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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Part 3, 21:00-21:30, CNN ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Aired February 22, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a study that just came out about 10 days ago, two weeks ago, that listed 15 ways in which Romneycare was the model for Obamacare, everything from individual mandates, everything from -- from fines. Yours is different. You required businesses over 10 employees; Barack -- President Obama's is over 50 employees.
But there -- there's a -- and even the drafter of your bill, when they were working on Obama's bill, said in fact it was the model. So here we have, as Newt said, the real fundamental issue here is government coercion and government coercion when you give governments the right to be able to take your responsibility to provide for your own health and -- and -- and care, and give it to the government.
That's what Governor Romney did in Massachusetts. It would be a very -- very, let say it would be a difficult task for someone who had the model for Obama Care, which is the biggest issue in this race of government in control of your lives, to be the nominee of our party. It would take that issue completely off...
JOHN KING, DEBATE MODERATOR, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Governor -- Governor, take 30 seconds to respond and then I want to move the conversation on.
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Much longer than 30 seconds.
KING: I hope not.
ROMNEY: That's a -- that's a long -- that's a long -- that's a long answer. First of all, let's not forget that four years ago, well after Romney Care was put in place, four years ago, you not only endorsed me, you and Laura Ingram, and said and this is the guy who is really conservative and we can trust him. Let's not forget you said, that number one.
ROMNEY: Number two...
(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: ...number two, under the tenth amendment, states have the right to do things that they think are in their best interest. I know you -- you agree with that. But let's -- let's point this out, our bill was 70 pages. His bill is 2700 pages. There's a lot in that 2,700 pages I don't agree with and let me tell you, if I'm president of the United States, I will repeal Obama Care for a lot of reasons. One, I don't want to spend another trillion dollars. We don't have that kind of money, it's the wrong way to go. Number two, I don't believe the federal government should cut Medicare by some $500 billion.
Number three, I don't think the federal government should raise taxes by $500 billion and, therefore, I will repeat Obama Care. And let me -- let me -- let me mention one more -- the reason we have Obama Care -- the reason we have Obama Care is because the Senator you supported over Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, the pro- choice Senator of Pennsylvania that you supported and endorsed in a race over Pat Toomey, he voted for Obama Care. If you had not supported him, if we had said, no to Arlen Specter, we would not have Obama Care. So don't look at me. Take a look in the mirror.
KING: Senator please, quickly?
SANTORUM: So, okay Governor, let's -- let's get this straight. First off number one, you funded Romney Care through federal tax dollars through Medicaid. I know it well, it's called disproportionate share provider tax. About $400 million that you got from the federal taxpayers to underwrite Romney Care to make sure you didn't have to raise taxes right away. But of course you had to. Ask your governor, of the $8 billion of tax increases he had to put in place.
Yes governor, you balanced the budget for four years. You have a constitutional requirement to balance the budget for four years. No great shakes. I'm all for -- I'd like to see it federally. But don't go around bragging about something you have to do. Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years, does that make him qualified to be president of the United States? I don't think so.
SANTORUM: The bottom line is, what you did was you used federal dollars to fund the government takeover of health care in Massachusetts, used it as -- and -- and Barack Obama...
ROMNEY: ...Arlen Specter.
SANTORUM: Well, I'll get to that in a minute.
(APPLAUSE) SANTORUM: But -- and then Barack Obama used it as a model for taking over this health care system in America. Why I supported Arlen Specter, number one because -- because Arlen Specter was a -- a Senator who was going to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee at a time when the most important issue that was coming up in the next session of Congress was two to three Supreme Court nominees that were going to be available. And one, and maybe two of them, or maybe all three were going to be out of the conservative block. And Arlen Specter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, we had a conversation.
He asked me to support him. I said will you support the president's nominees? We had a 51/49 majority in the Senate. He said I'll support the president's nominees as chairman. Every nominee Arlen Specter supported from the time he -- he took on Judge Forks and saved Justice Thomas. Every nominee he supported, passed. Why? Because it gave Democrats cover to vote for it and it gave Republican moderates cover to vote for it.
SANTORUM: And just -- no because he wouldn't have been able to give the moderate Republicans and the conservative Democrats the -- the leeway to then support that nominee, which is exactly what Arlen Specter did. He defended Roberts, defended Alito. We have a 5/4 majority on the court that struck down that case that you just talked about and is there as a guardian of liberty. And I did the right thing for our country.
ROMNEY: ...Arlen Specter...
ROMNEY: ...supporting Arlen Specter -- supporting Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey, that was a -- that was a very tortuous route...
SANTORUM: Just about as tortuous as...
KING: Let's move the conversation along -- let's move the conversation along and take a question from a voter down here in our audience. All right, Sir identify yourself and ask your question please?
QUESTION: Gentleman my name is Jerry Lott (ph) and I'm from Key Man, Arizona. It seems that Arizona has come under federal attack just for wanting to secure its southern border. What will you and your administrations do to fix the situation? To secure our border and to protect the American people?
KING: Congressman Paul, I want to go to you first on this one. You're from a border state. As you answer Gary's question, a recent federal analysis says the cost of secure fencing, which they have a good deal of the border along this state, would cost about $3 million per mile. Is that a good investment? Money well spent?
REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Probably not, but we can do a better job, and the best way to do it is forget about the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and deal with our borders, put our resources on this border. This is what we need. But we need to change the rules. We reward illegal immigration. They get benefits, Texas hospitals, and, you know, schools are going bankrupt.
The restraints on the states, and Obama's restraints on the states to deal with it. Why is it if an illegal comes across the border and they go on private property, why isn't that trespassing? And why don't you have the right to stop it? So but there should be no mandates from the federal government about what you must do under the 9th and 10th. There would be essentially none.
But the federal government does have a responsibility for these borders. And I just hate to see all these resources -- I think that we should have much more immigration service on the border to make it easier -- it's hard to even get to visit this country. We're losing a lot of visitors and workers that could come to this country because we have an inefficient immigration service.
And then that invites the illegal. We have to deal -- we can't endorse the illegal, but the program today endorses the illegal problems. And a weak economy is always detrimental, too, because of the welfare state. We have welfare at home and some jobs go begging, we have jobs going begging in this country in the midst of the recession, has to do with the economy.
You can't ignore the economy. But also the welfare state, allowing immigrants to come over and then get the benefits -- if you subsidize something, you get more of. So there's a lot we can do and should do and certainly this president is not doing a very good job.
KING: Mr. Speaker, the fence has been a point of contention in the race. And one of your high-profile supporters, a gentleman who's been up here during this campaign, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, is here tonight. He said this: if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets really good.
You signed a pledge to construct a double fence. Why is Governor Perry wrong?
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's not wrong. They'd have to have two 35-foot ladders because it's a double fence. (LAUGHTER)
Look, the fact is I helped Duncan Hunter pass the first fence bill in San Diego when I was Speaker of the House. San Diego and Tijuana are the most densely populated border. It turned out it worked. It worked dramatically. Duncan and I would be glad to testify. He's former chairman of the national -- of the Defense Committee -- how much it worked.
However, it stopped. It stopped in part because there was a wetlands. It turned out none of the illegal immigrants cared about wetlands policy. Then you had to go and build around the wetlands, which we did. The further we have gone with the fence, the fewer the people have broken into California.
Now, the thing that's fascinating, though, John, is you quoted a government study of how much it would cost. That's my earlier point. If you modernize the federal government so it's competent, you could probably do it for 10 percent of the cost of that study.
The fact is --
GINGRICH: -- what I would do, I would -- I have -- I have a commitment at newt.org, I would -- to finish the job by January 1, 2014, I would initiate a bill that would waive all federal regulations, requirement and studies.
I would ask Governor Brewer here, I would ask Governor Martinez, Governor Brown, and Governor Perry to become the co-leaders in their state. We would apply as many resources as are needed to be done by January 1 of 2014, including, if necessary -- there are 23,000 Department of Homeland Security personnel in the D.C. area.
I'm prepared to move up to half of them to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This is a doable thing.
KING: Governor Romney, the border security is part of the equation, what to do about whether it's 8 million or 11 million illegal immigrants in the country now is another part of the equation. And Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who's with us tonight from Maricopa County -- he's in the audience -- he told me --
KING: -- he told me this week here in Mesa -- these are his words -- "it's called political garbage, if you will, to not arrest illegals already in this country."
You've talked to the governor about self-deportation, if businesses do their job, asking for the right documents, the people will leave. What about arresting? Should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them and arrest them as the Sheriff Arpaio advocates? ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says -- that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who's here legally and who's not here legally.
And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down 7 percent. So going back to the question that was asked, the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona and other states that are trying to do the job Barack Obama isn't doing.
And I will drop those lawsuits on day one. I'll also complete the fence. I'll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence. And I will make sure we have an E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers, and to check E- Verify. And if an employer hires someone that has not gone through E- Verify, they're going to get sanctioned just like they do for not paying their taxes.
You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration. It's time we finally did it.
KING: Senator Santorum, we had the conversation about the border and the fence. Governor Romney talks about E-Verify, making sure business is doing their part of the equation.
What about the individual? You said in our last debate employers should be sanctioned, as Governor Romney just said, if they hire illegal immigrants. About a quarter of all workers in private households are undocumented.
What about the homeowner who hires somebody as a household cleaning worker, as a nanny, perhaps? Does that person -- if you're going to be consistent, have enforcement across the board, should that person be sanctioned?
SANTORUM: I'm not going to require homeowners to do E-Verify. I think that's one step too far. But I think what we need to do is to give law enforcement the opportunity to do what they're doing here in Arizona and what Sheriff Arpaio was doing before he ran into some issues with the federal government, which is to allow folks to enforce the law here in this country, to allow people who are breaking the law or suspicious of breaking the law to be able to be detained and deported if they're found here in this country illegally, as well as those who are trying to seek employment.
This is enforcing not just upon the employer, but on those who are here illegally and trying to do things that are against the law, like seeking employment here. KING: It's a tough policy question, obviously, and this state has been part of the driving force. It also becomes -- especially for four gentlemen who would like to be the next president of the United States, it's a difficult political question in the sense that the Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic in our country.
And some Republicans -- some Republicans -- Marco Rubio, for example, the senator from Florida that all of you have complimented, said -- could be a leading force in your administration if you're elected -- he said this recently. He says he worries that some of the rhetoric used by Republican politicians on this issue has been harsh, intolerable, inexcusable.
Mr. Speaker, is he right?
GINGRICH: I don't know who he's referring to, so I'm not going to comment in general on a statement. Is there somebody somewhere who's done that? Sure.
Was it also intolerable for President Obama to go to El Paso and make a totally demagogic speech in which he fundamentally -- no.
The great failure here -- I voted in 1986 for the bill which was supposed to solve all this, which Ronald Reagan solved -- signed. And in Reagan's diary, he says, I signed this bill because we have to get control of the border and we have to have an employer-sanctioned program with a guest worker program.
Now, all of us who voted for that bill got shortchanged on everything we were supposed to get. President Bush couldn't get it through. President Obama can't get it through.
I believe you cannot pass a single large comprehensive bill, the 2,700-page kind of bill you described. I think you've got to go one step at a time.
The first step is to control the border. I don't believe anybody who's here illegally -- and I talked last night, for example, with folks who are of Hispanic background from Nogales who are in the import-export business dealing with Mexico every day. They don't want a border that's closed, they want a border that's controlled, that has easy access for legality and impossible access for illegality. And that's the model that I think you can talk about in my community of any ethnic background in this country.
KING: All right, Gentlemen. We're going to take another quick break.
Our Arizona Republican presidential debate will continue in a moment, but here's a question. One of these men could be president just 11 months from now. How would they deal with threats from Iran and North Korea? Plus, a great question sent to us at CNNPolitics.com. Define yourself using one word, Gentlemen, and one word only.
Can the candidates keep it that short? Stick around and find out.
KING: That was a good exercise. Let's move our conversation now --
(UNKNOWN): It is.
KING: Let's move our conversation now to the important responsibilities one of you gentlemen could have in just 11 months as the commander-in-chief of the United States.
And Governor Romney, I want to ask you first, 11 months from now, if you're successful, you would be our commander-in-chief. The Pentagon recently announced plans to open up 14,000 new jobs to women, putting them closer and close to the front lines of combat. Senator Santorum says he sees a lot of things wrong with this.
What do you think?
ROMNEY: I would look to the people who are serving in the military to give the best assessment of where women can serve. We've had over 100 women lose their lives in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was with Governor Bob McDonnell. His daughter has served as a platoon leader in Afghanistan. He said that she doesn't get emotional when she faces risk, he's the one that gets emotional as she faces that kind of risk. And I believe women have the capacity to serve in our military in positions of significance and responsibility, as we do throughout our society.
I do think that the key decisions that are being made by this administration, by President Obama, however, related to our military are seriously awry. This is a president who is shrinking our Navy, shrinking our Air Force, wants to shrink our active-duty personnel by 50,000 to 100,000, is cutting our military budget by roughly a trillion dollars.
The world is more dangerous. It is not safer.
North Korea is going through transition. The Arab Spring has become the Arab Winter.
Syria is in flux. And, of course, Pakistan, with 100 nuclear weapons or more, represents a potential threat. Northern Mexico is a real danger area.
I mean, looking around the world, you have Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico. I mean, we face a very dangerous world. The right course is to add ships to our Navy, to modernize and add aircraft to our Air Force, to add 100,000 troops to our active-duty personnel, and to strengthen America's military.
KING: I want to get to some of those hotspots Governor Romney just mentioned, but Speaker Gingrich, on the question of a more prominent role for women, good idea or bad idea?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I think it's a misleading question in the modern era. You live in a world of total warfare. Anybody serving our country in uniform virtually anywhere in the world could be in danger at virtually any minute. A truck driver can get blown up by a bomb as readily as the infantrymen.
So I would say that you ought to ask the combat leaders what they think is an appropriate step, as opposed to the social engineers of the Obama administration.
But everybody needs to understand -- and by the way, we live in an age when we have to genuinely worry about nuclear weapons going off in our own cities. So everybody who serves in the fire department, in the police department, not just the first responders, but our National Guard, whoever is going to respond, all of us are more at risk today, men and women, boys and girls, than at any time in the history of this country. And we need to understand that's the context in which we're going to have to move forward in understanding the nature of modern combat.
I think this is a very sober period, and I believe this is the most dangerous president on national security grounds in American history.
KING: Congressman Paul?
PAUL: The problem is the character of our wars. And I don't like to think of people in groups. Individuals have rights, not groups. You don't have women's rights or men's rights.
And we still have draft legislation. What I fear is the draft coming back because we're getting way over-involved. And the draft -- we keep registering our 18-year-olds. So when the draft comes, we're going to be registering young women, and because of this they're going to be equal.
Now, the wars we fight aren't defensive wars, they're offensive wars. We're involved in way too much.
They're undeclared, they're not declared by the Congress, and so we're in wars that shouldn't be involved. So I don't want even the men to be over there. I don't want women being killed, but I don't want the men being killed in these wars.
But because now we have accepted now for 10 years that we're allowed to start war, we call pre-emptive war, preventive war. Well, that's an aggressive war.
I believe in the Christian just war theory that you have to morally justify the wars in defense. Now, if we're defending our country -- and we need to defend, believe me -- with men and women will be in combat and defending our country, and that's the way it should be. But when it's an offensive war, going where we shouldn't be, that's quite a bit different. So it's the foreign policy that needs to be examined.
SANTORUM: I actually agree with the comments made by the two gentlemen to my left, that there are different roles of women in combat. They are on the front line right now. Their combat zone is, as Newt said, everywhere, unfortunately, in that environment.
My concern that I expressed, I didn't say it was wrong. I said I had concerns about certain roles with respect to -- and particularly in infantry.
I still have those concerns, but I would defer to at least hearing the recommendations of those involved. But I think we have civilian control of the military, and these are things that should be decided not just by the generals, but we should not have social engineering, as I think we've seen from this president. We should have sober minds looking at what is in fact the best proper -- proper roles for everybody in combat.
KING: Let's continue the conversation about the commander in chief question. We have a question from our audience, Sir?
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Ken Taylor (ph) from Wickenberg, Arizona and my question to all the candidates is, how do you plan on dealing with the growing nuclear threat in Iran?
KING: It's a pressing question at the moment. Mr. Speaker, let's go to you first on this one. I want to ask you in the context of the president's and this country's highest ranking military officer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey told CNN this last week, quote, "A strike at this time would be destabilizing and would not achieve Israel's long term objectives." If you win this election, General Dempsey would still be -- would then be your chairman of the joint chiefs.
If the prime minister of Israel called you, said he wanted to go forward and questioned, Sir do you agree -- Mr. President do you agree with your chairman of the joint chiefs? Would you say, yes, Mr. Prime Minister, please stand down? Or would you give Israel the green light? GINGRICH: Well, first of all this is two different questions. General Dempsey went on to say that he thought Iran was a rational actor. I can't imagine why he would say that. And I just cannot imagine why he would have said it. The fact is, this is a dictator, Ahmadinejad, who has said he doesn't believe the Holocaust existed. This is a dictator who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. This is a dictator who said he wants to drive the United States out of the Middle East. I'm inclined to believe dictators. Now I -- I think that it's dangerous not to.
(APPLAUSE) GINGRICH: If -- if an Israeli prime minister, haunted by the history of the Holocaust, recognizing that three nuclear weapons is a holocaust in Israel, if an Israeli prime minister calls me and says, I believe in the defense of my country. This goes back to a point that Congressman Paul raised that we probably disagree on. I do believe there are moments when you preempt. If you think a madman is about to have nuclear weapons and you think that madman is going to use those nuclear weapons, then you have an absolute moral obligation to defend the lives of your people by eliminating the capacity to get nuclear weapons.
KING: But often...
KING: The American people often don't pay much attention to what's going on in the world until they have to, but this is an issue, this confrontation with Iran that is partly responsible for what we have seen daily at the gas pump. Prices going up and going up and going up. So I want -- Governor Romney come into the conversation, we'll continue it with everyone at the table. As we have this showdown, confrontation, call it what you will with Iran. Should our leadership, including the current president of the United States and the four gentleman here with me tonight, be prepared to look the American people in the eye and say -- and I want to hear everybody's plans, over the long run I think I can bring down the price of gasoline, or I can't if that's your plan.
But at the moment, we need to have a conversation about how as long as this continues, the prices are likely to keep going up.
ROMNEY: Look, the -- the price of gasoline pales in comparison to the idea of Ahmadinejad with nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad having fissile material that he can give to Hezbollah and Hamas and that they can bring into Latin America and potentially bring across the border into the United States to let off dirty bombs here. I mean -- or -- or more sophisticated bombs here, this -- we simply cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weaponry. And -- and -- and this president has a lot of failures. It's hard -- it's hard to think of -- economically his failures, his -- his policies in a whole host of areas have been troubling.
But nothing in my view is as serious a failure as his failure to deal with Iran appropriately. This president -- this president should have put in place crippling sanctions against Iran, he did not. He decided to give Russia -- he decided to give Russia their number one foreign policy objective, removal of our missile defense sites from Eastern Europe and got nothing in return. He could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not. When dissident voices took to the street in Iran to protest a stolen election there, instead of standing with them, he bowed to the election. This is a president...
(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: ...who has made it clear through his administration in almost every communication we've had so far, that he does not want Israel to take action. That he opposes military action. This is a president who should have instead communicated to Iran that we are prepared, that we are considering military options. They're not just on the table. They are in our hand. We must now allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. If they do, the world changes. America will be at risk. And some day, nuclear weaponry will be used. If I am president, that will not happen. If we reelect Barack Obama, it will happen.
KING: Senator Santorum, please?
SANTORUM: I agree with Governor Romney's comment. I think they are absolutely right on and well spoken.