Republican Presidential Debate
MR. GIBSON: I thank you all for being here, and I genuinely look forward to this. So let us begin. And I'll start the stopwatch.
President Bush said in his end-of-the-year news conference, "During the primaries and during the general election, I suspect my name may come up a lot." So let's bring it up. And I want to start with foreign policy. And just to set some context, we've got a little background here from ABC's Jonathan Karl.
JONATHAN KARL (ABC): When he was on the debate stage eight years ago, candidate George Bush promised a humble foreign policy. After September 11th, a new Bush doctrine: The United States would hit its enemies before they hit us. Hence, the Iraq war. On terrorism, President Bush told the world, you're either with us or you're against us.
With the second term, an even bolder vision.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) With the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
MR. KARL: Sounding like Woodrow Wilson, the president vowed to push for democracy everywhere. There are exceptions -- support for Musharraf in Pakistan, for example, and the nuclear deal offered to North Korea. From the axis of evil to nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush policy has been bold, but not exactly humble.
MR. GIBSON: So let me start with a general question. If you are the nominee, will you run on the Bush foreign policy record or will you run away from it? And Governor Huckabee, let me start with you because it was you who wrote that the Bush foreign policy reflects an arrogant bunker mentality.
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MR. GIBSON: You can break in here, Governor Romney.
MR. ROMNEY: Well, unfortunately, Ron, you need a thorough understanding of what radical jihad is -- what the movement is, what its intent is, where it flows from, and the fact is it is trying to bring down, not just us, but it is trying to bring down all moderate Islamic governments, Western governments around the world, as we just saw in Pakistan.
But let's step back with regards to the president. The president is not arrogant. The president does not subject -- or is not subject to a bunker mentality. The president has acted out of his desire to keep America safe, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping this country safe over the last six years.
MR. GIBSON: Let me --
MR. ROMNEY: In addition, let me -- let me continue with my own thoughts on -- on the issue of do we follow his policy or create a new one.
He did the right thing in responding and reacting to the fact that we got attacked. And people now recognize you attack America and there is a response. But we're going to have to move our strategy from simply being a respond to military threat with military action to an effort that says we're going to use our military and non-military resources -- non-military resources, combined with other nations who are our friends, to help move the world of Islam towards modernity and moderation. It's something that former Prime Minister Aznar of Spain spoke about.
The new mission for NATO and for other nations is to help provide the rule of law, education that is not through madrassas, agricultural and economic policies that can be instilled in various Islamic countries so the Muslims are able to reject the extreme and the -- and the terrorists.
We can help them. Our military is going to be needed. We do need -- I agree with what the mayor said; we need to add to our military by at least 100,000 troops, but the answer is to move now to a second phase, a phase of helping Muslims become so strong they can reject the extreme.
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REP. PAUL: Let me try to explain so you can understand this better. Try to visualize how we would react if they did that to us. If a country, say China, came that great distance across the ocean, and they say, "We want you to live like us, we want you to have our economic system, we want bases on your land, we want to protect our oil," even if we do that with good intentions, even if the Chinese did that with good intentions, we would all be together and we'd be furious.
MR. ROMNEY: Ron. Ron, you're reading -- you're reading their propaganda.
You're reading their propaganda --
REP. PAUL: What would you do --
MR. ROMNEY: I'd read their -- I'd read their -- I'd read their writings. I'd read what they write to one another, and that's why when someone like Sayyid Qutb lays out the philosophy of radical jihadism and says we want to kill --
REP. PAUL: And what you're saying --
MR. ROMNEY: Let me complete -- wants to kill Anwar Sadat -- when there's the assassination of Anwar Sadat, it has nothing to do with us. The reason -- why did they kill Madame Bhutto? It has nothing to do with us. This has to do with a battle that is going on within the world of Islam of radical violent jihadists trying to bring down all moderate Islamic people and nations and replace them with a religious caliphate.
REP. PAUL: But this means --
MR. ROMNEY: And we are doing our very best to help support the voices of moderation.
MR. THOMPSON: Who had we invaded before 9/11 --
MR. ROMNEY: They tried it in the Philippines.
REP. PAUL: We were occupying. We had an air base --
MR. THOMPSON: Occupying --
REP. PAUL: -- in Saudi Arabia.
MR. THOMPSON: A base.
MR. : Ron --
REP. PAUL: We have propped up -- how many governments have we propped up?
MR. GIBSON: Before we start with Governor Huckabee, I owe you a few seconds because you -- somebody said no -- or Senator Thompson said we're not arrogant; we don't have bunker mentality. Just take a few seconds.
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, in those words -- first of all, Governor Romney, you yourself on 60 Minutes said that we had left Iraq in a mess. You've also said that you weren't going to have this "my way" or "no way" philosophy, and I've been attacked for using the words policy that had an "arrogance and bunker mentality." I didn't say the president was. I supported the president and the war before you did. I supported the surge when you didn't. I'm not a person who is out there taking cheap shots at the president. I worked really hard to get him elected, but I'm not running for George Bush's third term. I want to be president of the United States on my own terms.
And I think it's important for us to recognize that --
MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, I get to -- I get to respond to that.
MR. HUCKABEE: Let me finish this. When -- when Congressman Paul
MR. PAUL: And I get a chance to respond. (Laughter.)
MR. HUCKABEE: You'll all get a chance to respond --
MR. ROMNEY: I'm out of time.
MR. HUCKABEE: -- before it's over, I'm sure. But --
MR. ROMNEY: Governor -- Governor --
MR. HUCKABEE: -- the fact is when there is a -- when there is a serious threat to this country, it is not a threat because we happen to be peace-loving people; it's a threat because in the heart of the radical Islamic faith -- not all Islam, and that's what's very important. This isn't an Islamic problem; this is a jihadist problem. This is an Islamofascism problem. And if you read the writings of those who most influenced -- and Governor Romney mentioned Said Qutub, executed in Egypt in 1966. He is one of the major philosophers behind this. And the fact is, there is nothing about our attacking them that prompts this. They are prompted by the fact they believe that they must establish a worldwide caliphate that has nothing to do with us other than we live and breathe, and their intention is to destroy us.
MR. GIBSON: Very quickly, you went after Governor Romney --
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, a number -- a number of things. I disagree with the governor writing in Foreign Affairs magazine that the president's administration suffers from an arrogant bunker mentality.
MR. HUCKABEE: Did you read the article before you commented on it?
MR. ROMNEY: I did read the article.
MR. HUCKABEE: The entire article, before you commented on it.
MR. ROMNEY: I read the entire article, and I thought it -- well, I won't make any further comments. It was not --
MR. HUCKABEE: Before you commented on it.
MR. ROMNEY: Before -- I got a copy of the article and read the article. And in the -- in the headline of the article, it said that the Bush -- the Bush --
MR. PAUL: Did you read mine? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: I've got to -- I've got to --
MR. ROMNEY: John? No, no, hold on. John -- no, I didn't, sorry. (Laughter.) What I read is -- and number two --
MR. PAUL: What about mine?
MR. ROMNEY: Number two -- number two, I did support the surge.
REP. PAUL: Unknown.
MR. ROMNEY: It was Senator McCain of all of us who was out fighting for the surge. He was right on that. On the same day the president announced the surge, I also -- having spoken that day with Fred Kagan, who is one of the brilliant theorists in this regard, I laid out my plan that I thought made sense -- actually, even before the president's speech -- calling for additional troops; I called for a different number. So I also supported the surge from the very beginning.
But look, I -- you know, Governor --
MR. HUCKABEE: I'm way over.
MR. ROMNEY: Don't try and characterize my position. Of course, this war has --
MR. HUCKABEE: Which one? (Scattered laughter.)
MR. ROMNEY: You know -- you know, we're wise to talk about policies and not to make personal attacks.
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, it's not a personal attack, Mitt, because you also supported a timed withdrawal. And Senator Pryor, from my state --
MR. ROMNEY: No, that's --
MR. HUCKABEE: -- was praising you for that, and --
MR. ROMNEY: I do not -- I do not support and have never support a timed withdrawal. So that's wrong, Governor. You know, it's -- it's really helpful if you talk about your policies and the things you believe and let me talk about my policies. And my policy is I've never talked about a time withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That's not the case. Simply wrong. I've also supported the troop surge, Governor, and I supported it on the same day the president brought it forward.
And the critical thing here is for us to stand together and to say I think we do agree with troop surge. We believe that the troop surge is going to make an enormous difference for the world and protect us from the establishment of safe havens from which al Qaeda could launch attacks against us.
MR. GIBSON: Very quickly.
REP. PAUL: There's -- there's always a radical element in almost all -- all religions. They have to have an incentive. We give them that incentive.
The question that you don't -- aren't willing to ask is, why is it that they attack America?
I mean, they don't attack the Canadians. They don't attack the Swiss. If it were merely because they want to go into Europe, why do they --
MR. ROMNEY: Is it such a puzzle, is it such a mystery as to why they attack America?
MR. GIULIANI: They attacked Israelis, they attacked Bali --
REP. PAUL: It is --
MR. ROMNEY: They're not going after Luxembourg. (Laughter.)
MR. GIULIANI: Ron. Ron.
REP. PAUL: It is because we've gone six --
MR. ROMNEY: We're the strongest nation in the world.
MR. GIULIANI: Ron. Ron, it is simply not true. Islamic terrorists killed over 500 Americans before September 11, 2001, going back to the late 1960s. They have also killed people recently in Bali, in London. They have launched attacks in Germany. Where did the attack on the Munich Olympics take place? In the United States? Or did it take place in Germany?
MR. GIBSON: All right, let me stop this --
MR. GIULIANI: I could go on and on. The attack on Leon Klinghoffer.
MR. GIBSON: Let me --
MR. GIULIANI: Islamic terrorists have attacked --
REP. PAUL: You paint all Islamics the same way.
MR. GIULIANI: -- all over the world.
MR. ROMNEY: No, of course not.
REP. PAUL: They absolutely do not.
MR. ROMNEY: Of course not.
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MR. GIBSON: What are the principles, and are they constant? You all have been questioning -- as I've watched you campaign, you've all been questioning your opponents. And I'm going to ask Senator McCain, you and Governor Romney, because you two have been going at each other in interviews and in ads about this, of the constancy of your principles, or whether or not you look to opinion polls and focus groups to make up your minds.
So let me have the two of you dialogue with each other about this and answer the president's questions, and then I'll bring the other four in and give them equal time.
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MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, when I sat down with my family and had the discussion about whether or not to get into this race, we went around the room, and each one of my five sons and five daughters-in-law expressed their views. And it's because of them and because of my concern about the future of America that I'm in this race. I'm convinced that America is the greatest nation on earth, that we are a good nation and a strong nation. And we are safe and prosperous, in part, because of our greatness and our strength.
I'm concerned, though, right now we face challenges of such an unprecedented nature that unless we deal with them honestly and effectively, America will become less of a nation that it needs to be to preserve the peace here and the peace around the world. And I believe it's essential for America to stand for principles of an eternal nature. I think at the heart of our strength is the family. I don't think there's anything more important to the future of America than the work that's going on within the four walls of the American home. I think we have to strengthen America's families. I think we have to have good schools and good health care for moms and dads tending to the needs of kids, that we have to have better schools and better health care. I believe also that this nation has to have a strong and vibrant economy. I don't think we can lead the world unless we have the leading economy. And finally, a strong military to keep us safe.
So my overriding principle is keeping America the strongest nation on earth. And there will be a lot of choices and pulls and tugs in different directions. But keeping America strong through all those elements, through our families and our values, through our economy and its vibrancy and through our military is what is essential to me for the future of this land.
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MR. ROMNEY: A lot of people have ideas about health care and improving health care. We took the ideas and actually made them work in our state. As people in New Hampshire know, we put in place a plan that gets every citizen in our state health insurance, and it didn't cost us new money. And it didn't require us to raise taxes.
What we found was it was less expensive or no more expensive to help individuals who had been uninsured buy their own private policy than it had been for us to give out free care at the hospital. And since we've put our plan in place last April, we've now had 300,000 people who were uninsured sign up for this insurance. Private insurance.
And where the doctor, the good doctor was wrong is that it's true the insurance companies don't want to sell policies to one person at a time; it's expensive. We established what we called a connector -- a place where individuals could go to buy policies from any company, and that connector would, in turn, send their premiums on to those companies. So the economics of scale existed.
And as a result of what we did, the premiums for health insurance for an individual buying insurance when from $350 a month to $180 a month, with lower deductibles and now with prescription drugs.
MR. GIBSON: Anybody --
MR. ROMNEY: The answer -- let me just -- I just, I want to underline this. We don't have to have government take over health care to get everybody insured. That's what the Democrats keep on hanging out there. The truth is we can get everybody insured in a free market way. We don't need Hillary-care or socialized medicine.
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MR. GIBSON: (Off mike) -- Governor Romney -- (off mike) -- mandate and that's an obstacle, although you've backed away from mandates on a national basis.
MR. ROMNEY: No, no, I like mandates. Do the mandates work? Mandates --
MR. THOMPSON: I beg your pardon? (Laughter.)
MR. ROMNEY: Let me --
MR. THOMPSON: I didn't know you were going to admit that.
MR. ROMNEY: Let me -- oh, absolutely.
MR. THOMPSON: You like mandates.
MR. ROMNEY: Let me tell you what kind of mandates I like, Fred, which is this --
MR. THOMPSON: And what did you come up with? (Laughter.)
MR. ROMNEY: Here's my view. If somebody can afford insurance and decides not to buy it and then they get sick, they ought to pay their own way as opposed to expect the government to pay their way, and that's an American principle. That's a principle of personal responsibility. So I said this: If you can afford to buy insurance, then buy it. You don't have to if you don't want to buy it, but then you've got to put enough money aside that you can pay your own way, because what we're not going to do is say, as we saw more and more people --
MR./SEN. : Governor, you imposed tax -- tax penalties in Massachusetts -- (inaudible) --
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, we said, look, if people can afford to buy it, either buy the insurance or pay your own way. Don't be free riders and pass on the cost of your health care to everybody else --
MR. THOMPSON: The government is going to make you buy insurance --
MR. ROMNEY: No, the government's going to --
MR. THOMPSON: I mean the state. Your state plan, which is, of course, different from your national plan, did require people to make that choice, though. The state required them to do that. What was the penalty if they refused?
MR. ROMNEY: They refused to pay -- let's go back, Fred.
What's -- what's your view? If somebody -- if somebody --
MR. THOMPSON: Well, I asked question first.
MR. ROMNEY: No, okay -- (laughter) -- well, I'll answer your question, you answer mine. If somebody is making, let's say, $100,000 a year and doesn't have health insurance; and they show up at the hospital and they need a thousand-dollar repair of some kind for something that's gone wrong; and they say, look, I'm not insured, I'm not going to pay; do you think they should pay or not?
MR. THOMPSON: Did your plan cut people off at $100,000? Was that the level?
MR. ROMNEY: No, actually --
MR. THOMPSON: Does it only apply to people with $100,000 income and over?
MR. ROMNEY: It actually applies to people at three times federal poverty. They pay for their own policy. At less than three times federal poverty, we help them buy policies. So everybody is insured and everybody is able to buy a policy that's affordable for them.
And the question is this, again: If someone can afford a policy and they choose not to buy it, should they be responsible for paying for their own care, or should they be able to go to the hospital and say, you know what, I'm not insured, you ought to pay for it? What we found was one quarter of the uninsured in my state were making $75,000 a year or more, and my view is they should either buy insurance or they should pay their own way with a health savings account or some other savings account.
MR. GIBSON: We have an expression in television: we get into the weeds. We're in the weeds now on this. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: But let just come to one point. Yes or no? In your national plan, would you mandate people to get insurance?
MR. ROMNEY: I'd have -- I think my plan is a good plan that should be adopted by the states. I wouldn't tell every state --
MR. GIBSON: Would you mandate --
MR. ROMNEY: I would not mandate at the federal level that every state do what we do, but what I would say at the federal level is we'll keep giving you these special payments we make if you adopt plans that get everybody insured. I want to get everybody insured.
In Governor Schwarzenegger's state, he's got a different plan to get people insured. I wouldn't tell him he has to do it my way, but I'd say each state needs to get busy on the job of getting all our citizens insured. It does not cost more money.
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MR. ROMNEY: Don't turn the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys. I --
SEN. MCCAIN: Well, they are.
MR. ROMNEY: No, actually they're trying to create products to make us well and make us better, and they're doing the work of the free market. And are there excesses? I'm sure there are, and we should go after excesses. But they're an important industry to this country.
But let me note something else, and that is, the market will work. And the reason health care isn't working like a market right now is you have 47 million people that are saying, "I'm not going to play. I'm just going to get free care paid for by everybody else." That doesn't work.
Number two, the buyer doesn't have information about what the cost or quality is of different choices they could have. If you take the government out of it to a much greater extent you'd get it to work like a market and we'll rein in costs.
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MR. SPRADLING: I'm struck by the fact that we're on the Saint Anselm campus, and a few months ago you took some hits in a debate that you had here with your fellow Republicans on the issue of illegal immigration and yours views. Since that debate --
SEN. MCCAIN: I shouldn't have come back.
MR. SPRADLING: (Laughs, laughter.) Since that debate, sir, you've told voters I hear you; you've acknowledged some of these complaints. And there's more talk, I know, from you about stronger borders. That's a big focus in this debate. But fundamentally, I'm wondering, don't you still have the same plan for a path to citizenship that you fundamentally held months ago?
SEN. MCCAIN: Sure, but the fact is that the American people have lost trust and confidence in government, and we have to secure the borders first. I come from a border state. I'm very aware of the challenges we face and the impact of illegal immigration. So we will secure the borders first. As president, I will have the border state governors certify that those borders are secure. And of course, in the course of our debates and discussions and with Secretary Chertoff, he said that there's 2 million people who are in this country illegally who have committed crimes. Those people have to be deported immediately. And I do believe we need a temporary worker program, one with an employee -- employee employment -- electronic employment verification system and tamper-proof biometric documents so that the only document and that system can an employer legally hire somebody, and any employer who employs someone in any other way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Now, I want to say again, we -- this is a national security issue. We have to secure our borders. But I want to say again, these are God's children. We have to address it in as humane and compassionate an issue as possible. But we have to respect our nation's security requirements.
So I think that it's time Republican and Democrat sat down together and resolved this issue because if you got broken borders and if you have 12 million people here illegally, then obviously you have de facto amnesty. It is a federal responsibility. The federal government's -- government must act. I will act as president.
MR. GIBSON: We got the tally lights this time. Governor?
SEN. MCCAIN: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Charlie.
MR. GIBSON: That's all right.
MR. ROMNEY: I disagree fundamentally with the idea that the 12 million people who've come here illegally should all be allowed to remain in the United States permanently, potentially some of them applying for citizenship and becoming citizens, others just staying permanently. I think that is a form of amnesty and that is not appropriate. We're a nation of laws. Our liberty --
MR. : Do you want --
MR. ROMNEY: -- our liberty -- our liberty is based upon being a nation of laws. I would welcome those people to get in line with everybody else who wants to come here permanently. But there should be no special pathway to permanent residency or citizenship for those that have come here illegally.
I welcome legal immigration. Of course we need to secure the border, we need to -- need to have an employment verification system with a card to identify who's here legally and not legally. We need to have employers sanctioned that hire people that then don't have the legal card.
But with regards to those already here, it is simply not right, and unfair, to say they're going to all get to stay, where there are people around the world who've been waiting in line to come to this country. They should have the first chance, not those who came illegally.
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SEN. MCCAIN: Let me just say I've never supported amnesty. A few nights ago, Joe Lieberman and I had a town hall meeting together. It was a rather unusual event. The issue came up. Joe Lieberman said John McCain has never supported amnesty, and anybody says he does is a liar, he's lying. Now, no better authority than Governor Romney believe that it's not amnesty, because two years ago, he was asked, and he said that my plan was, quote, "reasonable and was not amnesty." It's a matter of record.
MR. SPRADLING: Governor, you want to explain your ad?
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, absolutely, which is what he describes is technically true, which is his plan does not provide amnesty, because he charges people $5,000 to be able to stay. And that technically is --
SEN. MCCAIN: That's not true. That's not complete, the response to it, and Governor Romney, it was explained to you, and you said it was reasonable and not amnesty. That's just -- you can look it up.
MR. GIULIANI: You know, Ronald Reagan --
MR. ROMNEY: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Let me have a chance --
MR. SPRADLING: Go ahead.
MR. GIULIANI: One point --
MR. ROMNEY: Rudy, Rudy, let me have a chance to finish, okay? You'll get your chance.
I saw your plan along with Senator Cornyn's plan and the Bush plan. I said they were all reasonable. And I said I would study them and decide which one to endorse, and I endorsed none of them, as you know, Senator.
Number two, your plan, I said, is not technically amnesty, because it provides for a penalty for people to be able to stay --
SEN. MCCAIN: It provides for more than a penalty.
MR. ROMNEY: Okay, would you describe what else it has besides a penalty?
SEN. MCCAIN: Sure -- fine, learn English, back of the line behind everybody else. Pretty much what Rudy just described.
MR. ROMNEY: Okay, great. So it has --
SEN. MCCAIN: So that we can address the issue --
MR. ROMNEY: Fine, it lets -- you pay $5,000 --
SEN. MCCAIN: -- and the fact is it's it not amnesty. And for you to describe it as you do in the attack ads, my friend, you can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads, but it still won't be true.
MR. GIULIANI: May I make a --
MR. ROMNEY: No, no, no, no. I get a chance to respond to this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
I don't describe your plan as amnesty in my ad. I don't call it amnesty. What I say is -- and you just described what most people would say is a form of amnesty. Yeah, they pay $5,000, their background is checked, they have to learn English. But your view is everybody who's come here illegally, today, other than criminals, would be allowed when they speak English and get $5,000 payment and they get a background check, they're allowed to stay forever.
SEN. MCCAIN: Look --
MR. ROMNEY: That's your plan, and that plan, in my view, is not appropriate. Those people should be invited to get in line outside the country with everybody else who wants to come here. But they should not be given a special right to stay here --
SEN. MCCAIN: There is no special right associated with my plan. I said they should not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior.
MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?
SEN. MCCAIN: They have to get in line --
MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?
SEN. MCCAIN: -- behind everybody else.
MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?
SEN. MCCAIN: Some of them are, some of them are not, depending on their situation.
MR. ROMNEY: The last bill you put forth --
SEN. MCCAIN: A woman has been here for eight years --
MR. ROMNEY: I'm sorry, the last bill --
SEN. MCCAIN: -- and has a son fighting in Iraq --
MR. ROMNEY: Senator, the last bill you put forward --
SEN. MCCAIN: -- I'm not interested in calling her up -- calling up her son and telling I'm deporting his grandmother.
MR. THOMPSON: Excuse me, didn't -- didn't you just -- didn't you say --
MR. : That's a very emotional --
MR. : Hold on --
MR. GIBSON: Senator Thompson.
MR. THOMPSON: Didn't you say Republicans were making a terrible mistake if they were separating themselves with President Bush on the illegal immigration issue?
MR. ROMNEY: No. That was quoted in AP, it happened to be wrong.
Let me -- (laughs).
MR. GIULIANI: Well, could I -- could I -- may I make my point --
MR. ROMNEY: That does happen from time to time. But let me --
SEN. MCCAIN: When you change positions on issues from time to time, you will get misquoted. (Laughter.)
MR. ROMNEY: Senator, is there a way to have this about issues and not about personal attacks? I hope so, because I think we have some differences on issues.
SEN. MCCAIN: I do.
MR. ROMNEY: And let me tell you, the issue that's at stake here is do the people who come here illegally, the 12 million, are they allowed to stay in this country the rest of their life? And the final bill you put forward in the United States Senate was they got a Z --
SEN. MCCAIN: The answer is that there was still negotiations and debating on that.
MR. ROMNEY: May I complete?
SEN. MCCAIN: The answer is we were still negotiating. We were debating. I'm saying that some people have to go back to the country --
MR. ROMNEY: I'm sorry. There was a Z visa. The Z visa was given to everybody --
SEN. MCCAIN: And it was having -- that some people have to go back. First, as Rudy said, we have to round up the 2 million who have committed crimes and deport them immediately.
MR. ROMNEY: Let's not divert.
SEN. MCCAIN: And that is not amnesty for anyone.
MR. GIBSON: Well, I don't want to divert. Let me come back to your plan. Is it practical to take 12 million people and send them out of the country?
MR. ROMNEY: Is it practical? The answer is no. The answer is no. So here's why my plan works. One, it says to those 12 million people they do not have the right, as they would under the final Senate plan, to receive a Z visa which was renewable indefinitely. That meant these people could stay in the country forever. That was what the plan did, and that's why talk radio and the American people went nuts.
SEN. MCCAIN: That's not the plan.
MR. ROMNEY: Senator, you look up your Z visa. It is renewable indefinitely. Every illegal alien got to stay in the country forever, other than those that committed crimes.
MR. GIBSON: Go ahead.
MR. GIULIANI: Charlie, if Ronald Reagan were here, who we all invoke, he would grab the microphone, say it's my microphone, I paid for it. And Ronald Reagan did amnesty. He actually did amnesty.
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah.
MR. GIULIANI: I think he'd be in one of Mitt's negative commercials. (Laughter.)
And he is the hero of our party. None of us -- none of us -- has a perfect record on immigration, because this is a very complicated problem. The thing that we have to do is we have to decide who has the best plan among all of us for fixing illegal immigration. You've got to stop it at the border, you've got to stop it cold at the border, and then you have to have a rational system. It is not amnesty if you charge -- I did this more in my life than I did politics, meaning law enforcement.
If you charge fines, if you have impositions of conditions, it is not amnesty. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty saying they have to pay a fine, have to get on the back of the line, have a whole bunch of conditions --
MR. ROMNEY: I thought you said that wasn't amnesty.
MR. GIULIANI: That is not amnesty.
MR. ROMNEY: Okay. (Laughs.)
MR. GIULIANI: That is not amnesty. If you have a fine, if you have conditions, if you have a whole bunch of steps that people have to go through, it is not amnesty. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty, straight-out amnesty.
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MR. ROMNEY: And I think every person on this stage wants the community to understand that legal immigration, we value. It's great for the country. We welcome legal immigration -- every single one of us. No difference on that. We get twisted on this outside.
MR. GIBSON: So noted. So noted. So noted.
MR. ROMNEY: We are very much in favor of legal immigration. It's a great source of vitality for our country.
MR. SPRADLING: Governor Romney, I'm going to stay with you. In Charlie's health care dialogue in the first half you mentioned "Hillary care." This group has aimed a lot of partisan firepower at Hillary Clinton, but I'd like, if you don't mind, to adjust the outcome for a minute and walk down this road with me. Let's say that Barack Obama is the nominee. He won the Iowa caucus. We have a WMUR poll out just tonight that shows it's tied here in New Hampshire, 33 (percent) to 33 (percent). And I'd like to know from you why, against you as the nominee down the line, why not vote for Barack Obama? And not just because he's a Democrat -- you're not allowed to say that. (Laughs.)
MR. ROMNEY: (Laughs.)
MR. SPRADLING: I'd like to hear some specifics on why not him.
MR. ROMNEY: Well, we have very different views on a whole series of issues, and I could take you through one by one. One would be health care, for instance. He wants the government to take over health care, spend hundreds of billions of dollars of new money for health insurance for everyone. That will be -- that will break the bank. If you think -- as the comedian said -- P.J. O'Rourke -- "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait 'til it's free." (Laughter.) All right? So that's not the right direction.
But there -- so we could talk about issues, but the biggest difference I think -- and it's going to be true for me and others who talk about it -- is that this is a time when America wants change. Washington is broken. That was the message coming out of Iowa. I've heard it across the country. Washington is broken. Not just the White House, not just Congress -- Washington can't get the job done on immigration, on lowering taxes, on fixing schools, on getting health care, on overcoming radical jihad. They want change.
Barack Obama looked at several senators steeped in long history in the Senate and completely blew them away in the Iowa caucus. It's a message of change.
And when we sit down and talk about change -- Barack Obama and myself, in that final debate, as you're positing -- I can say, "Not only can I talk change with you, I've lived it. In the private sector for 25 years, I brought change to company after company. In the Olympics -- it was in trouble -- I brought change. In Massachusetts I brought change. I have done it."
MR. GIBSON: I'm --
MR. ROMNEY: "I have changed things, and that experience is what America is looking for."
MR. GIBSON: I'm just going to try to keep us on time.
MR. ROMNEY: You look at that debate with Barack Obama -- I'm looking forward to head-to-head.
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SEN. MCCAIN: I just wanted to say to Governor Romney, we disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree, you are the candidate of change. (Laughs, laughter.)
Look, the difference I would have with Senator Obama has got do with national security. I know Senator Obama, and I've worked with him many times and I respect him, as I respect Senator Clinton. Senator Obama does not have the national security experience and background to lead this nation. We are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century, and that is radical Islamic extremism. In his recent statements on various foreign national security issues I've strongly disagreed, but I am -- can make it perfectly clear that it requires a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience and a lot of background to have the judgment to address the challenges that our nation faces in the 21st century.
MR. ROMNEY: May I make a comment?
MR. SPRADLING: Sure.
MR. ROMNEY: One -- one, the continued personal barbs are interesting, but unnecessary.
But number three -- or number two, Hillary Clinton -- Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson and Senator Dodd and Senator Biden all made that same argument in Iowa, and Barack Obama blew them away. And if you think making that argument as a Republican -- that you have more experience and you've been around longer in the Senate -- that that's somehow going to -- and that you know the cloakroom, the Senate cloakroom, better than he does -- that's not going to work.
MR. THOMPSON: It was an Iowa Democratic primary -- (inaudible).
MR. ROMNEY: You're going to have -- you're going to have -- you're going to have to -- you're going to have to have -- you're going to have to have a person -- (laughter) --
SEN. MCCAIN (?): Yeah, this --
MR. ROMNEY: You're going to have --
SEN. MCCAIN (?): This was an Iowa Democrat primary we're talking about.
MR. SPRADLING (?): Yeah, go ahead.
MR. ROMNEY: America wants change.
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MR. GIBSON: Nuclear is a very interesting issue here in the state of New Hampshire. Governor Huckabee?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I think it's -- it is possible to get energy-independent, and do it within a decade. We're the same country that built the atomic --
MR. ROMNEY: In 10 years?
MR. HUCKABEE: I believe we can, if we want to. If we un-tax the possibilities of the innovations and technologies. If we also look at the fact that if -- put an incentive out there that's just truly something dramatic -- a billion-dollar bonus for the first person who can produce a car that can get 100 miles per gallon.
In addition to that, look at the alternative forms of energy that we can use. Everybody's talked about --
MR. THOMPSON: Complete without a windfalls profits tax? (Laughter.) There'd be no windfalls profits tax on that?
MR. HUCKABEE: There wouldn't be. And I don't believe --
MR. THOMPSON: I agree. (Laughs.)
MR. HUCKABEE: -- there should be, Fred, because I think we ought to un-tax innovation, un-tax income. Anything -- any time you penalize productivity, it's counterintuitive to an economy. And one of the reasons that we're dependent is because we have allowed the oil companies to dictate not just prices, but policy. And it's time to say that we're not going to allow dictators, whether it's the Middle East or from Venezuela, to continue to, in essence, enslave the American people, which is exactly what we've done.
Senator McCain is right. We have an issue now where we're paying for both sides of the war on terror. We pay for it with our tax dollars to fund the military, but every time we swipe our credit card in the gas pump, we might as well be sending a check over to the madrassas that are training the terrorists that eventually are going to come back to us. And that's why it's got to be an urgent matter of utmost priority.
MR. GIBSON: We are just about out of time, but Governor Romney, you're going to have the final word.
MR. ROMNEY: We're going to have to deal with this in an honest way with the American people, and that is this is not something that's going to get solved in 10 years. We can't become energy-independent in 10 years, but we can get ourselves on a track to do that, with all the ways that Senator McCain and Mayor Giuliani and Fred Thompson have described. We can get there. It's going to require a far more substantial investment by our nation in energy technology.
Right now we spend about $4 billion a year on new sources of energy and energy efficiency. We're going to have to increase that dramatically. And American corporations -- last year they spent more money defending tort lawsuits than they spent on research and development. We're upside-down.
The future of a great nation like ours depends on leading the world in technology and innovation, in energy in particular. This has to be our highest domestic, economic priority. Get ourselves on a track to become energy-secure and energy-independent. We can do that. It's within our grasp, but it's going to take real -- the reality, rather than just the political rhetoric we've seen over the last 25 years.
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