy would be, it’s a bad bill. When you have regulators walk in small local banks and say, do not loan money on housing, it’s a bad idea.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, was it overregulated prior to the collapse?

ROMNEY: It was poorly regulated. Markets have to have regulation to work. You can’t have everybody open a bank in their garage. You have to have regulation, but it’s got to be up to date.

And they didn’t have capital requirements put in place for the different classes of assets banks had. They also didn’t have regulation properly put in place for mortgage lenders. Derivatives weren’t being regulated.

You need to have regulation that’s up to date. They had old regulation, burdensome. Then they passed Dodd-Frank, which the Speaker is absolutely right. It has made it almost impossible for community banks.

I was with the head of one of the big banks in New York. He said they have hundreds of lawyers working on Dodd-Frank to implement it.

Community banks don’t have hundreds of lawyers. It’s just killing the residential home market and it’s got to be replaced.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, let me ask you this. There was a lot of talk in the last presidential campaign about that 3:00 a.m. phone call. Let’s say President Romney gets that phone call, and it is to say that Fidel Castro has died. And there are credible people in the Pentagon who predict upwards of half a million Cubans may take that as a cue to come to the United States.

What do you do?

ROMNEY: Well, first of all, you thank heavens that Fidel Castro has returned to his maker and will be sent to another land. [applause]

Now, number two, you work very aggressively with the new leadership in Cuba to try and move them towards a more open degree than they have had in the past.

We just had, with Wilman Villar, his life was just lost in a hunger strike fighting for democracy. This president has taken a very dangerous course with regards to Cuba saying we’re going to relax relations, we’re going to open up travel to Cuba.

This is the wrong time for that, with this kind of heroics going on. We want to stand with the people of Cuba that want freedom. We want to move that effort forward not by giving in and saying we lost, but by saying we will fight for democracy.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, as a practical matter, along the Florida coast, though, you know the policy, so called wet foot/dry foot. What do you do if folks start arriving in the United States?

GINGRICH: Well, Brian, first of all, I guess the only thing I would suggest is I don’t think that Fidel is going to meet his maker. I think he’s going to go to the other place.

Second, I would suggest to you the policy of the United States should be aggressively to overthrow the regime and to do everything we can to support those Cubans who want freedom. You know, Obama is very infatuated with an Arab Spring. He doesn’t seem to be able to look 90 miles south of the United States to have a Cuban Spring.

So I would try to put in place a very aggressive policy of reaching out to every single Cuban who would like to be free, helping network them together, reaching out to the younger generation inside the dictatorship, and indicating they don’t have a future as a dictatorship because a Gingrich presidency will not tolerate four more years of this dictatorship.

WILLIAMS: Overt and covert, are you talking about engaging the U.S. military?

GINGRICH: No, I’m talking about using every asset available to the United States, including appropriate covert operations, to maximize the distance, what Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher did to the Soviet empire, bring together every asset we have to minimize the survival of the dictatorship and to maximize the chance for freedom in Cuba.

WILLIAMS: Congressman?

PAUL: I — I have a little bit of work to do yet on him on foreign policy. [laughter] [applause]

No, I would do pretty much the opposite. I don’t like the isolationism of not talking to people. I was drafted in 1962 at the height of the Cold War when the missiles were in Cuba. And the Cold War’s over.

And I think we propped up Castro for 40-some years because we put on these sanctions, and this — only used us as a scapegoat. He could always say, anything wrong, it’s the United States’ fault.

But I think it’s time — time to quit this isolation business of not talking to people. We talked to the Soviets. We talk to the Chinese. And we opened up trade, and we’re not killing each other now. We fought with the Vietnamese for a long time. We finally gave up, started talking to them, now we trade with them. I don’t know why — why the Cuban people should be so intimidating.

I — I don’t know where you get this assumption that all of a sudden all the Cubans would come up here. I would probably think they were going to celebrate and they’re going to have a lot more freedom if we would only open up our doors and say, we want to talk to you, and trade with you, and come visit. Sometimes they can’t even send packages down there.

I — I think we’re living in the dark ages when we can’t even talk to the Cuban people. I think it’s not 1962 anymore. And we don’t have to use force and intimidation and overthrow of a — in governments. I just don’t think that’s going to work.

WILLIAMS: Senator Santorum, an admittedly…[applause]…cynical question. If there was a strong lobby of Chinese dissidents living in a state as politically important of — as Florida, do you think we’d have a trade policy with China that looks more like the trade policy with Cuba?

SANTORUM: Not if they were not 90 miles off our shore. This is an important doctrine of the United States to make sure that our hemisphere and those who are close to us are — are folks that we can and should deal with.

And right now, we have and have had for 50 years a dictatorship in Cuba. We’ve had sanctions on them. They should continue. They should continue until the Castros are dead, and then we should make it very clear that if you want mountains of aid, if you want normal relationships, if you want to improve your economy, if you want to have the opportunity for freedom, that the United States stands ready now to embrace you now that you’ve gotten rid of these tyrants who — who have controlled you for these 50-plus years. That’s why the sanctions have to stay in place, because we need to have a — a very solid offer to come forward and help the Cuban people.

And you’re right, Ron. It’s not 1962. They’re now with the Cubans and the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans. There is a growing network of folks now working with the jihadists, the Iranians, who are very, very excited about the opportunity to having platforms 90 miles off our coast, just like the Soviets were, very anxious to have platforms 90 miles off our coast, or in Venezuela, or in Nicaragua, and other places they could come across the southern border.

This is a serious threat. It’s a threat that I’ve been talking about for about six or seven years. And it’s one that’s not going to go away until we — we confront the threat and hopefully are able to convince the Cuban people that, through what Newt and others have suggested, to — to change their government at the appropriate time. WILLIAMS: Governor — Governor Romney, last night, the Abe Lincoln, U.S. aircraft carrier and a couple other attendant U.S. Navy vessels passed through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. If Iran was able to fulfill, carry out that threat to shut down the strait, would you consider that an act of war? What would you do about it as president?

ROMNEY: Of — of course it’s an act of war. It is appropriate and — and essential for our military, for our Navy to — to maintain open seas. We have control of the commons, of space, air, and the seas. Our Navy has the capacity to do that — or did in the past.

Under this president and under prior presidents, we keep on shrinking our Navy. Our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917. And — and — and the president is building roughly nine ships a year. We ought to raise that to 15 ships a year, not because we want to go to war with anyone, but because we don’t want anyone to take the — the — the hazard of going against us. We want them to see that we’re so strong they couldn’t possibly defeat us.

So we ought to have an aircraft carrier in the gulf, an aircraft carrier, and, of course, the task force with it in the Mediterranean. We want to show Iran, any action of that nature will be considered an act of war, an act of terror and — and America is going to be keep those sea lanes open.

WILLIAMS: So, Speaker Gingrich if you accept that bedrock definition that it is an act of war, how do you gauge the appetite on the part of the American people after the better part of a decade of warfare, fighting dual wars overseas for something like that?

GINGRICH: The American people have no interest in going to war anywhere. We had no interest in going to war with the Japanese when they bombed Pearl Harbor. We had no interest in going to Afghanistan when Jihadist’s destroyed the World Trade Center. The fact is, we’ve historically been a country that would like peace, we’d like stability. But we also have a historic commitment to — to freedom of the sea. And I would say that the most dangerous thing, which by the way, Barack Obama just did, the — the Iranians are practicing closing the Straits of Hormuz, actively taunting us, so he cancels a military exercise with the Israelis so as not to be provocative?

Now, dictatorships respond to strength, they don’t respond to weakness and I think there’s a very grave danger that the Iranians think that in fact this president is so weak, they could close the Straits of Hormuz and not suffer substantial consequences.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, how do you end a war in Afghanistan without talking to the Taliban?

ROMNEY: By beating them. By standing behind our troops and making sure that — that we have transitioned to the Afghan military, a capacity for them to be successful in holding off the Taliban. Our — our mission there, is to be able to turn Afghanistan and it’s sovereignty over to a military of Afghan descent — Afghan people that can defend their sovereignty. And that is something which we can accomplish in the next couple of years.

This president, however, has done — made — made it very difficult for our troops to be able to be successful in that mission by, number one, announcing a withdrawal date for our troops, number two drawing down our surge troops faster than the time the commanders on the ground was necessary. You don’t draw them down during the middle of the fighting season. And finally, by not overseeing elections in Afghanistan to assure that the — the selection of their president was seen by the people as being legitimate. And he has failed in — in executing a policy in Afghanistan that would optimize our prospects of success. [crosstalk]

WILLIAMS: Go ahead. I was just going to ask, any appetite on this stage to negotiate with the Taliban? Congressman?

PAUL: No, but I wanted to get involved in the discussion.

WILLIAMS: No, go ahead?

PAUL: Because the question was, you know, would you go to war? And Mitt said he would — he would go to war. But you have to think about the preliminary act that might cause them to want to close the Straits of Hormuz, and that’s the blockade. We’re blockading them. Can you imagine what we would do if somebody blockaded the Gulf of Mexico? That would be an act of war. So the act of war has already been committed and this is a retaliation.

But besides, there’s no interest whatsoever for Iran to close the Straits of Hormuz. I mean they need it as much as we do. I mean so you have to put that into perspective. But this whole idea that — that it’s – – we — we have to go to war because we’ve already committed an act by blockading the country and I — I don’t see — I — I — and — and I think Newt is right. I think he’s wrong about World War II, I think the people were ready because we did it properly. We declared it and we won it quickly.

But, not the people are not ready. We don’t have any money. We have too many wars. We — the people want to come home and they certainly don’t want a hot war in Iran right now and I — I think that would be the most foolish thing in the world to do right now is take on Iran.

WILLIAMS: Right now for us another break. I’ll welcome two colleagues out here to the stage when we continue from Tampa right after this.

[commercial break]

WILLIAMS: And welcome back to Tampa.

I am happy to welcome two fellow journalists to this stage. Happy to be joined now by our partners in this debate. In fact, “The Tampa Bay Times” and “National Journal.”

Adam Smith is the longtime political editor at “The Tampa Bay Times,” covering national, state and local politics for more than a decade, one of the very best in the trade. And besides, a lot of people just thought a GOP debate should have Adam Smith present.

Beth Reinhard is a political correspondent for “National Journal.” She is a Florida native, was a veteran political reporter at “The Miami Herald” for 11 years.

But one piece of business, Senator Santorum, I had to go to a break. I didn’t get you in on what we’ll call the Iran round, because you’ve talked about this a lot. Specifically, as a last resort, as you said, taking out Iran’s nuclear program.

The problem with that, so many in the military tell you, is the target list. Where do you limit it — the air strikes that some estimate would begin at 30 to 60 days sustained, taking out air defenses, all of that familiar language the American people have just been through for a decade?

SANTORUM: Well, the contrast for that is, what happens if Iran gets a nuclear weapon and the entire world changes? Iran is not just another country, or a little, small country, as President Obama said classically during the campaign. Obama’s Iran policy has been a colossal failure.

It’s been a failure because he’s not been true to the American public about the threat that Iran poses to the world. Not just to Israel, but to the world and to the United States.

The bottom line is the theocracy that runs Iran is the equivalent of having al Qaeda in charge of a country with huge oil reserves, gas reserves, and a nuclear weapon. That is something that no president could possibly allow to have happen under any circumstances.

And when you asked the question, Brian, are we at — is this is an act of war? Well, let’s look at the acts of war that Iran — they are — they are holding hostages, they are attacking our troops, their IEDs, the improvised explosive devices, that are killing our troops in Afghanistan, and killed them in Iraq, and maimed so many were produced, and people were trained and funded in Iran specifically to kill American troops.

You look at the ships that have been attacked by Iran, embassies were attacked by Iran. A — Iran has plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador here in this country. It is a long list of attacks of — of warlike behavior on the part of this regime. And to believe that if they have a nuclear weapon they’re somehow going to become into the community of nations is a reckless act on the part of a president. It would be reckless not to do something to stop them from getting this nuclear weapon.

WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you. And to interests of local state politics, Beth Reinhard will take over the questioning.

REINHARD: Senator Santorum, here in Florida, BP is still airing apologetic appeals on television, but there are proposals to expand offshore oil drilling. The state’s most optimistic estimates say more drilling would create 5,000 jobs, but an oil spill would threaten Florida’s tourism industry, which employs nearly 1 million people. Is that worth the risk?

SANTORUM: What threatens the tourist industry in Florida, as we’ve seen, is a very bad economy, and a very bad economy that became a bad economy why? Because of a huge spike in oil prices in the summer of 2008. So energy is absolutely key to keep all of our country healthy, specifically Florida, which is a destination place. This is a — this is a place that relies upon people being able to travel and afford to be able to travel to come down here, relies upon an economy being strong.

I was at a manufacturer in Sarasota County today and was talking about them as a manufacturer and that, you know, the — the importance of manufacturing jobs, yes, even here in the state of Florida, and the price of energy for them to be able to be competitive.

It is absolutely essential that we have as much domestic supply of oil, that we build the Keystone pipeline, that we create the jobs that — that that would create, and provide oil from domestic sources. Pipelines that run on the floor of the sea or pipelines that come through America are the safest way to transport oil. It is tankers that are causing — that cause much more problems. Pipelines are the safe way. Building those rigs, piping that oil into — into — into our shore is the best way to create a good economy for the state of Florida.

REINHARD: All of you favor making English the official language of the United States, which could mean that ballots and other government documents would not be available in Spanish. But, Speaker Gingrich, you’re sending out press releases in Spanish; Governor Romney, you’re advertising in Spanish. Why is it OK for you to court voters in Spanish, but not OK for the government to serve them in Spanish?

Speaker Gingrich?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, you immediately jump down to a very important language, but not the only language. The challenge of the United States is simple. There are 86 languages in Miami Dade College, 86. There are over 200 languages spoken in Chicago.

Now, how do you unify the country? What — what is the common bond that enables people to be both citizens and to rise commercially and have a better life and a greater opportunity?

I think campaigning, historically, you’ve always been willing to go to people on their terms in their culture, whether it’s Greek Independence Day or something you did for the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. And I’m perfectly happy to be on Radio Mambi, and I’m perfectly happy to have a lot of support in the Hispanic community.

But as a country to unify ourselves in a future in which there may well be 300 or 400 languages spoken in the United States, I think it is essential to have a central language that we expect people to learn and to be able to communicate with each other in.

REINHARD: So to be clear, you would only have ballots in English?

GINGRICH: I would have ballots in English. And I think you could have programs where virtually everybody would be able to read the ballots.

REINHARD: Governor Romney, can you take that question?

ROMNEY: I think Speaker Gingrich is right with regards to what he’s described. I’d note that in my state we had a tradition of teaching people in the language of their birth, and so we had in our school systems people being taught in a whole range of languages. And we had to have teachers that could teach in Cambodian, in Vietnamese, and other languages. And our kids were being taught in foreign languages in our own schools. And we found at the end of their education experience they couldn’t all speak English well. It made absolutely no sense.

And so we campaigned for English immersion in our schools and said kids coming in will have a transition period. Then we’re going to teach them in English.

ROMNEY: Look, English is the language of this nation. People need to learn English to be able to be successful, to get great jobs. We don’t want to have people limited in their capacity to achieve the American dream because they don’t speak English. And so encouraging people through every means possible to learn the language of America is a good idea.

Recognize at the same time we want people coming here from other cultures that speak other languages. That strengthens America. It’s a great thing. But having them learn English is also a great thing for them and for their kids.

REINHARD: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: Yes, my answer is similar, but a little bit different, because at the national level, obviously we have to have one language. I mean, we can’t have multiple languages. So, for legal reasons, we would have one language.

But our system really gives us a way to be more generous, because if Florida wanted to have some ballots in Spanish, I certainly wouldn’t support a federal law that would prohibit Florida from accommodating a city election or a local election or a state election. I think that’s the magnificence of our system, where you can solve some of these problems without dictating one answer for all states. But nationally, we should have one language.

REINHARD: Speaker Gingrich, I want to move on to a slightly different topic, the Dream Act, which, as you know, would provide a pathway to citizenship for children who have been brought to the U.S. illegally if they attend college or enroll in the military.

Now, Governor Romney and Senator Santorum have both said they would veto this legislation. Would you do the same?

GINGRICH: No. I would work to get a signable version which would be the military component. I think any young person living in the United States who happened to have been brought here by their parents when they were young should have the same opportunity to join the American military and earn citizenship which they would have had from back home.

We have a clear provision that if you live in a foreign country, and you are prepared to join the American military, you can, in fact, earn the right to citizenship by serving the United States and taking real risk on behalf of the United States. That part of the Dream Act I would support. I would not support the part that simply says everybody who goes to college is automatically waived for having broken the law.

WILLIAMS: The questioning continues.

ROMNEY: I just doubt that’s the same position that I have, and that is that I would not sign the Dream Act as it currently exists, but I would sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Governor.

Questioning continues with Adam Smith.

SMITH: Let’s stay on immigration for a second.

Governor Romney, there is one thing I’m confused about. You say you don’t want to go and round up people and deport them, but you also say that they would have to go back to their home countries and then apply for citizenship. So, if you don’t deport them, how do you send them home?

ROMNEY: Well, the answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here. And so we’re not going to round people up.

The way that we have in this society is to say, look, people who have come here legally would, under my plan, be given a transition period and the opportunity during that transition period to work here, but when that transition period was over, they would no longer have the documentation to allow them to work in this country. At that point, they can decide whether to remain or whether to return home and to apply for legal residency in the United States, get in line with everybody else. And I know people think but that’s not fair to those that have come here illegally.

SMITH: Isn’t that what we have now? If somebody doesn’t feel they have the opportunity in America, they can go back any time they want to.

ROMNEY: Yes, we’d have a card that indicates who’s here illegally. And if people are not able to have a card, and have through an E-Verify system determine that they are here illegally, then they’re going to find they can’t get work here. And if people don’t get work here, they’re going to self-deport to a place where they can get work.

Ultimately, with this transition period in place, we would then allow people to get in line at home and to come back to this country after they have reached the front of the line. But I just don’t think it’s fair to the people who have loved ones waiting in line legally to come to America and say, guess what? We’re going to encourage a wave of illegal immigration by giving amnesty of some kind to those who have come here illegally.

SMITH: Senator Santorum, is self-deportation. Is that a valid concept?

SANTORUM: Well, it’s happening now. I mean, people are going back now because they can’t find jobs because of the lack of employment opportunities.

The bottom line is, is that if you do enforce the law and say that people who are here illegally, who are doing illegal acts — and that is working, which you’re not allowed to do — and if you’re working, probably you’ve stolen someone’s Social Security number, which you are not allowed to do — and that’s another law that is broken — that we should enforce the law. It’s not someone who has come here illegally in the first place and they’ve only broken the law once. They continually break the law in this country, and I don’t think that’s not something that should be rewarded.

My father came to this country, my grandfather came to this country. He left my dad behind for five years. My dad was without a dad for almost the first five years of his life.

And there are millions of stories across America of people making sacrifices because America was worth it to do it the right way. You come to this country and the first thing you do is to respect our laws. If you want to be an American, you respect the laws of America, and you do so continually while you’re here.

We reward that kind of behavior. We don’t reward behavior where you don’t respect our laws in your initial act and then you continually break the laws in order to stay here.

SMITH: Speaker Gingrich, in Iowa you were a big supporter of ethanol subsidies. Here in Florida, sugar is a very important industry, and it’s subsidized, as well, with import restrictions, quotas. There’s a conservative movement to do away with these programs. In the case of sugar, critics say it — it adds billions of dollars to — to consumers’ grocery bills every year. What would you do about that?

GINGRICH: Well, I pretty enthusiastically early in my career kept trying to figure out how to get away from the sugar subsidy. And I found out one of — one of the fascinating things about America, which was that cane sugar hides behind beet sugar. And there are just too many beet sugar districts in the United States. It’s an amazing side story about how interest groups operate.

In an ideal world, you would have an open market. And that’s — I think that would be a better future and, frankly, one where cane sugar would still make a lot of money. But it’s very hard to imagine how you’re going to get there. I spent a lot of time trying to reform agriculture when I was speaker. And I would say it was one of the two or three hardest things to try to do because the — the capacity of the agricultural groups to defend themselves is pretty amazing.

SMITH: Governor Romney, you’re going some campaign support from sugar growers. It’s a very influential group in this state. What’s your view on the sugar subsidies?

ROMNEY: Yeah, my view is, we ought to get rid of subsidies and let markets work properly. But let’s step back for a second, talk about what’s really going on in Florida right now. And you know, you both know what’s going on here.

I spent time this morning with — with eight different individuals, listening to them talk about their circumstances. There are a lot of people in Florida that are hurting. You got a lot of homes underwater. This president came into office saying he’d turn this economy around, and everything he has done has made it harder for the people of Florida.

We have 25 million Americans out of work. We have, in Florida, 9.9 percent unemployed. We have 18 percent of our people in this state that are underemployed. Home values, 40 percent are underwater.

This president has failed miserably the people of Florida. His plans for NASA, he has no plans for NASA. The space coast is — is struggling. This president has failed the people of Florida. We have to have a president who understands how to get an economy going again. He does not. He plays 90 rounds of golf when you have 25 million people out of work. He says gasoline prices doubled during his presidency. He says don’t build a Keystone pipeline.

We have $15 trillion of debt. We’re headed to a — to a Greece- type collapse, and he adds another trillion on top for Obamacare and for his stimulus plan that didn’t create private-sector jobs. This president has failed. And this economy needs a president who understands this economy.

SMITH: Congressman Paul, Florida’s Everglades provide one in three Floridians with their drinking water. It affects thousands of jobs. Right now, there’s a — there’s a joint federal-state program to save what’s left of the Everglades. Would you commit to continuing that federal financing of the Everglades preservation?

PAUL: Sure. I — I don’t see any reason to go after that. I would still look into the details on whether that could be a state issue or not.

But with all the wars going on, and the economy is in shambles, as it is, and the unemployment, to — to worry about dealing with that program, we could do it in a theoretical sense. But I would see no reason to, you know, complicate things. But I wouldn’t have any desire to interfere with that.

WILLIAMS: At this point, we’ll take another break. We’ll return from Tampa with this line of questioning right after this. [applause]

[commercial break]

WILLIAMS: We are back from Tampa tonight. As the conversation continues, once again the questioning continues.

Adam Smith of “The Tampa Bay Times.”

SMITH: Thank you.

Senator Santorum, in 2005, Florida was in the middle of a huge national debate over Terri Schiavo, whether her feeding tube should be removed after the courts had ruled that she had been in a vegetative state for years. You were at the center, at the front of advocating congressional intervention to keep her alive. You even came down here, came to her bedside after a fund-raiser.

Why should the government have more say in medical decisions like that than a spouse?

SANTORUM: Well, number one, I didn’t come to her bedside, but I did come down to Tampa. I was scheduled to come down anyway for that event, and it so happened that this situation was going on.

I did not call for congressional intervention. I called for a judicial hearing by an impartial judge at the federal level to review a case in which you had parents and a spouse on different sides of the issue.

And these were constituents of mine. The parents happen to live in Pennsylvania, and they came to me and made a very strong case that they would like to see some other pair of eyes, judicial eyes, look at it. And I agreed to advocate for those constituents because I believe that we should give respect and dignity for all human life, irrespective of their condition.

And if there was someone there that wanted to provide and take care of them, and they were willing to do so, I wanted to make sure that the judicial proceedings worked properly. And that’s what I did, and I would do it again. [applause]

SMITH: Do not resuscitate directives, do you think they’re immoral?

SANTORUM: No, I don’t believe they’re immoral. I mean, I think that’s a decision that people should be able to make, and I have supported legislation in the past for them to make it.

SMITH: Speaker Gingrich, in that case the courts had ruled repeatedly. How does that square, the Terri Schiavo, action with your understanding of the Constitution and separation of powers?

GINGRICH: Well, look, I think that we go to extraordinary lengths, for example, for people who are on murderers row. They have extraordinary rights of appeal.

And you have here somebody who was in a coma, who had, on the one hand, her husband saying let her die and her parents saying let her live. Now, it strikes me that having a bias in favor of life, and at least going to a federal hearing, which would be automatic if it was a criminal on death row, that it’s not too much to say in some circumstances your rights as an American citizen ought to be respected. And there ought to be at least a judicial review of whether or not in that circumstance you should be allowed to die, which has nothing to do with whether or not you as a citizen have a right to have your own end-of-life prescription which is totally appropriate for you to do as a matter of your values in consultation with your doctor.

SMITH: Congressman Paul, you’re a doctor. What was your view of the Terri Schiavo case?

PAUL: I find it so unfortunate, so unusual, too. That situation doesn’t come up very often. It should teach us all a lesson to have living wills or a good conversation with a spouse. I would want my spouse to make the decision. And — but it’s better to have a living will.

But I don’t like going up the ladder. You know, we go to the federal courts, and the Congress, and on up. Yes, difficult decisions. Will it be perfect for everybody? No. But I would have preferred to see the decision made at the state level.

But I’ve been involved in medicine with things similar, but not quite as difficult as this. But usually, we deferred to the family. And it wasn’t made a big issue like this was. This was way out of proportion to what happens more routinely.

But I think it should urge us all to try to plan for this and make sure either that one individual that’s closest to you makes the decision or you sign a living will. And this would have solved the whole problem.

WILLIAMS: Beth?

REINHARD: Governor Romney, this is the state that put the first men on the moon. America right now has no way to put people into space except to hitch a ride with the Russians. Meanwhile, the Chinese are ramping up their space program. At a time when you all want to shrink federal spending, should space exploration be a priority?

Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: It should certainly be a priority. What we have right now is a president who does not have a vision or a mission for NASA. And as a result of that, there are people on the space coast that are suffering. And Florida itself is — is suffering as a result.

So what’s the right way forward? Well, I happen to believe our space program is important not only for science, but also for commercial development and for military development. And I believe the right mission for — for NASA should be determined by a president together with a collection of people from those different areas, from NASA, from the Air Force space program, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises, bring them together, discuss a wide range of options for NASA, and then — and then have NASA not just funded by the federal government, but also by commercial enterprises. Have some of the research done in our universities.

Let’s have a collaborative effort with business, with — with government, with a military, as well as with our educational institutions. Have a mission, once again excite our young people about the potential of space and the commercial potential will pay for itself down the road.

This is a great opportunity. Florida has technology. The people here on the space coast have technology and vision and passion that America needs. And with a president that is actually willing to create a mission and a vision for — for NASA and for space, we can continue to lead the world.

REINHARD: Speaker Gingrich, would you put more tax dollars into the space race and commit to putting an American on Mars, instead of relying on the private sector?

GINGRICH: Well, the two are not incompatible. For example, most of the great breakthroughs in aviation in the ’20s and ’30s were as a result of prizes. Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000 prize. I would like to see vastly more of the money spent encouraging the private sector into very aggressive experimentation. And I’d like a leaner NASA.

I don’t think building a bigger bureaucracy and having a greater number of people sit in rooms and talk gets you there. But if we had a series of goals that we were prepared to offer prizes for, there’s every reason to believe you have a lot of folks in this country and around the world who would put up an amazing amount of money and would make the space coast literally hum with activity because they’d be drawn to achieve these prizes.

Going back to the moon permanently, getting to Mars as rapidly as possible, building a series of space stations and developing commercial space, there are a whole series of things you can do that could be dynamic that are more than just better government bureaucracy. They’re fundamentally leapfrogging into a world where you’re incentivizing people who are visionaries and people in the private sector to invest very large amounts of money in finding very romantic and exciting futures.

REINHARD: Speaker Gingrich, I have another question for you on another topic. You’ve talked about the millions of jobs created by the Reagan tax cuts. If tax cuts create jobs, why didn’t the Bush tax cuts work?

GINGRICH: Well, the Bush tax cuts, I think in a period of great difficulty, with the attack of 9/11, actually stopped us from going into a much deeper slump. I think we would have been in much, much worse shape, and I think most economists agree, that in 2002 and ’03 and ’04 we’d have been in much worse shape without the Bush tax cuts.

But — but you have to also look at the regulatory burden. The reason I called for repealing Dodd-Frank and for repealing Obamacare and for repealing Sarbanes-Oxley is you now have these huge layers of paperwork and government intervention and bureaucratic micromanagement that are crippling the American system and are making it much harder for us to create the kind of jobs we’d want.

In North Dakota today, we have a boom in oil development, unemployment is down to 3.2 percent. They have had seven straight tax cuts at the state level because the oil was on private land.

If that oil had been on public land, the environmentalists and Barack Obama would have stopped its development, and North Dakota would be mired in 8 percent or 9 percent unemployment. So, get the regulations out of the way, get the tax incentives right, and you can get back to creating an amazing number of jobs very fast.

WILLIAMS: To my fellow questioners, our panelists tonight, my thanks.

So ends this section of our conversation. The final bit of our debate from Tampa tonight coming up after this last break.

[commercial break]

WILLIAMS: Welcome back to Tampa for this final section of our conversation tonight. We’re back down to the five of us here on stage. I thought we’d talk a little bit more big picture.

This has been called, in addition to this unprecedented primary contest the GOP is in the midst of, a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Governor Romney, the question is, about that soul, what have you done to further the cause of conservativism as a Republican leader?

ROMNEY: Well, number one, I’ve raised a family. And I’ve — I’ve — with my wife, we’ve raised five wonderful sons, and we have 16 wonderful grandkids.

Number two, I’ve worked in the private sector. The idea that somehow everything important for conservativism or for America happens in government is simply wrong. I’ve been in the private sector. I worked in one business that was in trouble and helped turn it around. Another I started. And as part of that, we were able to create thousands and thousands of jobs.

And then I took an opportunity to become governor of a state that was slightly Democrat. About 85 percent of my legislature was Democrat. And I worked very hard to promote a conservative agenda. We cut taxes 19 times. We balanced the budget every year, put in place a rainy day fund of over $2 billion by the time I left. We were also successful in having English immersion in our schools, driving our schools to be number one in the nation.

That kind of conservative model in a state like Massachusetts was a model in many respects that other states could look at and say, “OK, conservative principles work.” We were able to reach across the aisle to fight for conservative principles, and now I’m taking that to a presidential campaign, wrote a book about those principles that lay out why I believe they’re right for America.

WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, you’ve been talking a lot about conservative principles in this campaign so far. Is that enough for you? Is that good enough?

GINGRICH: Look, I don’t want to spend my time commenting on Mitt. I’d like to just tell you that I started — I went to a Goldwater organizing session in 1964. I met with Ronald Reagan for the first time in 1974. I worked with Jack Kemp and Art Laffer and others to develop supply- side economics in the late ’70s. I helped Governor Reagan become President Reagan. I helped pass the Reagan economic program when I worked with the National Security Council on issues involving the collapse of the Soviet empire.

I then came back, organized a group called GOPAC, spent 16 years building a majority in the House for the first time since 1954, the first re-elected majority since 1928, developed the Conservative Opportunity Society, talked about big ideas, big solutions.

So I think it’s fair to say I’ve spent most of my lifetime trying to develop a conservative movement across this country that relates directly to what we have to do. And I think only a genuine conservative who’s in a position to debate Obama and to show how wide the gap is between Obama’s policies and conservativism can, in fact, win, because he’s going to spend a billion dollars trying to smear whoever the nominee is. And we’d better be prepared to beat him in the debate and prove exactly how wrong his values are and how wrong his practices are.

WILLIAMS: Which, Senator Santorum, gets us back to electability, the gap between the Republican Party and the president. Some of the newspaper headlines about this gathering we were going to have tonight, in Florida, Romney seeks to link Gingrich to foreclosure crisis. And here’s a second one: The verdict is in, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital problem is real.

What’s the net effect of all this, of the tax release tomorrow, of Freddie — the Freddie Mac release tonight on your party, say your candidacy, as you try to go forward?

SANTORUM: Well, I would say that there are more fundamental issues than that, where there’s a gap and a problem with two of the gentlemen who are up here with me. And one is on the biggest issue that they — we have to deal with in this election, that’s — that’s crushing the economy, will crush it even further and crush freedom, and that’s Obamacare.

Governor Romney’s plan in Massachusetts was the basis for Obamacare. Speaker Gingrich for 20 years supported a federal individual mandate, something that Pam Bondi is now going to the Supreme Court saying is unconstitutional. Speaker Gingrich, for 20 years, up until last year supported an individual mandate, which is at the core of Obamacare.

If you look at cap-and-trade, Governor Romney was very proud to say that he was the first state in the country as governor to sign a cap on CO- 2 emissions, the first state in the country to put a cap believing in — in global warming and criticized Republicans for not believing in it, as did, by the way, Speaker Gingrich, who was for a cap-and-trade program with incentives, business incentives, but was for the rubric of cap-and-trade, not specifically the cap-and-trade bill that was out there.

Again, huge, huge differences between my position and where President Obama is, but not so on two major issues. You go down and you look at the Wall Street bailouts, I said before, here’s one where you had folks who preach conservativism, private sector, and when push came to shove, they got pushed. They didn’t stand tall for the conservative principles that they argued that they were for. And as a result, we ended up with this bailout that has injected government into business like it had never been done before.

SANTORUM: They rejected conservativism when it was hard to stand. It’s going to be hard to stand whoever this president is going to be elected. It’s going to be tough. There is going to be a mountain of problems. It’s going to be easy to be able to bail out and compromise your principles.

We have gentlemen here on the three issues that got the Tea Party started, that are the base of the conservative movement now in the Republican Party. And there is no difference between President Obama and these two gentlemen. And that’s why this election in Florida is so critical, that we have someone that actually can create a contrast between the president and the conservative point of view.

WILLIAMS: Congressmen Paul, are the two men in the middle insufficiently conservative for you?

PAUL: Well, I think the problem is, is nobody has defined what being conservative means.

WILLIAMS: Go ahead.

PAUL: And I think that is our problem.

Conservative means we have a smaller government and more liberty. And yet, if you ask, what have we done? I think we have lost our way.

Our rhetoric is still pretty good, but when we get in charge, we expand the government. You talk about Dodd-Frank, but we gave Sarbanes- Oxley. We gave debts as well, you know, when we’re in charge.

So, if it means limited government, you have to ask the basic question, what should the role of government be? The founders asked that question, had a revolution and wrote a Constitution. And they said the role of government ought to be to protect liberty.

It’s not to run a welfare state and not to be the policemen of the world. And so if you’re a conservative, how can you be conservative and cut food stamps, but you won’t cut spending overseas? There is not a nickel or a penny that anybody will cut on the conservative side, overseas spending. And we don’t have the money.

They are willing to start more wars. So, I say, if you’re conservative, you want small government across the board, especially in personal liberty. What’s wrong with having the government out of our personal lives? So, this is what — we have to decide what conservative means, what limited government means.

And I have a simple suggestion. We have a pretty good guide, and if we follow the Constitution, government would be very small and we would all be devoted conservatives.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, again tonight, so called Romneycare and so-called Obamacare have been positioned very closely side by side by your opponent, the senator. And again, you have been called insufficiently conservative.

ROMNEY: You know, I have a record. You can look at my record. I just described what I had accomplished in Massachusetts. It’s a conservative record.

Also, the fun of running against Ted Kennedy. What a great thrill that was. I didn’t beat him, but he had to take a mortgage out on his house to make sure that he could defeat me. I believe that the policies he put in place had hurt America and helped create a permanent underclass in this country.

My health care plan, by the way, is one that under our Constitution we’re allowed to have. The people in our state chose a plan which I think is working for our state.

At the time we crafted it, I was asked time and again, “Is this something that you would have the federal government do?” I said absolutely not.

I do not support a federal mandate. I do not support a federal one- size-fits-all plan. I believe in the Constitution. That’s why the attorney general here is saying absolutely not.

You can’t impose Obamacare on the states. What I will do if I’m president, I will repeal Obamacare and return to the states the authority and the rights the states have to craft their own programs to care for their own poor.

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, I know none of you believe in polls, but as we came in here tonight, of the numbers in the known world, your numbers were on the rise. What scares you about the presidency if you made it to the job you want?

GINGRICH: I actually agree with what Rick Santorum said. I believe that whoever the next president is, if we’re going to get America back on the right track, is going to face enormous, difficult problems, some of which have been accurately diagnosed by Dr. Paul.

And the fact is that we have tremendous institutional biases against doing the right thing and against getting things done. And we have huge interest groups who would rather preside over the wreckage than lose their favored position by helping the country.

So I always tell audiences I never ask anyone to be for me. Because if they are for me, they vote yes and go home and say, I sure hope Newt does it. I ask people to be with me, because I think this will be a very hard, very difficult journey. And I find it a very humbling and a very sobering thought that one would have to try to get America back on the right track despite all of our elites and all of our entrenched bureaucracies.

WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, you talk about restoring America’s greatness. Given that, in your view when was America last great?

ROMNEY: America still is great, but we have a lot of people suffering. We have people that are underemployed that shouldn’t be, unemployed that shouldn’t be. Home values continue to go down. We have the median income in this country has declined 10 percent in the last four years.

We’re still a great nation, but a great nation doesn’t have so many people suffering. And I’m running in part because I have experience in how the economy works. And I want to use that experience to get people working again, to get our economy working again.

And the idea to get our economy working is not to have the government play a more intrusive role in how our economy works, but instead to do the seven things that always get an economy going: get taxes competitive, regulation as modest as possible and modernized, get ourselves energy independent, open up trade with other nations and crack down on cheaters, make sure we don’t have crony capitalism — that’s what we have going on right now — build human capital through education, and also finally balance the budget.

People will not invest in an economy and create new jobs if they think we’re going to hit a Greece-like wall. I will do those seven things and get America working again.

WILLIAMS: I want to thank all of our candidates and our hosts, of course, here at the University of South Florida. We are obligated at this point to say, “Go Bulls.” [applause]

November 12, 2011: CBS / National Journal / South Carolina Republican Party Republican Presidential Debate Transcript

Republican Candidates Debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina November 12, 2011

PARTICIPANTS:
Representative Michele Bachmann (MN);
Herman Cain (GA);
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)

MODERATORS:
Major Garrett (National Journal);
Scott Pelley (CBS News)

PELLEY: Good evening from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I’m Scott Pelley with CBS News along with my colleague Major Garrett of National Journal. In just under a year now, Americans will go to the polls to choose a president. Tonight, CBS News and National Journal are pleased to bring you a discussion of the issues by the Republican candidates for their party’s nomination.

The focus will be foreign policy and national security, the president’s role as commander in chief. Consider this, the 9/11 attacks came in the eighth month of a new presidency, the Bay of Pigs in the 13th week, and the Civil War on the 40th day of a new presidency. Reminders from history that a president must be prepared to deal with a crisis from day one.

The ground rules for tonight’s debate are simple. A candidate who is asked a question will have one minute to respond and then at a discretion of the moderators, there can be a 30-second follow-up or a 30-second rebuttle from another candidate. The debate will run a total of 90 minutes. The first hour will be broadcast right here on the CBS television network, the entire 90 minutes will be streamed on CBSNews.com and NationalJournal.com. And we invite you to submit questions during the debate to either w– website. Joining me now in asking the questions, Major Garrett.

GARRETT: Scott, thank you very much. One more piece of housekeeping. Let’s introduce the candidates. Former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman. Representing the 6th District of Minnesota, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Representing the 14th District of Texas, Congressman Ron Paul.

From Atlanta, Georgia, businessman Herman Cain. Former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. Former House speaker, Newt Gingrich. Current Texas governor, Rick Perry. [cheering] And former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum. Mr. Cain, I’d like to begin this evening with you, sir.

CAIN: Yes.

GARRETT: This week, a U.N. nuclear watchdog agency provided additional credible evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. If you were president right now, what would you do specifically that this administration is not doing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

CAIN: The first thing that I would do is to assist the opposition movement in Iran, that’s tryin’ to overthrow the regime. Our enemies are not the people of Iran, it’s the regime. And a regime change is what they are trying to achieve. Secondly, we need to put economic pressure on Iran, by way of our own energy independence strategy. By having our own energy independence strategy, we will impact the price of oil in the world markets, because Iran uses oil not only as a– means of currency, but they use it as a weapon.

One of the reasons that they are able to afford that nuclear weapons program, is because of oil. Secondly, we would then work to increase sanctions on Iran, along with our friends and our allies. So whereas we will not be– so that’s why I do believe that they have a nuclear weapons program and they are closer to having nuclear weapon, stopping them– the only we can stop them is through economic means.

GARRETT: A quick follow up, Mr. Cain. You say assisting the opposition, would you entertain military assistance and opposition?

CAIN: I would not entertain– military opposition. I’m talkin’ about to help the opposition movement within the country. And then there’s one other thing that we could do. We could deploy our ballistic missile defense capable warships strategically in that part of the world. We have the biggest fleet of those warships in the world. And we could use them strategically in the event that they were able to fire a ballistic missile.

PELLEY: Governor Romney, would it be worth goin’ to war to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

ROMNEY: Well, let’s– let’s start back from there and let’s talk about where we are. This is, of course, President Obama’s greatest failing, from a foreign policy standpoint, which is he recognized the gravest threat that America and the world faces– and faced was a nuclear Iran and he did not do what was necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. What he should have done is speak out when dissidents took the streets and say, “America is with you.” And work on a covert basis to encourage the dissidents.

Number two, he should have put– put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. But instead of getting Russia, for instance, to– what– what he gave in our– our missile defense system to agree to– to stand with those crippling sanctions, he gave Russia what they wanted, their number one foreign policy objective, and got nothing in return.

PELLEY: Governor, on the question. We’re gonna adherer to time, very quickly. But let me–

ROMNEY: I get 60 seconds.

PELLEY: Yes, sir, and that was–

ROMNEY: That was 30.

PELLEY: The– the 60–

ROMNEY: Sorry, it started at yellow, so I– I have much more time to go.

PELLEY: You– you know what, Governor? I stand corrected. You are right. Please continue.

ROMNEY: Fin– finally, the president should have built credible– threat of military action, and made it very clear that the United States of America is willing, in the final analysis, if necessary, to take military action to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Look, one thing you can know– and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you’d like me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.

PELLEY: But sir, let me– you just described where we are today, and that’s what you’re going to have to deal with if you become president. How do you prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon? Is it worth going to war to prevent that?

ROMNEY: Well, it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It’s worth working with the insurgents in the company to encourage regime change in the country. And if all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we can do beside mil– take military action, then of course you take military action. It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. This term “unacceptable” has been applied by several presidents over history, and our current president has made it very clear that he’s not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. I will take a different course. I will make sure that the sanctions, diplomatic pressure, economic pressure, and support of insurgents within the country help them become dissuaded to get away from their nuclear ambition. And finally–

PELLEY: This time, it is time.

ROMNEY: Yeah, and finally, have to– have to have military presence there.

PELLEY: –30 seconds, though, on the follow ups. We’re gonna try to adhere to the time.

GARRETT: Mr. Speaker, is this the right way to look at this question, war or not war? Or do you see other options, diplomatically, or other non-war means that the United States has in its possession to deal with Iran that it has not employed?

GINGRICH: Well, let me start and say that both the answers you just got are superior to the current administration. And– you know, there are a number of ways to be smart about– Iran and relatively few ways to be dumb. And the administration skipped all the ways to be smart.

GARRETT: Could you tell us the smart ways, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Sure. First of all, as maximum covert operations– to block and disrupt the Iranian program– in– including– taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems. All of it covertly, all of it deniable. Second, [laughing] maximum– maximum coordination with the Israelis– in a way which allows them to maximize their impact in Iran. Third, absolute strategic program comparable to what President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher did in the Soviet Union, of every possible aspect short of war of breaking the regime and bringing it down. And I agree entirely with Governor Romney, if in the end, despite all of those things– the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.

PELLEY: Congressman Paul, let me follow up with you for just 30 seconds. Is it worth going to war to prevent a nuclear weapon in Iran?

PAUL: No, it isn’t worthwhile. The only way you would do that is– you would have to go through Congress. We– we as commander in chief aren’t making the decision to go to war. You know, the old-fashioned way, the Constitution, you go to the Congress and find out if our national security is threatened. And– I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq.

And, you know, they didn’t have nuc– weapons of mass destruction. And it was orchestrated and it was– to me, a tragedy of what’s happened these past– last ten years, the death and destruction, $4 billion– $4 trillion in debt. So no, it’s not worthwhile goin’ to war. If you do, you get a declaration of war and you fight it and you win it and get it over with.

PELLEY: Thank you, Congressman. Governor Perry, what’s your appraisal of the combat situation on the ground in Afghanistan today and what would you change?

PERRY: Let me answer– the previous question very quickly for– if I– if I may.

PELLEY: Governor, I’d like to move on, could you give us a sense of your –of your appraisal of the combat situation?

PERRY: –I have a minute. And I can do both in one minute, I’ll promise you.

PELLEY: There– there you go.

PERRY: And the issue that has not been raised is that this country can sanction the Iranian Central Bank right now and shut down that country’s economy. And that’s what this president needs to do and the American people need to stand up and force him to make that stand today. Now let me address this issue of Afghanistan and how we deal with it. The mission must be completed there. The idea that we will have wasted our treasure and the lives of young Americans to not secure Afghanistan is not appropriate.

But the idea that we would give a timetable to our enemy is irresponsible from a military standpoint, it’s irresponsible from the lives of our young men and women. And it is irresponsible leadership of this president to give a timetable to pull out of any country that we’re in conflict with.

PELLEY: But Governor, if I can just follow up for 30 seconds. The question was, “What’s your appraisal of the combat situation on the ground there, and what would you change as commander in chief?”

PERRY: Well, obviously, we’re discussing with our commanders on the field– about what’s going on in– Afghanistan. I think we’re makin’ progress there. The issue is training up the Afghan security forces so that we’re comfortable that they can– protect that citizenry and continue to take the war to the terrorists that are using Afghanistan and Pakistan, I might add. It is a very complex part of the world. But I think that our military is doin’ the best job that they can– considering– the lack of support that they’re getting from this administration– telegraphing to the enemy when we’re gonna pull out.

GARRETT: Senator Santorum, I know you want to jump in on Iran. I’ll give you that opportunity in just a second. So let me merge two things if I could, just one second. The Taliban said earlier this summer quote, “The Afghans have an endless stamina for a long war.” If you were commander in chief, would you have endless stamina for victory in Afghanistan? And would you, this evening, define victory in Afghanistan for the American people? And please weigh in, I know you do want to, on Iran.

SANTORUM: Thank you very much, Major, I appreciate that. Victory against– the Taliban in Afghanistan is the– Taliban is a neutered force. They are no longer a security threat– to the– to the– Afghan people or to– to our country. That would be victory. It doesn’t mean wipe them out, we can’t wipe them out, but they’re no longer a security threat.

The bigger issue– and I know there’s those of us at the end, who don’t get a lot of questions. And so I– I– this was the– this is the most important national security issue that we’re gonna be dealin’ with here in this– in this year. And that’s the issue of Iran getting a nuclear weapon. I think everyone should have the opportunity to answer that question. Particularly me. I’ve been working on Iran since back in 2004. And I proposed exactly the things that Herman and– and Mitt Romney suggested, which was to give money to the– to the– to the rebel forces there to– to help the pro-democracy movement and to put tough sanctions in place.

I was opposed by President Bush. And yet, we were able to overcome that and pass the Iran Freedom and Support Act. I was able to get that done. And then President Bush didn’t provide money for the pro-democracy movement. And President Obama cut that money. What we– we have a situation that’s different. I disagree with Newt. [inaudible]…more sanctions and– and– and providing, you know, more support for the pro-democracy movement isn’t gonna be enough, in time. Read the I.A.E.A. report.

PELLEY: Senator, I’m sorry.

SANTORUM: They are… [inaudible].

PELLEY: That’s time. I’m sorry. We’re gonna try to adhere to time and be fair to everyone in the– application of that rule.

SANTORUM: I understand. Just let me finish my final comment. My final comment is we should be working with Israel right now to do what they did in Syria, what they did in Iraq, which is take out that nuclear capability before the next explosion we hear in Iran is a nuclear one and then the world changes.

PELLEY: That is time. Thank you. Representative Bachmann, do you think the 30,000 surge troops in Afghanistan have made a difference, and if so, where?

BACHMANN: They absolutely have, but it’s unfortunate, the request was made for 40,000 troops. President Obama dithered for approximately two months, when he should have given the full complement of 40,000 troops. When he gave 30,000 troops to the effort in Afghanistan, that meant that a decision had to be made. With 40,000 troops, they could have conducted the war going into the southern province in– in Helmand and also going into the eastern province and dealing with the problem all at once and coming to victory that much sooner and bringing our troops home.

When 30,000 troops were given, then our troops did the very best that they could by going into the south and dealing in the Helmand Province. We actually have seen improvement down by Kandahar. That’s a very good thing. And that’s because of the brave actions by our men and women in that area. However, we have to recognize, now President Obama has made a very fatal decision in Afghanistan. He’s made the decision that by next September, our troops will be withdrawn. If that is the case, how do we expect any of our allies to continue to work to– with us? How can we even begin to seek the peace with the Hikani Network that are in the eastern regions. It’s–

Various: Thank you. Thank you.

PELLEY: Thank you, Congress– Congresswoman Bach– Bachmann, thank you very much. Let me come over to you, Governor Huntsman. And– and ask you, we are seeing spikes in casualties in Afghanistan, in new places. Can you explain to me what’s happening there and how you would change that as commander in chief?

HUNTSMAN: Well, I think the– spikes obviously are driven by– lack of security, proper security, in certain parts of the country, which could plague us for a very, very long time to come. I take a different approach on Afghanistan. I say it’s time to come home. I say this– I say this nation has achieved its key objectives in Afghanistan. We’ve had free elections in 2004. We’ve uprooted the Taliban. We’ve dismantled Al Qaeda. We have killed Osama bin Laden. I say this nation’s future is not Afghanistan. This nation’s future is not Iraq. This nation’s future is how prepared we are to meet the 21st Century competitive challenges. That’s economic and that’s education. And that’s gonna play out over the Asia-Pacific region. And we’re either prepared for that reality or we’re not. I don’t want to be nation building in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built.

PELLEY: Make sure I understand. Bring all the troops home today?

HUNTSMAN: Here’s what I would keep behind, because we still have work to do. We don’t need 100,000 troops nation building, many of whom can’t cross the wire. I think we need a component that gathers tactical intelligence. We need enhanced special forces, response capability for rapid response. And we need some ongoing commitment to train the local Afghan National Army. That’s not 100,000 troops. That’s well south of that. We are fighting an asymmetric threat, a counterterror threat. Not only there, but in Waziristan and every other corner of the world. And we need to prepare for that as a reality of our 21st Century foreign policy.

PELLEY: And that’s time. Thank you, sir.

GARRETT: Governor Romney, a much smaller footprint in Afghanistan? Do you support that? And secondarily, sir, is it time or would it ever be time for the United States to negotiate with the Taliban?

ROMNEY: We don’t negotiate with terrorists. I do not negotiate with the Taliban. That’s something for the Afghans to decide how they’re gonna– pursue their course in the future. With regards to our footprint in Afghanistan, the right course is for us to do our very best to secure the victories that have been so hard won by the soldiers, the men and women of– of our– fighting forces who have been in Afghanistan.

The commanders on the field feel that we can take out 30,000 to 40,000 troops sometime by the end of next year. The commander in chief, perhaps looking at the calendar of the election, decided to bring them home in September, instead, in the middle of the fighting season. Our commanders said that puts our troops at risk, at danger, “Please don’t pull ’em out there,” they said.

But he said, “No, I’m gonna get ’em out early.” I think that was a mistake. Our surge troops should have been withdrawn by December of next year, not by December. And the timetable, by the end of 2014, is the right timetable for us to be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan, other than a small footprint of support forces.

PELLEY: Mr. Speaker, how do you achieve peace in Afghanistan if you don’t negotiate with the Taliban?

GINGRICH: I don’t think you do.

PELLEY: Would you agree that the Taliban–

GINGRICH: Look, I– I think this is so much bigger and deeper a problem than we’ve talked about as a country that we– we don’t have a clue how hard this is gonna be. First of all, the Taliban survives for the ex– the very same reason that historically we said guerillas always survive, which is they have a sanctuary. The sanctuary’s Pakistan. You’re never gonna stop the Taliban as long as they can sort of hide. And you– and you have proof every week in new bombings and new killings and new training. So I think this has to be a much larger strategic discussion that starts with, frankly, Pakistan on the one end and Iran on the other, because I– Afghanistan is in between the two countries and is the least important of the three countries.

GARRETT: Related to that, Mr. Cain, I’d like to pick up on a point that Speaker Gingrich just made. You have said about foreign policy, “America needs to be clear about who its friends are and who its foes are.” So this evening, sir, Pakistan, friend or foe?

CAIN: We don’t know. Because Pakistan– it’s not clear, because Pakistan is where Osama bin Laden was found and eliminated. Secondly, Pakistanis have a conversation with President Karzai from Afghanistan and they– and President Karzai has said that if the United States gets into a dispute with Pakistan, then Afghanistan’s gonna side with Pakistan. There is a lot of clarity missing, like Speaker Gingrich says, in this whole region. And they are all interrelated. So there isn’t a clear answer as to whether or not Pakistan is a friend or foe. That relationship must be reevaluated.

GARRETT: If you were president, sir, and your national security council asked you what questions you would want answered to find out a better answer to this very question, what would you tell ’em?

CAIN: I would ask them what commitment is Pakistan willing to make to assure the United States of America that they are a friend or of– or a foe. And be specific about that. Will they make commitments relative to the commitment of their military, if we have to make commitments? Are they willing to come to some regional– agreement about what we need to do? We need a regional strategy in that area of the world, such that all of our allies, wor– we work together in order to come up with those things that would be mutually beneficial to everyone. Those are the questions that need to be asked.

PELLEY: Governor Perry, why is Pakistan playing a double game, saying that it supports the United States one moment and then supporting terrorists who are killing American troops the next? What’s going on there?

PERRY: Listen, I– I think we’re havin’– an interesting conversation here, but the deeper one– that the speaker makes a reference to is the whole issue of– of foreign aid. And we need a president of the United States working with a Congress that sends a clear message to every country. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s Pakistan or whether it’s Afghanistan or whether it’s India.

The foreign aid budget in my administration for every country is gonna start at zero dollars. Zero dollars. And then we’ll have a conversation. Then we’ll have a conversation in this country about whether or not a penny of our taxpayer dollar needs to go into those countries. And Pakistan is clearly sending us messages, Mitt. It’s clearly sending us messages that they– they don’t deserve our foreign aid that we’re getting, because they’re not bein’ honest with us. American soldiers’ lives are being put at jeopardy because of that country and the decisions that they’re make–and it’s time for us as a country to say no to foreign aid to countries that don’t support the United States of America.

PELLEY: That’s time, Governor. Governor, let me give you 30 seconds in the follow up to go back to the question, “Why is Pakistan playing this double game?” Help us understand-

PERRY: Look, they’ve been doing this–

PELLEY: –what’s going on there.

PERRY: They’ve been doing this for years. Their political people are not who are in charge of that country. It’s the military. It’s the secret service. That’s who’s running that country. And I don’t trust ’em. And we need to send clear messages. We need to do foreign aid completely different. I’m tellin’ you, no dollar’s goin’ into those countries. As a matter of fact, if they want any American aid, any country, unless we say differently, the American manufacturing, big companies, small companies, going in to help create economic–

PELLEY: And that’s–

PERRY: –impacts in those countries–

PELLEY: –time, Governor. Thank you.

PERRY: –rather than just dollars flowin’ into some administration.

PELLEY: Thank you very much.

GARRETT: Congresswoman Bachmann, you serve on the Intelligence Committee. I’d like to get your assessment of what you think is happening in Pakistan, especially with the Hikani Network. And you know from sitting on that committee that those in the diplomatic corps in this country and even the intelligence community believe that there is a tangible benefit, at times, to properly appri– apply foreign aid from this country. So I want to know if you agree with the governor on that question, starting at zero. And also your assessment of the intelligence situation in Pakistan, and what we should do about it.

BACHMANN: Pakistan is a very difficult area, because they have been housing terrorists and terrorists have been training there. Al Qaeda, as well as Hikani, as well as other militias dealing with terrorist organizations. But I would not agree with that assessment to pull all foreign aid from Pakistan. I would reduce foreign aid to many, many countries. But there’s a problem, because Pakistan has a nuclear weapon. We have more– people affiliated with Al Qaeda closer to that nuclear bomb than in any nation. This is an extremely important issue.

And I think it underscores exactly why the next commander in chief has to understand from day one the intricacies that are happening in the Middle East. This is a very dangerous time. If you look at Iran and if you look at Pakistan and if you look at– at the– the links with Syria, because Iran is working through proxies like Syria, through Hezbollah, through Hamas. It seems that the table is being set for worldwide nuclear war against Israel. And if there’s anything that we know, President Obama has been more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street, but he hasn’t been willing to stand with Israel. Israel looks at President Obama and they do not see a friend.

GARRETT: Congresswoman, thank you. Speaker Gingrich, you presided– as speaker over several foreign aid budgets for the United States. And I remember covering in 1995 the intervention on behalf of the Mexican peso. You have seen, at times, the proper role of the United States through foreign aid and other interventions. I want to know if you agree with– Governor Perry about starting at zero?

GINGRICH: I’m absolute– I mean, what he said made absolutely perfect sense. Why would you start every year– and consider the alternative. You’re giving some country $7 billion a year. So you start off– or– or in the case of Egypt, $3 billion a year. So you start off every year and say, “Here’s your $3 billion, now I’ll start thinking”? You ought to start off at zero and say, “Explain to me why I should give you a penny.”

And let me tell you, the fact that the Pakistanis– he didn’t think about this. The Pakistanis hid Bin Laden for at least six years in a military city within a mile of their national defense university? And then they got mad at the people who turned him over to us? And we think those are the acts of allies? I think that’s a pretty good idea to start at zero and sometimes stay there.

GARRETT: Just a quick follow up, Mr. Speaker. Since you’ve entered– since you mentioned Egypt, Mr. Speaker, I just want to know, if you were president, if the aid that we currently provide on an annualized basis to Egypt would be completely rethought and possibly eliminated, if you were president?

GINGRICH: It would certain– it would certainly be completely rethought. And candidly, the degree to which the Arab Spring may become an anti-Christian spring is something which bothers me a great deal. And I would certainly have the State Department intervening on behalf of the…[inaudible]…Christians, who are being persecuted under the new system, having their churches burned, having people killed. And I’d be pretty insistent that we are not gonna be supportive of a regime, which is explicitly hostile to– to religions other than Islam.

PELLEY: Senator Santorum– if a Pakistani nuclear weapon goes missing, what do you do?

SANTORUM: Well, let me just stop back and– and– and say I disagree with a lot of what was said up here. Pakistan must be a friend of the United States for the reason that Michele outlined. Pakistan is a nuclear power. And there are people in this– in that country that if they gain control of that country will create a situation equal to the situation that is now percolating in Iran.

So we can’t be indecisive about whether Pakistan is our friend. They must be our friend. And we much mut– we must engaged them as friends, get over the difficulties we have, as we did with Saudi Arabia, with– with respect to the events of 9/11. We– they– the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. And we said, “What– you know what? It’s important for us to maintain that relationship, in spite of those difficulties.”

And it’s important for us, with a nuclear power, with a very vast number of people in Pakistan, who are radicalizing, that we keep a solid and stable relationship and work through our difficulties. It is that important, and we must maintain that relationship.

PELLEY: But the Pakistanis back a terrorist network, the Hikani Network, that laid siege to the NATO headquarters and the U.S. embassy in Kabul for 20 hours, a few weeks ago.

SANTORUM: And the Pakistanis–

PELLEY: How do you make friends out of Pakistan?

SANTORUM: A lot of the Pakistanis and most of the government would say they don’t back the Hikani Network and the Hikani Network causes as much trouble in Pakistan as it has caused us in– in Afghanistan. We need to work with the elements of Pakistan, and there are elements in the government of Pakistan and the military.

We need to continue those joint exercises. We need to continue the– the aid relationship. And of course, we all know the aid relationship, when it comes to military aid, is all spent in the United States. So it’s not giving money away, it’s– it’s– it’s sending military hardware, which creates jobs in this country, to those countries, creating nexus and relationships and dependency on our weapon systems that’s important for those future relationships.

PELLEY: Senator, we’ll have to leave it right there. We will have more of the Republican Commander in Chief Debate in just a moment.

[commercial break]

PELLEY: Welcome back to Spartanburg, South Carolina and the Republican commander in chief debate. I’m Scott Pelley with CBS News along with Major Garrett of National Journal.

GARRETT: Thanks again, Scott. Mis– Mr. Speaker, you said yesterday that Governor Romney is a competent manager. But you said you were unsure if he was really capable of changing Washington. You said you were the change agent. Based on the arc of this campaign and perhaps what you’ve heard tonight, would you care to evaluate Governor Romney’s ability to think outside the box and change United States national security or foreign policy perspectives.

GINGRICH: No.

GARRETT: You said so last night. Then what was the point, sir? Then what was the point, sir, of bringing it up yesterday on a national radio show?

GINGRICH: I brought it up yesterday ’cause I was on a national radio show. I think he brings up things when he’s on national radio shows. We’re here tonight talking to the American people about why every single one of us is better than Barack Obama. And that’s the topic [inaudible].

GARRETT: But, Mr. Speaker. If you– if you would like to–

GINGRICH: By– and by the way, compared– let me just say, compared to this administration, talking about a friend who’s a great business manager as a good manager is an enormous improvement over Barack Obama.

GARRETT: Then, Mr. Speaker, I well remember you talking as Speaker about the necessary– or the necessity of leaders to think outside the box.

GINGRICH: Yes.

GARRETT: If you were president, how would you think outside the box about some of the issues we’ve discussed here tonight?

GINGRICH: Well, in a number of ways. As I said earlier, I would– I would explicitly adopt the Reagan/John Paul II/ Thatcher strategy towards Iran. I would do the same thing towards North Korea. I would adopt a very strong policy towards the United Nations of– dramatically taken on its– its absurdities. I would explicitly repudiate what Obama’s done on Agenda 21 as the kind of interference from the United Nations that’s wrong.

There are a number of other areas. I would also, frankly, apply– Lean Six Sigma to the Pentagon to liberate the money to rebuild the na– we’re– we– we– we need a capital investment program. And this administration is shrinking the Navy to a point where it’s going to be incapable of its doing its job worldwide. So there are a number of places I would be thinking outside the box.

PELLEY: And that’s time, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much. Mr. Cain, you’ve often said that you’ll listen to your generals for their advice before making decisions as commander in chief. How will you know when you should overrule your generals?

CAIN: The approach to makin’ a critical decision, first make sure that you surround yourself with the right people. And I feel that I’ll be able to make that assessment when we put together the cabinet and all of the people from the military, etcetera. You will know you’re makin’ the right decision when you consider all the facts and ask them for alternatives. It is up to the commander in chief to make that judgment call based upon all the facts.

And because I’ll have mult– a multiple group of people offering different recommendations, this gives me the best opportunity to select the one that makes the most amount of sense. But ultimately, it’s up to the commander in chief to make that decision.

GARRETT: Senator Santorum, this is really a question about how you build a leadership model. How, sir, would you decide when it was necessary for you as commander in chief to overrule the advice you get from either your civilian advisors or your military advisors?

SANTORUM: Well, I’ll come into– to the office of the presidency with a very clear agenda. And we’ll– I’ll get people together that will share my point of view. When I was in the United States Senate, I didn’t hire people who didn’t share how I approach the problem. That’s what the people of this country are electing. They’re electing someone who’s gonna be very crystal clear. And as you heard from my first two answers, I don’t mince words. I say exactly what I believe.

And then I follow through and do what I say. I did that when I was in public life before, even though I represented a state that wasn’t particularly conservative state. I followed through and did that. And I will surround myself with people who will execute what I promise the American public to do. And then we will go about the process of doing it.

PELLEY: You mentioned your agenda. If you could prioritize one or two points, maybe more if you’d like, what your key agenda is on national security.

SANTORUM: Well, obviously, the– the issue we were talking about before which is, number one, Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. And we will go about whatever it takes to make sure that happens. I hope, I hope that some of the things that I’ve talked about here and– and Newt’s– thing that I– I’ve been talking about for a while, which is covert activity.

You know, there have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in– in Iran. There have been computer viruses. There have been problems at their facility. I hope that the United States has been involved with that. I hope that we have been doing everything we can covertly to make sure that that program doesn’t– proceed forward. And if we’re lucky enough, and I’m not sure we will be, that if– un– no action is taken and we still don’t have a nuclear Iran, that would be my laser beam focus, to make sure that would not happen.

PELLEY: And that’s time, Senator. Thank you very much. Governor Perry, you advocate the elimination of the Department of Energy. If you eliminate the Department of Energy–

PERRY: Glad you remembered it.

PELLEY: I’ve had some time to think about it, sir.

PERRY: Me too.

PELLEY: If you eliminate the Department of Energy, what do you do with the nuclear weapons?

PERRY: Well, there are plenty of places in our government that can have oversight on our– our nuclear energy. But let me back over to– the question that you’ve asked before this about what is the most important thing from a strategic standpoint, commander in chief. For ten years, I have been the commander in chief of over 20,000-plus individuals in the State of Texas as we’ve dealt with a host of either natural disasters or having deployments– into the combat zone. So, if there’s someone on this stage who has had that hands-on commander in chief experience, it is me, as the governor of the State of Texas.

I’ve ha– dealt with generals. I have individuals at the Department of Defense who have been at the highest levels both on the civilian side and on the military side that will help me make decisions about those issues that we face as a country. So, I feel very comfortable from day one of surrounding myself with individuals who have extraordinary backgrounds in national defense and will be able to put this country on a track that Americans will feel we know that we’re gonna be secure.

PELLEY: And that’s time, sir.

PERRY: Including the southern border of this country with Mexico.

PELLEY: And that’s time, thank you.

GARRETT: I don’t need to tell the people on this stage that presidential politics is interactive business. And, of course, this debate is interactive as well. And we have an email question I’m happy to say, emailed into the National Journal. And it comes from Stephen Schafroth of Odell’s, Oregon. And I’d like to address this question to Mr. Cain. Stephen writes, “I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?”

CAIN: I believe that following the procedures that have been established by our military, I do not agree with torture, period. However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture. That is the critical consideration.

GARRETT: Mr. Cain, of course you’re familiar with the long-running debate we’ve had about whether waterboarding constitutes torture or is an enhanced interrogation tech– technique. In the last campaign, Republican nominee John McCain and Barack Obama agreed that it was torture and should not be allowed legally and that the Army Field Manual should be the methodology used to interrogate enemy combatants. Do you agree with that or do you disagree, sir?

CAIN: I agree that it was an enhanced interrogation technique.

GARRETT: And then you would support it at present. You would return to that policy.

CAIN: Yes, I would return to that policy. I don’t see it as torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique.

GARRETT: Congressman– congresswoman Bachmann, your opinion on this question that our emailer asked.

BACHMANN: If I were president, I would be willing to use waterboarding. I think it was very effective. It gained information for our country. And I– and I also would like to say that today, under Barack Obama, he is allowing the A.C.L.U. to run the C.I.A. You need to understand that today– today we– it– when we– when we interdict a terrorist on the battlefield, we have no jail for them.

We have nowhere to take them. We have no C.I.A. interrogations anymore. It is as though we have decided we want to lose in the War on Terror under President Obama. That’s not my strategy. My strategy will be that the United States will be victorious in the War on Terror.

GARRETT: Congressman Paul, my spidey sense tells me we have a debate about to get launched here. I know you have an opinion you’d like to weigh in.

PAUL: Yes. Tor– torture is illegal. And– by our laws. It’s illegal by international laws.

GARRETT: How do you– how do you define torture, sir?

PAUL: Well, waterboarding is torture. And– and many other– it’s ill– it’s illegal under international law and under our law. It’s also immoral. The– and it’s also very impractical. There’s no evidence that you really get reliable evidence. Why would you accept the position of torturing 100 people because you know one person might have information? And that’s what you do when you accept the principal of a– of– of– of torture. I think it’s– I think it’s uncivilized and prac– and has no practical advantages and is really un-American to accept on principal that we will torture people that we capture.

GARRETT: And that’s time, thank–

BACHMANN: Major– Major, I have to bring it up. I have to say–

PELLEY: Give– you know, let’s– let’s allow–

BACHMANN: I– I– I have– I have to say something on this, Major.

PELLEY: –let’s– I’m sorry, Congresswoman, just a moment if you would, please.

BACHMANN: I– I– I–

PELLEY: Let’s give– let’s give– Governor Huntsman an opportunity to take 30 seconds on that question.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you. Gets a little lonely over here in Siberia.

SANTORUM: Tell me about it.

HUNTSMAN: First of all, let me thank the sailor on the ship. I have two boys in the United States Navy. And all they wanna do is go on to fight, protect, and defend the great freedoms that we share in this country. This country has values. We have a name brand in the world. I’ve lived overseas four times. I’ve been an ambassador for my country three times. I’ve lived overseas and done business.

We diminish our standing in the world and the values that we project which include liberty, democracy, human rights, and open markets when we torture. We should not torture. Waterboarding is torture. We dilute ourselves down like a whole lot of other countries. And we lose that ability to project values that a lot of people in corners of this world are still relying on the United States to stand up for them.

PELLEY: And that is time. Thank you, sir. Governor Romney. Governor Romney, recently President Obama ordered the death of an American citizen who was suspected of terrorist activity overseas. Is it appropriate for the American president on the president’s say-so alone to order the death of an American citizen suspected of terrorism?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. In this case, this is an individual who had aligned himself with a– with a group that had declared war on the United States of America. And– and if there’s someone that’s gonna– join with a group like Al-Qaeda that declares war on America and we’re in a– in a– a war with that entity, then of course anyone who was bearing arms for that entity is fair game for the United States of America. Let me go back– let me go back and just– and just talk for a moment about the issue that the issue that a number of people have spoken about which is their definition of how their foreign policy might be different than this president.

My foreign policy’s pretty straightforward. I would be guided by an overwhelming conviction that this century must be an American century where America has the strongest values, the strongest economy, and the strongest military. An American century means the century where America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

We have a president right now who thinks America’s just another nation. America is an exceptional nation. We have a president who thinks that the way to conduct foreign policy is through his personal affects on other people. I’m– I believe the way to conduct foreign policy is with American strength. Everything I do will make America stronger. And I will stand and use whatever means necessary within the law to make sure that we protect America’s citizens and Americans’ rights.

PELLEY: And– and that’s time, Governor. Lady– ladies and gentlemen, — ladies and gentlemen, the applause are lovely. But we will not have doing. Thank you very much. We’ll have– we’ll have courtesy for all of the candidates on the stage. Speaker Gingrich, if I could just ask you the same question, as President of the United States, would you sign that death warrant for an American citizen overseas who you believe is a terrorist suspect?

GINGRICH: Well, he’s not a terrorist suspect. He’s a person who was found guilty under review of actively seeking the death of Americans.

PELLEY: Not– not found guilty by a court, sir.

GINGRICH: He was found guilty by a panel that looked at it and reported to the president.

PELLEY: Well, that’s ex-judicial. That’s– it’s not–

GINGRICH: Let me– let me– let me tell you a story– let me just tell you this.

PELLEY: –the rule of law.

GINGRICH: It is the rule of law. That is explicitly false. It is the rule of law.

PELLEY: No.

GINGRICH: If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant. You have none of the civil liberties of the United States. You cannot go to court. Let me be– let me be very clear about this. There are two levels. There’s a huge gap here that– that frankly far too many people get confused over. Civil defense, criminal defense, is a function of being within the American law. Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law. It is an act of war and should be dealt with as an act of war. And the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.

Male Voice: Well said. Well said.

GARRETT: Governor Perry, if you’ll indulge, then, sir, I’d like to change the subject a little bit to China. According to U.S. officials, China is using cyber-attacks to steal billions of dollars of intellectual property that is critical to this nation’s economic success. Are we, sir, engaged in financial warfare with China?

PERRY: Listen, there are some people who have made the statement that– the 21st century is gonna be the– the century of China and that, you know, we’ve had our time in the sunshine. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that at all. As a matter of fact, you think back to the 1980s and we faced a similar type of– of a situation with– with Russia.

And Ronald Reagan said that Russia would end up on the ash heap of history. And he was right. Mitt, I happen to think that the communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues. It is important for a country to have virtues, virtues of honest.

And this whole issue of allowing cyber security to go on, we need to use all of our resources– the private sector working along with our government, to really b– standing up the cyber command in 2010 was a good start on that. But fighting this cyber war, I would suggest, is one of the great issues that will face the next President of the United States. And we must went–

PELLEY: Governor, thank you, that’s time. Governor Romney, I wonder, how would you manage China to avoid a 21st century Cold War?

ROMNEY: Well, China has an interest in trade. China wants to– as they have 20 million people coming out of the farms and coming into the cities every year, they want to be able to put them to work. They wanna have access to global markets. And so we have right now sumthin’ they need very badly, which is access to our market and our friends around the world, have that same– power over China. We– to make sure that we let them understand that in order for them to continue to have free and open access to the thing they want so badly, our markets, they have to play by the rules.

They can’t hack into our computer systems and steal from our government. They can’t steal from corporations. They can’t take patents and designs, intellectual property, and– and– and– and duplicate them– and duplicate them and counterfeit them and sell them around the world. And they also can’t manipulate their currency in such a way as to make their prices well below what they otherwise would be.

We have to have China understand that like everybody else on the world stage, they have to play by the rules. And if they do, we’ll have open trade with them and work with them. And they should in every way want to collaborate with us and not become a belligerent nation economically or militarily. But if you just continue to sit back and let them run over us– the policies of Barack Obama in China have allowed China to continue to expand their– their– entry into our computer systems, their entry–

PELLEY: And–

ROMNEY: –stealing our intellectual property.

PELLEY: That’s time, Governor, but I’ll–

ROMNEY: And of course, their mil– their military capacity.

PELLEY: That’s time, Governor. But I would like to ask you a follow-up on that point. You– you talked about all the things that China should be doing. How do you affect that as commander in chief? How do you make China do these things?

ROMNEY: Well number one, on day one, it’s acknowledging something which everyone knows, they’re a currency manipulator. And on that basis, we also go before the W.T.– the W.T.O. and bring an action against them as a currency manipulator. And that allows us to apply, selectively, tariffs where we believe they are stealing our intellectual property, hacking into our computers, or artificially lowering their prices and killing American jobs. We can’t just sit back and let China run all over us. People say, “Well, you’ll start a trade war.” There’s one goin’ on right now, folks. They’re stealing our jobs. And we’re gonna stand up to China.

GARRETT: Governor Huntsman, Governor Romney just said we’re in the middle of a war that’s– we’re not even declared or we’re not even aware of. And Governor Perry said China will end up on the ash heap of history. You’ve been in China. You were the ambassador for our nation there under President Obama. What’s your reaction?

HUNTSMAN: Well, the re– reality’s a little different as it usually is when you’re on the ground. And I’ve tried to figure this out for 30 years of my career. First of all, I don’t think, Mitt, you can take– China to the W.T.O. on currency-related issues. Second, I– I don’t know that this country needs a trade war with China. Who does it hurt? Our small businesses in South Carolina, our exporters– our agriculture producers.

We don’t need that at a time when China is about to embark on a generational position. So what should we be doing? We should be reaching out to our allies and constituencies within China. They’re called the young people. They’re called the internet generation. There are 500 million internet users in China.

PELLEY: And Governor, we’re going to have to–

HUNTSMAN: And 80 million bloggers. And they are bringing about change, the likes of which is gonna take China down.

PELLEY: We’re gonna have to leave it there, Governor.

HUNTSMAN: While we have an opportunity to go up and win back our economic–

PELLEY: Governor–

HUNTSMAN: –manufacturing muscles. That’s all I wanna do as president.

PELLEY: That’s time. I thank you very much. We will be back with the Republican commander in chief debate from Wofford College in just a moment.

[pause]

PELLEY: Welcome back to South Carolina and the Republican commander in chief debate. Governor Perry, we just got a– question via Twitter from Barbara McMann. And Barbara asked this question of you. “Does Governor Perry’s Foreign Aid Starts at Zero include Israel?”

Rick Perry: Well, as Governor Perry– would tweet back to her that– absolutely. Every country would start at zero. Obviously, Israel is a special ally. And my bet is that we would be funding them– at some substantial level. But it makes sense for everyone to come in at zero and make your case. As a matter of fact, we oughta try that– doin’ that with some of those agencies that I was tryin’ to think the name of the other night.

Starting at zero, zero-based budgeting, and Newt will share with you, is we’ve gotta go there. And everyone has to come in and make your case. It’s what the American people are doin’. There’s somebody at home sittin’ watchin’ T.V. tonight, lookin’ for a job. And they’re havin’ to budget. Why in the world would our federal government get a pass on sending our tax dollars to any country–

PELLEY: And, Governor, I have to s–

PERRY: –without havin’ an answer? Why?

PELLEY: We’re gonna have to leave it right there. I thank you very much. That brings us to the end of the first hour of the debate. Some CBS stations will be leaving us. But you can continue to follow the debate online on CBSNews.com and NationalJournal.com. And you can submit questions for the candidates at either of those sites. Most of our stations in South Carolina and on the west coast will continue to broadcast the debate. When we return, we will take questions from South Carolina’s two senators, s– United States Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Jim DeMint. With thanks to the candidates, thanks to Wofford College, thanks to the G.O.P. and South Carolina, I’m Scott Pelley with Major Garrett.

PELLEY: Good evening from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This is the Republican Commander in Chief debate. I’m Scott Pelley with CBS News, along with Major Garrett of National Journal. This is the final half hour of this 90 minute Republican debate. The focus tonight: National security and foreign affairs.

And in this half hour, we’ll include your questions. You may submit them on-line at CBSNews.com and NationalJournal.com. And we will have the questions of South Carolina senators Lindsey Graham and Jim Demint. So let’s continue.

GARRETT: Indeed, Scott. We have a question from Josh Cooper from Woodsboro, Massachusetts. Congresswoman Bachmann, he writes in as this debate was going on. Quote: “Almost half of the federal budget goes to military-related expenditures. Should we increase spending, especially in a debt crisis?

BACHMANN: Well– the military is also able to– to have expenditures reduced, as well. And I think probably the best place is in the area of how we finance procurements. Today, we have a situation where we reward those who are designing and– and– and– making our weaponry, based upon the length of time that they take it– to produce it. We don’t do that anywhere else.

So rather than having a cost plus fee, we need to have a fixed cost system. We’ll save money. And also, tri-care could use reform, as well. Those are two areas where we’d yield significant savings. That– but we cannot do is cut back on the efforts regarding our troops and making sure they’re fully resourced.

GARRETT: A quick follow-up, Congresswoman. Can you name a weapon system that you think should be ended for fiscal reasons? And when you talk about tri-care, that’s the military medical system. What do you mean when you say, “Reform,” does that mean cuts in benefits?

BACHMANN: No. I think that we need to have modernization. That’s what the biggest problem is right now with– with Social Security, with Medicare, with Medicaid. We’re continuing to abide by the models that we had when they were first originated. There’s very few businesses that maintain their similar business practices 45 years after inception or 75 years after inception. We have to modernize.

But we also know what the future is in health care, don’t we? It is Obama Care. And quite likely, Tri-care, Medicare, all of these will collapse under President Obama, and everyone will be put into Obama Care. No one want to be– in Obama Care.

PELLEY: And that’s time–

BACHMANN: That’s why it’s Commander in Chief.

PELLEY: –Congresswoman.

BACHMANN: I’ll repeal Obama Care.

PELLEY: Thank you very much. Mr. Cain — Mr. Cain, would you describe what you think is happening in the Arab Spring? And how, as president, can you affect that to make it work for the United States and not against us?

CAIN: What’s happening in the Arab– Spring, you have to look at Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and all of the revolutions that are going on, and how this administration has mishandled them. As a result, they have gotten totally out of hand. Our relationship with Egypt may not survive.

Because when this president backed the opposition, it turned out that opposition was more of the Muslim Brotherhood, which could end up with a majority of control of this new government. This president has already said that the president of Yemen should go. He is our friend. He has been helping us to fight al-Qaeda. This president has been on the wrong side in nearly every situation in the Arab world, which has basically done nothing except to put that entire thing at risk.

PELLEY: And that’s time, sir, thank you.

GARRETT: Mr. Speaker, at least 3,500 civilians have been slaughtered in Syria. Today, the Arab League voted to suspect Syria. If the opposition, and you were commander in chief, requested military assistance, covert smuggling, or a no-fly zone, would you authorize either or both?

GINGRICH: With first of all, I think that it’s a good thing today that the Arab League suspended Syria. I think this administration should have been much more aggressive against Assad. It’s ironic to me that Mubarrak, who had been our ally for years, who had done everything he could to help the United States, who had helped us in the Iraq campaigns, who had done literally we had requested of him, he was dumped overnight by this administration in a way that signaled everybody in the world, “Don’t rely on the United States, because they’ll abandon you in a heartbeat if they feel like it.”

Assad, who is our enemy, and is an ally and– of– of– of Iran, has had amazingly soft treatment by our State Department, as though they are afraid to make him feel bad. I would actively– approve– taking those steps would which– defeat his regime, which would probably be mostly covert. I don’t– I don’t think you need a no-fly zone. I think there are a number of steps you could take. And I think he would fall very rapidly.

If– the– if the United States and Europe communicated clearly that Assad was going to go, I think you would find Europe– there’s a very tiny faction. And I think you would find him likely to be replaced very rapidly.

GARRETT: Congressman Paul, covert operations in Syria?

PAUL: I think–

GARRETT: A green light for you?

PAUL: I think it would– be a mistake. I think the Syrians oughta deal with their country. I think we should have dealt–

GARRETT: But what about the– what about the 3,500 dead?

PAUL: Well, there– there’s been a lot of people killed throughout the world in the last century. You know, the Soviets and the Chinese killed hundreds of millions. But we didn’t feel compelled morally to try to stop it. No. It’s a tragedy. And it would be nice if they would accept different views.

But for us to get in the middle of that and prop up the different dictatorships, this is why we get into this trouble. It’s overthrowin’ dictatorships that we have supported that causes so much of this problem. So to get further involved, you– want to have self determination. We don’t need to lose anymore troops. You get in there with covert operations. And you have troops involved. And–

GARRETT: Thank you, Congressman.

PAUL: It’s– very costly.

PELLEY: Thank you, Congressman.

PAUL: It’s not a good idea.

PELLEY: Governor Romney– Governor Romney, if I may ask you a 30 second follow-up to that. Is it time for the Assad dictatorship to end? Would you use mili– tel– military force to do that?

ROMNEY: Of course it’s time for the Assad dictatorship to end. And we should use covert activity, as Speaker Gingrich has just indicated. Look– the– the reason I disagree with Ron Paul on this is– that you have, in Syria, a nation which is an ally, the only Arab ally, of Iran. It is arming Hezbollah. It represents a– an access– of– of great significance to Iran. And as a result, because of our concern about Iran, and their effort to become the Hageman in the Middle East, it is important for– for us as a nation to stand up and to help those efforts to– to replace A– Assad. And that means helping Turkey and– and– Saudi Arabia, who are putting pressure on him, as well as covert activity of our own.

PELLEY: Governor, thank you very much. Now, as a unusual feature of this particular debate, we have with us tonight the two United States senators from South Carolina, who have questions for the Republican candidates. And they will ask the question, but the moderators will direct the question to the appropriate candidates. And we’re going to start with the senior senator, Lindsay Graham. Senator Graham, thank you for being with us here tonight.

Senator Lindsay Graham: Thank you. A comment first. Thank you all for running for president. I’m proud of each and every one of you. Thank you very much. Three-part question. I hope I can remember all three parts. Within days of taking office, President Obama, by executive order, stopped the CIA from using classified enhanced interrogation techniques that are not water-boarding. There’s a presumption that every person at Gitmo, under the Obama administration, should go into civilian court, not military commission. And the Obama administration recently said that any future captors in the war on terror would not go to Gitmo. Would you continue these policies? If you would change them, why?

PELLEY: And Mr. Cain, that first question will go to you.

CAIN: I absolutely would reverse all three of those policies. I’d keep Gitmo– Gitmo open. I would definitely allow the military to use enhanced interrogation techniques, because they’re terrorists. They are terrorists. Pampering terrorists isn’t something that we ought to do. So I anybody would reverse all three of those things that you indicated.

PELLEY: Senator Santorum, you have one minute on the same question.

SANTORUM: Oh, I would agree with– with– with– with– Herman Cain. The– Gitmo is– is essential to– to leave open. We have to use enhanced interrogation techniques, all enhanced inger– interrogation techniques. It has been proven to be successful in gathering information. It was critl– critical for us– in the– in the war against terror. And we need to continue that– that operation.

And using civilian courts– is a– is– is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard. The– civilian courts are given to people who have rights under our constitution. People who have attacked our country and are foreign combatants ha– do not have those rights. Our country stands for freedom. Our country stands for all of those proper ideals.

But when– and we– and we stand with the Geneva Convention. But when people fight outside of those con– there’s a convention there for a reason. It’s to get people to play by the rules. And when they don’t play by the rules, they should not given– be given the benefit of those that do. And that’s why we have Gitmo and these techniques.

PELLEY: Congressman Paul, one minute to you, sir.

PAUL: I think that– this is a mess. It’s a mess because we have a bad foreign policy. We’re pretending we’re at war. We haven’t declared the war, but we’re at war against a tactic. And therefore– there’s no limits to it. So we create these monstrosities. And we do think outside the law. We come up with assassination, allowing the president to decide who’s going to be assassinated?

And– lo and behold, three Americans now have been on the list. They’ve been assassinated. But they don’t talk about the second one, because the second one happened to be a 16 year old son of Awlaki. So what are we doing here to accept this idea that our president, and this lawlessness, to pursue? And that– we some day will be subject to those same courts.

So no, you don’t. You want to live within– in the law and obey the law. Because– otherwise, it’s going to be very bad for all– all of us. And– this whole idea that– now we can be assassinated by somebody that we don’t even like to run our medical care, and giving this power to the president to be the prosecutor, the executor, the judge and the jury, we better look at that carefully before you automatically endorse something like that.

PELLEY: Congressman, thank you very much.

BACHMANN: Could I– could interject something?

PELLEY: Governor, I’m– I’m–

BACHMANN: Can I interject and say something?

PELLEY: I’m sorry, there– there’s a– there’s actually a system at work here with regard to the Senator’s question. So if I may, Governor Perry, you have one minute for Senator Graham’s question.

PERRY: Yeah. Let me just address Congressman Paul. And I– Congressman, I– I respect that you wore the uniform of our country. But– in 1972, I volunteered to serve the United States Air Force. And the idea that we have our young men and women in combat today, Senator, where there are people who would kill them in a heartbeat, under any circumstance, use any technique that they can, for us not to have the ability to try to extract information from them, to save our young people’s lives, is a travesty. This is war. That’s what happens in war. And I am for using the techniques, not torture, but using those techniques that we know will extract the information to save young American lives. And I will be for it until I die.

PELLEY: Thank you, Governor. Representative Bach– Bachmann, let me give you 30 seconds to pick up on that.

BACHMANN: Thank you. Yeah, I– I’d like to respond to Ron Paul and his comments. Because the people that the president of the United States gave orders to kill include Osama bin Laden. Now I think all of us can agree this is a good idea for the president of United States to make this decision. Ron Paul doesn’t think so.

But this is a very good idea for the president. After all, Osama bin Laden had no problem ordering the destruction of the wor– of the– of the Twin Towers or of the Pentagon. That resulted in over 3,000 lives. As well– Awlaki, who we also killed, he has been the chief recruiter of terrorists, including Major Hassan at Fort Hood, including the underwear bomber over Detroit, and including the Times Square bomber. These were very good decisions that were made to take them out.

GARRETT: Congresswoman, thank you. I know, Ron Paul, you want to jump in.

PAUL: Yes.

GARRETT: Please.

PAUL: I voted for the authority to go after bin Laden. I was upset because it took ten years because we– we were diverted from– going after him and doing the job. But that’s a lot different than assassinating American citizens. I mean he– he wasn’t a citizen.

But I do wanna remind you that over 300 individuals were tried in civilian courts here that were charged with terrorism here. Most of ’em are in jail. And I don’t think we should give up so easily on our rule of law.

PELLEY: Congressman Paul, thank you very much.

GARRETT: It’s time to call on Senator Jim Demint from South Carolina. Sir, you have a question, and I will direct it to the four who were not called on the first time. So Senator, please.

Jim Demint: Thank you. And thank you all for being in South Carolina tonight. Federal spending and debt are not only our greatest economic problems, they’re our largest national security problem. Yet the president and the Congress continue to spend and borrow at record levels. Just adjusting the spending on existing federal programs will not solve the problem. What federal functions will you eliminate or return to the states in order to balance our budget?

GARRETT: Governor Romney, to you, sir.

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Right now, we’re spending about 25 percent of the economy at the federal level. And that has to be brought down to a cap of 20 percent. I’ll get that done within my first term, if I’m lucky enough to get elected. How do you do that?

One, it’s eliminating programs. A lot of programs we like, but we simply can’t afford. The first we will eliminate, however, we’re happy to get rid of. That’s Obama Care. And that’ll save us $95 billion a year by my fourth year.

Other programs we like: the Endowment for the– for Humanities, the National Endowment for– for the Arts– Public Broadcasting. These are wonderful– features that we– we have of the government. But we simply can’t go out and borrow money from China to pay for them. They’re not that essential.

In terms of returning programs to the states: Medicaid, a program for the poor, should be returned to the states. Let the states manage it. And if we grow it, at inflation plus one percent, we’ll save $100 billion a year by returning that to the states. And finally, we have to make the federal government more productive. It is just way too over– over-burdened with– with excessive personnel. I’ll reduce the personnel by at least ten percent, and link the pay of federal employees with the pay in the private sector. We should not pay government workers more than the people–

GARRETT: Governor Romney, that’s time.

ROMNEY: –of America were paying for it.

GARRETT: Governor Romney, that’s time. Governor Huntsman, please– address Senator Demint’s question, if you would, sir.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you, Senator Demint. It’s an honor to be with you in your state– as– as it is– many other great leaders of South Carolina. I think it’s absolutely appropriate that– Admiral Mullen would say that our most significant national security threat is right here at home. And it’s our debt. I completely buy into that.

And if we’re gonna get this nation moving in the right direction, we need to recognize that debt, as 70 percent of our GDP and moving up, becomes a national security problem. You look where Japan is, well over 100 percent debt to GDP. Greece, 170 percent– to GDP. Italy, 120 percent.

So you get a sense of where our tomorrow is if we don’t tackle the debt and spending. My speech was a very short one on debt and spending. It’s three words: The Ryan Plan. I think The Ryan Plan sets out a template that puts– everything on the table. Medicaid– like– Governor Romney, I’d send back to the states. Education, I wanna move closer to the states. You move education closer to the decision makers, the school boards, the families, you’re a whole lot better off.

And I think there are some economic development functions, as well, legitimately that you can move closer to the state. But we’ve got to get our spending closer to 19 percent– of our GDP as opposed to this unsustainable 24, 25 percent.

GARRETT: Governor Huntsman, thank you very much.

HUNTSMAN: But we shipwreck the next generation.

GARRETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please direct Senator Demint’s question?

GINGRICH: Sure. I think actually, Senator, that there are four interlocking national security problems. Debt and the deficit’s one. Energy is a second one. Manufacturing is a third one. And science and technology’s a fourth. And you need to have solutions that fit all four.

I mean the thing that most worries me about this super committee is that they– they– they fail to understand that innovation and growth have to be at the heart of what we’re doing. Example: we should have a training requirement for all unemployment compensation so nobody gets money for doing nothing. Now, that saves money, but it simultaneously enhances the human capital of the United States and makes us more competitive in dealing with China.

We should be opening up offshore so that folks are able to– deal directly with, for example, $29 billion of natural gas here. In that process, you take some of the royalties and modernizes the Charleston Port, which you need for jobs here. I’m just trying to walk you through a way of thinking.

I helped balance the budget for four consecutive years. I’m not very concerned, if we’re serious, what you wanna do is fundamentally reform and overhaul the federal government, fundamentally. While, at the same time, accelerating economic growth to bring unemployment down to four percent. That combination gets you back to a balanced budget.

GARRETT: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. Congresswoman Bachmann, please address Senator Demint’s question, what programs would you cut, how would you bring it down, the debt?

BACHMANN: I wanna thank you for as– asking that question, because that really is the number one issue that’s facing the country. We are in a terrible debt spiral, so much so that, just in the month of October, we just added another $203 billion in debt. And when you consider the last time that Republicans controlled the budget, it was nin– 2007, and the debt was $160 billion for the year. This was $203 billion just for the month of October.

For every man, woman and child in the United States, that means each one of us just took on another $650 in debt just for the month of October. That’s the velocity that we’re growing this debt. So what would I cut? I think, really, what I would wanna do is be able to go back and take a look at Lyndon Baines Johnson’s The Great Society.

The Great Society has not worked, and it’s put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situ– they save for their own retirement security. They don’t have pay FDC. They don’t have the modern welfare state. And China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with The Great Society, and they’d be gone.

PELLEY: Thank you, Congresswoman. Thank you very much. Mr. Cain– U.S. forces are coming under attack daily now from the enemy crossing over the border from Pakistan. As president, as commander in chief, would you order U.S. forces into Pakistan to clear out those safe havens of the enemy?

CAIN: That is a decision that I would make after consulting with the commanders on the ground, our intelligence sources, after having discussions with Pakistan, discussions with Afghanistan. And here’s why. We pointed out earlier that it is unclear as to where we stand with Pakistan. It is unclear where we stand with Afghanistan.

We have our young men and women dying over there. And for that president to say that they would side with Pakistan, that is a problem. This is why we have to tread lightly and get all the information. Because Pakistan is one of the nine nations that has a nuclear weapon. So before I say we would do that, there’s a lot of information that would need to be gathered.

PELLEY: Well, we’ve been at war in Afghanistan for ten years, of course. And– what is it about it that’s unclear to you at this point? 30 seconds.

CAIN: Well, what’s unclear is, when the president approved the surge, and then prematurely start pullin’ troops back, that wasn’t a good strategy. Victory is not clearly defined. As president, I will make sure that the mission is clear, and the definition of victory’s clear. And that simply does not exist right now.

PELLEY: Governor Romney, would you send American troops across the border into Pakistan to clear out those save havens? American men and women are coming under fire from those locations every single day.

ROMNEY: The right way to deal with– Pakistan is to recognize that Pakistan is not a country like other countries, with a strong political center that you can go to and say, “Gee, can we come here? Will you take care of this problem?” This is, instead, a– nation which is close to being a failed state. I hope it doesn’t reach that point, but it’s a very fragile nation.

It really has four centers of power: the ISI, which is their– their intelligence services, the military, separate group. You have the political structure, and of course, the fundamentalists. And so we have to work with our friends in that country to get them to do some of the things we can’t do ourselves.

Bringing our troops into Pakistan and announcing at a stage like this that, as president, we would throw American troops into Pakistan, could be highly incendiary in a setting like that. Right now, they’re comfortable with our using drones to go after the people that are– that are representing a gr– the greatest threat.

PELLEY: We have time, governor. But are the Pakistanis–comfortable with our using drones?

ROMNEY: We have agreement with the people that we need to have agreement with to be able to use drones to strike at the people that represent a threat. And one of the things we have to do with our foreign aid commitments, the ongoing foreign aid commitments, I agree with Governor Perry. You start everything at zero.

But one of the things we have to do is have understanding with the various power bases within the country that they’re gonna have to allow us, or they themselves go after the Taliban and Haqqani net– network to make sure they do not destabilize Afghanistan, particularly as we’re pulling our troops out.

GARRETT: Senator Santorum, this week, National Journal and The Atlantic magazine reported that, for various reasons, some related to paranoia in Pakistan about what United States might do, they are moving operational nuclear weapons in that country, unguarded, in trucks. If you were commander in chief, and intelligence came to you that one of those nuclear weapons was lost or possibly in the hands of terrorists, how would you respond?

SANTORUM: Well, you’d have to respond with working with the Pakistani government and those who would fee they’re– as much threatened by that as– as we are. And– Mitt is absolutely right– there are v– various elements within the country– that are very hard to– to– to deal with. You have a radical element.

I would hope– that we’re talking about a situation where the military is– is– is– is somehow in control of that, and that we would have an element of the military that would be a problem. I would work with the military, I’d work with ISI, and get to– where we could secure that weapons. Obviously would not– you have to take some action. But it would depend on the circumstances. It’s sort of a hypothetical. Without having the knowledge of how it happened, it would hard to be answer the question.

GARRETT: That article also made clear that special operations forces are being trained for this very eventuality. Is that something you would consider as commander in chief, deploying special forces to isolated, find that nuclear weapon, and, if necessary, take it over?

SANTORUM: I would be working with the intelligence community within Pakistan. Again, it’s a compromised community. I understand there– there are relationship with ISI, with the Haqqani Network. Again, depending on the circumstances that we’re dealing with here– it– you would hope you would be able to work with the– with the intelligence community and work, if necessary, in support– in a support nature, whether it’s– with– human intelligence or– or– other types of surveillance, and potentially with the special forces– on the ground.

But again, this is clear. This is not one– you don’t cowboy this one. You don’t fly in to Afghanistan– I mean excuse me, to Pakistan and try to interdict a nuclear weapon. You’ve gotta work with the people in the– in power in the government to– to make sure that that accomplish–

GARRETT: Speaker Gingrich, 30 seconds, your thoughts on this scenario?

GINGRICH: Well, look. This is a good example of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into since the Church Committee so-called reforms in 1970s. We don’t have a reliable intelligence service. We don’t have independent intelligence in places like Pakistan. We rely on our supposed friends for intelligence. They may or may not be our friends. And the amount of information we might or might not have might or might not be reliable.

This is a very good example of scenarios people oughta look at seriously and say, “We had better overhaul everything from rules of engagement to how we run the intelligence community, because we– are in a very dangerous world.”

PELLEY: Governor Huntsman– as we sit here, there is a crisis in Europe over debt, particularly in Italy and in Greece. And there is the threat of contagion onto Wall Street and U.S. banks. How do you prevent the Euro crisis from becoming a problem in the United States?

HUNTSMAN: The– lemme just– on Pakistan for one second. Because it’s pretty clear. There’s one man in charge in Pakistan. I’ve negotiated with the Pakistanis before, both in government and in business. They’re a tough bunch. General Giani’s in charge. He’s head of the military, which is head of I– ISI. It isn’t President Zardari, make no mistake about that. And I’d say you don’t have a choice.

Then I would pick up the phone and call Special Operations Command in Tampa and say, “I’ve got a job for SEAL– SEAL team number six. Prepare to move.” You don’t have a choice. When you have a loose nuke, you have no choice. And we have to take charge. That’s called leadership, and that’s what I would do as president.

With– with respect to Europe, we have two problems. One, Europe is our second largest export market. $240 billion we export to Europe every year, second only to Canada, $250 billion a year. As– if Europe goes down, as a metastases spreads, they’re gonna buy less. And we’re gonna lose jobs unless we can find other markets– as those exports begin to diminish. That’s gonna be problem number one, and we need to prepare for that.

Number two, it’s gonna spread throughout the banking system to the point where it’s gonna hit us and the United States. And with banks that are too big to fail in this country, we’re in deep trouble.

PELLEY: And– and that–

HUNTSMAN: Deep trouble.

PELLEY: –is time. Thank you very much. We just have time for a quick follow-up on– on that same question. Let me come to Governor Perry. How do you prevent the European crisis from become a problem on Wall Street?

PERRY: Well, the French and the Germans have the economic wherewithal to deal with this. They have the economy. You– when you think about the Euro and when it was established, it was done to be a competitor to the American dollar. They knew what they were doing. And now they find themselves with their overspending and– and– the sovereign debt being built up. And–

PELLEY: Governor, I’m sorry, but it’s the tyranny of the clock. We are all out of time. This is Scott Pelley with Major Garrett at the Republican–

UNKNOWN: We’ll allow the French and the Germans–

PELLEY: –debates. Thank you for joining us. Great to be with you.