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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
GOP Town Hall Event with Voters in South Carolina. Aired 8:40- 11p ET
Aired February 18, 2016 - 20:40 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: And good evening, everyone. Just two days from a make- or-break primary, South Carolina Republicans still have questions. Tonight live across the country online and around the world, our second town hall from the first primary state in the south. The final chance for voters to get answers face-to-face, straight candidates.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, three candidates, three remarkable life stories, three cases for why South Carolina Republicans should help make them president.
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JEB BUSH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm proud of my dad, George H.W. Bush. I am proud to be George W. Bush's brother as well.
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ANNOUNCER: Jeb Bush. Once the favorite, fighting his way back.
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DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will make America great again.
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ANNOUNCER: Donald Trump. Riding high, trying to close the biggest deal in American politics.
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GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got a plan to go the whole distance.
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ANNOUNCER: John Kasich, son of a mailman, promising voters after finishing second in New Hampshire that he can deliver Down South and stand apart in a sometimes bitter campaign.
Tonight, a chance to put aside the put-downs and face the real concerns voters here have with the South's first primary just two days away.
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BUSH: We need a president with a steady hand.
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TRUMP: We're going to do it ourselves. We're not going to take this stuff anymore. We're going to make America great again.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KASICH: I'm not going to spend my time trashing a bunch of other people and living in the negative lane.
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ANNOUNCER: This is an "Anderson Cooper 360 Republican Town Hall." Voters seeking answers. A chance to drive the debate before making a choice that could make history.
COOPER: Good evening, everyone, from the University of South Carolina School of Law auditorium here in the state capital of Columbia.
COOPER: Just two days to go until primary day, and still plenty of voters have yet to decide in this state, same as last night in Greenville.
Tonight will be conversational, not confrontational. Tonight, we're gonna talk with Governors Kasich and Bush and Mr. Trump one at a time, and they'll talk one-on-one with the voters in this room, the voters in the state and around the country.
We're simulcasting live right now on CNN, CNN en Espanol, CNN International, CNN Go and American CNN Go. We're also live on American Forces Network, the Westwood One radio network and CNN's Sirius XM channel, 116. Welcome to everyone watching and listening tonight.
In the audience here in Columbia, people who tell us they will be participating in Saturday's Republican primary. Some have made their decisions. Some are still undecided.
They came up with their own questions. We have reviewed the questions to make sure they don't overlap. I'll ask some questions as well. But tonight, like last night, is really about the voters getting to know the candidates.
So let's get started. You all ready?
All right. Joining us, Ohio governor and pride of McKees -- McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh, Governor John Kasich.
(APPLAUSE) Hey, Governor. Welcome. How are you? Have a seat. Well, thanks for being here.
KASICH: Did I have a choice?
KASICH: No, it's great to be here. So much better than a debate. (OFF-MIKE) right?
COOPER: ... yeah. Yeah, there's a lot -- a real intimacy to the room, so -- and I know you like town halls. You and I have talked about this a lot. A lot...
KASICH: (inaudible) done about 120 of them at this point, but...
COOPER: ... yeah.
KASICH: ... I'm getting good at them. I hope tonight I do OK.
COOPER: But you have a...
KASICH: That's a joke. You can laugh.
COOPER: ... I -- I actually want to start with something that happened earlier today, because you had a really remarkable moment at a town hall earlier.
And I want to play that for the folks at home and also the folks in this room, because it really shows kind of the things that kind of happen in a town hall, and I want you to talk about your experiences. Let's just play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Like over a year ago, a man who was like my second dad -- he killed himself. And then a few months later, my parents got a divorce, and then a few months later, my dad lost his job. But -- and I was in a really dark place for a long time. I was pretty depressed.
But I found hope, and I found it in the lord and in my friends. And now I've found it in my presidential candidate that I support. And I'd really appreciate one of those hugs you've been talking about.
KASICH: (OFF-MIKE) give you strength and protect you, (OFF-MIKE) who you are (ph), OK? Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's an extraordinary moment.
KASICH: It's been happening to me all over. I had a lady, maybe last night, epileptic. Told me about seizures. "Please help us." You know, people talk about these diseases. "Please help us with this."
A man drove from New York to see me in New Hampshire, and he was crying at the end of the town hall, hugging me, and he said, "I should have warned my son about testicular cancer, because now the cancer is in his lungs."
He said, "and I -- I have a tape where you talked about hope." And I said, "sir, let it go. You're not responsible for this." And he left, and he called somebody, and he said, "I felt like there was something lifted off of my shoulder." A lady at that same town hall was sitting way in the back, and we were talking about the problem of drugs. And she finally -- you know, it was like mechanical stuff. You know, well -- the things that we've done.
And she raised her hand. She said, "my daughter's been sober for 11 months." And I looked, I said to the people, "do you know what it's like to be a mom and to have a -- a daughter, 11th months -- 11 months sober? You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. You walk on eggshells, and you just pray that my kid's gonna be OK."
Anderson, I've seen it everywhere. It's one of the reasons why -- you know, I love to talk about the conservative economic policies, but one of the things that I felt, and I've said in the campaign, is we all need to slow down a little bit.
There are a lot of people out there who are lonely, and they're looking for a place to tell people about their issues. I mean, could you believe that -- that young man?
COOPER: Does it change (ph) you as a -- as a person and as a politician, hearing people's stories?
KASICH: It's definitely -- it's -- it has slowed me down, and I have -- and many of you, or some of you, have been at my town halls where I've talked about this.
KASICH: You know, the strength of America is not some guy or woman coming in on a white charger here to solve our problems. Anderson, America, the glue of America, is right here in this room. It's in our communities, in our families. We need to slow down.
And then, we've got to carry out our God-given destinies and potentials and gifts. And yet it's definitely changed me because it's slowing me down. And -- but, you know, I've learned so much from -- listen, everybody here. You've got to celebrate other people's wins, and sometimes you've got have to sit with them and cry because that's what we need in this country.
Let's get the economy going. Let's rebuild it. Let's get it going. We can deal with wages and fix Social Security and balance the budget and fix the regulations. But I also believe that the country works best when it is strong from the bottom up, not from the top down.
And you mentioned my little hometown where I was born, Mckees Rocks (ph). We didn't wait for somebody to come in and help us, we worked together. And that's what we've got to get back again. So if I can send the welfare programs and the job training and health care for the poor and I can send, you know, the education programs, then it's up to us. It's up to us to rebuild this country and renew our spirit.
You know, the spirit I don't think is going to be renewed by -- look, you can be helped by a president. You know, Reagan said it was morning in America. He inspired us. But what really inspires us are the stories of people who are just like us who change the world. And I don't mean to go on, but this is a big, big part of what we need to think about as Americans.
COOPER: We've got a lot of questions on specific issues from the voters, many of whom are undecided in this room. And we're going to get to those.
I want to ask you a couple of topics that are in the news today and also just a political question overall. Just in terms of where you are in the race, you've been running hard, you've been campaigning hard. You -- certainly, you have South Carolina, you have Nevada. You're looking forward to Ohio, to Michigan. I know you're kind of --
COOPER: -- charging toward the south. KASICH: Virginia, Mississippi.
COOPER: Do you -- do you worry, though, about losing momentum if you don't, you know, place in the top here?
KASICH: You know, I don't really worry about much. I just go do my job.
KASICH: No, I don't, because it's been such a privilege to get even this far. To be able to get out and see the crowds and -- that's worth the price of admission being able to hear that young man, and we're going to go to Georgia. We're going to go to -- we're going to try to get them to spend some --
COOPER: No matters what, you're going to go on from here?
KASICH: Oh, yes. Look, and we're -- I'm going to be here tomorrow campaigning all day, then we're going to head up to Vermont, Massachusetts, then Virginia on Monday. I'm going to be in Mississippi, Louisiana. We're going the distance, Anderson.
KASICH: And here's the thing. People -- when I -- first of all, they didn't think I would do well in New Hampshire, as you know. And we did well. I mean, we finished second, and in Dixville Notch, I beat Donald Trump by 60 percent.
COOPER: There's nine voters there. KASICH: Don't tell anybody, but it was 3 to 2. But, you know, we had
at one point -- you know, six months ago, we had six people at a town hall, and I come down here the day after New Hampshire, we got 500 people, we had 50 RSVPs and everything changed. So it's just pretty amazing. You take it in stride, you keep your feet on the ground. And people thought I'd do 1 percent or 2 percent here. I think we're going to do better. If I don't do better, I'm blaming you. I mean, I'm telling you now.
COOPER: You were an altar boy as a kid. I'm wondering when you heard the pope today talk about Donald Trump -- and for those who don't know, Donald Trump (sic) said a person who thinks only about building walls wherever they may be and not of building bridges is not Christian. That is what the pope said. It's not the gospel. Were you surprised at the pope weighing in on this? And what did you think of it?
KASICH: Well, first of all, I'm pro-pope, OK? Put me down in the pro-pope column. And I don't -- I've seen the whole --
-- really. I mean, come on. Look, I don't know exactly -- I read the whole quote, and it's a lot longer than that. And look, this is a guy who said when somebody asked him about somebody's behavior that wasn't consistent with what they thought the scripture was, he said, who am I to judge?
I mean, this man has brought more sense of hope and more about the dos in life than the don'ts. I mean, when you think about religion, before we get to the don'ts -- because when you mention religion, people get thought bubbles, like, oh no, he's coming in to tell me what I can't do. Why don't we think about what we can do, which is about humility and loving your neighbor and, you know, all that kind of stuff.
And this guy has been so humble. And if you really want to understand this pope, a friend of mine, Dr. Barrett (ph), told me one time if you want to understand him, read a book about St. Francis, because he is the essence of humility and he has opened the walls and the doors of the church to lots of people who didn't understand it.
Now here's what I will say. We have a right to build a wall, but I've got to tell you, there are too many walls between us. We need bridges between us if we're going to fix the problems in Washington because all they do is have walls.
And I just think we need to get these problems solved.
COOPER: I want you to meet a voter. This is Clara Smith (ph) from here in Columbia. She's got a question. She's undecided. She's leaning toward you, though, Governor. KASICH: Oh, good. Make the question easy, would you?
QUESTION: Hi, Governor.
Republicans receive a bad rap for being uninterested in the working poor. I'm a Republican and I certainly have a heart for them. What would you as president do to help these people out that are working two or three jobs that can barely feed their children at home? They certainly adhere to the Republican principles of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but they're barely getting by.
KASICH: Well, the one thing we want to make sure is they have healthcare, right? And that's a critical part for the working poor. But look, it all gets down to training and skills. And one of the things that we have to recognize in this country today is we have to have life-long learning and we have to keep training ourselves for the jobs that exist today, and the jobs that exist tomorrow.
But I've got to tell you, when you think about these working poor, especially if it's a woman, and her husband walked out on her and she's got a couple of kids, we've got to look at the child care. We've got to think about the child care tax credit. And we've got to get employers to begin to realize that, you know, give this person a chance. Give them a chance to be able to move up. Because if you get stuck, then it doesn't work.
But one other thing I think we all need to realize, look, I was involved in balancing the federal budget. I spent 10 years of my life to get there in Washington, fighting everybody including Republicans, Democrats. I've always been a guy shaking up the system.
And when we got there, we began to see significant job growth and opportunity for people. As governor, I went in. We were, you know, we had lost 350,000 jobs. Now, we're up over 400,000 jobs and our wages are growing faster than the national average in Ohio.
So we need robust economic growth, because that helps everybody to rise. And how do you get it? Common sense regulations where you're not snuffing out small businesses, because they are the engine of job creation for some of these young people here. They're going to create more jobs than the big companies.
Secondly, we need to have tax cuts for businesses and for individuals because that spurs economic growth. And finally, we've got $19 trillion in debt. We need to move to get this budget under control. Those three things, coupled with one other thing, and that is to get people trained for the jobs they're going to -- that exist today and tomorrow. And that's called workforce. You get those three things done, though, at the top -- regulatory reform, common sense lower taxes, business and people, and balancing a budget, you will see an explosion.
And when I was in Washington, we saw the country's job picture explode, and the same in Ohio. And what I want to do is just take that formula that works and take it back. And we know that it works, but you have to have discipline to carry it out.
OK? But we have to be sensitive to these -- to the folks that are really in a tough spot, you know, working two jobs. Think about that mother; gets up early in the morning; gets the kids off to school; goes to work; comes home; makes dinner. They're the heroes. They're really -- these single women with children are the real heroes in America, in my opinion.
COOPER: Thank you for your question.
COOPER: And Governor, if you could stay in the blue...
KASICH: Oh, I have to stay on the blue.
COOPER: Well, just better lighting and cameras -- for our cameras.
I want you to meet Ashton Gotschall (ph). He's a law student here at the University of South Carolina. He says he's undecided. He's thinking about Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio and yourself.
QUESTION: Governor Kasich, my older brother is an officer in the Marine Corps and is preparing for his first deployment overseas. As his younger brother, I have always looked up to him and he's been a constant inspiration in my life.
If you were elected president, how will you make sure that our military men and women are only deployed into situations where our national security is at risk?
KASICH: Yeah, that's a really good question. First of all, you're right about that. We should employ -- or deploy our military whenever the national security risk is to the United States; that when we think that we're being threatened. And frankly, when we go, we ought to go, take care of the job, and then be able to come home once we finish it.
Getting in the middle of civil wars is not something that I've ever favored. Look, I was -- I was on the Defense Committee for 18 years in Congress. I saw President Reagan rebuild the military. I saw the wall come down. I saw the first Gulf war. And I was called in the Pentagon by Secretary Rumsfeld after 9/11. And you learn a lot through that process of what this all means.
So, look, what I will tell you is sometimes we can support people that have the same aims as we do. For example, I had called Senator McCain and Boehner well over a year ago and said we need to support the rebels in Syria. But I would not want to get in the middle of a civil war in Syria, any more than I wanted to get in the middle of a civil war when we were in Lebanon.
I do think we have to go and defeat ISIS. And I have to tell you, the coalition to do that should look amazingly like what we had when we pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the first Gulf war. Those are Muslim Arabs, and our friends in the West who can all come and take care of business. And then once the business is taken care of, and things settle a little bit, come home and let them sort it out.
KASICH: Nation-building, getting in the middle of civil wars is not a place for the United States military, in my opinion. We do have to rebuild the military because it has run down. And I have a plan to put $100 billion more in the military.
But I've got to tell you, we can't be paying -- you know, I was one of the people that found the hammers and the screwdrivers and the wrenches that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Do you remember that scandal that happened?
We have got to clean up waste wherever it exists so that the resources go to people like your brother in the front lines.
So we go when it really matters to our direct national interest. We can support people who support our similar aims. No nation- building. Get the job done. Come home, and be a leader in the world. And have people's backs. OK?
COOPER: Thank you very much for your question.
COOPER: Governor, over here is Mary LaFave. She's a lawyer in Lexington, South Carolina. She's undecided. She has a question that should resonate with many in this state.
QUESTION: Thank you, Anderson.
Governor Kasich, I have a question involving a woman's issue that will be important to the voters in this state. The state of South Carolina leads the nation in incidents of deadly violence against women. As president, what will you do? What steps will you take to address the high rates of violence against women in this country?
KASICH: Well, we have to have a war against that. And I know that they won a Pulitzer in one of the major newspapers in this state. And -- down in Charleston. In fact, they endorsed me today which was really a wonderful thing to have.
And the lady actually -- one of the reporters actually took me to the wall and showed me the Pulitzer that they won from saying that there was a time in this state where it was easier to hurt a woman than it was to hurt an animal. And they've begun to clean that up. And we put a lot of time into those kinds of issues in our state. I'll tell you another thing we worry about, sexual violence on a campus.
And I've noticed that time ago. And I said, there has got to be a place for young students, young women to be able to go where they can do things in confidentiality, where there can be a rape kit that can last because sometimes women don't want to move right away, but after a month or two they might want to move forward with some type of a prosecution.
They should tell their story. But, I mean, think about a woman -- I've got these two 16-year-old daughters. Could you imagine having somebody beat up your daughter or beat up your mother? We have to have an all-out war against this.
And you know what, that's a very severe criminal act. And as president, you know, look, these laws are going to fundamentally be at the state level. But it doesn't mean that a president can't use a bully pulpit. It doesn't mean that a president can't speak out on some of these really significant moral issues.
And I will do it. I don't always have to make a law to get somebody in the legislatures to begin to pay attention to these issues.
Let me also tell you, we took on the issue of human trafficking. I don't know what you know about that, but there were in my state like 1,000 people who were -- I was told by a Democrat who had walked out on my first state of the state address, I was like, why did she get so mad at me?
She stormed out. She came back a couple months later to have a meeting with me. And I said, what can I do for you? She said, well, there's a problem with this human trafficking with the number of children that are trafficked.
She said -- I said, well, how is it going for you? She said, I haven't been able to pass anything. I said, well, what if we pass it? And she looked at me. And she stared at me. And I went, hello? Are you still with me? Of course we're going to pass it.
And so we have changed the laws around human trafficking where actually the woman who has been called a criminal has now been determined to be a victim. And now we're putting the pimps in jail and making sure the women can be rehabilitated in our state. It's a wonderful thing.
KASICH: And, look, I want to say, my wife Karen, who may even be watching tonight, you know, we've got these two 16-year-olds, she may be watching. She has been in the CATCH court in our city of Columbus, and we take women who before would have been discarded, we raise them up. She goes to the graduation ceremonies. They have their ceremonies in the governor's residence. This is a great, great progress.
You know, a lot of these issues get ignored. The issues affecting the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor, the issue of domestic violence, human trafficking. See, when we get that economy moving and growing, then we have an obligation, a real moral obligation to turn to those who live in the shadows and give them a chance to live out their God-given purpose.
So thanks for the question. And you work with me, all right? You want to come to Washington and work? We can put you there.
QUESTION: I'd love to.
KASICH: OK. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Governor, this is William Hodge (ph). He is an attorney here in South Carolina. He says he's leaning toward Rubio but he does remain undecided.
QUESTION: Governor Kasich, being a Southern Baptist and an attorney here in South Carolina...
KASICH: Is that consistent?
QUESTION: That's what my question is getting to.
QUESTION: It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between my moral convictions, and the letter of the law and what I'm required to do. If you were given the opportunity as president to nominate someone for the Supreme Court, which I believe the next president will have the opportunity to do so, would you nominate someone who will rule and vote based on their moral convictions, or would you be willing to put someone on the court who takes legal reasoning, and makes decisions even if it doesn't coincide with their personal beliefs?
KASICH: Well, look, I've appointed well over 100 judges in Ohio. In fact, even appointed a judge to the Ohio Supreme Court who happens to be a woman who's done a fantastic job. What we try to look for is we want you to be a conservative.
We don't want you to make law, we want you to interpret the law. That's what it means to be a conservative judge.
And, secondly, you've got to be beyond reproach, in good character, you know? I mean, everybody in their life at some point did something dumb, right? I mean, we know that, but overall, we want to look at how your temperament, we want to look at your attitude of fairness, and at the end of the day it's your approach to whether you make law, or whether you interpret that law as it relates to the constitution.
In terms of the moral -- you know, people say, how do you decide things? Well, if I got to decide something, I'm not turning to the scripture to figure it out, but also, you know, your faith can also influence some of the way you look at things. For example, with the women who were -- who have been human trafficked, or the issue of mental illness. Of course it influences your ability to think about what can we do to lift them. But, at the end, when you're in public office you're not really there to be a preacher, you are there to be a public official, and that's the way it ought to be if you're on the U.S. Supreme Court, OK?
COOPER: Thanks for your question. Governor, I want you to meet Tim Braddick, he's over there. He's a Republican who says he's undecided. Tim, welcome.
QUESTION: Nice to be here. Governor Kasich, welcome to South Carolina...
KASICH: ... Kasich. It's a hard name, I know.
QUESTION: ... Welcome to South Carolina. Just give it a little subnote here, my wife and I are both Michigan State fans.
KASICH: Listen, I told the people in Michigan that -- look, I've been through the primary up there in Michigan. Let's just put everything aside, and get along. Afterall, I came down here after Clemson beat the Buckeyes a few years ago. That's still rubbing us raw up in Columbus...
QUESTION: ... Right. My question is -- it has to do with Obamacare. The healthcare system where the candidates have, in the debates, in their interviews have said that they are going to repeal Obamacare if they are elected to office. Honestly, to tell you the truth, for me Obamacare ended up being a God-send because of my conditions.
KASICH: Yes sir, go ahead. I'm listening.
QUESTION: I worked for a company in Michigan for 34 years before my wife and I decided to move down here to South Carolina. In moving down here I continued working for that same company, but in the process we found out that we could not transfer our medical insurance to South Carolina.
In reviewing the options here in South Carolina in the South Carolina health pool, we found where the rates were in excess of $2,000 dollars in that. So, as we were forced to do, we ended up going with Obamacare because that was the best option for us at that time.
What I would like to know is what are your specific inputs to what you're going to substitute for Obamacare if you're elected.
KASICH: It's obviously a critical question, and there's a complicated answer that I do want to give you. We've got very good healthcare experts in our state. In fact, we took our Medicaid program that was growing at 10 and 1/2 percent, and reduced it to two and a half percent in the second year I was governor without cutting one benefit, or throwing one person off the roles. So, we have spent a lot of time on healthcare. First of all, the problem with Obamacare is it does not control the costs of healthcare. They continue to escalate, and if they continue to the people who are going to be hurt are the ones who are going to be rationed, which are going to be all of us because we probably are not going to have the money to be able to evade that. Secondly, health insurance costs in my state have gone up by an average of 80%, so to make healthcare more affordable -- how do you make it more affordable when the costs are going up through the roof for the insurance?
And, finally, it's trapped small businesses who don't want to get caught in the web of Obamacare.
KASICH: So what would I do?
Well, I'd take some federal resources and I'd combine it with the freed up Medicaid plan to continue to cover the working poor. We can't eliminate this and have tens of millions of Americans without health insurance. And by the way if I'm president a pre-existing condition will never be acceptable to deny you health insurance. That is un-American to take people off because they got sick. That's just a rip-off.
But here's the larger plan and we're actually doing this in our state and I would like to take it nationally. You see, we -- we don't know how our hospitals really do and what their costs are and we really don't know how our doctors do or what their costs are. It's easier to interpret the Dead Sea Scrolls than it is a hospital bill.
Did you ever figure that out? So what we want to do is total transparency. How's a hospital do? What's its quality? What's its readmission rate? What's its infection rate? And by the way with physicians you say you're good, what's the quality, what's the cost?
And what we're doing is we're releasing all this information. We know some charge a lot, we know some charge less and right here in the midpoint. And what we're saying is if you can provide quality to a patient whether you're a hospital or a health care provideare below the midpoint we will give you a financial reward if you're providing quality at a lower price.
You see, we want to get the market into driving first of all your understanding of the system, your ability to make a choice and a constant effort to deliver high quality at a low price by giving people financial rewards. If your primary care doctor keeps you healthy for the year why not a little bit of a reward? And that's the way we're designing the system.
We're doing it in Medicaid and now the health care insurance companies are beginning to say in an effort to control costs -- because think of your deductibles. They're almost as high now as --as having a catasphorphic plan. So we have to get in the business of high quality at lower prices driven by the marketplace.
And this isn't a theory. This is not some political theory. We are about to actually make the payments next year based on quality and low prices. And most of our health care systems have participated in this including the Cleveland Clinic. So thank you, sir...
COOPER: Governor, let me ask though...
COOPER: Let me follow up on that. You're the only Republican left in this race who accept a Medicaid financing for your state...
COOPER: Do you regret that because you've been criticized...
KASICH: Regret it...
COOPER: You've been criticized by your fellow Republicans for it...
KASICH: Listen, we drove the cost of this health care -- of this Medicaid program to like 2.5 percent. The whole country would like to have a rate like that and how do we do it? We said that if mom and dad want to say in their own home rather than being forced in the nursing they ought to be able to do it.
Once we stabilized the program I had the opportunity to bring these dollars back and Anderson, here's the deal. If I treat the mentally ill, I keep them from living in a prison at a $22,500 a year or sleeping under a bridge. We owe our mentally ill better treatment than that.
Secondly, if I treat the drug addicted I keep them from being in a revolving door of in and out in prison and maybe even breaking into our cars to support their habit which they can't control. So we actually have the rehab people in the prisons release them into the community where there's more resources and our recidivism rate is 20 percent which is like miraculous.
And then for the working poor -- what we know about the working poor is they don't go to the emergency room until they're sickier and more expensive. And we think that one third of those working poor were people who had very severe illnesses including cancer who put off treatment. So this has worked out great for us and we're saving money and we're giving people an opportunity to be able to get their lives back.
And I -- I think it's been terrific and I said if the federal government monkeys around with the formula we'll withdraw from the program. But you know what's beginning to happen, everybody's saying well wait a minute. If you can treat the mentally ill, if you can help the drug addicted and you can help the working poor why wouldn't we be doing that?
And they don't have to do it my way. Each state should do what they want to do but if you're not going to do what I'm doing then tell me what it is you're going to do. OK...
COOPER: We're going to take a short break. We have more questions from our audience for Governor Kasich when we come back. You're watching the CNN Republican Town Hall from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. We'll be back in a few minutes.
COOPER: And welcome back. We're talking with Ohio Governor John Kasich here on the campus of the University of South Carolina in Columbia for the final CNN town hall before Saturday's Republican primary.
Governor, I want you to meet Laura Colton. She's from Irmo (ph), South Carolina. She says she's still undecided between a few candidates, as a lot of people are in this state. Welcome,
QUESTION: Good evening, Governor Kasich, and congratulations on getting the endorsement from our state paper.
KASICH: Yeah, I'm really happy about it.
QUESTION: Would you consider selecting one of the other candidates for your Cabinet? And if so, who would it be?
KASICH: Well, look, I'm not going to be measuring like the drapes. I've got a long way to go, OK?
I mean, we're really, really early. But I'll tell you who I have been friends with for a while. I like him very much. I like Chris Christie a whole lot. And Chris and I actually, you know, are kind of buddies. I mean, his wife and I and my wife, you know, have been out to dinner. And I've always liked Chris. We kid and joke and he's a terrific guy.
And so he's somebody that was a candidate who would be considered. And look, I'm open to -- you know, these are all fine people. And you've got to realize that when you run for -- like somebody says you ought to run for president. Do you know how hard it is to run for president? I mean, it is not easy. And so they all deserve an awful lot of respect, and I like them all. I just don't want to, you know, fight with them. I'd rather be up here than down here at that -- you know, that kind of stuff. I was in a demolition derby on Saturday, but my car kept going around the track. So anyway, thank you. Are you available for anything?
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
KASICH: Could I get your resume? Thank you.
COOPER: Governor, this is Jacob Godwin. He's a law student here. He says he's leaning right now toward Governor Bush. Jacob?
QUESTION: Governor Kasich, my grandfather was a World War II veteran, went to college on the G.I. Bill, and then opened a small business in Hartsville, South Carolina. It's a small town about an hour away from here.
My mom runs that business now. We've been open for 65 years. I want to know, if you are elected, what you'll do to bring industry to small towns so that's small businesses like my mom's will stay in business, and so that small towns like Hartsville will continue to not only survive but to thrive and to grow.
KASICH: Yeah. Well, I -- I would say, first of all, we've got to get the overall economy growing. And I want to go back one more time. If you have too many regulations, you will choke small business. They are the engine of job creation in America.
That's why it's important to bring the rates down for individual taxes -- because most of those small businesses pay the individual rate. Give them the incentive on taxes, go through -- you know, I -- vice presidents usually spend their time going to funerals.
I would like my vice president to spend his or her time trying to bring some rationality to all the rules and regulations, and force the Congress to vote on anything $100 million and above, and -- and just stop all this flurry of regulation.
And then, of course, if we can get a fiscal plan that gets us close to a balanced budget, which I've done before, you're going to see the economy take off.
Now -- so the small businesses, or the small towns -- look. What we've done in Ohio's -- and -- and I knew this before being in business for ten years. You've got to look at the assets that you have.
What makes you unique in Hartsville? What are the things that you can do there that maybe you can't do anywhere else? And that's what you have to focus on.
See, I privatized economic development in Ohio, and I created a not- for-profit that has enough money to hire people who are actually skilled, and we look at -- at the segments of our state, like we should as a country, and figure out what works.
Some things work in big towns, some things work in midsize towns and some things work in small towns. But if I were economic development director of Hartsville, I'd be looking around at what the assets are that we have there that makes us special, where we can draw industry in. That is, I think, the way you want to do it.
And also you want to diversify your industries, because if you depend on one thing -- and you all know the story of the textile mills that went down. If you depend on just one thing, it won't work.
And then we need to have a president who's actually gonna be -- understands how business works, and also pro-job. I mean, if you don't have a job, you don't have much.
And so there's -- and we can get some of these businesses to come back from overseas. We've seen it in our state. But we have to -- you know, lower the corporate tax rate so businesses will come in. But small-town investing is really cool. You know why? Wages are more manageable for businesses.
But take advantage of the resources you have, and you better get ready to run that business, young man, OK? Thank you.
COOPER: And, Governor, I want you to meet -- this is Eddie Rogers. He manages a gun store here in Columbia. He says he's still undecided. Welcome, Eddie.
QUESTION: Hello, Governor. Like he said, I work at a local firearm shop here in Columbia. And as you know, firearms have skyrocketed in sales over the past seven and a half years.
Talking with customers, they fear that their Second Amendment is being infringed upon. How do you interpret the second amendment as far as individual right or, as some scholars argue, a collective right.
COOPER: Look, I'm for the Second Amendment. People have a right to defend themselves. They have a right to own these guns for a variety of reasons, including hunting and -- and collection.
I mean, we don't want to be messing around with the Second Amendment, plain and simple. And in our state, as governor, I've signed -- you know, many of these -- of these gun bills.
I think the president, on one area he has hit on that I -- and he shouldn't do it by executive order, but he -- but we ought to look at it, and that's the issue of mental illness.
We want to make sure states are able to upload the data so that we're not -- when we do an instant check, we're not selling a gun to somebody who's unstable.
And when we take a look at the problems of the mass shooters in this country, virtually every time that somebody is involved, when we check their record, there's an element of mental illness involved. So we gotta make sure we do that. But other than that, enforce the gun rules -- the gun laws that we have now, and allow people to celebrate the fact that the Second Amendment is a very important part of the constitution.
COOPER: Let me follow up on that, actually. The -- the president put in, as you mentioned, some new executive actions. Would you keep those in place?
KASICH: Probably not, no. I mean, I don't -- I don't know all of them. But here's the problem with the president and -- and -- and the issue of -- of executive orders.
KASICH: I do executive orders as governor of Ohio, but I check with the legislative leaders. And I say, "What do you think? I'm thinking about doing this." And sometimes they'll say, "OK, go ahead and do it, but don't tell anybody I told you to do it." Because sometimes they don't want to have to vote on some of these issues, OK? But if you just jam stuff through, Anderson, what you're doing is you're just going to push them off, and you have bigger fish to fry than any individual issue.
So my view is you have to work with that legislature. You have to get along with them as an executive. See, I'm unique. I never thought about this in this way. I was a congressman for 18 years. I went in at 30, believe it or not. And so I understood how they feel about executives. And now I'm an executive, and I know how they feel about legislators.
And that is really key in getting things done. If we're going to balance a budget, fix the border, fix Social Security, deal with student loans -- any of these other things that are out there, you've got to do it together. Reagan had the boll weevils, which were the conservative Democrats. Kasich had the blue dogs when I was fighting to balance the budget, the conservative Democrats.
We have to have some area of bipartisanship. But overall, the executive cannot -- he or she cannot thumb their nose at the legislature because it is a relationship that has to work mutually. And I think the president doing executive orders has way exceeded his authority and created more, you know, more polarization down there, which is all going to have to be fixed.
COOPER: We like to wrap up these town halls with just some kind of lighter personal questions so voters have a chance to get to know you...
KASICH: I want to give you one lighter thing. You know how you fix Congress? One of the things I'm going to do in the first 100 days is I'm going to get the phone numbers of all the moms and dads who have kids in Congress -- I'm going to know then their birthdays are and I'm going to call mom on her birthday and she's going to call her kid who's in the Congress and say, "I like the president; he called me on my birthday; don't mess with him, OK?"
COOPER: I mentioned earlier, you were an altar boy. I read that you at one point thought about becoming a priest. What made you decide to go into politics?
KASICH: Oh, well, I went into politics because my mother was, I like to say, a talk show pioneer. The person on the radio would say something and then she would yell at the radio.
And so I learned about opinions. And I was -- I really wanted at one point to be a lawyer, and I'd go into the courthouse as a young guy and I would listen to them debate. That's what I thought I was going to do. But when I went to Ohio State -- I don't know if you know this story, I'll tell you very quickly -- I -- it had 48,000 students, and something upset me. So I decided I needed to go and see the president of the university. My Uncle Emil (ph) told me always start at the top.
I couldn't get in, then I finally did. And I went in to see the president. And I lodged my complaint. And I looked at him and I said, "Sir, I've been in school about a month and I'm undecided. And looking at the furniture, the lighting, the carpeting -- beautiful -- maybe this is the job for me. What exactly do you do?"
And he tells me his academic and fundraising responsibility. And he says, "Tomorrow, I'm going to fly down to Washington and have a meeting with President Nixon." And I said, "Well, Sir, I have a number of things I would like to tell him also. Could I go with you?" And he said, "No." And I said, "Well, if I write a letter, would you give it to the president?" Which he did.
And then I went down to may mailbox a couple of, you know, weeks later, and there's a letter from the White House. And I opened it up, I go upstairs, I call my mom. I said, "Mom, I'm going to need an airline ticket; the president of the United States would like to have a meeting with me in the Oval Office." And my mother is shouting, "Honey, pick up the phone; there's something wrong with Johnny."
So, I fly down. I get through the security. I'm sitting right at the Oval Office. And a guy walks up to me and he says, "Young man, you're going to get five minutes alone with the president of the United States. What do you think? Pretty cool?" Yeah, I'll tell you what I'm thinking: new jacket, new shirt, new tie, new pants. I didn't come here for five lousy minutes.
So they opened up the door. I went in. The good news is I spent 20 minutes alone as an 18-year-old first quarter freshman with the president of the United States. The bad news is I spent 18 years in Congress. And if you add up all the time I spent in the Oval Office, I peaked out at the age of 18.
COOPER: Well, you know, funny, we actually have a picture. We're going to -- we actually have a picture to show our viewers of you meeting Nixon. I had a question about it, which we're not going to ask since you told the story. But I just want to quickly show our viewers at home -- it's only the folks at home can see it, but...
KASICH: Thank God they don't have it, because you can see the haircut, OK?
COOPER: Yeah. Just a couple of quick other questions. We ask a lot of the candidates this. What kind of music do you listen to? KASICH: Well, you know, I was just talking back stage. You know, we have this Fall Out Boy is one of them. You know, I...
Yeah, yeah, no. I like Lincoln Park and 21 Pilots, you know, "Stressed Out." We play that our on our bus, but we're not stressed out. And, you know, they actually went to my kids' school. And I'm a pretty much alternative and modern. My favorite concert was The Wall. You know, I'm the one that said I'm going to get Pink Floyd back together again.
COOPER: I've seen -- I've seen that twice.
KASICH: Yeah, with Roger Waters and David Gilmour. Now, somebody said, you know, well, there's others that are dead. I said, hey, it's Gilmour and Waters. I mean, come on. And if you have ever seen The Wall...
COOPER: It's the best concert ever.
KASICH: ... best concert ever, Roger Waters and The Wall. If it comes back, go see it.
COOPER: It's worth it. Just one final, and it's a serious question as well. I lost my dad when I was young, your parents were killed by a drunk driver in a -- in a car accident. How did that change the person you...
KASICH: Well, it changed my whole life. And the only thing I will say about this is for those that are watching, Anderson, it was -- when I was a little boy, I was afraid my mom and dad wouldn't come one night, because my dad would pick my mother up late at night on a very bad road. And then at the age of 35, I got a phone call that they wouldn't be able to get home. And you know where they were, they were at the Burger King because they got the second cup of coffee for free. That's the way the mailman and Mrs. Kasich lived.
And I went into a black hole with just a little pin prick of light, Anderson. And others who are here tonight have had that experience. But I had people come to me. I don't care -- you know, you don't have to agree with me or like it or whatever, but it's really where I found the Lord. And I've spent 29 years of my life working on that, and I'm here to tell people that -- and look, life is -- it's so rocky, it's so fragile.
We have to build our homes -- our lives, our homes on solid granite, not on sand. And I have found that even though the pain still comes, there's where I have to go. And as a result of my parents' accident, it's allowed me to hug that boy, and I whispered some things to him. Or to go places with military families that lose a loved one; I meet with them.
I'm not -- look, I'm not that great a guy, OK? I'm just doing the best I can. And sometimes I fail. But I believe there's a life yet to come, and I just happen to believe that I'm going to look up here and I'm going to do my best to be the best person I can do. And the campaign's actually got me to slow down a little bit, which has been great.
And I've got a great family, great daughters, Emma and Reese (ph). And I'm -- look, it's just all been a miracle to me, and I would really appreciate your consideration on Saturday, and give me a chance to get to the rest of the country, OK? I need your help. Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Governor, thank you.
KASICH: Thank you for this.
COOPER: Governor Kasich. When we come back, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush onstage. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back. We are coming to you tonight from the University of South Carolina School of Law auditorium for the final CNN Republican town hall before GOP voters go to the polls this weekend.
You've already met Ohio Governor John Kasich. Just ahead, we'll talk to Donald Trump. Right now, please welcome former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
BUSH: How y'all doing?
COOPER: Hey, Governor. Welcome. How are you? Have a seat. I like your boots.
BUSH: I do, too.
COOPER: So you've -- you've had a busy week here.
COOPER: Your brother, former President George W. Bush, out on the campaign trail. Your mom has been out with you. She's -- we're honored that she's here with us tonight. What's it like campaigning with your family?
BUSH: Well, it's a blast being with George, because I love him dearly, and -- and this is the first time out that he'd been campaigning for a candidate, and I'm honored that he did it for me. I would have been disappointed had he not done it for me, to be honest with you.
(LAUGHTER) And my mother is a superstar. She is -- people just love her dearly,
and I do, too.
So she -- couple of weeks ago she was out campaigning in New Hampshire, and it was the first time she'd seen snow in a while. So we brought her to the warmer climes of South Carolina for tomorrow, on our bus tour, so it's better.
COOPER: I want to ask you about a couple of things in the news before we go to the questions...
COOPER: ... from -- from voters here.
Today, as you know the Pope waded into America's immigration debate, suggesting Donald Trump is not Christian when he talked about building a wall. Are you and the Pope on the same page here?
BUSH: Well, I always get in trouble when the Pope says things, because I'm -- I'm a Catholic. I'm informed by my faith, and he is an inspirational leader of my church.
But I don't question people's Christianity. I think that's a relationship they have with their -- with their lord and savior and themselves.
So I just don't think it's appropriate to question Donald Trump's faith. He knows what his faith is. And he has a -- if he has a relationship with the lord, fantastic. If he doesn't, it's none of my business.
COOPER: Earlier in the week, your Twitter account -- you tweeted a photo of a gun inscribed with your name and the word America.
COOPER: What was -- what was that?
BUSH: I was at a gun manufacturer here in Columbia, South Carolina, and I -- I received that gun as a gift. And it was -- first of all, I had a phenomenal town hall meeting with workers that were concerned about economic security and national security. They sell a lot of what they make to the -- to the military, and they -- they've seen the gutting of the military, in terms of the sequester.
They're concerned about that. They're concerned about their jobs. They're concerned about Obamacare. We had a lively discussion, and I wanted to pay tribute to them by showing off the gun they gave me.
And also wanted to show that I believe the Second Amendment is as important a part of the Bill of Rights as any of the other amendments to the Bill of Rights, in that we ought to be protective of it. And a lot -- a lot's riding with Antonin Scalia's passing. Now we're
gonna have a conversation this election about -- about a lot of important things, including the Second Amendment. And as governor of the state of Florida, I was -- I was A-plus rated for eight years in a row. And I believe that we should protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and focus our efforts on putting bad people away that use guns illegally, for a long while.
BUSH: That's what we did in Florida.
We got 1.5 million concealed weapon permit holders in Florida which is double the next state. But we've also seen double digit reductions in gun violence because if you commit a crime with a gun in Florida you're going to prison. There's a minimum mandatory sentence and I think that's the proper approach. So I wanted to ...
COOPER: Would you change the president's recent executive actions on guns?
BUSH: Yes, I would. He doesn't have the authority to do that. This is the problem with our president. He's given up working with Congress and I think he's trampling on the constitution each and every time he does this. The intention -- look, I don't -- I don't necessarily agree with what he did and it's a response to the San Bernardino killings.
That was an act of terror. That was not random gun violence but the better way to do that -- for example on the mental health element of this. Which I think there's a convergence of interests between left and right on that. Why not go to Congress and see if you could work with conservatives in the Congress to make sure that people that are mentally deranged don't have access to guns?
There's ways to do this but trampling over the constitution, using authority you don't have. We're at the law school here. I think -- I hope at least the law school students would appreciate the fact that -- that the president -- when the president doesn't have authority he should not go beyond what the constitution allows him to do.
COOPER: The governor of this state, Nikki Haley as you know obviously endorsed Senator Rubio. That's obviously a powerful endorsement in this state ...
BUSH: I'm marking her down as neutral.
COOPER: Is that right? All right. All right. One way to look at it.
COOPER: How do you convince voters in this state -- supporters -- your own supporters because I know you've been hearing from them in town halls. How do you convince them that you have momentum? That you have a path forward? BUSH: Well, I do have momentum if you look at the polls and you look at the crowd sizes of our town hall meetings. And the enthusiasm that exists. I'm proud that Lindsey Graham is supporting me. Look, he could have supported two of his colleagues -- Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
He's worked with them in the United States Senate. He chose me because he believes that I would be ready to serve on day one as commander in chief and leader of the free world. And that's a pretty ringing endorsement for a guy who's probably the leading national security expert in the United States Senate.
COOPER: You speak about your dad, former President Bush often on the campaign trail or when asked about him on the campaign trail. How has he impacted the way you run, the way you live your life?
BUSH: Wow. Now I'm going to get emotional. He's the greatest man alive. I -- look, Columba -- my wife and I have been married 42 years and -- next week. And about ...
BUSH: I wasn't pausing for that. Thank you for the round of applause. I was pausing because I was trying to not get emotional here about my dad. About -- when I was 25 I think I decided -- normally when you're with -- at least I'm a hard charging, striving person. I always want to -- people like to strive to be like your parents. It's kind of a natural thing to do.
I realized pretty quickly in my life if I could be half the man my dad was that that would be a pretty good goal. If I tried to strive to be as good as him it would be impossible. I'd be on a couch getting therapy all the time. My dad is just -- put aside the fact that he was the first -- the youngest navy pilot in World War II, has served this country in so many different ways including being president.
He's just a fine man -- person of integrity, of honesty, of courage -- all the virtues that you would want to have to be inspired by. This guy is the real deal and so half the man of George Bush means you could live a life of purpose and meaning as far as I'm concerned.
COOPER: I want you to meet ...
COOPER: I want you to meet some of the voters in the room many of whom ...
BUSH: Yeah ...
COOPER: Are undecided. This is Steve Hog (ph). He's Republican. He says he is leaning towards you, Governor Bush. He's got a question about faith.
QUESTION: Yeah. Don't mess this up.
BUSH: No pressure on me.
QUESTION: No. Governor, I did not grow up in a religious home. When I was a teenager I became a follower of Jesus Christ and that decision changed me. And it continues to shape who I am and how I see the world. My question is, what is the single most important driving force in your life? What is that one thing above everything that shapes who really are -- your core? And if it isn't faith, what is it? If it is faith, how has your faith changed you not as a politician but as ...
BUSH: Right ...
QUESTION: A human being, as a man?
BUSH: Great question. Phenomenal question and my life journey as it relates to my faith journey was transformed in 1988 not in any particular way. I didn't -- I wasn't down. I was just overwhelmed. I was living the tyranny of the present. You know how that feels. Just -- when you're just overwhelmed. I had work, I had family. We just had all sorts of activities.
BUSH: My dad was running for president, and I was working and trying to help him. And I just was overwhelmed, and it forced me to pause and to reflect about the important things of life.
And I started reading the Bible and I -- and I accepted Jesus as my savior at that time. And that was an important element of my life.
The second part of my faith journey that was important was when -- after the 1994 election and I lost, I decided I wanted to join the faith of my wife. We had gone to -- we go to mass, we were going to mass, except I wasn't a Catholic. That's kind of cheating in case you were thinking.
So I went to the RCA class. About halfway through -- and it was a wonderful experience. I was with real people -- this was after an election defeat which was not fun -- I learned a lot from the defeat. It made me a much better person. But I -- my Catholic journey started then. And on Easter Sabbath of 1997, I became a Catholic, and it informs a lot of how I think about life.
I believe that life is a gift from God, that it's divinely inspired and that we're all here for a purpose in life. And if you believe like that, then a lot of the policy and a lot of the thinking that goes with that in the public arena falls quite naturally. It means that you protect life from beginning to end. It means that you respect people that may have disabilities as important as anybody else. If means that you respect everybody and you treat them with dignity and respect.
My faith is an important part of my life. And as -- and in public life, I don't think you put your faith in a lockbox, you know, and say, OK, I'll do this kind of at home and I'll do it when I go to the church but I can't do it openly in the public square.
I think we're now confronted with a real challenge in our country which is,can we find accommodation in this great country with great diversity -- can we find the ability to respect people that may not agree with us on this particular issue, but also allow religious conscience to be front and center in our lives.
The minute we start closing off people acting on their faith in the public square, we're not being American in my mind. This is the first freedom in our country, and now this is under conversation and maybe under attack depending on -- again, we're back to the question of replacement of Antonin Scalia, both in the 2nd Amendment and religious freedom. These are big issues and I think they should be discussed in the context of the campaign.
COOPER: Thank you for your question. Thank you.
We've got a question along those lines. Governor, this is Heather Smith. She's a Republican who says she's undecided but she is leaning towards you.
BUSH: Wow, two in a row.
QUESTION: Good evening, Governor. And I'm a Catholic as well, so you have a few of us here. Thank you for being here tonight. With Justice Scalia's passing, my question to you has to do with the Supreme Court.
QUESTION: Many years ago, our beloved former Senator Strom Thurmond said a president that only has five months left in office should not pick a Supreme Court justice because it's 120 days to truly vet a nominee. With that being said, our current administration has 11 months in. If you were the current president with 11 months left, would you nominate a Supreme Court justice? And if you did, who would it be?
BUSH: Heather, I don't -- I don't know who I would pick. I'll tell you the kind of person I would pick. It would be someone who did not aspire to legislate from the bench. It would be someone with a deep intellectual acumen and persuasive skills because this is a collaborative body. You have to persuade people towards your view, towards your opinion to get to a majority opinion. And it would be someone who has a consistent judicial record.
I think given the context in which we're operating today, the old notion, the conventional wisdom of picking someone who doesn't have a record because it's easier to get that persons passed, that needs to be thrown out the door because we're living in such a divided society right now, you can assure there's going to be a fight no matter who you pick. And having someone with a consistent judicial record I think is important so as to avoid the case like David Souter would be an example.
My dad picked him. I'm sure he had the first two. He probably had persuasive skills. He certainly was of -- had a, you know, high intellectual acumen I'm sure. But he wandered away from what people thought he was going to be, how he viewed the law, pretty quickly. And he did not have a federal court record from which to operate.
So I would pick someone that was in all likelihood to be in the judiciary already with a proven record. And I would fight. This is -- this is hugely important. And I think, frankly, this is a -- this is an important subject for this election.
So would I -- would I nominate someone? I probably would. Because I -- as I said in the debate last Saturday, I'm an Article II guy. I think the presidency should be -- we should be respectful of the Constitution, but whatever powers are afforded the presidency, the president ought to use them. They're there for a purpose.
BUSH: But under -- in this current environment, where you have such a divisive kind of environment in Washington, it is unlikely that the Senate would provide the necessary consent for that nomination. And I think it probably is better to have a -- make this part of the election.
I'm willing to defend my views about the -- you know, the Constitution and how judges should be appointed. The Democratic nominee should probably want to do the same thing.
And then you would have the people deciding, in essence, which president would be the ones that would be nominating not just the replacement for Justice Scalia, this incredible giant -- legal giant, this person who I think was the greatest lover of liberty and believed in the limitations of government, but whoever next -- whoever the next people are as well.
This should be an important conversation we have. Why not allow it to be part of the election? So I'm -- I'm -- I'm excited about the prospects of this being an -- a -- an important election issue. And I hope, with civility and -- and a good, solid conversation, we can heighten the awareness of the importance of who -- who we select for the next three or four justices.
COOPER: Heather, thank you for your question. (inaudible).
BUSH: Thanks, Heather.
COOPER: Governor, this is...
... this is Brian Bell, he's a police officer here in Columbia. He says he's undecided and a Republican. Brian? BUSH: Hey, Brian.
QUESTION: Good evening, Governor. How are you doing?
BUSH: I'm doing well. Appreciate your service, by the way.
QUESTION: You're welcome. I'm a combat veteran of the first Gulf War, Somalia and Iraq.
BUSH: Appreciate your service again.
QUESTION: You're welcome. And I am darn mad. And the reason I'm mad is because I believe this administration -- current administration has dropped the ball in fighting ISIS in Iraq, and defeating ISIS in Iraq.
We saw things that happened here in San Bernardino I don't want to ever happen again in this country. Would a President Bush send ground troops to defeat and destroy ISIS?
BUSH: We have ground troops already in Iraq, but they're not embedded with the Iraqi military. This is a tragedy of our own doing. When we pulled back, instead of keeping a small force, which was the initial objective, to create stability -- a fragile and stable Iraq existed the day that Barack Obama came into office.
When he did not renew the -- the agreement with the Iraqi government to allow for troops to stay there, that void was filled by sectarianism that once again kind of unraveled Iraq. And it created ISIS.
Al Qaida in -- in Iraq was devastated. Was gone. But the recreation of a caliphate the size of Indiana between Syria and Iraq is because we pulled back and the Iraqis did not have a -- a sustainable kind of national government.
So what should we do? I think we should embed our existing troops -- 3,500 or more now. I don't know the exact number. It seems like it's incrementally going up without a lot of big fanfare.
But I think we ought to embed those troops inside the Iraqi military to give them the training and the backbone necessary for that fighting force to be re-established.
I think we need to re-establish the partnership with the Sunni tribal leaders that led to the heroic efforts of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Sunni -- Sunni forces to create the surge that brought about this fragile, but stable Iraq.
And the blood of American soldiers was -- was -- was lost because of this, and was squandered by this administration's lack of continuation of the efforts.
I think we need to arm the Kurds directly with more sophisticated weapons. I think we need to get the lawyers off the backs of the warfighters. Now we have approvals required for the sorties that go out from the bases, and -- and at least half of the sorties don't drop their ordnances, because they can't get the approval.
We need air controllers forward leaning to make sure that -- that we can identify and target the terrorists in a -- in a very targeted way. All of this together will bring about the defeat of ISIS.
But it can't just be done in Iraq. It has to be done in Syria as well. And this is where it gets more dicey, if you will, because in the case of Syria, we've allowed Russia to establish a military presence back in the Middle East for the first time in 40 years.
We've done this in a way that is devastating. We've negotiated with the Iranians, legitimized the regime. And what do they do, instead of quietly allowing for dissent inside their country? They execute two or three people a day, and they're using this money to double down on their efforts to support the -- the Iraqi -- the Shia militia and Hezbollah in -- in Syria.
So this problem has been made worse, but that does not mean that we don't have a -- a duty to be able to protect ourselves by being on the offensive there, which means we need to create safe zones.
You want to solve the refugee problem? Create safe zones inside of Syria instead of allowing millions to be uprooted and creating a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism if we don't watch it, by not dealing with the problem in Syria.
BUSH: We need a no-fly zone. And that will be in conflict with the Russians, but my personal belief is the Russians should be more worried about the United States Air Force capabilities than us being worried about them.
And then finally...
... finally, it will take more than 50 special operators to embed those troops inside of a Sunni-led force that is organized to destroy ISIS, and be ultimately the political force that will bring about regime change. Assad has to go as well.
This won't happen overnight. This will be a complicated challenge. But for us, who? In effect, when we pull back and we lead from behind and we talk about red lines, we create chaos. That's what we see. We see a president that is not exerting United States leadership. And he calls us an occupying force or calls us the world policeman, or argues that anybody that is against his nuanced view is somehow in cahoots with the death to America crowd.
I don't think that's the proper way to lead. I think American leadership is necessary to be clear and overt and strong. That's how you draw the rest of the Arab world to this. That's how you draw Europe to create a fighting force that can win.
COOPER: Governor, let me just follow up.
BUSH: Yes? COOPER: You -- you put the responsibility on President Obama for not signing a status of forces agreement which would have allowed U.S. troops to stay.
COOPER: The prior administration, your brother's administration, negotiated an agreement and wasn't able to reach an agreement.
BUSH: Well, they negotiated an agreement that expired in 2012. And the intent -- the clear intent was to renegotiate that and extend it. And President Obama now says, well, it was impossible because there were liability issues with the, you know, with the -- they couldn't get it past the legislature.
COOPER: The Iraqi government would not grant...
BUSH: And he said -- he could have gotten it if he -- if he had gotten the assurance from the president. What he couldn't get was the assurance from the legislature. It was an easy out for him.
COOPER: The Iraqi legislature.
COOPER: Right -- the congress, whatever...
COOPER: I want you to meet Will McCutcheon (ph). He's a student here. He's a Republican who says he's still undecided.
BUSH: Hey, Will.
QUESTION: Governor Bush, I'm a student here at the University of South Carolina. Recreational drug use has become relatively commonplace on college campuses. As we look, and as a student here, I observe that one of the most frequently used drugs is marijuana. And advocates for it would say that it's harmless; that it's not physically addictive. Yet I've watched several friends, close relatives, people who were like brothers to me, become frequent users of the drug; become unable to do just basic functions like sleeping and eating without smoking beforehand.
What is your stance on legalization of recreational drug use? And also, if elected president, what are you going to do to combat drug abuse and addiction in this country?
BUSH: Two separate distinct questions, both of which are really important, Will. The idea that recreational drug -- the terminology is probably a little misleading if you think about it, because of the potency of -- of this generation of marijuana. It has major impacts -- neurological impacts. There are scores of studies that suggest this.
And yet it's laughed off because culturally that's an obsolete notion. Well, it isn't. My wife was on the board of CASA, the leading advocate of research and development dealing with addiction and dealing with drug use and alcohol use in this country. And you -- just go on their website and see the devastating nature of, to your point, of the abuse of marijuana and the devastating impacts that has on productivity; the impacts it has on brain damage.
This is not some idle kind of conversation. This is a serious problem. Addiction in general is a huge problem for our country. If you believe like I -- like I said, informed by my faith that we all are here for a purpose, and if we could imagine everybody reaching their full potential, that we'd have a lot less government. We would have a much, much more compassionate and loving society; a much more prosperous society.
That -- that I can see, looking over the horizon. Well, with addiction, that makes it harder. Alcohol and drug abuse is a serious problem that crosses all ethnic lines, income lines. Colum and I have struggled with, as parents of a daughter who -- who is now 10 years drug-free. But she got into the criminal justice system because of her addictions. There are a lot of people that have mental health challenges combined with addiction.
So here's what I think we should do. My first impulse on all of these issues is a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down approach, where Washington should be the partner to help solve these problems. But we should recognize that we should change -- I'll give you three things that we ought to do.
BUSH: We ought to have a -- we ought to have a focus on the brain. Talking about moon shots -- here's a moon shot for you. Why don't we discover the brain, its complexities?
You think about the challenges -- neurological challenges that play out in our society -- drug addiction, alcohol addiction, Alzheimer's, autism -- all of these things relate to the brain and this extraordinary capability we have to discover drugs to cure disease. We have not been as advanced, as it relates to the brain. And I think that's one place the federal government can play an important role.
Secondly, we need to look at our criminal justice system -- 50 percent of all prisoners in our federal system are there because of drug use, in a -- in a variety of different ways -- 50 percent. That's much higher than the -- than states, generally.
But I think we ought to review this. Maybe we should focus a little bit more on treatment and a little less on -- on punishment. You go talk to the sheriffs wherever you live, and the police chiefs -- whoever runs the -- the jails, and you'll find that a lot of people that are addicted to drugs are being housed in our jails, rather than getting treatment.
It costs a lot more to keep someone in jail than it does to give them treatment along the way. In Florida, we created a huge strategy to deal with this, and we created drug courts all across the state, to give people a second chance. The adjudication was withheld for the crime that might -- might have
gone along with their addiction, but in return, you had to get straight. You had to become drug free, and you had to be in recovery. That is a far better approach in our society, I think, than just putting people away without giving them the kind of treatment that -- that they need.
My wife was the madrina of the prevention movement in Florida. And we saw dramatic reductions, particularly among teenagers, because we also focused on prevention. Greater awareness, greater education was important, particularly for young people.
And we did one final thing that I think government ought to do a lot more of, which is a good, solid business practice -- we benchmarked it. We actually measured where we were. And when things were going well, we continued on the strategy that we had. And when it wasn't working, we adjusted our strategy. We made this a serious effort, and we were successful. And I think the president could play a significant role in making sure that communities and states did the exact same thing. I appreciate the question.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. Thank you, Governor Bush.
COOPER: Governor, this is...
... this is Daniel Morales. He's a Republican, he says he's undecided.
BUSH: Your name's Daniel, I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Yes, correct.
BUSH: How you doing, Daniel?
QUESTION: Good, how are you?
QUESTION: Hey -- local business owner here in the area. Just have a question about your marriage. So a lot of the most memorable, influential leaders, whether it's Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. -- they all had these marriages that were a significant impact in their leadership.
QUESTION: So my question is -- is how has your wife and your marriage influenced your leadership?
BUSH: Well, this is -- Sweetie, this is going to be your anniversary present.
So I'm -- we're -- we'll have 42 years of marriage next week, on February 23rd, and it's been a -- it's been a joyous ride, as far as I'm concerned.
I met my wife in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, when I was 17 years old, on a Sunday afternoon, about 5 o'clock. I can remember -- I can remember exactly where I was on the town square. And I remember exactly what she looked like, to this day, 45 years ago, and I fell madly in love -- head over heels, lightning bolt in love.
I lost -- I was skinnier back then. I lost -- I lost, like, 20 pounds. I think I probably weighed, like, 175 after two weeks of -- of hanging out with Columba. And she was the most beautiful girl I ever met in my life, and I decided I was going to marry her right then and now. I mean -- she said I was too tall. Who would have thought that?
But we ended up -- finally, I convinced her that this was the right thing to do, and we got married. She was 20 and I was 21, and we -- we've been on our life journey ever since. She is my inspiration.
I tell people my life can be divided in a lot of ways, but the most important way, perhaps, is A.C. and B.C. -- you know, Before Columba and After Columba. And the After Columba part of my life has been a lot better. I'm a lot better person because of it as well.
Love you, dear.
QUESTION: Thank you.
COOPER: I -- actually, I read something from your son, Jeb Jr., who said that you guys speak Spanish in the home. Is that true?
BUSH: Yeah. Yeah.
COOPER: Pretty much exclusively?
COOPER: You must be pretty good.
BUSH: ... yeah. No, I -- I'm fluent. I'm -- I'm -- I'm bilingual.
We can do it -- si quieres hacer esta entrevista en Espanol, los hemos.
BUSH: Yeah, it's an -- it's an advantage in life to able to have -- you know, a -- we have a bicultural relationship, and -- and it brings a diversity and a joy to -- and a -- it just -- it adds lot of vitality to my life.
And so, yeah, I speak Spanish.
COOPER: I wish I did. I want you to meet -- sorry. John Whitaker. John, what's your question?
QUESTION: Governor Bush, as a local financial adviser, I worry a lot about debt. I dislike debt.
QUESTION: And we have quickly seen our country go from $9 trillion in national debt to 19 trillion (dollars). If elected, what could you do to help slow entitlement spending, to help get the debt under control to protect future generations?
BUSH: Well first of all, we need to create a culture of savings rather than a culture of debt, not just for the government, but for all of us. If you think about it -- and you know this because you're in this business -- 60 percent of Americans can't make a -- 63 percent of Americans can't make a $500 car payment. They don't have the cash to do that. And 60 percent of Americans don't have more than $1,000 of cash available to deal with whatever -- you know, whatever comes their way.
A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck and they're struggling. They're struggling. In any kind of hardship, there's no security, there's no -- there's no safety net for them, and it creates real hardship. So whatever we do, we also need to be promoting and providing incentives for savings.
My little business -- my son Jeb is here, we had a business of four people, and I decided we were going to have a 401(k). It costs $1,000 to open up the 401(k). A four-person business, that's a cost that is really -- you know, I probably shouldn't have done it if it was just simply based on a sound business decision.
But we should allow businesses to pool their money, to pool their employees to create 401(k) opportunities over a broader scale, like large businesses have the opportunity to do. We should allow businesses to, instead of having a 401(k) if they don't want to do that, to get a tax-free deduction to invest in their employees' IRA, which is another way of doing this.
I think Social Security beneficiaries, once they reach retirement age and they're continuing to work, should not have to pay the employee portion of the payroll tax. It's their money, they've already made the contributions into the Social Security system, why not allow them to keep the 6-plus percent going directly to their pockets. It's a form of retirement savings, it just stays in their pocket instead of getting -- going through the government process. There's a lot of ways that we should promote private savings is my point.
As it relates to fixing the debt from government, there are three things that we have to do -- I'd say four. One, grow the economy at 4 percent, not 2 percent. That 2 percent incremental growth, if you just do the compounding out, given the scale of our economy, you would create a Germany of additional economic activity in the 10th year if we created a high growth strategy. And a Germany of economic activity is a heck of a lot of revenue that would be coming into the federal government.
So growing at a faster rate, which means tax reform, regulatory reform, embracing the energy revolution, dealing with the things that are now impeding our ability to invest in our own country -- and I have specific plans. If you're interested, jeb2016.com. If you want to have a wonk-a-thon, a policy wonk-a-thon, every one of the detailed plans we laid out are there.
Secondly, we need career civil service reforms. There shouldn't be lifetime guarantees for government workers. Government workers in Washington get paid 40 percent more than their equivalent workers in the private sector. Why? They're supposed to be the servants, not the masters. But yet, we've allowed this to happen because they have these protections that make it harder to adjust to reform, to challenge.
People -- we're stuck -- we're stuck in a 20th century world where -- the 20th century's bureaucracy in a 21st century world. So I did that as governor of the state of Florida, we have to do it in Washington.
Third, we need entitlement reform, as you said, and we need to reform our Social Security system. I would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a consumer-directed model that would, in lieu of all of the subsidies and taxes and all the mandates, we would shift all this away from Washington, create state exchanges that are not coercive and have catastrophic coverage to be the norm, low-premium, catastrophic coverage, with pre-existing conditions being the one standard that would be kept from Obamacare and allowing your young adults, children, to be able to stay on your plan should you so desire and give people that aren't receiving insurance through their company a $3,100 tax credit, a refundable tax credit to allow them to purchase on exchanges, allow them to cross lines, allow them to pick the best plan for themselves and their families.
This would be a far less costly way and would deal with these out-year costs of Obamacare that are going to be devastating. Similarly, Medicare needs to have reforms and Social Security. And I would -- I would create -- I would push Medicaid back to the states.
BUSH: I know -- if I was governor today of Florida, I could take the Medicaid dollars that the state right now has and create a Medicaid -- 21st century Medicaid program for people of low income that would cost less and would have significantly better outcomes. As long as Washington didn't impose the rules on it, you could too. That's the beauty of this is common sense applied without all the rules around it we could recast a lot of these programs.
So shifting power away from Washington is the other way to deal with the deficit. You do those four things: high growth, reasonable (ph) service reform, entitlement reform and shifting how we educate, transportation, every possible thing back to the states. I want to be the second -- the tenth amendment president because the government in Washington was not designed to do all the things that it's doing now.
That's how you get back to moving towards a balanced budget. We can do it. I believe in my heart that we can.
COOPER: Thank you ...
BUSH: Thank you ...
COOPER: Governor, if you'll just have a seat. We just have a couple of -- usually like to end these with just a couple of lighter personal questions.
BUSH: We're finished?
COOPER: Well, just kind of ...
BUSH: I was just warming up.
COOPER: What kind of music do you listen to?
BUSH: I listen to country music mostly. Zach Brown (ph). The -- Tim Miller (ph) is my communications director thinks it's crazy but the song I come out to for all our town hall meetings I actually like. So I listen to the same songs that we play on our -- in our meetings because I actually like the song. Florida, Georgia band I like ...
COOPER: How do you relax?
BUSH: How do I relax?
COOPER: You're governor -- your brother paints now. What do you ...
BUSH: Yeah. That's really weird.
COOPER: Has he painted you ...
BUSH: I still haven't quite -- no. No. I'm waiting for the primitive era to be finished before we -- no. He's actually pretty good at it. He told some poor -- some art teacher. He called him up -- call her up out of the blue and said, "this is George Bush. I want to learn how to paint. There's a Rembrant inside of me and you're job is to bring the Rembrant out."
Talk about pressure but he's gotten pretty good at it. I don't -- I don't warrant a picture yet.
COOPER: What do you like to do though?
BUSH: What do I like to do?
COOPER: To relax?
BUSH: To relax? I like to do Sunday fun day with my two precious granddaughters that live in Miami with Jeb junior and Sandra (ph). I make guacamole and Jeb cooks on the grill. I like hanging out with my granddaughters and grandsons when I get a chance. I like playing speed golf and I like reading. I love reading. I learned that from my momma ...
COOPER: What are you -- are you reading anything now?
BUSH: I just finished the John Meacham book on my dad and it was interesting. I learned more about my dad than I thought I would. I thought I actually knew everything and it wasn't even close. He wrote a diary over a long period of his life and Meacham had approval to read the diary. And mom was the editor.
He had to get approval to put stuff in the book and it was pretty extraordinary. He's a great writer and it's a really good book.
COOPER: Is there something in particular you learned that you ...
BUSH: I learned of how tough it was to loose in 1992. He didn't share that. He's part of the generation that you don't show your emotions. You grind through, you stiff upper lip or whatever it is. You don't -- we're now -- people in my generation are all like -- they're kind of more like Bill Clinton.
It's all -- you have to emote and it's kind of more -- a little bit more about -- about the person rather than my dad's generation was much more selfless I think. And less about them and more about helping others. So he didn't ever express any kind of deep disappointment but it was there. It was real and shouldn't be -- I shouldn't have been surprised by that. He lost an election. He felt like he let people down. He wanted to serve. He was a great president and I think the country would have been better off had he won but he also eventually accepted it and moved on and had a great post-presidency.
COOPER: I've heard you say that you're an introvert. I'm a complete ...
BUSH: Yeah ...
COOPER: I'm a complete introvert. It's very strange that I'm on television ...
BUSH: No ...
COOPER: Yeah. But is it -- is it ...
BUSH: That's even stranger than me.
COOPER: No, but is it hard to campaign as an introvert?
BUSH: I -- you'll know this. You'll appreciate this because introverts set goals ... COOPER: Right, yes.
BUSH: And they grind and they just like -- they just go at it ...
BUSH: Which is a pretty good thing to be when you're running for president when you've been written off over and over and over again. And you're not deterred by that. In fact, that just makes me more motivated, more energized. So I've overcome my introversion which makes me I think better -- better than an extrovert.
COOPER: How do you do that? You propel yourself forward?
BUSH: Yeah. I just -- I think I connect better with people because I learned how to do it. It wasn't something that came naturally. It's not about me and the greatest jobs that I have are town hall meetings where I'm learning. Introverts like to learn, too.
They don't like to talk about everything, they like to listen. And my -- in my experience listening allows you to learn and then you have a chance to lead. Rather than being a big blow hard and just talking all the time. What are you going to learn when you're talking? Nothing.
COOPER: Governor Bush, thank you very much.
BUSH: Thank you, guys. Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you.
BUSH: I go out this way?
COOPER: Yes, sir.
COOPER: Oh, sorry. All right. At the break. Governor Bush -- we'll thank Governor Bush for joining us and when we come back, Donald Trump. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome to the second night of the CNN Republican presidential town hall from Columbia, South Carolina. Welcome. We've heard now from Governor Kasich. We've heard from Governor Bush.
Everyone please welcome Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Hello, everybody. COOPER: Welcome. How's it going? Nice to see you.
TRUMP: Hello, Anderson. Nice to see you.
COOPER: Have a seat.
So, you've had quite a day.
TRUMP: Oh, the pope is a wonderful guy.
COOPER: Let's start right there.
TRUMP: A little surprise.
COOPER: How surprised were you by what the pope said? For those who don't know, he said -- part of what he said was "a person who thinks only about building walls wherever they may be, and not of building bridges is not Christian; this is not the Gospel."
TRUMP: Well, I didn't think it was a good thing for him to say, frankly. And he was talking about the border, and as you know, I'm very strong on border security, and we have to have a border in this country, and we certainly don't have one right now.
And, as you know, we're talking about building a wall. We're gonna build a wall, and Mexico's gonna pay for the wall, and that's the way it is. They -- you know, we have a trade balance, and -- and if you look at it -- imbalance of about $58 billion with Mexico.
And it's really more than that, because we also subsidize, et cetera, et cetera, so they're gonna pay for the wall. But somehow, the government of Mexico spoke with the Pope -- I mean, they spent a lot of time with the Pope -- and by the time he left, he made a statement -- I don't know...
COOPER: Wait, you think that the government of Mexico somehow got the Pope to say this?
TRUMP: Absolutely. Well, I don't think they said that way. But I think they probably talked about isn't it terrible that Mr. Trump wants to have border security, et cetera, et cetera.
And the Pope made the statement, and I think it was probably a little bit nicer statement than it was reported by you folks in the media, because after I read it, it was a little bit softer.
But the bottom line is we've gotta have a border, we've gotta have security. We have tremendous illegal immigration in the country. (inaudible).
COOPER: Well, I'll just say, the Pope did go on to say, "this is -- this is not the gospel. As far as what you have said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I'm not gonna get involved on that. "I say only that this man is not Christian, if he has said things like
that. We must see if he's said things in that way, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt."
TRUMP: And he also talked about having a wall is not Christian, and he's got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I will tell you. So it's gonna be an interesting -- how -- how's he...
COOPER: But people do come and go through the Vatican, and it's open to tour. TRUMP: And they're gonna come and go through the wall. I mean -- you know, but they're gonna come and go legally. They're gonna do it legally. And that's what I want, and that's what a lot of people want, obviously, because they agree with me.
COOPER: But you -- you've been in fights with a lot of people. But in -- with the Pope -- I mean, does it give you pause?
TRUMP: I don't like fighting with the Pope, actually. I don't think this is a fight. I think he said something much softer than was originally reported by the media. I think that he heard one side of the story, which is probably by the Mexican government.
He didn't see the tremendous strain that -- you know, the border's causing us with respect to illegal immigration, with the drugs pouring across the border.
I mean, I -- I just won the New Hampshire primary, and I will tell you these are amazing people. The biggest single problem that I had, no matter where I went in New Hampshire, was heroin, and it's pouring in. And it is just pouring into the area.
And -- you know, it's sort of funny, because you -- you look at New Hampshire as being this beautiful, idyllic place -- magnificent. I loved it. I love the people there. I love the whole place. And it's the last place you think that they'd really have a big drug problem.
They have a massive drug problem, as you know. And it's always the first subject, no matter what I do -- it's the first subject they want to talk about, and we've got to stop it. And it's pouring in through the southern border, and we are going to stop it.
COOPER: I just want to ask you one more question on the Pope, and then we'll move on, because there's a lot of other items in the news before we get to -- to our voters, many of whom are undecided, as many people are in this state.
TRUMP: Really? (inaudible) they're undecided?
COOPER: You could -- you're doing well in the polls. You could pick up a couple votes tonight.
TRUMP: Well, that's a maybe, actually (ph).
COOPER: Maybe. We'll see. But you -- you know, early on, you talked about forgiveness. And you
were asked, in terms of your faith, whether you ask for forgiveness. At one point, I remember you said to me you tried not to do things wrong so that you don't have to ask for forgiveness.
TRUMP: True. COOPER: Was there a moment when you first heard the Pope had said something about you that you thought, "maybe I'm gonna have to ask for forgiveness?
TRUMP: No. No, look. I...
... I have a lot of respect for the Pope. I think he's got a lot of personality. He's very different. He's a very different kind of a guy, and I think he's doing a very good job. He's -- a lot of energy.
But I would say that I think he was very much misinterpreted, and I also think he was given false information. If he would have heard our side -- the side from people that live in the United States?
COOPER: Would you like to meet with him and talk to him about it?
TRUMP: I'll do it any time he wants. I mean, I think it would be very interesting. No, I like him. I mean, I like him as a personality, I like what he represents and I certainly have great respect for the position.
COOPER: I -- I -- as you know, we did a town hall last night. I talked to Marco Rubio, talked to Senator Cruz. You sent Senator Cruz a cease and desist letter to the campaign about an ad they're running that features an old interview you did with Tim Russert back in the late '90s...
TRUMP: Long time ago.
COOPER: Yeah, you -- when you were...
TRUMP: Many, many years ago.
COOPER: ... when you were pro-choice. You are now -- say your position has completely changed...
TRUMP: I'm pro-life.
COOPER: ... you are pro-life, and you're adamant about that. But...
TRUMP: But that's not the only thing. I mean, look -- he has a problem with the truth. And even Marco Rubio -- I guess today there was something about he was -- you know, picture was manufactured, and it was not perfectly (ph)...
COOPER: Photoshopped, right?
TRUMP: Well, it was totally Photoshopped. I could see by just looking at it. In fact, they even made Marco a lot shorter than he is, if you look at it really. And I'm sure that's probably the thing that bothered him the most.
He was a hell of a lot -- he was, like, very small. I mean, he's not that small. Not too big, but he's not so small.
But -- but I will tell you -- I looked at that photo, I said immediately it was Photoshopped. But if you look what the he did -- I'm talking about Cruz -- to Ben Carson, where he said, "listen, he's out of the race. Everybody, come vote for us, he's out of the" -- that was so dishonest.
And then he did something else that you people never picked up on, and I think it was the worst of all. He did a voter violation notice. It looked like it's right out of the IRS.
COOPER: Yeah, we talked about it.
TRUMP: The official paper -- it was so disgusting. And it's basically you have a voter violation.
Now, they don't have lawyers. These are people that were frightened when they got it. And it graded them. And you have an F, F, F, F. And essentially, it says if you vote for Ted Cruz, this violation is going to go away. And let me tell you something, people voted for him because of that. That was a fraudulent document.
And he said things about me. For instance, I'm very strong on the Second Amendment. He said, "Donald Trump will leave the Second Amendment; he's going to destroy the Second Amendment; you're not going to have a Second Amendment." There's even one going up now in Nevada. He's got something about land -- that I'm for taking back the land.
I have nothing to do with it. He -- he will make up stories. And you know, he holds up the Bible and then he lies. I think it's very inappropriate.
COOPER: But -- but a cease-and-desist letter, I mean, you're not going to sue him.
TRUMP: Well, you don't know that. But I like to send letters.
I have a lot of lawyers. I have wonderful lawyers. I like to send letters. But you know what?
It's good that people know. And I think it's probably -- it's probably affected him because I know the CBS poll just came out a little while ago, New York Times-CBS, and I mean, my numbers are fantastic. I think it had an impact... COOPER: But in that -- in that particular commercial, he's using an interview you did give in the late '90s that doesn't represent your current position.
TRUMP: But he's not saying that. He's saying, "I am." And you take a look at the words he says, when he goes around talking to people, he uses that. That was -- what? -- 17 or 19 years ago. That was a long time ago. It was with Tim Russert, who by the way, was a great guy. We miss Tim Russert. I really liked him a lot. But it was with Tim Russert. And you've got explain my views now, too. You can't say, "I am," because he would say "I am." And that's what he was doing when he went out to audiences, and it's just not true.
And as far as Second Amendment, I'm the strongest person running on the Second Amendment. And he would say -- you know, he'd just make up stories. So it was inappropriate, Anderson, and we'll see what happens. Who knows? I mean, I think he's got other cases. I think the wonderful case is going to be whether or not, and I understand he got sued today actually. He's going to be sued by a lot of people and he's going to be sued by the Democrats if he ever got the nomination, which I don't think he will. Honestly, I don't think he will.
But if he ever got the -- I don't think -- I don't think he's got a very good chance of getting it. But he was sued today on the fact that he was born in Canada. It's a big problem.
TRUMP: A problem for the party, for the Republican Party.
COOPER: You said now -- cease and desist letter; as you say, you've got a lot of lawyers. You like to send out letters. You certainly attack...
TRUMP: (inaudible), but it's something I will do on occasion.
COOPER: You certainly attack -- your critics say, look, you're a bully. How do you respond?
TRUMP: I'm not a bully. No, I'm not a bully at all. I don't think I'm a bully at all. I built a great company. I filed as, you know, when I did my file, everyone said I wasn't going to run, then I ran. Then I signed certain documents. Everyone said, you'll never sign -- you know, you'll basically sign your life away -- form A or whatever it's called. I signed form A. It's like, you know, they said, "Wow, he signed that."
Then they said, "Well, he'll never put in his financials because maybe they're not as good." Turned out they're much better than anybody ever even envisioned. And I built a great company.
You have to be -- you have to have a certain personality to build -- I have some of the greatest assets in the world, very low debt, tremendous cash flow. I mean, it's a truly great company.
COOPER: So as president, would you be sending cease and desist letters? Would you be...
TRUMP: Yeah, maybe to China.
No, I would be. I would be sending them to China to stop ripping us off. I would be sending them to other countries to stop ripping us off. I'd send them to Mexico. And when I say cease and desist, maybe it's equivalent, OK? Maybe I do it with my mouth. (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: (inaudible) disagree with?
TRUMP: Of course. Look, our country is going to hell. We have a problem with China. We have a problem with Japan. We have a problem with Mexico both at the border and in trade. Carrier just announced they're moving to -- Carrier Air Conditioner -- I buy them all the time. I'm not going to buy them anymore, by the way. I buy thousands. They're moving to Mexico. I saw the clip. I saw the boss say, "We're closing up; we're moving to Mexico."
What do we get out of it? They're moving to Mexico. Now, they're going to make air conditioners, sell them to us, no tax, no nothing. We get nothing out of it.
By the way, if we said, "Guess what? You're going to have to pay a 35 percent tax to get them through the border." They wouldn't even move.
COOPER: I want you to meet some of the voters. Sherry Burris (ph) is here. She's Republican who says she's currently undecided.
TRUMP: Oh, that's too bad.
COOPER: She's got a question for you. Sherry?
QUESTION: Hi. Nice to meet you.
TRUMP: Thank you.
QUESTION: First, I wanted to start off saying that I'm impressed with your business sense, especially because I'm a commercial real estate broker.
TRUMP: Good. Then you know. You know how...
QUESTION: Yes. Maybe you can teach me some things.
But I also have a...
TRUMP: Where are you from?
QUESTION: I'm from Columbia, South Carolina.
I also have a master's in public administration. I worked for 16 years in state government, all the way from working with the legislature to state and local government, trying to actually implement private sector policies. As you probably have already figured out, politics and government in general is a totally different animal.
TRUMP: Totally different.
QUESTION: Yes. Here's my concern. In private sector, if you don't like the deal, you can walk away. The president is not a person, it's not a business, it's an office that is powered to protect and serve the people of the United States.
My biggest concern is how are you going to govern and get buy-in from people that you may totally disagree with without getting angry and without -- refusing to look for common ground. I like your principles, I want a strong president. I want someone who is strong, tenacious, but I'm having some trouble getting past your self control.
QUESTION: Can you help me with that?
TRUMP: I appreciate the question, actually. It's a great question.
First of all, when it comes to -- you know, some people say, oh, Trump is tough and I thought I did a great debate the other night. Time Magazine and everybody thought that I won. Drudge thought I won. You know, they do the polls after the debate. I thought I did a great debate, but some people thought I was too tough.
I said, wait a minute. I have Jeb Bush and I have all these guys coming at me from 15 different angles, and you have to be tough and we have to be tough to protect our country.
I have a great temperament. You don't build a great company and especially a company with very little debt and all of the kinds of things that I have, and I have employees that have been with me for many, many years. I mean, long-term employees. They're really great people and they've been with me for a long time.
But we need a certain toughness. Look, we have ISIS chopping off people's heads, Christians' heads, everybody else's heads, drowning people in cages. You've never seen -- this is like medieval times. We need a certain toughness.
I know that Hillary said I don't like Donald trump's tone. Tone? They're chopping off the heads of people. This hasn't happened since medieval times. We need certain toughness, and if we don't have the toughness, we're not going to end up with a country. You know, we're going to let people come into this country, they're going to be ISIS or ISIS-related and we're going to have problems like you've never seen.
You had a problem where you had two radicalized, probably she came in radical, radicalized him, the two -- the married couple, the young couple. They killed 14 people. They killed 14 people. They killed people, and you understand what I'm talking about in California, they killed people that give them wedding parties. People that they knew very well. People that they worked with. People that they actually get along with. They killed them. There's something going on. We need a certain toughness. We have weak people leading our country.
COOPER: So as president, though, I mean, you've talked about this before, would your tone be different? Is there a presidential Trump?
TRUMP: It would be -- yeah. You and I have had this conversation. Yeah sure. Look, I went to the best school, I was a good student and all of this stuff. I mean, I'm a smart person. I -- my uncle was one of the top people at MIT, he was a great professor at MIT.
I -- like, you know, Like -- it's a smart family, OK? I know -- I can be more politically correct than anybody that you've ever interviewed. You'd probably say, boy, that was a boring interview. But I can be very -- I can do whatever I want.
I have Palm Beach, I have Maralago (ph). I deal with society. Society loves me, and I can act differently for different people. But we don't have time to be totally politically correct in this country. Our country is in serious, serious trouble.
Let me give you one example, though, about toughness. So we have the Democrats and the Republicans, corporate inversions. There's trillions of dollars that cannot get back into this country. The Democrats agree it should come back in, the Republicans agree. This isn't something like a health care or whatever that they don't agree. This is something -- trillions. They say 2.5 trillion, I say it's more than $5 trillion.
Carl Icahn endorsed me. He's a great guy, he's a tough guy. I would get him involved in things. We'll get the smartest business leaders involved. But we have this 2.5 to $5 trillion outside of the country. The Republicans want it in, the Democrats want it in. They can't make a deal. They can't make a deal because there's no leader.
I would put these people in a room, and within 10 minutes, I'd have a deal. They all want it. This is something that -- not where there's a dispute, they all want it. There's no leadership. Maybe they don't work hard enough, I don't know what it is.
COOPER: There's some -- there's some candidates that were saying, look, compromise is a dirty word. You have to stand on principles. Do you believe in compromise?
TRUMP: No, I believe in compromise where I win, OK?
COOPER: Can you always win in a compromise?
TRUMP: Yes, can you win. I mean, look. Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan, they ran a pretty good ship and they did well and everybody was happy. The country wasn't based on executive orders. Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can't even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It's a basic disaster. You can't do it. But here's the thing. Corporate inversion. We have companies, great
companies leaving the United States. You know, it used to be they'd leave New York for Florida or they'd leave some place for Texas or some other place, right? But we have great companies leaving this country. The great drug companies are leaving, many of them, they're going to Ireland. I mean, we're having announcements where thousands and thousands of jobs and greats companies are leaving. We can't let that happen.
And they're leaving for two reasons, lower taxes, and my plan -- under my tax plan, the taxes are much, much lower for the middle class and also for corporations. But very importantly, they're leaving to get back money. They are leaving to get the money that they can't bring back into this country.
COOPER: I want you to meet another voter. This is Todd Hicks. He's got a question about health care. He says he is voting for you on Saturday.
TRUMP: I like -- I like right from the beginning. Thank you, Todd (ph). You're doing the right thing.
QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. Trump. My question's about health care and I'm a local health insurance agent over in Canvas (ph), South Carolina. And I'm not a big fan of Obamacare.
TRUMP: You're right.
QUESTION: Yes. You've gone on record as stating that -- many times that you're -- one of your first acts of duty when you're elected president would be to abolish Obamacare.
TRUMP: Right. A hundred percent.
QUESTION: A hundred percent. I've actually sat and watched the stick shock from customers as they come in and they've seen the rising costs. What -- I'm sorry. (Inaudible). What is your exact plan and please ...
TRUMP: OK ...
Question: Be specific as to what you would do to replace Obamacare?
TRUMP: OK. Great question. First of all, Obamacare as you know is a disaster. Your rates are going up 25, 35, 45, 55 percent. It's going to fail in '17 anyway unless as usual the Republicans bail them out. We know where the Democrats are coming from but the Republicans have been so weak.
The budget they passed four weeks ago is a -- they call it the omnibus budget. It gives Obama everything he wanted. It gives him money to bring in people from Syria that we have no idea who they are or where they are, et cetera which is a disaster. We can't afford to do that.
It gives money for illegal immigration, for letting people come in illegally into this country. The whole thing is a disaster and the Republicans passed it. With health care, we have repeal and replace Obamacare.
COOPER: What would you replace it with?
TRUMP: A health care savings accounts (sic) which are great. We would do that or we're going to have and probably -- and -- you can say and/or -- what I really like is the -- I'm a self-funder. I'm not taking any money, OK? I'm not taking money from the insurance companies so I can do what's right.
I can do what's right for the people, I can do -- and this is something that I think I've been given credit for. I don't think I've been given enough credit because I have turned down hundreds of millions of dollars. I could take -- if Jeb Bush raised $148 million put it in a fund it's like throwing it out the window what he did with it.
I would have had 500 -- I would have had $1 billion -- I have people asking me, "please let me give you" -- I'm doing it all myself. What happened is we have lines around each state. It makes it impossible for people to bid to -- for insurance companies to bid within those states. The insurance company would have a monopoly -- would rather have a monopoly on here or New York or on Iowa or on any other place than be able to bid all over that United States.
Because they make much more money that way. What we do and the insurance companies take care of the politicians. They're giving the politicians -- most of the guys that I'm running against are getting money from insurance companies and they're getting money from -- by the way other companies. Drug companies, pharmaceutical companies.
They give tremendous amounts of money to the people that I'm negotiating against, that I'm debating against, the people that are on the stage, the people that are in Congress, the Senators. So what I'm saying is this, we have to get rid of the lines. We have to create competition. When you do that you will have the best health care you've ever, ever had.
And it'll be at a reasonable cost. They almost got rid of the lines when they were doing Obamacare but it didn't happen. Because the insurance companies have too many of the Senators under control.
COOPER: Let me ask -- just to follow-up ...
TRUMP: You understand what I mean. There's no competition.
COOPER: Did you get your answer -- is that specific enough for you -- do you ...
QUESTION: Sounds fairly enough. Yes.
COOPER: I got one question about it. If Obamacare's ...
TRUMP: Thank you ...
COOPER: Repealed and there's no mandate for everybody to have insurance, what's to -- why would insurance company (sic) not have a pre-existing -- insure somebody who has a pre-existing condition ...
TRUMP: Well I like the mandate. OK. So here's where I'm a little bit different. I don't want people dying on the streets and I say this all the time. And I say this -- look, I did five speeches, maybe six speeches today. We had a lot of rallies. We had of thousands and thousands of people. We get big crowds.
Every time I talk about this I get standing ovations. The Republican people, they're wonderful people. They don't want people dying on the streets. Sometimes they'll say Donald Trump wants single payer because there's a group of people -- as good as these plans are and by the way your insurance will go way down, you'll have better plans, you'll get your own doctor which Obama lied. Remember this ...
COOPER: Will people with pre-existing conditions be able to get insurance?
TRUMP: Yes. Obama lied when he said you're going to keep your plan, you're going to keep your doctor, you got to -- it was a pure lie. And frankly, many Democrats went along only because they believed him. He lied 28 times he said it. Twenty-eight times.
If that were in the private sector you'd be sued for fraud, OK? He lied to get the plan through. He got it through and it's turned out to be a disaster. The wrong people are buying it, you know what's happening. It's dead. It's going to -- look, Obamacare is dead.
It's going to be repealed, it's going to be replaced. But I will say this, Anderson. If we don't do something quickly you're going to have a health care that you -- like you've never seen before in this country.
Now, the new plan is good. It's going to be inexpensive. It's going to be much better for the people. But there's going to a group of people at the bottom -- people that haven't done well. People that don't have any money that won't be able to be care of.
TRUMP: We're going to take care of them through maybe concepts of Medicare. We have hospitals that aren't doing well, we have doctors that aren't doing well. You cannot let people die on the street, OK?
Now, some people would say, "that's not a very Republican thing to say." Every time I say this at a rally, or even today, I said it -- once, it got a standing ovation.
I said, you know, the problem is everybody thinks that you people, as Republicans, hate the concept of taking care of people that are really, really sick and are gonna die.
That's not single payer, by the way. That's called heart. We gotta take care of people that can't take care of themselves. But the plans will be much less expensive than Obamacare, they'll be far better than Obamacare, you'll get your doctor, you'll get everything that you want to get. It'll be unbelievable.
But you've gotta get rid of the lines. You gotta have competition. Those people that are left -- we've gotta help them live. And everybody likes it when I say it, and that includes Republicans. And it's not single payer.
I want to you meet Orrin Smith, he's a Republican from Leesville. He says he's undecided. Orrin, welcome.
QUESTION: First of all, hello, good to see you again.
TRUMP: Hello, Orrin. Nice to see you.
QUESTION: I think it's about five years ago I sat in your office and you said you were thinking about running for president then, and you didn't run then. But man, are you running...
TRUMP: I should have done it. We would have had Obama for four years instead of for eight years. Right?
QUESTION: ... right, right. Well, man, are you running now.
TRUMP: I am running. I am running.
QUESTION: Yes, and...
TRUMP: Actually, this may be better timing for me if you (inaudible). QUESTION: ... right, and you've made a lot of statements about a lot of issues. You've covered a lot of ground in...
QUESTION: ... in a very short period of time. One statement you made, I'm really having trouble getting over, frankly...
QUESTION: ... and I wanted to ask you about it.
QUESTION: As a matter of fact, when I was watching the debate, and you made this statement, I had to apologize to my children for the words that came out of my mouth when you said what you said. And that was -- and I don't want to put words in your mouth, so correct me if I'm wrong...
TRUMP: Go ahead. Sure.
QUESTION: ... when you said that George W. Bush, which was our last Republican president, a man I respect greatly, a person that we really fought for when he was up against a lot of pressure -- that -- that he lied to get us in the war in Iraq.
That -- that -- that stung me very deeply.
QUESTION: I don't -- I don't believe that. I'm just wondering, given some time passing -- perhaps you've rethought that. Would you be willing to rethink that?
TRUMP: Well, a lot of people agree with what I said. And I'm not talking about lying, I'm not talking about not lying. Nobody really knows why we went into Iraq. The Iraqis did not knock down -- it was not Saddam Hussein that knocked down the World Trade Center, OK? That's...
QUESTION: What was -- just -- what you said was, "they lied, they said there were weapons of mass destruction, and there were none, and they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction."
TRUMP: Well, there are a lot of people that think that. There are a lot of people that think -- look, bottom line, there were no weapons of mass destruction. They said, "there are weapons of mass destruction." I was against the war when it started.
QUESTION: So -- so do you think -- do you think the president of the United States, George W. Bush, lied to the American people?
TRUMP: Well, look, I'm not going to get your vote, but that's OK. Let me just (inaudible).
QUESTION: I'm just giving you another shot at it.
TRUMP: Let me -- let me tell you something. I'll tell you it very simply. It may have been the worst decision -- going into Iraq may have been the worst decision anybody has made, any president has made in the history of this country. That's how bad it is, OK?
The migration that you see today, the destruction of Europe, with Angela Merkel allowing millions of people coming into Germany. I have people from Germany -- they want to leave Germany.
These are people, two years ago, that would -- who'd do nothing but talk about how they love their country, Germany. They're gonna leave Germany. Many, many people are leaving Germany. You're gonna end up with big problems in Germany.
You look at Sweden, the other day -- you look at Brussels -- I was in Brussels years ago. It was one of the most beautiful -- now it's like an armed camp. So crazy, what they've done.
All of this is the -- everything that's happening started with stupidly going into the war in Iraq. Now, Iraq -- we have -- and people talk about me with the button -- I'm the one that doesn't want do this, OK? I'm the one, from 2002, 2003, said you shouldn't be doing it.
Here's -- here's what happens. We have spent $2 trillion in Iraq -- in fighting Iraq. Two trillion. Two trillion. Thousands of lives, right. We have wounded warriors, who I love, all over the place, who say the most incredible -- these are braver than all of us in this room put together.
I look at the attitude, and I work with them, and these are great people. We got nothing. We have nothing. We're not even there -- we can't even make a phone call right now...
COOPER: But to his question, do you believe...
QUESTION: I'm trying to separate -- yeah.
TRUMP: Let me tell you, do I know?
COOPER: Do you believe he lied, or do you...
TRUMP: I can tell you this. I can -- I don't -- whether he lied or not, he went into Iraq. It was a horrible decision, OK. And Iraq did not knock down the World Trade Center.
Where did these people go when they got on the airplanes? You know where they went? Do you know where they went? They went -- a lot of them went to Saudi Arabia, OK? They didn't go back to Iraq. They went to Saudi Arabia.
Now, there are sealed documents right now that nobody wants to allow to be opened that talk very much about this subject. I'd like to see what it says.
I will say this -- Bush felt very -- and Saddam Hussein overplayed his hand, because he was -- you know, he -- senior Bush did the right thing. He knocked the heck out of him, and then he pulled back, OK? He didn't get into the quagmire. And that was OK to do.
The problem is Saddam Hussein said, "I drove them back. I drove the Americans back." He really overplayed his hand. And frankly, I think the son, being loyal to the father -- I think he really wanted to go into Iraq, even if it wasn't the right thing to do.
TRUMP: He went into Iraq. He started something that destroyed the Middle East. And I said, "Don't go in because you're going to ruin the balance in the Middle East; you're going to have a total imbalance; you're going to have Iran taking over Iraq." Everything I said turned out to be true.
Iran is now taking over Iraq. So -- and they wanted to do it for years and years years. They're going to walk in.
So, not only do we make a horrible, horrible deal where we're giving Iran $150 billion. We got nothing for it. We get our prisoners back. They should have been given back to us three years ago, four years ago. We shouldn't have even started negotiating until we got our prisoners back. And we would have had it that way.
But here's the problem. So, we make all bad deals. The war in Iraq started the whole destabilization of the Middle East. It started ISIS. It started Libya. It started Syria. That was one of the worst decisions ever made by any government at any time.
In all fairness, Bush made the decision. Just one thing. And Barack Obama -- Barack Obama, as bad as he is, and he's bad -- but he got us out the wrong way. He should have left people there. And he should have done it differently. And he shouldn't have said, "We're getting out at a specific time."
He gave a specific date, as you know, to get out. So bad. So bad.
COOPER: Just to his question -- one more chance. Either -- you believe he either lied or did not lie. Are you willing to say which?
TRUMP: I don't know what he did. I just know it was a terrible mistake.
COOPER: So, was it a mistake for you to say in that debate that you thought he lied?
TRUMP: I'd have to see the exact words. Look, I don't know. I would probably say that something was going on. I don't know why he went in. I don't know why he went in. Because honestly, there was no reason to go in. They didn't knock down the World Trade Center. It wasn't Iraq that knocked it down.
COOPER: You would not say again that George W. Bush lied.
TRUMP: I don't know. I can't tell you. I'd have to look at some documents.
COOPER: OK. I want you to meet Craig Caldwell (ph). He's a small business owner. He says he's undecided. Craig?
QUESTION: Thank you, Anderson.
QUESTION: You're considered the political outsider in this race. A lot of people attribute your overall success so far to that. If you go on to win this nomination and are elected in November, a Trump administration cabinet would consist of people outside of politics. If so, who would you -- can you give us some examples of who you would consider and for what post they would...
COOPER: You talked about Carl Icahn already.
TRUMP: Yeah, but I don't necessarily -- you know, Carl's a very successful businessman. What I'd really love Carl to do is check out how are we doing in trade with China, pal.
COOPER: You want him to negotiate.
TRUMP: I'd like him negotiating.
COOPER: Have you thought about...
TRUMP: I have other friends. I have some of the greatest businessmen in the world. They're all calling me now because they say, "Wow, this could happen." And they're all calling me. We have the greatest business people in the world in this country. We don't use them. We use political hacks to negotiate with China, with Japan. We have Caroline Kennedy negotiating car deals and trade deals with -- and she doesn't even know. Caroline Kennedy got to be the ambassador of Japan.
COOPER: Would you want all Republicans in your cabinet? Or would you want a cabinet of...
TRUMP: No, not necessarily. I want the best people. Honestly, I want the greatest negotiators. We can't lose $505 billion next year with China.
COOPER: Do you find it valuable as a leader in your business world to have people with very different opinions give you different thoughts?
TRUMP: I like that. Yeah, and then you make the decision. I think I'm very open to that. I like that. I've always liked that. I'm fine with it. I want the most talented people. We have the greatest negotiators in the world. I told you before. We have a trade deficit with Mexico -- $58 billion. You know, when they say you won't build a wall. The wall is going to cost $12 billion. It's peanuts compared to what we lose. OK?
That's why Mexico is going to pay. It was already...
COOPER: They say they're not going to pay.
TRUMP: I know they do. And it was Calderon the other day, who is the past president, but Calderon the other day said, "We will not pay." So the newspapers called me up. They said, "He said -- Calderon said we will not pay. What does that mean? What are you going to say?" I said, "The wall just got 10 feet higher."
COOPER: We've got to take a break. Back in a minute with more questions for Donald Trump.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're here at the campus of the University of South Carolina here in Columbia. Less than two days to go until Primary Day. Donald Trump taking questions from the voters right now. Thanks very much for being here.
TRUMP: Thank you.
COOPER: Again, continuing. I literally was just handed this. There's a report now out tonight on Buzzfeed that includes -- I have not heard it -- includes an audio clip of what appears to be you on Howard Stern talking on the radio on September 11th, 2002. He asked you are you for invading Iraq? You said yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.
Is that accurate? Do you remember saying that?
TRUMP: No. But, I mean, I could -- I could have said that. Nobody asked me -- I wasn't a politician. It was probably the first time anybody asked me that question.
COOPER: But does that...
TRUMP: But by the time the war started -- that was quite a bit before the war started.
COOPER: Yeah, this was 2002.
TRUMP: By the time the war started, I was against the war. And there are articles -- I mean, there are headlines in 2003, 2004 that I was totally against the war. And actually, a couple of people in your world in terms of the pundits, said, you know, there' definite proof in 2003, 2004 Trump was against it.
COOPER: But 2004, the Reuters article, which you pointed to a lot, and there were a couple of comments you made, I think, at a Vanity Fair party and one other comment. Those were, I think, a couple of weeks after the war began.
TRUMP: Which is OK. A lot of people said -- you know, it was so early that even if it was a little bit after the war, I mean, he was totally against the war. I was very much against it. That was probably the first time I was ever even asked about the war. Howard, who's a great guy, by the way. A lot of people don't understand that. But he is --
COOPER: He's a great interviewer.
TRUMP: He's a great -- he's a great interview. He's a very talented guy and a good. But that was probably the first time -- I don't remember that, but it was probably the first time I was asked about it.
COOPER: OK. I haven't heard it, but you may have said that.
TRUMP: And, you know, when you're in -- when you're in the private sector -- yeah, I may have. When you're in the private sector, you know, you get asked things and, you know, you're not a politician and probably the first time I was asked. By the time the war started, I was against it. And shortly thereafter, I was really against it.
COOPER: I want you to meet another voter. Ryan Parsons is his name. He's an aspiring entrepreneur here in South Carolina.
TRUMP: Hi Ryan.
COOPER: He's a registered Republican. Right now, he's undecided. Welcome.
QUESTION: Hey Mr. Trump. It's an honor to speak to you.
TRUMP: Thank you. Me too.
QUESTION: Thanks for coming to Columbia. My girlfriend who's a lobbyist here in Columbia advised me not to say this, but in the spirit of you being here, I'm going to say it anyway.
QUESTION: Muhammad Ali once said that his greatest fault was that he didn't know how great he truly was. So my question to you is: What do you think your greatest fault is? And how do you overcome that? Or how have you overcome that? And how will you continue to do so in order to win the general election?
TRUMP: Well, I don't know that it has to do with the general election. I have found this process amazingly interesting. Because, you know, I've never done this. I've been doing this for seven months. And I've been giving credit. We're doing really nicely. And it's been very interesting for me.
But I will tell you, I've said a couple of times, one of my faults is I will put up with people and deception, even though I know they're deceiving, too long. And -- but when I get -- when I, you know, get to it, I'm too tough. In other words, too long, and then instead of just sort of forgetting about it, and especially things that don't matter that much, I never forget. I don't forget.
I don't think you forget either, to be honest with you, but I don't forget. And, you know, my wife will tell me sometimes, "You're -- sometimes you'll go too long, but then when it gets bad, it's like...
COOPER: So you hold onto stuff.
TRUMP: I do. I hold onto stuff. And I'd rather not hold onto stuff. But if I've been deceived in anyway, or if something happens, I really don't forget. Sometimes you're better off forgetting. And in other cases, it's not such a bad habit. You know, you learn.
Because usually with people, and I talk a lot about success. Friends of mine ask me, would you speak about success or whatever? And a lot of people pay me a lot of money to do it, and we give it to charity and we have a lot of fun with it.
But a lot of people ask me that. And you don't want to necessarily -- you want to remember when people deceive you once, usually that same person will do it again, because that's a trait that they have. So, it's not so bad, but I would say I hold on too long and I never forget. And sometimes forgetting is not a bad thing.
I hope that makes sense.
COOPER: This is Michael Letz (ph). He's been a Republican activist for over 30 years. He is also undecided, like many people in the state.
QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. Trump. Welcome to the capital of southern hospitality.
TRUMP: Thank you.
QUESTION: Tea is sweet, but it looked like the questions tonight have been even sweeter.
I'd like to have you address a particular issue that I've not seen any of our Republican candidates address to this point. In the numerous incidents recently of police-involved shootings, and the questions that have I've been led to raise about racism and the racial tensions that have been caused, I'd like to ask what your administration would do to be able to for future situations, make sure that our law enforcement and our first responders have the kind of support that they feel like they need? Because quite frankly, Mr. Trump, first responders' lives truly matter.
TRUMP: You're right. I am a big, big supporter of the police. I think the police are being treated horribly in this country. And certainly, you have some bad acts and you have bad mistakes made on occasion. It's a tiny fraction compared to the great work that they do.
So I am without question a huge supporter of the police. We wouldn't be sitting here right now. We wouldn't have a safe society, really. You look at what's happening around the world. We wouldn't have as safe society. So I can tell you right now, I -- I assume you are also, you're with me on this. I am a tremendous supporter of the police. And I think they are mistreated and misunderstood. And I think we should give them much more credit than we have given them.
COOPER: I want to ask you at the end of these, we like to sort of just ask a couple of personal questions, just to kind of let viewers get to know you in a different way.
Last night, as you know, we did a town hall. Senator Cruz, I talked to him. He said -- he was claiming that you had suggested your sister as a Supreme Court justice. You have not actually done that.
TRUMP: I have not.
COOPER: You had said she would be great and she would be -- she would be fantastic.
TRUMP: She's very smart.
COOPER: But you'd have to rule that out because she was your sister. What he said was -- he says it's great to support your sister; that's a nice thing. But if you're actually suggesting someone for the Supreme Court, his sister is a radical pro-abortion judge. She struck down New Jersey's ban on partial-birth abortion as irrational. That's an extreme position. That's who he suggested as a Supreme Court justice last year.
What's your reaction?
TRUMP: So, my sister is a brilliant woman who was always a fabulous student, very, very smart. She was appointed by Ronald Reagan. He said appointed by Bill Clinton. She was elevated to the Court of Appeals, a very high position, right under the Supreme Court, as you know.
She was elevated to the Court of Appeals by Clinton; appointed by Reagan, elevated -- and the reason she was elevated, she was an outstanding intellect and an outstanding judge. I don't even know what her views are on abortion. I really don't. She is certainly not a radical anything, because that's not her thing. But this is the kind of thing he said "radical this, this, this on abortion."
She's not radical. She may have made a decision one way or the other. I never asked her. I wouldn't ask her. She wouldn't want to tell me. I know I got a very big call from a very great reporter actually at the New York Times. And they wanted to do a major piece on my sister. And they called me. Could I possibly get her to do the piece? I called her. She said, "No, no, I don't do that; I don't want a piece; I don't want anything to do with it; I don't want any..."
TRUMP: And they did the piece anyway. It was a very nice piece on her -- but she refused to partake. She has no interest in that. In fact, I said, "are you sure my -- you're my sister?"
The reporter actually said, "could this be possible?"
COOPER: A Trump who doesn't like publicity? I don't know.
TRUMP: I don't like -- you know, you wouldn't believe it. I get a lot of publicity. I don't necessarily like it.
COOPER: Come on, wait -- wait a minute.
TRUMP: No, it's true.
COOPER: I gotta call you on that. What?
TRUMP: It's true.
COOPER: What do you mean?
TRUMP: You know what, it's true. I don't love that. I can't stand -- look, for the most part I find the press is extremely dishonest, OK? Very dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest.
And 25 percent are great. Of course, you're in that category. He did a great interview with me two weeks ago that I really liked. I thought it was really a great interview because, based on an article a little bit -- in the Wall Street Journal, by Monica, who's a terrific person.
But -- but my sister is a great intellect. She is a terrific person. She's not radical anything. I don't know what she did, having to do with -- with abortion. But she's a great judge.
I would have such a conflict of interest -- and I think you probably went back and you checked. I do say sometimes -- and I joke. I say, "my sister should be on the" (inaudible). You know, I'm laughing and having fun. But I would never do a thing like that...
COOPER: Right. In fact...
TRUMP: ... because it's a conflict of interest.
COOPER: ... and just -- I want to read the quote, just so we -- we're -- have it on the record. You said, "I think she'd be phenomenal. I think she'd be one of the best, but frankly, we'd have to rule that out." So you never actually were proposing it (ph). So just for the record.
TRUMP: Yeah. It's a -- and I don't think she'd want to do it either.
COOPER: So last night after the town hall, I went to celebrate at McDonald's. I had a number one meal, which is my favorite meal.
COOPER: I understand you like -- you were a big fast-food guy as well -- that you actually bring fast food to your plane sometimes.
TRUMP: I do, sometimes. And -- and frankly...
COOPER: What -- what do you eat -- when -- when you -- when you roll up at a McDonald's, what does -- what does Donald trump order?
A fish delight (ph), sometimes, right? The -- the Big Macs are great. The quarter pounder with cheese. I mean, I -- it's great stuff.
COOPER: Do people at the windows be like, "what?"
TRUMP: You know, I'm a big -- I'm a person -- they can't sort of believe it. But I'm a person that -- I like cleanliness, I like clean. And the one thing about the big franchises -- you have to have a certain -- you know, because of the importance.
One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald's. One bad hamburger, you take Wendy's and all these other places, and they're out of business. You can't do it. I mean, I don't want to mention the name of the firm, but you see what a certain firm is going through right now. I mean -- I don't know. Do they make it? Do they not make it?
So I'm a very -- I'm a very clean person. I like cleanliness, and I think you're better off going there than, maybe, someplace that you have no idea where the food's coming from. It's a certain standard.
But I think the food's good. And I eat it very carefully. You know, I do as good as -- as well as I can. But I think all of those places -- Burger King, McDonald's, I can -- I can live with them. I had -- the other night, I had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not the worst thing in the world.
(LAUGHTER) Not the worst thing in the world.
COOPER: What's your favorite kind of music?
TRUMP: Well, I think Elton John is great, I think the Stones are great. The Beatles, I love. Michael Jackson was a -- actually a very good friend of mine. I knew Michael Jackson very well. Lived in Trump Tower for a long period of time, would go down to Mar-a-Lago.
He actually got married -- you know, Lisa Marie Presley -- the whole big deal at Mar-a-Lago -- they were in the tower. And I will tell you, he was up there one week with her, and he never came down, so I don't know what was going on, but they got along.
You know, a lot of people say, "they didn't really" -- they were up there for a week. They never, ever came -- I said, "where the hell is Michael? I've -- nobody's seen" -- but -- but he was a very talented guy. One of the truly most talented people.
I knew him very well. I knew the real story of Michael Jackson. You know, When he died, I would watch people get on -- I don't -- I don't want to mention names, but people that you know very well and people that you interview -- and they would talk about Michael Jackson.
They didn't even know him. I mean, very few people got to know Michael Jackson. But he was an unbelievably talented guy. He lost his confidence. And -- he lost tremendous confidence because of, honestly, bad, bad, bad surgery.
He had the worst -- he had people that did numbers on him that were just unbelievable -- facially, and -- you know, the plastic surgeons. But Michael was an unbelievable talent who actually lost his confidence. And -- you know, believe it or not, when you lose your confidence in something, you can even lose your talent.
COOPER: You've talked about working hard as president. You don't sleep a lot. How much -- how many hours a night do you sleep? And how much television news do you watch? Because I get the sense --
TRUMP: I do like it. I watch...
COOPER: You seem to know everything that's being said about you.
TRUMP: I -- I actually get criticized for it. But I do watch it. I watch you a lot, and I watch other people. And you learn. I mean, especially with what I'm doing.
Somebody said, you watch, you get your generals through television. Well, I don't. I read a lot. OK? I love to read. But, you know, when I see you interviewing a general, or a -- some security adviser or somebody, I mean, you learn a lot from that.
COOPER: How much do you sleep?
TRUMP: And -- and by the way -- about three to four hours a night.
COOPER: That's all you need?
TRUMP: It's all I need, luckily. I mean...
COOPER: Have you always been like that?
TRUMP: ... yeah, pretty much. I'll tell you what -- I honestly believe this -- I love what I do. I love my business, I love -- The Apprentice was such a tremendous success. NBC would have done anything to renew it with me. I mean, anything.
Steve Burke came up to my office, the head of Comcast, and he said, "please, do it, do it, do it." I said, "I'm gonna run for" -- you can't run for president and have a show. It's -- you know, the equal time provisions, et cetera, et cetera.
TRUMP: I said no, Steve, I'm not going to do it. They couldn't believe it, because they really didn't believe -- nobody believed I was going to run, you know.
My wife actually said if you run, you will win. But you have to actually run. You can't just say you're going to run because you won't do well. You know, the polls were -- the original polls, nobody believed I was going to run. Even when they say if he runs, and they wouldn't even do polls.
But she said if you run, you'll win. And Steve Burke came up to the office, he said, I really -- you know, they wanted to renew The Apprentice because it was doing phenomenally well. Even after -- can you believe it -- 14 seasons, 14 seasons and The Apprentice still did well. But I'm not doing -- you know, I have that with Mark Burnett and we're using Arnold Schwarzenegger, and hopefully, Arnold's going to do. Is Arnold going to do well? What do you think?
COOPER: A lot of people --
TRUMP: Will he be Trump?
COOPER: Will he beat you? Are you concerned about that?
TRUMP: He's no Trump, right?
COOPER: All right. Are you -- what kind of a -- what kind of a parent are you? Because, I mean, your kids -- a lot of people speak glowingly about your kids, they speak glowingly about you. Were you a tough dad, and are you different as a grandfather? TRUMP: So I get credit for my children. My children are very good
children. They were smart, they went to good schools, they did well. Ivanka everybody knows, and then Don and Eric and then I have two younger -- Tiffany, who's a terrific young woman, and she -- she's just graduated from Penn and did mostly A's. And Baron is doing really good.
So I have five children. But one thing I think I was really, really a good parent because I put my children above everything, above the business, above everything. And Ivanka speaks to it very well and so do the others. But when people come up and they say why, I would say from the time -- because I had so much -- I had so much experience with alcohol because I have a brother, who is a phenomenal guy, the best looking guy you've ever seen, but he became -- he started drinking and I saw from a young age, he was quite a bit older than me.
COOPER: He was an airline pilot.
TRUMP: My brother Fred. He was -- he was a very talented flyer of planes, it was -- I mean, great pilots would go to him to study. I mean, it was a real ability he had. But the alcohol was -- I mean, it taught me a tremendous lesson, and he taught me a tremendous -- he was really very --
COOPER: And that's why you don't drink.
TRUMP: He said no -- don't you ever smoke. He was (inaudible) he said don't you ever smoke, don't you ever drink. And I've never had a drink. You know, I've never had a drink and I've never had a cigarette. Those are the good things, I don't want to tell you the bad things. There are plenty of bad things. But I never had a drink, I never had -- you know, I never had --
COOPER: You were never tempted to --
TRUMP: No, I just -- I mean, I never liked the taste. I've had friends -- when I want to the Wharton School of Finance, I've had friends that didn't like scotch, they hated the taste. And one in particular, became pretty successful, but ultimately alcohol destroyed him. He would be with me -- we're like 18 or 19 years old, and he was trying to develop a taste for scotch, he ultimately became an alcoholic. He became quite successful, lost the success because of alcohol.
I've seen what it does to people, it's a horror show. And the one thing I can say is if you don't drink, there's no temptation. But people come up to me and they say could you see my children? You know, because my children are doing a good job. You know, famous last words. Where's wood? Is that wood? Yes. OK, I'm going to knock on wood, OK, because who knows. But my children are doing a good job and they're solid.
But I would tell them from a very young age, no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes. I'd say this so -- over and over. In fact, Ivanka sometimes would be like Dad, you're driving me crazy. You know, she was like 4 years old, she didn't even know what it was. No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes.
And I just put it into them because I've seen people that are really brilliant, people that you know, people -- the top people in industry, they have children, they're very smart children, they have all the aptitude in the world but they get hooked on drugs, they get hooked on alcohol and they -- alcohol believe it or not is almost harder than drugs, but it's harder to get away from it. But they get hooked on alcohol, they get hooked on drugs and as smart as they are, they never make it.
COOPER: So what is one thing you wish you didn't do? Like, what's one -- advice or -- I mean, are you watching TV late at night? What do you -- like --
TRUMP: Well, I mean, look. I mean -- a vice. I work very hard. Maybe I work too hard. I have -- I had two very, you know, wonderful women frankly, that I am a worker. I love to work. I don't consider myself like a workaholic. I'm a workaholic, but I don't consider that a bad thing. And I think probably I would have had -- I wouldn't have -- I have a very good marriage now, Melania is fantastic.
But I had two women that I never blamed because I worked so hard that my job came first. Never came first with my children. I always said I was a better -- I would say this. I was a better father than I was a husband.
But I worked very, very hard and I love doing it, and you know what I'm very happy about, I have tens of thousands of employees. I've put so many -- I've had thousands and thousands of employees and that takes care of health care, it takes care of education, takes care of so many things.
So not that I'd change anything, but it I did a little bit less, probably wouldn't have had two marriages that didn't work out.
Donald trump, thank you very much.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
COOPER: Appreciate it. Thank you.
And that's all the time we have. Our thanks to Donald Trump, to Governor Kasich and Bush. I want to thank everybody here in the audience who asked question. A special thanks to the voters, thanks to all the viewers at home and everybody here in Columbia for their help and hospitality.
Next Tuesday, I hope you join us. New Day's Chris Cuomo is going to be moderating a South Carolina Democratic town hall. Our coverage continues with Don Lemon right after this.