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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Part 4: (9:30pm - 10:00pm) CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate
Aired October 18, 2011 - 21:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it would be enhanced. I don't want to cut any defense. And you have to get it straight. There's a lot of money spent in the military budget that doesn't do any good for our defense.
How does it help us to keep troops in Korea all these years? We're broke. We have to borrow this money.
Why are we in Japan? Why do we subsidize Germany, and they subsidize their socialized system over there? Because we pay for it. We're broke.
And this whole thing that this can't be on the table, I'll tell you what, this debt bubble is the thing you better really worry about, because it's imploding on us right now. It's worldwide.
We are no more removed from this than man the man on the moon. It's going to get much worse.
And to cut military spending is a wise thing to do. We would be safer if we weren't in so many places.
We have an empire. We can't afford it. The empires always bring great nations down. We spread ourselves too thinly around the world. This is what's happened throughout history, and we're doing it to ourselves.
The most recent empire to fail was an empire that went into, of all places, Afghanistan...
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR AND DEBATE MODERATOR: Time.
PAUL: ... they went broke. So where are we? In Afghanistan. I say it's time to come home.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: It's time.
We have a Twitter question. Given that Israel has just negotiated with Palestine for a soldier, would any of you negotiate for a hostage?
Herman Cain, let me ask this to you. A few hours ago you were asked by Wolf Blitzer, if al Qaeda had an American soldier in captivity, and they demanded the release of everyone at Guantanamo Bay, would you release them? And you said, quote: "I can see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer. Can you explain?
HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The rest of the statement was quite simply, you would have to consider the entire situation. But let me say this first, I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists. We have to lay that principle down first.
Now being that you have to look at each individual situation and consider all the facts. The point that I made about this particular situation is that I'm sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to consider a lot of things before he made that.
So on the surface, I don't think we can say he did the right thing or not. A responsible decision-maker would have considered everything.
COOPER: But you're saying you could -- I mean, in your words, you've said that I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer. Isn't that negotiating with, in this case, al Qaeda?
CAIN: I don't recall him saying that it was al Qaeda-related.
COOPER: Yes, he did. He said...
CAIN: Well, I don't really -- my policy will be we cannot negotiate with terrorists. That's where we have to start as a fundamental principle.
COOPER: Senator Santorum?
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, you can't negotiate with terrorists, period.
To address Congressman Paul's answer and the other answer on military spending, I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending. The first order of the federal government, the only thing the federal government can do that no other level of government can do is protect us. It is the first duty of the president of the United States is to protect us.
SANTORUM: And we should have the resources -- we should have all the resources in place to make sure that we can defend our borders, that we can make sure that when we engage in foreign countries, we do so to succeed.
That has been the problem in this administration. We've had political objectives instead of objectives for success. And that's why we haven't succeeded. And as Michele said and correctly said, the central threat right now is Iran.
The disrespect, yes, but it's more than that. They sent a message. The two countries that they went after was the leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the, quote, "secular world," the United States.
This was a call by Iran to say we are the ones who are going to be the supreme leader of the Islamic world...
SANTORUM: ... and we are going to be the supreme leader of the secular world. And that's why they attacked here. And, by the way, they did it in coordination...
SANTORUM: ... with Central and South Americans, which I have been talking about and writing about and talking about for 10 years.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, you were referenced in that answer, 30 seconds.
PAUL: Well, I think we're on economic suicide if we're not even willing to look at some of these overseas expenditures, 150 bases -- 900 bases, 150 different countries. We have enough weapons to blow up the world about 20-25 times. We have more weapons than all the other countries put together essentially.
And we want to spend more and more, and you can't cut a penny? I mean, this is why we're at an impasse. I want to hear somebody up here willing to cut something. Something real.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PAUL: This budget is in bad shape and the financial calamity is going to be much worse than anybody ever invading this country. Which country -- are they going to invade this country? They can't even shoot a missile at us.
COOPER: We have a question in the hall that gets to your question. The question in the hall on foreign aid? Yes, ma'am.
VICKI O'KEEFE, BOULDER CITY, NEVADA: The American people are suffering in our country right now. Why do we continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?
COOPER: Governor Perry, what about that? I mean...
GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. I think it's time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. Clearly there are places. As a matter of fact, I think it's time for us to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: When you think about -- when you think about the Palestinian Authority circumventing those Oslo Accords and going to New York to try to create the conflict and to have themselves approved as a state without going through the proper channels is a travesty.
And I think it's time not only to have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular the U.N. Why are we funding that organization?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Governor Romney, should foreign aid be eliminated?
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Foreign aid has several elements. One of those elements is defense, is to make sure that we are able to have the defense resources we want in certain places of the world. That probably ought to fall under the Department of Defense budget rather than a foreign aid budget.
Part of it is humanitarian aid around the world. I happen to think it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are -- and think of that borrowed money on today (ph).
And finally there's a portion of our foreign aid that allows us to carry out our activities in the world such as what's happening in Pakistan where we're taking -- we're supplying our troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan.
But let me tell you: We're spending more on foreign aid than we ought to be spending. And Congressman Paul asked, is there a place we can cut the budget? Let me tell you where we cut the budget. Discretionary accounts you bring back to 2008 level. We get rid of Obamacare. Number three, we take Medicaid, turn it back to the states, grow it at only 1 percent to 2 percent per year. Number three, we cut -- number four, rather, we cut federal employment by at least 10 percent through attrition. And finally, we say to federal employees: You're not going to make more money than the people in the private sector who are paying for you. We link their compensation.
PAUL: On foreign aid, that should be the easiest thing to cut. It's not authorized in the Constitution that we can take money from you and give it to particular countries around the world. To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries. And it becomes weapons of war. Essentially, no well -- no matter how well-motivated it is...
COOPER: Congressman Paul, would you cut aid to Israel?
PAUL: I would cut all foreign aid. I would treat everybody equally and fairly. And I don't think aid to Israel actually helps them. I think it teaches them to be dependent. We're on a bankruptcy course.
And -- and look at what's the result of all that foreign aid we gave to Egypt? I mean, their -- their dictator that we pumped up, we spent all these billions of dollars, and now there's a more hostile regime in Egypt. And that's what's happening all around Israel. That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us. It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back. They should be able to deal with their neighbors...
COOPER: Time. Congresswoman Bachmann...
PAUL: ... at their own will.
COOPER: Should we cut foreign aid to Israel?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, we should not be cutting foreign aid to Israel. Israel is our greatest ally. The biggest problem is the fact...
... that the president -- the biggest problem with this administration in foreign policy is that President Obama is the first president since Israel declared her sovereignty put daylight between the United States and Israel. That heavily contributed to the current hostilities that we see in the Middle East region.
Cutting back on foreign aid is one thing. Being reimbursed by nations that we have liberated is another. We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations.
Now, I need to add something on this issue of negotiating for hostages. This is a very serious issue. For any candidate to say that they would release the prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for a hostage would be absolutely contrary to the historical nature of the United States and what we do in our policy. That's naive; we cannot do that. The United States has done well because we have an absolute policy: We don't negotiate.
COOPER: Herman Cain, I've got to give you 30 seconds, because she was referring to -- basically saying you were naive or if -- if that's what you were suggesting.
CAIN: No, I -- I said that I believe in the philosophy of we don't negotiate with terrorists. I think -- I didn't say -- I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go. No, that wasn't -- that wasn't the intent at all.
But let me go back to this, if I could, very quickly in the time that I have left, the question that you asked about, foreign aid. My approach is an extension of the Reagan approach: Peace through strength, which is peace through strength and clarity. If we clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies, then we ought to continue to give money to our friends, like Israel.
COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Congressman Paul, and then we've got to go.
PAUL: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I don't want to make a statement. I want to ask a question. Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran? We all know that was done.
SANTORUM: That's not -- Iran was a sovereign country. It was not a terrorist organization, number one.
PAUL: Oh, they were our good friends back then, huh?
SANTORUM: They're not our good friends. They're -- they're -- they're a sovereign country, just like the -- the Palestinian Authority is not the good friends of Israel.
PAUL: He negotiated for hostages.
SANTORUM: There's -- there's a role -- we negotiated with hostages (inaudible) the Soviet Union. We've negotiated with hostages, depending on the scale. But there's a difference between releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in response to a terrorist demand...
PAUL: But they're all suspects. They're not terrorists. You haven't convicted them of anything.
SANTORUM: Then -- then -- then negotiating with other countries, where we may have an interest, and that is certainly a proper role for the United States, too.
COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. I do want to give Speaker Gingrich 30 seconds, and then...
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just very straightforward. Callista and I did a film on Ronald Reagan. There's a very painful moment in the film when he looks in the camera and says, "I didn't think we did this. I'm against doing it. I went back and looked. The truth is, we did. It was an enormous mistake."
And he thought the Iranian deals with a terrible mistake.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. Our debate though continues on the other side of the break, so stay tuned.
When we return, which candidate has the best chance to beat Barack Obama, and should it matter in your vote?
Stay with us.
(APPLAUSE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: And welcome back. The GOP debate is under way.
Let's talk about probably the most important issue to everybody on this stage, and probably just about everybody in this room, which is, who can beat President Barack Obama in this next election?
In today's new CNN/ORC poll, 41 percent of Republican voters think that Governor Romney has the best chance of beating the president.
COOPER: To Senator Santorum, you got one percent. Why shouldn't Republican voters go with the candidate they feel that can best beat President Obama?
SANTORUM: Well, the Pew poll last week asked how many people in this country can name any of us? And less than 50 percent could come up with even one. So, the idea that this has any relevance to people who aren't paying close attention to this debate is, in fact, irrelevant. What's relevant is to look at the track record.
No one in this field has won a swing state. Pennsylvania is a swing state. We win Pennsylvania, we win the election. The Republicans nominate it.
I've won it twice. I defeated a Democratic incumbent, winning it the first time, and I won the state of Pennsylvania, the only senator to win a state who was a conservative that George Bush lost. Bush lost it by 5, I won it by 6.
So, you have someone who is defeated and been matched up against three Democratic incumbents. I'm 3-0.
Nobody in this field has won a major race against a Democratic incumbent except me. No one has won a swing state except me as a conservative.
I didn't run as a Democrat in Texas when it was popular, won and win there. I didn't run as a liberal in 1994. I ran in 1994, the same year Mitt did in Massachusetts. He ran as a liberal, to the left of Kennedy, and lost. I ran as a conservative against James Carville and Paul Begala, and I won.
In 2002, he ran as a moderate. He ran as a moderate in -- in Massachusetts. I ran for re-election having sponsored and passed welfare reform, having authored the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
SANTORUM: I was a -- a moral conservative, I was a foreign policy conservative...
COOPER: Time, Senator. SANTORUM: ... I was a fiscal conservative, and I got elected in a state that hasn't elected a president since 1988 as a Republican.
COOPER: Thank you.
Governor Romney, I've got to give you 30 seconds, since he referenced you.
ROMNEY: I think the people of America are looking for someone who can beat President Obama and can get the country on the right track. And I believe that they've recognized that if they elect someone who's spent their life in politics that they're not going to be able to post up well against President Obama and convince the American people of the truth of the -- of the principles that we believe in.
I believe that, having spent my life in the private sector, having actually created jobs is what allows me to have the kind of support that's going to allow me to replace President Obama and get the country on the right track again. That, for me, is a distinguishing feature that's going to get me elected as the president of the United States.
Governor Perry, was he referring to you?
PERRY: If you want to know how someone's going to act in the future, look how they act in the past. I mean, so, Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts in that period of time, you were 47th in the nation in job creation. During that same period of time, we created 20 times more jobs. As a matter of fact, you'd created 40,000 jobs total in your four years. Last two months, we created more jobs than that in Texas.
What we need is someone who will draw a bright contrast between themselves and President Obama. And let me tell you one thing: I will draw that bright contrast.
COOPER: I've got to give you 30 seconds. Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: Yeah. With regards to track record in the past, Governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore's campaign, all right?
And there was a fellow -- there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running. So if we're looking at the past, I think we know where you were.
Secondly, our unemployment rate I got down to 4.7 percent, pretty darn good. I think a lot of people would be happy to have 4.7 percent. And with regards...
With regards to the -- to the record -- to the record in Texas, you probably also ought to tell people that if you look over the last several years, 40 percent, almost half the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens, illegal immigrants.
PERRY: That is an absolute falsehood on its face, Mitt.
COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Governor Perry.
ROMNEY: It's actually -- it's actually...
PERRY: That is -- that is absolutely incorrect, sir.
ROMNEY: Well, take a look at the study.
PERRY: There's a third -- there's been a third party take a look at that study, and it is absolutely incorrect. The fact is, Texas has led the nation in job creation. eBay and Facebook and Caterpillar didn't come there because there weren't jobs and there wasn't an environment to be created.
That's what Americans are looking for. They're looking for somebody that they trust, that knows has the executive governing experience. I've got it. You failed as the governor of Massachusetts.
COOPER: I've got to give Governor Romney 30 seconds. He said you failed.
ROMNEY: I'm very proud of the fact -- actually, during the four years we were both governors, my unemployment rate in Massachusetts was lower than your unemployment rate in Texas. That's number one.
Number two, getting it down to 4.7, I'm pretty happy with. We worked very hard to balance our budget, did every year, put in place a rainy-day fund of $2 billion by the time I was finished.
And I'll tell you this, the American people would be happy for an individual who can lead the country who's actually created jobs, not just watching them get created by others, but someone who knows how the economy works because he's been in it. I have. I've created jobs. I'll use that skill to get America working again. That's what we want.
COOPER: Herman Cain, you're -- Herman Cain, you're tied with Governor Romney in some of the polls for the top leadership position right now. Is a -- are they the ones -- are either Governor Perry or Governor Romney, are they the ones who should be president?
CAIN: No, I should be president.
COOPER: Well, obviously.
CAIN: Governor Romney has a very distinguished career, and I would agree with much of what he has said. And there's one difference between the two of us in terms of our experience. With all due respect, his business executive experience has been more Wall Street- oriented; mine has been more Main Street.
I have managed small companies. I've actually had to clean the parking lot. I've worked with groups of businesses, et cetera.
And as far as contrasting me with President Obama, if I am fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, it's going to be the problem-solver who fixes stuff versus the president who hasn't fixed anything in this country.
COOPER: Governor Romney, you've got 30 seconds.
ROMNEY: I -- I appreciate that. And probably the fact that we're doing as well as we are is we both have a private-sector background. That probably helps.
But I just want to set the record state on my record -- record straight on my record. I've been chief executive officer four times, once for a start-up and three times for turnarounds. One was a financial services company. That was the start-up. A -- a consulting company, that's a mainstream business. The Olympics, that's certainly mainstream. And, of course, the state of Massachusetts. In all those settings, I've learned how to create jobs.
COOPER: Your campaigns are telling us we have to end. It's time...
BACHMANN: Oh, no, no, no...
GINGRICH: Wait a second.
BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson, that is...
COOPER: It's your campaigns. I'm...
COOPER: If you want to defy your campaigns, go ahead. Congresswoman Bachmann, 30 seconds.
BACHMANN: Anderson -- Anderson, the good news is, the cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president; there's no question about that.
Now the question is, we need to listen to Ronald Reagan who said no pastels, bold colors. I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?
BACHMANN: We can't settle in this race.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?
GINGRICH: Let me -- let me just point out for a second that maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House.
And the -- the technique you've used maximizes going back and forth over and over again.
I just want to say two things. I think that I would be the strongest candidate because of sheer substance, if you go to newt.org and look at the 21st Century Contract with America. As the nominee, I will challenge Obama to meet the Lincoln-Douglas standard of seven three-hour debate, no time -- no moderator, only a timekeeper. I believe we can defeat him decisively to a point where we re-establish a conservative America on our values. And I think that is a key part of thinking about next year.
COOPER: We'd love to host those on CNN.
I want to thank all the candidates, the GOP candidates tonight.
COOPER: I want to thank all the candidates for a spirited debate on the stage. We also want to thank our co-sponsors, the Western Republican Leadership Conference, our host, the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian. Our coverage of "America's Choice 2012" continues right now here on CNN.