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GOP Presidential Candidates on Crime and Punishment

Aired January 26, 2012 - 20:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN, MODERATOR: The Republican candidates for president of the United States!

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the most important single topic, the survival of the United States.

MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That means, yes, we`ll use the Constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes.

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So don`t give up on our American judicial system so easily, I beg of you!

GINGRICH: I think it`s desperately important that we preserve your right to be innocent until proven guilty.

RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you believe people who are felons, who have served their time -- should they be given the right to vote?

PAUL. They`re tried, they`re in prison disproportionately.

ROMNEY: I know that there are people who think that we need new laws. We need to find new ways to restrict gun ownership.

PAUL: They suffer the consequence of the death penalty disproportionately. Rich white people don`t get the death penalty very often.

ROMNEY: My view is that we have the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

SANTORUM: Governor Romney`s super-PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison.

GINGRICH: All of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short run.

PAUL: We have arrested 362 people related to al Qaeda operations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s from Fox News.


GINGRICH: And I am appalled...

KING: Open marriage.

GINGRICH: ... that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) fire on the Internet.



KING: Open marriage.

GINGRICH: You chose to start the debate with it.

KING: ... when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir...

GINGRICH: ... to take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate. And I am frankly astounded.

KING: An open marriage.


MARIANNE GINGRICH, NEWT GINGRICH`S EX-WIFE: ... said to him, We`ve been married a long time.

GINGRICH: But I will.


GINGRICH: The story was false.

MARIANNE GINGRICH: Yes, but you want me all to yourself.


KING: Would you like to take some time to respond to that?


MARIANNE GINGRICH: He was asking to have an open marriage, and I refused.


NANCY GRACE, HOST: We are live tonight. We are going to be live along with CNN, dipping in and out with the debates. This determines who will be in our White House. And like every American, we are concerned, very concerned, about what the elections will mean to us as individuals and to our families. I`ve got two little children that I`ve got to protect and take care of.

What is the impact of these presidential candidates, potential candidates, on the criminal justice system? Will we be less safe or more safe, depending on which candidate we put in the White House? We are waiting for the debate to start, and we are taking your calls live.

What do we know about the candidates so far? There you can see there is a packed house at the debate, everyone, all eyes on the debate tonight. But as we wait for them to begin their fight for tonight -- how many debates are there going to be? Maybe 30 before the election goes down.

What do we know about them already? Joining us tonight is an all-star panel. And first, as we wait for them to begin their arguments, as we take your calls, let`s talk about what we know. Out to Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter with Politico.

I was very stunned when I learned about many of their positions on crime itself, everything from the death penalty to forcing a rape victim to give birth to the product of a rape or incest. Ken Vogel, are you aware of where the candidates stand on that?

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO.COM: Yes, Nancy. In fact, the opposition to abortion rights has long been a staple of the Republican Party. However, we`ve seen some candidates in this race, notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, oppose abortion even in cases of rape and incest. In fact, Rick Santorum put rather a fine point on this when he said that one violence doesn`t justify more violence, basically saying that it would be violence inflicted upon a fetus of a woman who was the subject of rape or incest to kill that fetus.

And so this is something that is a hot button issue for Republican primary voters, and this is a way for these candidates that are courting the social conservative base to curry favor with religious voters.

GRACE: Well, I`m telling you, it`s not just about the fetus itself, it`s about the crime victim, the rape or the incest victim that will have to live through a pregnancy and then give birth to the product of a rape. So you`re going to be forced to give birth to the product of a rape or the product of your father or your brother molesting you?

That is where they stand, except for, as I see it, Romney. Romney has come out very strongly, Ken Vogel, saying that when you are raped or you have been molested by a member of your family, you don`t have to give birth, Vogel! What do you know?

VOGEL: That`s right. And Romney actually has an interesting history on the question of abortion. He at one point supported Roe versus Wade and supported abortion rights. He`s since evolved on that as he`s positioned himself for runs at higher office, the presidency in 2008, and then obviously, this time. It was held against him that he supported abortion rights early in his career when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, of course, a more liberal state.

And so what we see now is sort of a compromise position where he is opposed to abortion rights, but by the same token, he is not going to oppose abortion in the case of rape or incest.

GRACE: Yes, and specifically, what I`m talking about -- out to you, Lenny McAllister, senior political contributor with Politic365. Lenny, what I`m talking about specifically is rape victims. That`s what I`m talking about. Weigh in.

LENNY MCALLISTER, POLITIC365: Well, I think that you look at Santorum, you look at Gingrich. These are the two Catholics in the field, and they`re taking a hard-line Catholic approach to abortion, very much pro-life and not making a lot of leeway in regards to when abortion is pretty much acceptable. And that`s part of the reason why you see...

GRACE: Hey, Lenny...

MCALLISTER: ... taking the positions they are. Yes, ma`am?

GRACE: Everybody, we`re waiting to dip in and out of those debates live for you. We`re taking your calls. But Lenny, you just brought something up, the whole Catholic thing. Remember when JFK, if you read your history book, took the White House, the country was all astir because it would be the first Catholic in the White House. There were a lot of people that didn`t want that. I don`t know why, but that was their position.

Now we`ve got a lot of people all stirred up because Romney is a Mormon. How will that hurt him? Will it help him because he`s so religious? He gave all of his money -- a lot of his money -- I mean, he`s -- they`re all millionaires. Every one of these people are millionaires. But he gave a lot of money to the church. You know, a lot of times, that would help you. But it seems to be that the whole Mormon issue may be hurting him. What about it?

MCALLISTER: It`s not really hurting him as much as you would think because he`s being contrast against a guy in Gingrich that has three marriages, has -- is married to the third wife by way of having an affair with her on the second wife.

So in contrast to that, you have a guy that`s lived pretty much a straight and narrow life. And at this point in time, Christian conservatives want somebody that can beat Barack Obama. Therefore, they`re more inclined to be a little bit more lenient with the Mormonism, unlike how they were in 2008. I think it hasn`t hurt him as much. It`s the reason why he did well in Iowa. There`s a reason why he`s still seen as one of the main front-runners. It`s going down to a two-person race, Gingrich-Romney.

GRACE: Speaking of the marriage issue and the whole Mormonism issue, as you call it, take a listen to Gingrich.


KING: As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with "The Washington Post." And this story has now gone viral on the Internet. In it, she says that you came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

GINGRICH: No. But I will.



GRACE: OK, we`ll go back with more wit and wisdom from Newt Gingrich. But right now, the debates have started. Let`s dip in.

ROMNEY: ... to be here with my wife and my oldest son, Tagg Romney. We`re the parents of five sons, five daughters-in-law, 16 grandkids. And it`s great to be back in Jacksonville. Thank you.


PAUL: I`m Ron Paul. I`m a congressman from Texas, 12 terms. I am the champion of a sound monetary system, a gold standard as it is under the Constitution and a foreign policy based on strength which rejects the notion that we should be the policemen of the world and that we should be a nation builder. We need...


BLITZER: All right, let`s start with a question from the audience.

GRACE: OK, we`re not missing anything right now. They are all euphemistically describing themselves as they want to be perceived.

All right. Fine. We are taking your calls. Out to Kathy in Pennsylvania. Hi, Kathy. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. First thing, I love you very much.

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A couple weeks ago, I heard about -- or a month ago, I heard about this governor that left office and pardoned all these criminals. And now I`ve been watching, you know, these candidates here, and I`m not happy with none of them, you know? But you know, they talk about this, but you know, when they get into office, are they going to do this kind of stuff? Are they going to pardon people, too?

GRACE: Well, Kathy, let me tell you something, Kathy in Pennsylvania. Hold Kathy. You`re talking about Haley Barbour out of Mississippi. And he let a slew of people go, and now some of them can`t even be found. And these were violent criminals. You`re absolutely right, Kathy in Pennsylvania.

Let`s go out to China Okasi, Democratic strategist joining us tonight out of New York. You know, China, how much are they willing to promise us -- and this is such a rhetorical question -- they`ll promise us the moon, but when they get into the White House or when they get into whatever position they`re trying to -- they`re seeking, everything changes. It seems like they never follow through with anything. But what Haley Barbour did seems downright criminal to me!

CHINA OKASI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, it is. But people actually forget "The Boston Herald" reported in 2008 that Romney let go of -- well, early release based on good behavior, 118 killers and rapists on early release. That was under Mitt Romney`s watch and people don`t...

GRACE: Well, hold on just a moment, China.


GRACE: Early release on good behavior, which is decided by pardons and paroles and the jail system -- and don`t get me wrong. I don`t like the Democrats any more than I do the Republicans or vice versa. I`m on nobody`s side tonight. I`m on the crime victims` side. But early release is not the same thing as a pardon. And my understanding is Romney never gave a pardon the whole time he was a governor. Is that true?

OKASI: Right, that is absolutely correct. And they -- and he probably did that because he learned from, you know, the 1988 race...

GRACE: Well, good. I`m glad you said that, China. I`m glad to hear that one of them can actually learn something.


GRACE: That`s news to me. I want to hear more about that when we come back.

GINGRICH: ... illegally. We should also make deportation easier so when you deport people who shouldn`t be here (INAUDIBLE) 13 gang members, for example, it should be very quick and very clear. We should have a guest worker program...


SANTORUM: If you want to be an American, the first thing you should do is respect our laws and obey our laws.

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Rick Santorum takes fire from the left! He might want to get a Kevlar sweater vest!

SANTORUM: Game on.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Mitt Romney said a funny thing last night. He said, I grew up in the real streets of America. Yes, the real streets where people pull up next to you and ask you if you have any Grey Poupon.

ROMNEY: ... try and attack people because they`ve been successful.

CONAN O`BRIEN, TBS: Mitt Romney is going to release his 2010 and 2011 tax returns. Yes. Not to be outdone, tomorrow Newt Gingrich is going to release his 1988, `94 and 2005 wedding vows.

GINGRICH: I`m tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans!


JAY LENO, HOST, "TONIGHT" SHOW: President Obama was in Disney World yesterday, and someone asked him, (INAUDIBLE) want to take a picture with Grumpy, and Obama said, Ron Paul`s here? Where is he?


PAUL: I think too often, all of us are on the receiving ends of attacks.

GINGRICH: We`re not going to walk in there and grab a grandmother out and then kick them out. We`re not going to -- and I think you have to be realistic in your indignation. I want to control the border. I want English to be the official language of government. I want us to have a lot of changes.


GINGRICH: I am prepared to be very tough and very bold, but I`m also prepared to be realistic because I`ve actually had to pass legislation in Washington, and I don`t believe an unrealistic promise is going to get through. But I do believe if there`s some level of humanity for people who`ve been here a long time, we can pass legislation that will decisively reduce illegality, decisively control the border, and will once again mean the people who are in America are here legally.

BLITZER: I just want to make sure I understand. Is he still the most anti-immigrant candidate?

GINGRICH: I think of the four of us, yes.


GRACE: Right now, the debates are ongoing, and believe you me, whoever goes in the White House will affect our safety, your safety, how we live, how our children live, their education. Tonight, we are focusing on their positions on crime and how they will affect not only criminals but crime victims.

We are taking your calls. We`re going to dip right back into the debates. Out to Debbie in California. Hi, Debbie. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. First of all, I love you so much. And your twins are so cute. And I want you to keep on doing what you`re doing...

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... by putting these people away -- or getting their faces out there so that we can catch them.

GRACE: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anyway, when you talked about the governor, Haley Barbour -- that`s the person that released everybody -- is -- will one of these people actually do -- I mean, if they get into office, will they do anything about it? Can they do anything about it? When you said half of them -- they don`t even know where they`re at now. I mean, what do we do?


GRACE: Debbie in California, you are asking, Can the U.S. president do anything about the pardon, the pardons by Haley Barbour in Mississippi? The answer to that is no, they cannot. The federal government has certain controls they can exert over the state governments, but no, they cannot reverse a governor`s parole. Absolutely cannot.

And I was going round and round with China Okasi, Democratic strategist. And let me reiterate, I`m not a Republican, I`m not a Democrat. I`m equally suspicious of all of these candidates.

But very quickly, China, we were talking about pardon parole. Romney never paroled a single -- never pardoned a single person when he was governor. But you did say he went along with some early releases because of the behavior. Yes, no.

OKASI: Yes, according to "The Boston Herald" report in 2008. And Romney, who`s wanted to be president for all his life probably learned from history, learned from the 1988 campaign with George H.W. Bush, and you know, the Dukakis situation with Willie Horton.

GRACE: And let me go to John DePetro, political talk show host, WPRO. Weigh in, John.

JOHN DEPETRO, WPRO AM RADIO: You know, Nancy, this is, I think, an advantage for Mitt Romney because he was a governor. He does have a record. He was actually tough on crime. Ron Paul treats this as a state- by-state basis. And therefore, he would essentially say that Haley Barbour and the people there have a right to decide who would get pardoned.

But make no mistake about it, Romney has a record. He did cut down on crime, and there is not one single person that he pardoned. Where Santorum and Gingrich can just talk about legislation, Romney has firsthand experience as a governor.

ROMNEY: Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants would like to have. It`s schoolkids in schools that districts are having a hard time paying for. It`s people getting free health care because we`re required under the law to provide that health care.


PAUL: ... down and dictate to them what government they should have. I don`t like that idea. I would work with the people, encourage free trade and try to set a standard here where countries in Central America or South America or any place in the world would want to emulate us and set the standards that we have.

Unfortunately, sometimes we slip up on our standards and we go around the world and we try to force ourselves on others. I don`t think the nations in South America and Central America necessarily want us to come down there and dictate which government they should have. And yet I believe with friendship and trade, you can have a lot of influence. And I strongly believe that it`s time we had friendship and trade with Cuba.

BLITZ: Senator Santorum, are you with Congressman Paul?

SANTORUM: No, I`m not with Congressman Paul, and I`m not with Barack Obama...

GRACE: The debates are raging, but while they talk about trade with Cuba, let`s talk about how them in the White House will affect us out here in real life with families to take care of.

Let`s take a look at Ron Paul, who was just talking about opening up trade to Cuba. The Amber Alert system, Marc Klaas -- out of all of them, he opposes the federal Amber Alert system. I saved that question for you, Marc Klaas, because of your daughter, Polly, and your striving for victims` rights, the murder of your daughter. Weigh in.

MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, that`s exactly right, Nancy. And quite frankly, I have to agree with Ron Paul on this issue. The Amber Alert system, as it was originally conceived in Texas, was a pristine system that used local law enforcement to notify local media, to notify a local population, but it`s been morphed into a bureaucracy. Quite frankly, it`s been morphed into a federal bureaucracy.

Now, the one thing that a president can do, the one thing that the federal government can do in criminal justice legislation -- because 95 of it is -- percent of it is adjudicated on the state level -- is they can offer incentive and they can offer precedent.

Ron Paul personally is against the death penalty. He can offer incentive to the states to end the death penalty, despite the fact that it is the law of the land in 37 states and it is the will of the people.

GRACE: Well, Marc Klaas, for only the second time in our long, long history together, I disagree with you. I see the feds enacting an Amber Alert system nationwide as a positive step to help crime victims. It maybe needs honing. It maybe needs to be refined. But it`s the federal government stepping up to the plate for crime victims.

We are live and taking your calls.

PAUL: ... them a lot of money. It doesn`t work. Most of the time, this backfires. They resent us. We can achieve what he wants in a much different way than us using the bully attitude that, You will do it our way. This is the -- this is not a benefit to us. And besides, where are you going to the troops and where are you going to get the money? Because you`re talking about force. And I know of a much different...



JOHN KING, ANCHOR, CNN`S "JOHN KING, USA": Your ex-wife, she said that you came to her at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media, makes it harder to govern this country. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that.


GINGRICH: It is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine. You and your staff chose to start this debate -- the story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period said the story was false. They weren`t interested because they would like to attack any Republican.

If you know somebody who has had a house foreclosed, raise your hand. Raise your hand. OK. The governor has cheerfully -- the governor has cheerfully been attacking me inaccurately, and he knows it. The contracts we released from Freddie Mac said I would no consulting. Wrote in, no -- I mean no lobbying. None.

But there`s a more interesting story. We begin digging in after Monday night, because frankly I`ve had about enough of this. We discovered to our shock Governor Romney owns shares of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Governor Romney made $1 million off his selling some of that. Governor Romney owns -- has an investment in Goldman Sachs which is today foreclosing on Floridians.

So maybe Governor Romney in the spirit of openness should tell us how much money he`s made off of how many household that had been foreclosed by his investments. But let`s be clear about that.


ROMNEY: Let`s respond.


GRACE: Excuse me, isn`t that the pot calling the kettle black? They`re all millionaires. Listen, Gingrich is valued at $7 to $30 million and he`s whining because Romney has more millions than he has? Paul at $5.4 million, Santorum $1 to $4 million. Romney, yes, he`s the big winner, $150 million.

That`s what we think. They`re all millionaires. After the first million, does it really matter how much money you have? They`re all millionaires and they`re fighting about who has more money.

OK, but let`s talk about their jobs since Gingrich is jumping on Romney about having more money than him. Now they`re talking about -- he`s not going to do any consulting. I think he`s talking about government consulting.

Let`s go out to Republican strategist and CEO of Alfano Communications, Kim Alfano joining us out of D.C. tonight. Let`s take a look at what they do, actually have done for a living.

You, Kim, have started your own business. Your own successful business. I went to law school and I was a prosecutor. Let`s take -- let`s take a look at what they did. Are you familiar with their track records at holding jobs, Kim?

KIM ALFANO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CEO, ALFANO COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I mean, you know, Mitt Romney needs to do a better job of saying, it`s OK to be successful and to start your own business. If he would do that and not be ashamed of it I think he`d be in a better position.

It`s OK in this country to realize the American dream.

GRACE: Hey, Kim, you know what he said? One time when he was confronted about how much money he`s got saved up, he said, hey, I didn`t inherit any of that.

ALFANO: And he didn`t.

GRACE: You got to respect that.

ALFANO: And he didn`t.

GRACE: This is what I`ve got --

ALFANO: And I think we all strive to do that, and I think that`s -- you know, that is the American dream, and you should be proud of it. And frankly in a Republican primary, you should be proud of that because that`s kind of what we in this party are about. Capitalism and building your own wealth. And we should be good about talking about that. And he needs to kind of get out there and say, listen, I`m not ashamed of making my own money and building my American dream.

GRACE: Hey, let`s take a look at what they did for a living. You`ve got Romney who was the executive of Bain Capital, then he became governor, I`d like to point, never gave a single criminal pardon while he was governor.

Now, then you`ve got Paul. He was an OB-GYN. All right. Now that`s not to say you`ve got to be a lawyer or a politician to be president. We`ve got plenty of them. Thomas Jefferson was a writer and inventor. You`ve got James Monroe was a soldier, a lawyer. Dwight Eisenhower was the supreme commander of the U.S. Armed Forces.

You know, it goes on and on. Grover Cleveland was a sheriff. You know, we had one that was even a hat maker. That was Truman, one of the most beloved presidents of all time.

But let`s take a look at what else they did for a living. You`ve got Santorum was a senator, a representative out of Pennsylvania. And here`s Gingrich, he went to college, then he became an assistant professor of history at West Georgia College. He was there for several years. He never made it to professor. He was an assistant professor, but somehow after getting into politics he`s valued at between $7 and $30 million.

I don`t know how that happened.

Let`s see here, Paul also a congressman. Let`s not leave that out.

We`re taking your calls, out to Laurie in South Carolina. Hi, Laurie, what`s your question?

LAURIE, CALLER FROM SOUTH CAROLINA: Hi, Nancy, I just think you`re wonderful, and I can`t believe I finally got through this time.

GRACE: Thank you.

LAURIE: But my question is about an issue that you were talking about earlier, abortion.


LAURIE: And I was concerned that one of these candidates might be able to force a woman to have an abortion against her will when -- you know, it could really be bad for the person and affect them psychologically because I was in those shoes myself and I can`t --

GRACE: OK. Let me get this straight, Laurie in South Carolina. You`re worried that one of them may force a woman to have an abortion?

LAURIE: Right. And --

GRACE: OK. Let me just rest easy on that tonight. They`re not forcing anybody to have an abortion. OK. What they want to do is outlaw abortion -- well, three of them anyway. Even for rape and incest victims, all right? That`s my only concern when it comes to abortion, is -- their positions on what -- how it affects rape victims.

Let`s take a look at what they were just saying on another hot issue for many of us. And that is immigration. Take a listen to what just went down then we`ll take you back in live.


GINGRICH: Well, look, I think, that, first of all, you should control the border, which I pledge to do by January 1 of 2014. You should fix legal immigration in terms of visas so people can come and go easily, more easily than doing it illegally. You should also make deportation easier, so when you deport people who shouldn`t be here -- MS-13 gang members, for example -- it should be very quick and very clear.

We should have a guest worker program, probably run by American Express, Visa or MasterCard so they`d minimize fraud which the federal government won`t do, and you should have much stronger employer penalties at that point because you can validate.

I actually agree that self-deportation will occur if you`re single. If you`ve only been here a short time. And -- there are millions of people who faced with that would go back home, file for a guest worker program, and might or might not come back.

But one group I singled out were people who`ve been here a very long time, who are married, who may well have children and grandchildren. And I would just suggest that grandmothers and grandfathers aren`t likely to self-deport. And then you`ve got a question. I offered a proposal, a citizen panel to review whether or not somebody had been here a very long time who had family and who had an American family willing to sponsor them, should be allowed --


GRACE: OK. Let`s take a look at what they say about illegal immigration. Newt Gingrich really does not have any comprehensive plan at all. He has bits and pieces of a plan. Ron Paul says no amnesty and no birth right citizenship.

Whoa. Wait a minute. You mean you`re born in the U.S. and you`re not a U.S. citizen? I think what he`s referring to, Ken Vogel, is when illegals come into the country and they give birth. Is that what he`s talking about?

KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Yes, and that`s not an uncommon position in the Republican Party. What you heard from Gingrich there and what you heard from him at previous debates, this idea that there`s a potential amnesty or path to citizenship for folks who are in this country and have spent time in this country, and developed roots in this country.

That`s something of a bold proposal in the Republican Party, which has a very hard line more generally on illegal immigration. And he actually took some heat for that in earlier debates and has stayed with it, albeit with this citizen panel thing that you just heard from him right now.

GRACE: Unleash the lawyers, Eleanor Odom, prosecutor, death penalty qualified. Peter Odom, defense attorney out of Atlanta.

You know, Eleanor Odom, this brings up a lot of mixed reactions because we are a nation of immigrants. I`m an Irish mutt myself, all of us are mutts, all of us have descend (sic) from somewhere else.

Weigh in, Eleanor. You know, Romney`s idea is a complete fence. Do you think that`s going to work?

ELEANOR ODOM, FELONY PROSECUTOR, DEATH PENALTY QUALIFIED: I don`t think that`s going to work, Nancy. And you`ve got to look at it from a prosecutor`s perspective. Two problems here. We`ve got a lot of illegal immigrants committing crimes. And then we put them in prison. And then we`re paying the house and feed them, clothe them, et cetera.

Also, a lot of illegal immigrants are victims of crimes because people will commit crimes, armed robbery, rape, et cetera, because they tend not to report those crimes because they`re illegal. So there are a lot of problems when you`re looking at prosecution and illegal immigrants.

GRACE: You know, Peter, have you noticed that when some of the candidates are talking about illegal immigration and how we`re going to deal with it, they seem like they`ve never been in the trenches. They`ve been sitting up in state assemblies and up at Capitol Hill way too long.

PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, you know, some of these people act as if they`ve never met an illegal immigrant. I can say that I represent many of them. Our immigration policy in this country is inhumane and, quite frankly, I agree with Newt Gingrich on this that we need to have moderation and reform and immigration policy to end the inhumanity.

GRACE: So you agree with all the vagaries that he is espousing tonight? I don`t have any solid plan from him on practically anything. Romney`s idea, to put a fence along the border. Santorum agrees with that. Let`s hear something solid other than building a fence. We`ve already tried that, people.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Free markets, free enterprise, not top down government control.

ROMNEY: We`re going to get rid of a lot of programs, even some we like, we`ve got to cut back Washington.

RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They want to police the world and spend us into bankruptcy.

GINGRICH: This is a country that has overspent. It`s not undertaxed.




JON STEWART, HOST, "DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": When it comes to if and when Mitt Romney would release his tax returns, he has, along with everything else in this campaign, been nothing if not consistent.

ROMNEY: Maybe.


ROMNEY: You know, I don`t know how many years I`ll release. I`ll take a look at what the -- what our documents are.

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Mitt Romney released his tax records today. They showed that he earned, over the last two years, $42 million. Now the other candidates aren`t running for president, they`re running to be Mitt Romney.

SANTORUM: Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He handles is very, very well.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Newt triumphed with 40 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney`s 28 percent. A gap so wide you could you fit Newt`s head in it.


GRACE: We are live tonight, taking your calls. The debates are raging right now. They`re talking about their own personal tax returns.

Let`s talk about the issues. And first of all, let`s talk about the war on drugs. You will never believe what Romney has said over and over and over. He believes, and I`ve looked at it and researched it over and over, I couldn`t believe my eyes and ears when I heard it. That he thinks the war on drugs is a failure. He wants to give it up and treat drugs -- I`m talking about cocaine, heroin, marijuana -- like alcohol.

Liz, let`s hear what Romney has to say on it.


PAUL: I think that`s another war we ought to cancel because this is - - it`s to nobody`s benefit. And that`s where the violence is coming from.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: When you say, cancel the war on drugs, does that mean legalize all these drugs?

PAUL: I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure. You can - - you can at least let sick people have marijuana because it`s helpful. But compassionate conservatives say, well, we can`t do this. We`re going to put people who are sick and dying with cancer, and they`re being helped with marijuana if they have multiple sclerosis.

The federal government is going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison. Why don`t we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol. Alcohol is a deadly drug. What about the real deadly drugs are the prescription drugs. They kill a lot more people than the illegal drugs.

So the drug war is out of control. I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spent, like, over the last 40 years $1 trillion on this war. And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn`t worked.


GRACE: Correction, that is Ron Paul who wants to give up on the war on drugs. Actually stating with a straight face that heroin, cocaine, marijuana should be treated like alcohol and handled that way.

We are taking your calls, out to John in Louisiana. Hi, John, what`s your question?

JOHN, CALLER FROM LOUISIANA: Hello, Nancy. I`ve watched you ever since you were on courtTV.

GRACE: Thank you.

JOHN: And I`m -- being a former prosecutor in Florida and the debate being held there tonight, I`m curious to know your thoughts on illegal immigration. I mean, isn`t illegal still illegal?


GRACE: Illegal is still illegal. And I think that where reforms should be are in the process of allowing people into our country. And I am all for the Border Patrol. I want to see how this plays out, but to suggest that just building another fence is the answer, that`s not the answer. There are ways over, under and around the fence.

Where the change needs to happen is in D.C. That`s where the change needs to happen. And we need to support our Border Patrol. They are attacked and maligned and mistreated. That`s not OK.

But to hear all these platitudes during the debate is very disturbing to me, John in Louisiana.

And I want to ask you, Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, "Jeremy Kyle`s Show." Have you noticed all the people debating, they say these horrible things about each other. Look, they`re all millionaires right now, Dr. Janet. They`re arguing about their tax returns. Whatever. But they`ll say something horrible, and then they`ll look at each other with this huge smile.

How do they do that? I was never that good at it in court.

DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST, "JEREMY KYLE`S SHOW": Well, I think they know that for many of us what we watch on TV and how we see them interacting with each other, we place a lot -- importance on that. But that`s why it`s so important about what you`re highlighting on this show, and that`s issues.

And the American voters, no matter what your party is, needs to be aware of what these candidates stance is on issues like reproductive rights and illegal immigration and the war on drugs so we can make informed decisions.

GRACE: Let`s talk about the war on drugs very, very quickly. Unleash the lawyers. Eleanor Odom, Peter Odom, both of you from two sides of the fence. The prosecutor and the defense attorney.

We know that so much, such a high percentage of violent crime, and I`m referring to break-ins, burglaries, murders, drug related, Eleanor. Yes, no?

E. ODOM: Yes, Nancy. And I see it all the time in downtown Atlanta. Drug dealers standing on the corner passing it out. That`s who we need to target are the drug dealers in this country. And we can do that through strong federal laws.

GRACE: Peter?

P. ODOM: I agree, but I think that reform needs to start in this country with letting out of prison all those people that are just drug addicts that are there for simple possession.

GRACE: You know what, Peter?

P. ODOM: And there are millions of them.

GRACE: Peter -- put him up.

Peter, I agree with you, simple users.

P. ODOM: Yes.

GRACE: As you recall my days as a prosecutor, when you are a simple user or an addict your first go around I would try my best to find rehab, some kind of a hospital program for those addicts, but here you`ve got Paul talking about sending MS patients to use marijuana to jail. I`ve never seen that happen, and he`s declaring the war on drugs a failure?

To you, Lenny McAllister, weigh in.

LENNY MCALLISTER, "HIP HOP REPUBLICAN": Well, apparently he`s not relating very much to urban America. If he`s willing to give up what a huge section of America and America`s youth, go ahead and give up on the war on drugs.

Listen, just because you allowed alcohol to be legal doesn`t mean that it had a positive impact on America. Look at the alcoholism rates in urban America. Look at the alcoholism rates when it comes to our youth. We are just finally starting to stem some of that back. We can`t give up now.

GRACE: Well, you know, you`re right about that because if my grandmother and my mother had their way, alcohol would be a felony.


PAUL: I think we use too much carelessness with the use of words that we`re at war. I don`t remember voting on a declaration of war or a war against terrorism, and terrorism is a tactic. It isn`t a person. It isn`t --




SANTORUM: I`ve been a strong -- again, lifetime A plus record with the NRA, worked with them.

ROMNEY: I`ve been pro-gun and continue to be pro-gun.

PAUL: All the legislation to repeal the gun bans that have been going on rivals everything else. I mean, I introduce legislation like that --

ROMNEY: I believe people understand that I`m firmly pro-life.

SANTORUM: A lot of folks run for president as pro-life and then that issue gets shoved to the back burner.


GRACE: The debate is raging on right now.

I don`t understand really to China Okasi joining us in New York, why they`re all fighting about releasing their tax returns right now because we all know they`re millionaires.

CHINA OKASI, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, we all do. And how about that 14 percent tax rate for Romney? How can you talk about issues like the debt and macro economic issues where you have the top -- when you have the top percentage earners in the United States hoarding, you know, all this money and --

GRACE: Let me ask you a question, right there, China. And I don`t attack on specialists, but don`t they also pay the bulk of the taxes as well? All the rich people? Don`t they pay huge amounts in taxes?

OKASI: Well, we`re talking about the proportions, right? And so if you have someone like Warren Buffett, as Obama mentioned in the State of the Union address, paying less in taxes than his secretary, that`s an issue of fairness. That`s not an issue of class warfare. And that`s something we have to deal with.

GRACE: And I want to point out tonight that it looks like, in response to all of our questions, our comprehensive questions that we here at our show sent the potential candidates, Santorum seemed to write his own answers to us. Romney gave us complete answers. Ron Paul did the same. Newt Gingrich stood out as giving us as an answer to every question we will not participate.

Food for thought.

Let`s stop and remember Marine Corporal Cory Palmer, 21, Seaford, Delaware. Killed in Iraq. Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal. Left studies at West Virginia University to enlist. Loved surfing. Dreamed of building a home after deployment. Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Leaves behind grieving parents Charles and Dana, brothers Thad and Kyle.

Cory Palmer, American hero.

Thanks to our guest but especially you for being with us. I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern, and until then good night, friend.