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CNN Live Event/Special
Part 4: 21:30-22:00, CNN-Tea Party Republican Debate
Aired September 12, 2011 - 21:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R-PA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I mean, what Governor Perry's done is he provided in-state tuition for -- for illegal immigrants. Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote -- I mean, the Latino voters.
But you track Latino voters by talking about the importance of immigration in this country. You talk about the importance of -- as -- as Newt has talked about for many years, having English as the -- as the official language of this country.
And I say that...
I say that as, again, my -- my father and grandfather came to this country not speaking a word of English, but it was the greatest gift to my father to have to learn English so he could assimilate into this society.
We're a melting pot, not a salad bowl. And we need to continue that tradition.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Governor Perry, I'm going to move on to Governor Huntsman in a second, but you did sign legislation giving some illegal immigrants in Texas the opportunity to have in-state tuition at universities in Texas, explain what that...
GOV. RICK PERRY, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the state of Texas, if you've been in the state of Texas for three years, if you're working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there.
And the bottom line is it doesn't make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way. No matter how you got into that state, from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you. And that's what we've done in the state of Texas. And I'm proud that we are having those individuals be contributing members of our society rather than telling them, you go be on the government dole.
BLITZER: You heard some boos there. But go ahead, Congresswoman Bachmann, is that basically the DREAM Act that President Obama wants as well?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R-MN.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, it's very similar. And I think that the American way is not to give taxpayer subsidized benefits to people who have broken our laws or who are here in the United States illegally. That is not the American way. Because the immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws.
What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket legally with sponsors so that if anything happens to them, they don't fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them. And then they also have to agree to learn the speak the English language, learn American history and our constitution. That's the American way.
BLITZER: I'm going to bring Governor Huntsman here. But go ahead, Governor Perry.
PERRY I'm not for the DREAM Act that they are talking about in Washington D.C. that is amnesty. What we did in the state of Texas was clearly a states right issue. And the legislature passed with only four dissenting votes in the House and the Senate to allow this to occur.
We were clearly sending a message to young people, regardless of what the sound of their last name is, that we believe in you. That if you want to live in the state of Texas and you want to pursue citizenship, that we're going to allow you the opportunity to be contributing members in the state of Texas and not be a drag on our state.
BLITZER: Hold on a second, Governor Huntsman, you also signed legislation in Utah that gave driving privileges to illegal immigrants. Was that a good idea?
FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN, JR., (R-UT.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, let me say for Rick to say that you can't secure the border I think is pretty much a treasonous comment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear that.
HUNTSMAN: Rick, we can secure the border. We can secure the border through means of fences, through technology, through the deployment of our National Guard troops, we can get it done. In fact, when the elected president of the United States, I would work with you and the other three border governors to ensure that through your law enforcement officials you can verify that that border is secure.
But I will tell you before Wolf here directs a question, they were given a driver's license before and they were using that for identification purposes. And I thought that was wrong. Instead we issued a driver privilege card, which in our state allowed our economy to continue to function. And it said in very bold letters, not to be used for identification purposes. It was a pragmatic local government driven fix and it proved that the tenth amendment works. We believe in local fixes and solutions.
BLITZER: All right. Governor Romney, do you have a problem with either what Governor Huntsman did in Utah or Governor Perry did in Texas?
FORMER GOV. ROMNEY (R-MA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, with both, actually. The question began by saying how do we attract Latino voters. And the answer is by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or their ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they'd be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that's what we represent. And that's why we'll win collecting support from Latinos across the country.
With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a fence and of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America's great beneficence.
And with regards to giving driver's licenses to people that are here illegally, that creates a patina of legal status. There are sanctuary cities in some parts of the country.
One of the things I did in my state was to say, look, I'm going to get my state police authorized to be able to enforce immigration laws and make sure those people who we arrest are put in jail, to find out they're here illegally, we're going to get them out of here.
We have to recognize that this is the party that believes in supporting the law. We're going to enforce the law. We're the party of opportunity, we're also the party of legal law abiding citizens. And that's something we're going to attract people of all backgrounds.
PERRY: As I said it earlier, we basically had a decision to make. Are we going to give people an incentive to be contributing members of this society or are we going to tell them no, we're going to put you on the government dole?
In the state of Texas, and this is a states right issue, if in Massachusetts you didn't want to do that or Utah you didn't want to do this, that's fine. But in the state of Texas where Mexico has a clear and a long relationship with this state, we decided it was in the best interest of those young people to give them the opportunity to go on to college and to have the opportunity. They're pursuing citizenship in this country rather than saying, you know, we're going to put you over here and put you on the government dole for the rest of your life. We don't think that was the right thing to do. And it's working. And it's working well in the state of Texas.
BLITZER: I know you want to respond, too, because he said that what you did in Utah was a mistake giving driving privileges to illegal immigrants.
HUNTSMAN: I think we can spend all night talking about where Mitt's been on all the issues of the day. And that would take forever. But let me just say that all the Latino voters, Hispanic voters want is opportunity, can we say that? The greatest thing that we can do for the people in this country is -- on illegal immigration is fix homeland security.
I mean, when are we going to have an honest conversation in this country about the root causes. We can't process people. The H1B visa process is broken. We need to bring in brain power to this country to shore up our economic might. We need to bring in foreign capital to raise real estate prices as well.
We need a fixed Department of Homeland Security.
BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.
All right. Let's take a question from Phoenix. Go ahead, Phoenix. Give us your name.
QUESTION: The United States has an abundance of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium. The American people have been told for decades that energy independence is a top priority. What will you do in your first 100 days in office to assure the American people that energy independence will finally become reality.
BLITZER: Mr. Cain?
HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing that I would do in order to assure that we get on the road to energy independence, and I do believe that we can because we do have the natural resources to do so, we've got to remove some of those barriers out of the way that are being created by the federal government. I would start with an EPA that's gone wild. That's where we start.
I would put together a regulatory reduction commission for every agency starting with the EPA. This regulatory reduction commission -- one of my guiding principles is if you want to solve a problem go to the source closest to the problem. So the people that I would appoint to that commission will be people who have been abused by the EPA. That would be the commission that would straighten out the regulatory burden.
BLITZER: Let's take a question from Twitter. Do you plan to decrease defense spending to balance spending? Or do you believe high spending is essential to security? Speaker Gingrinch?
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we are at the edge of an enormous crisis in national security. I think that we are greatly underestimating the threat to this country. And I think that the day after we celebrated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 we should be reminded exactly what is at stake if a foreign terrorist gets a nuclear weapon into this country.
We have failed for a decade to deal with North Korea. We have failed for a decade to deal with Iran. The developments in Egypt and Turkey are much more dangerous than anybody is looking at in this country. And I think we need, frankly, to ask for a very serious national dialogue.
I'd like to see both the House and Senate right now holding hearings on three levels of security. What do you do in Mexico where there's a civil war underway next door to us? What do you do in the Middle East where we have totally underestimated the scale of the threat? And what do you do about our national domestic industrial base which is crucial if we're going to be competitive with China?
All three of those are a major threat to us.
BLITZER: Congressman Paul.
REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First thing I would like to do is make sure that you understand there's a difference between military spending and defense spending. I'm tired of all the militarism that we are involved in. And we're wasting this money in getting us involved. And I agree, we are still in danger, but most of the danger comes by our lack of wisdom on how we run our foreign policy.
So I would say there's a lot of room to cut on the military, but not on the defense. You can slash the military spending. We don't need to be building airplanes that were used in World War II -- we're always fighting the last war.
But we're under great threat, because we occupy so many countries.
We're in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We're going broke.
The purpose of al Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11, but we're there occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we're kidding ourselves.
We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say, China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?
PAUL: So I would say a policy -- a foreign policy that takes care of our national defense, that we're willing to get along with people and trade with people, as the founders advised, there's no authority in the Constitution to be the policeman of the world, and no nation-building. Just remember, George Bush won the presidency on that platform in the year 2000. And I still think it's a good platform.
BLITZER: All right.
BLITZER: Let me let Senator Santorum respond, because I know you strongly disagree.
SANTORUM: On your Web site on 9/11, you had a blog post that basically blamed the United States for 9/11. On your Web site, yesterday, you said that it was our actions that brought about the actions of 9/11.
Now, Congressman Paul, that is irresponsible. The president of the United States -- someone who is running for the president of the United States in the Republican Party should not be parroting what Osama bin Laden said on 9/11.
SANTORUM: We should have -- we are not being attacked and we were not attacked because of our actions. We were attacked, as Newt talked about, because we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the jihadists. And they want to kill us because of who we are and what we stand for. And we stand for American exceptionalism, we stand for freedom and opportunity for everybody around the world, and I am not ashamed to do that.
BLITZER: Thirty second, Mr. Paul.
PAUL: As long as this country follows that idea, we're going to be under a lot of danger. This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this, and they're attacking us because we're free and prosperous, that is just not true.
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have been explicit -- they have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment, and you have been bombing --
PAUL: I didn't say that. I'm trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing, at the same time we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years.
Would you be annoyed? If you're not annoyed, then there's some problem.
BLITZER: Thank you, Congressman.
All right. We're going to say on this subject. We have a question from the audience.
Go ahead. Please identify yourself.
SAHAR HEKMATI, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: Hi. My name is Sahar Hekmati. I was brought here from Ronald Reagan. I am from Afghanistan. And my question to you is, as the next president of the United States, what will you do to secure safety and protection for the women and the children of Afghanistan from the radicals?
BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?
HUNTSMAN: We are 10 years into this war, Sahar. America has given its all in Afghanistan.
We have families who have given the ultimate sacrifice. And it's to them that we offer our heartfelt salute and a deep sense of gratitude. But the time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan.
HUNTSMAN: We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan nation- building at a time when this nation needs to be built. We are of no value to the rest of the world if our core is crumbling, which it is in this country.
I like those days when Ronald Reagan -- you talked about -- when Ronald Reagan would ensure that the light of this country would shine brightly for liberty, democracy, human rights, and free markets. We're not shining like we used to shine. We need to shine again.
And I'm here to tell you, Sahar, when we start shining again, it's going to help the women of Afghanistan, along with any other NGO work that can be done there and the collaborative efforts of great volunteer efforts here in the United States. We can get it done, but we have to make sure that the Afghan people increasingly take responsibility for their security going forward.
BLITZER: Very quickly, to Governor Perry, $2 billion a week, is that money well spent by U.S. taxpayers in Afghanistan?
PERRY: Well, I agree with Governor Huntsman when we talk about it's time to bring our young men and women home and as soon and obviously as safely as we can. But it's also really important for us to continue to have a presence there. And I think the entire conversation about, how do we deliver our aid to those countries, and is it best spent with 100,000 military who have the target on their back in Afghanistan, I don't think so at this particular point in time.
I think the best way for us to be able to impact that country is to make a transition to where that country's military is going to be taking care of their people, bring our young men and women home, and continue to help them build the infrastructure that we need, whether it's schools for young women like yourself or otherwise.
BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.
All right. We're going to take another quick break.
When we come back, here's what we're going to do. You're going to get to know these candidates a little bit better. When we come back, what would they add to the White House if they were to move in?
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Eight Republican presidential candidates on the stage.
You know, Americans are looking at you. They also want to know a little bit more about you.
I'm going to start with Senator Santorum. I want to go down and get your thoughts on something you would bring to the White House if you were the next president of the United States.
An example, President George H. W. Bush put in a horseshoe pit. President Clinton put in a jogging track. President Obama added a vegetable garden.
Senator Santorum, if you're president, what would you bring to the White House?
SANTORUM: Well, mine is pretty obvious. Karen and I have seven children, so we'd add a bedroom or -- and some beds to the White House.
BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I would reduce the White House by kicking out all the White House czars the first day, creating a lot more space.
And then, because of Callista's interest, we'd have a lot more music, because of my granddaughter, Maggie, we'd have ballet, and because of my grandson, Robert, we'd have a very large chess set. So it'll all come together.
BLITZER: Congressman Paul?
PAUL: I'd bring a bushel basket full of common sense. And I would also bring a course in Austrian economics to teach the people...
... the business cycle and why the Fed creates inflation and depressions and all our unemployment problems.
BLITZER: Governor Perry?
PERRY: It's simple. I'm going to bring the most beautiful, most thoughtful, incredible first lady that this country's ever seen, Anita.
BLITZER: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: You know, one of -- one of my heroes was a man who had an extraordinary turn of phrase. He once said about us, he said, you know, you can count on the Americans to get things right after they've exhausted all the alternatives. And now and then we've made a couple of mistakes. We're quite a nation. And this man, Winston Churchill, used to have his bust in the Oval Office. And if I'm president of the United States, it'll be there again.
BLITZER: Congressman Bachmann?
BACHMANN: I would bring a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and that's it.
BLITZER: Mr. Cain?
CAIN: I would bring a sense of humor to the White House, because America's too uptight.
BLITZER: And Governor Huntsman?
HUNTSMAN: And to play to that theme -- my wife's going to kill me for saying this -- but I would bring my -- as a 40-year motorcycle rider, I would bring my Harley-Davidson and my motocross bike.
BLITZER: Ladies and gentlemen, the eight Republican presidential candidates.
And that's all the time we have. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a hand to our candidates for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.
We want to thank our partners, the Tea Party Express, and 150 Tea Party groups from around the country. Thanks also to our host, the Florida State Fairgrounds. Our next debate here on CNN, in Las Vegas, October 18th with the Western Republican Leadership Conference. We look forward to seeing the candidates and all of you there. The conversation continues online right now on Twitter, Facebook, and cnnpolitics.com. More coverage of this debate with "Anderson Cooper 360" right now.