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CNN Live Event/Special
Part IV: 21:30-22:00, CNN Southern Republican Debate
Aired January 19, 2012 - 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: And other folks who sacrificed, who came here to America, did it the right way according to the law. Because America was worth it. And if you want to be an American, the first thing you should do is respect our laws and obey our laws. And...
And the idea that someone, whether it's either of these two gentlemen, the idea that someone who came here and lived here 25 years has only broken one law -- if they've worked for 25 years, they've been breaking the law for 25 years.
If they've been working, they have probably stolen someone's Social Security number and they've committed Social Security fraud. They -- this is not just a single occurrence. It's an ongoing issue. And if we treat people like that differently than we do with a mother who, out of a desperate situation, goes out and shoplifts or does something and gets thrown in jail, what are we saying, that we're going to treat people in this country who do things for their family differently than those who are here illegally?
I don't think so.
JOHN KING, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You mentioned both Governor Romney and the speaker. Take a moment, quickly. I want to bring Congressman Paul into the conversation. He is essentially saying he doesn't trust you on this.
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R-MA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I ran for president four years ago. This was the position I described when I ran four years ago. I wrote a book, laid out my position. I actually agreed, I think, with what you just said, which is I believe those people who have come here illegally should not be given a preferential path to become permanent residents or citizens of this country.
You shake your head...
SANTORUM: I'll be happy to show you the quotes of what you said...
ROMNEY: OK, good. Good.
SANTORUM: ... that people should have a pathway to citizenship.
ROMNEY: And the...
SANTORUM: Not -- not -- not citizens, a pathway to be legal in this country, not citizenship.
ROMNEY: And the pathway that I've described is that those individuals who have come here illegally should be able to register in this country, have a temporary period to arrange their affairs and return home and get at the -- at the back of the line like everyone else.
And the position I've had is that the people who have come here illegally should not be given a preferential pathway relative to others but should be able to get in the same line at the back of the line.
And I agree with the senator. I'm sorry you don't acknowledge my agreement, but I agree with you, that this is a nation of laws. At the same time, I think it's important. I'm glad you mentioned this because I didn't in my answer.
And that is we need to underscore the fact that we're a party of legal immigration. We like legal immigration. We want legal immigration.
And to protect...
... to protect legal immigration, we want to stop illegal immigration. And we don't want to do anything that would suggest to people, "Come on in here, just wait long enough, whether it's five years or 10 years, wait long enough and we'll take you all in on an amnesty basis." I want people to get in line legally.
KING: Congressman Paul, you're from a border state. If this is a problem, you've heard your colleagues talk about making sure employers, companies that hire large numbers of people, making sure they get the message they can't hire illegals.
What about individuals? About a quarter of the illegal immigrants in the country work for individuals. If this is a problem -- if I hired an illegal immigrant, say, to clean my home, should I be prosecuted for doing that? REP. RON PAUL (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe you should be. Because I think those laws are misdirected. That makes you the policeman, or the businessman the policeman, or the Catholic Church the policeman, if they do anything to help an illegal immigrant.
It should be the law enforcers, and that is the border guards. And the federal government's in charge of immigration. So, no, I don't agree with those laws. But it doesn't mean that I'm soft in the issue of illegal immigration.
Illegal -- I can't imagine anybody standing up here and saying, oh, I'm for illegal immigration. We're all against illegal immigration. But I think what we fail to do is -- is look at the incentives.
And it has a lot to do with economics. There's an economic incentive for them to come, for immigrants to come. But there's also an incentive for some of our people in this country not to take a job that's a low-paying job. You're not supposed to say that, but that is true.
But there's also an economic incentive in the welfare state for immigrants to come in. In Texas, we suffer from the fact that there are federal mandates that we have to take care of their medical needs and their educational needs, and it bankrupts some of our -- our school districts and our hospitals. So it's those mandates.
But we need a more generous immigration policy. It should be legal, but we need more resources.
But I find that the resources are all overseas. When I was in the military, I was on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and that is a no-man's-land. You can't see the border. At least we can -- we can see the river south of Texas. We know where the Rio Grande is. Over there, we can't see it. But we're over there fighting and dying over that border, looking for problems. Why don't we take those resources and quit pretending we can defend those borders and put them on our borders and take care of our needs here?
KING: The Speaker?
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John, I just think, if you're going to raise immigration, I want to make the point, on the very first day that I'm inaugurated, I will issue an executive order to the Justice Department to drop the lawsuits against South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona.
The federal government should enforce the law, not stop states from helping it enforce the law.
(APPLAUSE) KING: I think we have nodding heads. I assume we have agreement on that. But let's move on to another issue that came up in the campaign right here in South Carolina this week, and that's the life issue.
Mr. Speaker, your campaign sent out a mailing to South Carolina Republicans across this state essentially questioning Governor Romney's commitment on this issue, saying that he has changed his position on the abortion issue.
If you'll recall, I moderated a debate back in New Hampshire in June. There were seven candidates then. We have four tonight. But when this came up, we talked about it briefly, and then I asked, is this fair game, an issue in this campaign, or is it case closed?
Mr. Cain, who was with us at the time, said case closed, and I paused. No one else took the opportunity to speak up.
If it was case closed then, why is a legitimate issue now?
GINGRICH: You just said nobody else spoke. So nobody else said, yes, it's case closed. I mean, Herman Cain said it was case closed, the rest of us, it wasn't a particular issue we wanted to fight that night.
I mean, we are allowed to run our own campaigns, John. It's not an automatic requirement that we fit in your debate schedule.
This is -- look, this is a very straightforward question. Governor Romney -- and I -- and I accept this -- I mean, Governor Romney has said that he had a experience in a lab and became pro-life, and I accept that.
After he became pro-life, Romneycare does pay for tax-paid abortions. Romneycare has written into it Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, by name. Does not have any right to life group written into it.
He did appoint pro-abortion judges. And a branch of the government which included his appointees did agree to fund an abortion clinic for Planned Parenthood. All that occurred after he had become pro-life.
Now, those are all facts which we validated, and it seems to me that's a legitimate part of the campaign, is to say, "OK, if you're genuinely pro-life, how come these things are occurring?"
KING: Governor Romney, he questions whether you're genuinely pro-life.
ROMNEY: I'm not questioned on character or integrity very often. And I don't feel like standing here for that. But let me clarify the things which are wrong in what the speaker just said. And -- and he can get a scintilla of truth in there to make it seem like this is a significant issue. But let's go through one by one.
First, in Romneycare there's no mention of abortion whatsoever. The courts in Massachusetts, the supreme court was the body that decided that all times if there was any subsidy of health care in Massachusetts that one received abortion care. That was not done by the legislature. Would not be done by me either. I would have vetoed such a thing. That was done by the courts, not by the legislature or by me.
Number two, it's true, somewhere in that bill of ours, 70 pages, there's the mention of the word Planned Parenthood, but it describes a person at a technical advisory board about payment structures. There's no requirement or no participation of Planned Parenthood in our health care plan.
With regards to judges, I appointed probably 50 or 60 judges, at the trial court level mostly, the great majority. These were former prosecutors, 80 percent of them former prosecutors. We don't have a litmus test for appointing judges, asking them if they're pro-life or not pro-life. These are people going after crimes and -- and -- and the like. I didn't get to appoint any supreme court justices.
I am pro-life. And the Massachusetts Citizens for Life and several other family-oriented groups wrote a letter two weeks ago and said they'd watched my record, that I was an avidly pro-life governor. I'm a pro-life governor. I am a pro-life individual.
And -- and I -- I have to be honest here. It is -- this is not the time to be doubting people's words or questioning their integrity. I'm pro-life.
By the way, is there any possibility that I've ever made a mistake in that regard, I didn't see something that I should have seen? Possibly. But you can count on me as president of the United States to pursue a policy that protects the life of the unborn, whether here in this country or overseas. And I'll reverse the policies of this president.
KING: Mr. Speaker, he says you're questioning his integrity.
GINGRICH: I'll yield to Senator Santorum.
SANTORUM: I just want to make one point. And a lot of legislatures here -- legislators here in the room and they -- and they know this to be the truth, that if you write a piece of legislation and you -- and you say medical care and you do not specifically mention that abortion is not covered, we know from every court decision at the state and federal levels that the federal courts and state courts will require it.
That is someone (sic) every governor knows, every state legislator knows. And so when Governor Romney did not put that in the bill, you can't say, "Oh, gee, surprise, the court made us cover abortions." He knew very well that the court would make them cover abortions. That's number one.
Number -- number two, what we're talking about here is someone who's not going to just check the boxes and say, "Yes, I'm pro-life."
We've got a lot of folks who just whisper into the microphone that they're pro-life, and then you have other people who go out and fight the battle and defend life and come out of the trenches and actually work to make sure that the dignity of every human life, innocent human life in this country is protected.
And I've done that.
And I -- and I would say to you in -- in contrast with Speaker Gingrich, who on the social issues, in particular when he was speaker and even afterwards, they were pushed on the back bench. There was a pledge to America that the Congress tried to put together in 2010. I got phone calls ringing off the hook that Speaker Gingrich went in and told them, "Keep social issues out of the pledge to America for the 2010 elections, and we need you to come in and help to try to convince these folks to put that back into the pledge."
We don't need someone who in the back rooms is going to say social issues in the front -- are in the back of the bus, and then come out here and try to prevent they're pro-life.
KING: Governor Romney and then Speaker Gingrich, he mentioned (inaudible). Very quickly.
ROMNEY: Senator, I -- I admire the fact that you've been a stalwart defender of -- of pro-life and in a state where that's not easy. I was also a governor in a state where being pro-life was not easy. And I -- and I battled hard. What came to my desk was a piece of legislation that said "We're going to redefine when life begins." In our state, we said life began at conception. The legislature wanted to change that to say, "No, we're going to do it an implantation." I vetoed that.
The legislature also said, "We want to allow cloning for purposes of -- of creating new embryos for testing." I vetoed that. The legislature did not want to abstinence education. I pushed and pursued abstinence education. There was an effort to also have a morning-after pill provided to, as I recall, young women in their teens. I can't remember the exact age. I vetoed that.
I stood as a pro-life governor and that's why the Massachusetts Pro-Life Family Association supported my record as governor, endorsed my record as governor. I -- I did my very best to be a pro-life governor. I will be a pro-life president. I'm proud of that. I wrote about it in my book. My record is -- is solid.
I appreciate your record. I hope you'll appreciate mine.
KING: Mr. Speaker, he -- he mentioned you specifically, and then we want to move on, but please respond.
GINGRICH: Well, the fact is that I voted with Henry Hyde, who was the leading pro-life advocate in the House for a generation. I had a 98.6 percent pro-life voting record. The only one we disagreed on was welfare reform, which they scored for reasons we never understood. Otherwise, it was a perfect record on -- on pro-life.
When I was speaker, we twice passed a bill that actually Rick was -- was very active in, to end partial-birth abortion. Twice, it was vetoed by Clinton, but twice we passed it.
In the 2010 election, the freshman class has the highest percentage of pro-life members ever in history, and my job was to maximize their winning. And the fact is, we won a huge victory in 2010 with the largest number of pro-life members ever elected in a freshman class.
KING: All right, let's move on. Let's take another question.
Congressman, I'll (inaudible) on this one. Let's -- let's take a question now from social media. Question -- (inaudible), before we move on, do you want in on this issue? They want you in on this issue. Would you like in on this issue?
PAUL: John, once again, it's a medical subject and I'm a doctor.
No, I do want to make a couple of comments because I can remember the very early years studying obstetrics and I was told -- and it was before the age of abortion. And I was told taking care of a woman that's pregnant, you have two patients. And I think that's -- that solves a lot of the problems of life -- you know, when life begins and all.
And I also experienced a time later on in my training, in the 1960s when the culture was changing. The Vietnam War was going on. The drugs were there and pornography and everything came in. And abortion became prevalent, even though it was illegal. So the morality of the country changed, but then the law followed up. When the morality changed, it will -- reflects on the laws.
The law is very important. We shouldn't have these laws, but law will not correct the basic problem, and that's the morality of the people that we must do.
Now, just very, very briefly, I want to talk a little bit about that funding because the flaw there is if you -- if you send funding out and you say, "Well, you can have it for birth control, but not for abortion," all funds are fungible. Even funds that go to any hospital if you say, "Well, it's not for birth control and it's not for Planned Parenthood and it's not for abortion," if you send it to the hospital, they can still use that money.
This is an indictment of government-run medicine because you never can sort that all out. You need the government out of that business or you will always argue over who's paying what bills.
KING: Very quickly, Senator.
SANTORUM: I think that was directed at me, and so I would just say this. Congressman Paul has a national right-to-life voting record of 50 percent, which is pretty much what Harry Reid's national right to life voting record is.
So for -- to go out and say that you're someone who stands up for the right to life, you repeatedly vote against bills on a federal level to promote the right to life. And you say that this is an individual, a personal decision, or state decision. Life should be protected, and you should have the willingness to stand up on a federal law and every level of government and protect what our Declaration protects, which is the right of our creator to life, and that is a federal issue, not a state issue.
KING: Quickly, sir.
PAUL: Just for the record, I wasn't even thinking about you when I was giving my statement, so you are overly sensitive.
PAUL: But it is true that we have a disagreement on how we approach it. I follow what my understanding is of the Constitution. And it does allow for the states to deal with difficult problems.
A matter of fact, it allows the states to deal with almost all the problems if you look at it. It is not given -- these powers aren't given to the Congress.
I see abortion as a violent act. All other violence is handled by the states -- murder, burglary, violence. That's a state issue.
So don't try to say that I'm less pro-life because I want to be particular about the way we do it and allow the states the prerogative. This is the solution. This is the solution. Because if we would allow the states to write their laws, take away the jurisdiction by a majority vote in the Congress, you repeal Roe versus Wade overnight, instead of waiting year after year to change the court system.
KING: All right.
We need to take one more break, Gentlemen. Stand by.
Less than 35 hours away now from the polls opening right here in South Carolina, a state that is crucial, often decisive in Republican presidential politics.
Stay with us. Hear the candidates' closing arguments to the voters of a state that takes pride in picking presidents.
KING: Welcome back to the Southern Republican Presidential Debate.
We're in Charleston, South Carolina, tonight.
Gentlemen, we're running out of time. Time flies. I wish we could stay all night. I don't suspect you have campaigning to do. I don't suspect you'll agree.
I didn't think so.
You know the history of this state. We're inside 35 hours now from voters in South Carolina going to the polls, and we all know the history of this state.
In modern times, the winner of the South Carolina Republican primary has gone on to be your party's nominee.
We have an interesting race at the moment. Senator Santorum wins Iowa; Governor Romney wins New Hampshire. Everybody's waiting to see. Most people believe, if Governor Romney wins here, he would be the prohibitive favorite.
I want each of you, since we have a short time left, and I'll start on the end. We'll come down the line.
Congressman Paul, make your case. Make your case. South Carolina essentially faces this decision: "Not so fast, let's continue the race," or embrace Governor Romney. Make your case to the people of South Carolina in these final hours.
PAUL: Well, South Carolina is known for their respect for liberty, and a lot of people will ask the question...
They will ask the question, in a way, what will you do for South Carolina or what will you do for New Hampshire? What will you do for the various states?
But if you understand liberty, it's equal for everybody; it benefits everybody, so if you have a protection of liberty, which is the purpose of the Constitution, protection of individual liberty, and that means you protect the private property rights system. And if you do that, that benefits everybody.
And this is what we have to do, is convince people that we can bring people together with the understanding of what those -- those beliefs were that made America great. And it is freedom. It isn't this continued spending money and debt. This is the reason -- we're in a mountain of debt and we have to deal with it. We really never even got around to talking about that tonight.
And one of my very modest proposals...
My modest proposal is in the first year, cut $1 trillion out of the budget to get started...
... because the debt bubble is a great burden. It's a burden to all of us, and as I mentioned earlier, these programs are going to go down if we don't get our budget under control. And we have to be willing to look at overseas spending and all of the entitlement system here in the country.
KING: Mr. Speaker?
GINGRICH: Well, let me start -- I want to thank CNN and I want to thank the people of Charleston for a very, very interesting and very useful evening.
We have a real challenge. It is imperative that we defeat Barack Obama.
This is, I believe, the most dangerous president of our lifetime. And if he is re-elected after the disaster he has been, the level of radicalism of his second term will be truly frightening.
But in addition to beating Obama, we have to have a team victory in the Senate and the House and we have to have a principled victory so the American people send a signal that in January of 2013, they want very dramatic, very deep change in Washington.
I believe the only way to create the momentum is to be able to overcome his billion-dollar campaign with a series of debates which decisively convince the American people that a Sol Alinsky radical who is incompetent cannot be reelected, and I hope you will vote for me on Saturday as the person who could do that.
KING: Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: I agree with a lot of what these last two men have just said. I think this is an absolutely critical election.
I believe that the founders took very careful thought in the preparation of the words of our Declaration of Independence that said that the creator had endowed us with certain unalienable rights, not the state but the creator, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And by virtue of those words, the pursuit of happiness, this became the place on the planet where we were able to pursue our dreams as we might choose. People came here from all over the world, wishing to pursue happiness in their own way. And that has made us the most powerful economic engine in the world, where we can guard freedom because our military is the strongest in the world, coming from that powerful economic engine.
This president's changing that. He's changing the very nature of America. He's turning us not from a merit society, an opportunity society, where people are free to choose their own course, but instead he's making us an entitlement society, where people think they're entitled to what other people have, where government takes from some and gives to others.
That has never been the source of American greatness. We need to return to the principles upon which this country was founded.
Our president said, I think in a very revealing way, that he wants to fundamentally transform America. He's wrong. We need to restore the values that made America the hope of the Earth. And I understand those values.
ROMNEY: I will do everything in my power to restore those values by keeping America free, by fighting for free enterprise, by standing up to President Obama and pointing out how he has made it almost impossible for our private sector to reboot. I will get America working again. I will defeat Barack Obama and keep America as it's always been, the shining on a hill.
KING: Senator Santorum.
SANTORUM: I agree with Governor Romney 100 percent of what he said about what the stakes are. The question is, who is the best person to take on President Obama?
I would make the argument that a conviction conservative who has a clear contrast with President Obama on the most important issues of the day is the best person, someone who has a clear contrast on health care, a clear contrast on global warming, a clear contrast on the Wall Street bailout. Talk about the one issue -- the huge issue in the last couple of years where the government has come in and taken over, and both Newt and Governor Romney have supported that.
We need someone who not only says now they're going to stand up for conservative principles, the big issues, but someone who has a track record of doing so and winning. I'm the only one in this race that's ever defeated a Democratic incumbent. I did it for the Congress and I did it for the Senate.
SANTORUM: We're the only people in this race that actually has won a swing state. And I did it because I have a plan like I outlined today.
I come from those states. I come from the background. I come with the working class and strong credentials, not just with a plan, but with the character that fits in with exactly the voters we need, those Reagan Democrats in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and Indiana and Wisconsin. Those are the votes and those are the states.
You want to win? Elect someone who can win in the states we have to win and draw the clear contrast with President Obama.
South Carolina, you've been told in the past, you've got to settle for a moderate because they can win, and you said the last time we had a situation like this, in 1980, you said, no, we're going to take the strong conviction conservative, and you voted for Reagan before Reagan was the Reagan we knew. Vote for the one who can do the job that America needs. Vote for me.
KING: That concludes our debate this evening.
I want to thank all of our candidates for their time tonight.
I want to thank our wonderful audience. We also want to thank the people of South Carolina.
KING: I do appreciate it, and I know the candidates do as well.
Tune into CNN 600 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, our special coverage of the South Carolina presidential primary.
Also, next Thursday, we'll be live in Jacksonville, Florida, for a Republican presidential debate there.
Our coverage of "America Votes 2012" continues right now.