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CNN/You Tube Debate - Transcript


Location: St. Petersburg, FL

CNN/You Tube Debate - Transcript


MR. COOPER: We've got another question from a YouTube watcher. Let's watch.

Q Good evening, candidates. This is Seepser (ph) from Arlington, Texas, and this question's for Ron Paul.

Now, I've met a lot of your supporters online, but I've noticed that a good number of them seem to buy into this conspiracy theory regarding the Council on Foreign Relations and some plan to make a North American Union by merging the United States with Canada and Mexico. These supporters of yours seem to think that you also believe in this theory.

So my question to you is, do you really believe in all this, or are people just putting words in your mouth?

MR. COOPER: (Off mike) -- Paul, 90 seconds.

REP. PAUL: Well, that all depends on what you mean by "all of this." The CFR exists. The Trilateral Commission exists. And it's a, quote, "conspiracy of ideas." This is an ideological battle. Some people believe in globalism. Others of us believe in national sovereignty.

And there is a move on toward a North American Union, just like early on there was am move on for a European Union, and it eventually ended up -- so we had NAFTA and moving toward a NAFTA highway. These are real things. It's not somebody made these up. It's not a conspiracy. They don't talk about it, and they might not admit about it, but there's been money spent on it. There was legislation passed in the Texas legislature unanimously to put a hold on it. They're planning on millions of acres taken by eminent domain for an international highway from Mexico to Canada, which is going to make the immigration problem that much worse.

So it's not so much a secretive conspiracy. It's a contest between ideologies, whether we believe in our institutions here, our national sovereignty, our Constitution, or are we going to further move in the direction of international government, more U.N.?

You know, this country goes to war under U.N. resolutions. I don't like big government in Washington, so I don't like this trend toward international government. We have a WTO that wants to control our drug industry, our nutritional products. So I'm against all that, but it's not so much it's a sinister conspiracy; it's just knowledge is out there. If we look for it, you'll realize that our national sovereignty is under threat.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, thank you. (Cheers, applause.)


MR. COOPER: The next question is going to go to Senator Thompson as well as Ron Paul. Let's watch it.

Q Hi. I'm Emily and I'm from Los Angeles. The Republican Party once stood for limited government, which meant reduced federal spending because we taxed less and we spent less. However, over the past decade, real discretionary federal spending has, in fact, increased 40 percent, more than half of which has been non-defense- related.

So my question is, what are the names of the top three federal programs you would reduce in size in order to decrease --

MR. COOPER: Senator Thompson.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, it's a target-rich environment; there's no question about it. What most of these gentlemen have said are absolutely correct. The difficulty is, most of the programs that we talk about, most of the ones that get the headlines, would not begin to solve the problem.

Mitt's right when he mentions entitlements. That's why I have laid out a program to not attack entitlements but to save Social Security. Everybody talks about wanting to do something about it. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are the ones that we're really going to have to reform if we're going to make any headway in the spending.

MR. COOPER: So the top three, you would say Social Security --

MR. THOMPSON: No, I didn't say that. There is -- the OMB has come out with a list of over 100 programs. I would take all 100 of them, the ones that are full of waste, fraud and duplication. I filed a report in 2001, when I was chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, and identified billions of dollars that we should be saving.

But my point is that we're going to have to reform Social Security. We're going to have to reform Medicare. I've laid out a detailed plan that will give individual retirement accounts for people, matched by the government, and also reindex the way benefits are calculated initially when a person retires.

And together, that program has been said by the experts already to say that -- have said that it would, after 75 years, make Social Security actuarially sound. I've got the only program out there that really addresses specifically one of the programs that's going to have to be reformed.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, the question was three programs. Can you name three?

REP. PAUL: Yes. And I would like to state that the statement earlier made that we all went to Washington to change Washington and Washington changed us, I don't think that applies to me. Washington did not change me. (Cheers, applause.)

I would have liked to have changed Washington, and we could by cutting three programs such as the Department of Education -- Ronald Reagan used to talk about that; Department of Energy. Department of Homeland Security is the biggest bureaucracy we ever had. (Applause.)


REP. PAUL: And besides, what we can do is we can have a stronger national defense by changing our foreign policy.


REP. PAUL: Our foreign policy is costing us a trillion dollars. And we can spend most of that or a lot of that money home if we would bring our troops home. (Cheers, applause.)


MR. COOPER: We got more questions on the (sales tax ?). This next question is for Senator McCain.

Q My name is Ronald Lanham from Mobile, Alabama. And I want you to tell me, do you support the elimination of the federal income tax in favor of a national retail sales tax, also known as the FairTax? Thank you.

(Cross talk.)
MR. COOPER: All right. We will -- please. (Cheers, applause.) We will get to Iraq -- (cheers, applause) --- all right. Let me just remind -- let me just remind everyone that these people did take a lot of time to ask these questions, and so we do want direct questions to the answers (sic). We will get to Iraq later, but I do have to allow Congressman Paul 30 seconds to respond.

REP. PAUL: Absolutely.

The real question you have to ask is, why do I get the most money from active-duty officers -- military personnel? (Cheers, applause.)

So what John is saying is just totally distorted. He doesn't even understand the difference between non-intervention and isolationism. (Scattered boos.)

I'm not an isolationism -- an isolationist. I want to trade with people, talk with people, travel, but I don't want --

MR. COOPER: Time is up, but we're going to talk about this later.

REP. PAUL: -- to send our troops overseas using force to tell them how to live. We would object to it here, and they're going to object to us over there. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right. We will have a lot more on Iraq coming up. It's obviously a very heated topic.

Sticking on the economy, though, a familiar face asking a very simple question.

Q President Bush made a commitment when he ran for president in 2000 and 2004 that he would oppose and veto any tax increase that Congress sent him. My question to each of the candidates is: Would you promise to the people watching this right now that you will oppose and veto any effort to raise taxes as long as you're president?


MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul?

REP. PAUL: I have never voted for a tax increase, never will. But the tax issue is only one half of it. You can easily pledge not to raise taxes, but you have to cut spending. (Cheers, applause.)


MR. COOPER: The next topic is abortion.

Next question.

Q Hi. My name is Journey. I'm from Texas, and this question is for all politically pro-life candidates. In the event that abortion becomes illegal and a woman obtains an abortion anyway, what should she be charged with, and what should her punishment be? What about the doctor who performs the abortion?

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul? Ninety seconds.

REP. PAUL: You know, it's not a federal function to determine the penalties for a crime of abortion if it's illegal in a state. It's up to the state, it's up to the juries. And it should be up to discretion because it's not an easy issue to deal with, but the first thing we have to do is get the federal government out of it. We don't need a federal abortion police. That's the last thing that we need. (Cheers, applause.)

But --

MR. COOPER: Should a woman be charged with a crime?

REP. PAUL: Pardon me?

MR. COOPER: Should the woman be charge with a crime?

REP. PAUL: I don't personally think so. I'm an OB doctor and I practiced medicine for 30 years, and I, of course, never saw one time when a medically necessary abortion had to be done. But -- so I think it certainly is a crime, but I also understand the difficulties. I think when you're talking about third trimester deliberate abortion and partial-birth abortions, I mean, there has to be a criminal penalty for the person that's committing that crime. But I really think it's the person who commits the crime, and I think that is the abortionist.

MR. COOPER: So you're saying a doctor should be punished. What sort of punishment should they get?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think it's up to the states. I'm not -- in the state. I'm not in -- I'm not running for governor, and I think it's different, and I don't think it should be all 50 states the same way. So I -- I don't think that should be up to the president to decide that.


MR. COOPER: Staying -- staying on this issue, let's watch.

Q Hello. My name is Buzz Brockway from Lawrenceville, Georgia.

All the talk about the war in Iraq centers around how quickly we can get out. I think that's the wrong question. We need to make a permanent or long-term military commitment to the region. By staying in Iraq, we provide long-term stability to the region. We provide support for our allies, and we act as a deterrent to the troublemakers in the region. Which presidential candidate will make a permanent or long-term military commitment to the people of Iraq? Thank you.

MR. COOPER: Senator Thompson.

MR. THOMPSON: We shouldn't be in there longer than necessary, and we don't know how long that will be. But we should be there absolutely as long as it takes to complete our mission there. It will -- it will -- it will make for a safer United States of America.

We're all focused, understandably, on Iraq and Afghanistan right now, but it is part of a much bigger picture. Islamic terrorism has declared war on us in Western civilization. They would like nothing better than to kill millions of people as they bring us down. They would like to be able to advertise to young radicals around the world that you, too, could help bring down the United States of America. Iran is waiting there to fill that vacuum. You think $90 or $100 a barrel is -- is high for oil now, wait until that happens. But more importantly, it would make for a less secure United States of America.

We have to do what's necessary. We have to take the opportunity that we have now. John's absolutely right. What's going on there is -- is -- is progress.

It's called progress. Too many people in this country are vested in a scenario of defeat. I'm vested in a scenario of victory, and I see it happening there in Iraq today. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.

REP. PAUL: The best commitment we can make to the Iraqi people is to give them their country back. That's the most important thing that we can do. (Cheers, applause.)

Already -- already part of their country has been taken back. In the south, they claim the surge has worked, but the surge really hasn't worked. There's less violence, but al-Sadr has essentially won in the south. The British are leaving. The brigade of al-Sadr now is in charge. So they are getting their country back. They're in charge up north. The -- the -- the Shi'a -- the people in the north are in charge, as well, and there's no violence up there, or nearly as much. So let the people have their country back again.

Just think of the -- the cleaning up of the mess after we left Vietnam. Vietnam now is a friend of ours. We trade with them. The president comes here. What we achieved in peace was unachievable in 20 years of the French and the Americans being in Vietnam.


REP. PAUL: So it's time for us to take care of America first. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Senator McCain, 30 seconds.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, let -- let me remind you, Congressman, we never lost a battle in Vietnam. (Applause.) It was American public opinion that forced us to lose that conflict. And if you -- (applause continues).

And I think it's important for all Americans to understand the fundamental difference. After we left Vietnam, they didn't want to follow us home. They wanted to build their own workers' paradise. If you read Zarqawi, if you read bin Laden, if you read Zawahiri, read what they say, they want to follow us home. They want Iraq to be a base for al Qaeda to launch attacks against the United States. Their ultimate destination is not Iraq. Their ultimate destination is New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona. This is a transcendent challenge of our time. I believe that we can meet it, and we will defeat it. (Cheers, applause, booing.)

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul. I know a lot of you -- we'll get everyone in on this.

Congressman Paul, just wanted to allow you to respond.

REP. PAUL: Shortly after the Vietnam War ended, Colonel Two (sp) and Colonel Summers (sp) met, and they were talking about this. And our -- and the American colonel said, you know, we never lost one battle, and Colonel Two (sp), the Vietnami, says, yes, but that's irrelevant. And it is irrelevant. But we have to realize why they want to come here. Wolfowitz even admitted that one of the major reasons that the al Qaeda was organized and energized was because of our military base in Saudi Arabia. He says, oh, now we can take --


REP. PAUL: -- the base away. He understood why they came here.

They come here because we're occupying --


REP. PAUL: -- their country. (Applause.)


REP. PAUL: Just as we would object if they occupied our country. (Boos, cheers.)

MR. COOPER: I just want to let Congressman Tancredo in. We're running short on time, so please, let's try to get to these. You have 30 seconds.

REP. TANCREDO: I wish that we lived in the world that Ron has described. I wish that we lived in a world where we did not have to worry, by simply removing our forces, we would be safe. Unfortunately, Ron, honest to God, I don't believe that that is the case. We are living in a world where we are threatened. (Cheers, applause.) It is radical Islam.

It is the -- the ideology -- the political and religious ideology of radical Islam is a threat to America, and it would be a threat --


REP. TANCREDO: -- to America if we never had a single person --

REP. PAUL: He mentioned my name.

REP. TANCREDO: -- serving anywhere outside this country. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: We got another question. This one's going for Mayor Giuliani.


MR. COOPER: We're running short on time. I want to get Ron Paul's video in. Let's watch.

(Representative Ron Paul's campaign video is played.) (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: That was by the Paul campaign. Let's get to another YouTube question.

Q Good evening. My name is Dr. Hank Campbell. I'm in Lake Worth, Florida. My question is our infrastructure.

It's been estimated that to fix the bridges, the tunnels, the power grids, the water delivery systems in this country will be in excess of $2 trillion -- that's T for trillion, and it is plural.

Who among the candidates here is willing to step forward and begin to articulate the very difficult sacrifices which we need to make in order to start repairing America? Thank you.

MR. COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?

MR. GIULIANI: Well, I faced a situation like this -- a microcosm of it -- in New York City. New York City hadn't invested in infrastructure for a very, very long time; it had kind of got through its fiscal crisis that way. And we started a long-term capital investment program in the infrastructure.

My predecessor started it, I continued it, I turned it over to my successor, and it really has done, I think, remarkable work in rebuilding the infrastructure of New York. That's what America needs. It can't be done by one president. This is something where you're going to need a succession of presidents to have a sustained program -- probably, we should have budgeting that allows for -- we can't really have a capital budget under federal budgeting, but we could have a separate accounting for that kind of budgeting that's long term because this is going to help America over a 20 or a 30-year period.

And most of the time when we're spending money, as Senator Thompson said, we're spending the next generation's money, and we shouldn't be doing that. And fiscal conservatism is about preventing that. But when we're rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges, building new bridges, rebuilding our infrastructure, that's actually going to benefit the next generation and the generation after.

And there are ways to spread that out over a long period of time. But it needs a sustained program, and it cannot be done just by the federal government. It needs to be done as a partnership with state and local governments, and I believe I'd be in a good position to lead that.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.

REP. PAUL: The infrastructure problem in this country is very, very serious. We as Americans are taxed to blow up the bridges overseas, we're taxed to go over and rebuild the bridges overseas, while our bridges are falling down in this country.

This country is going bankrupt and we can't afford this. We need to take care of ourselves. We do not need to sacrifice one thing more. We just need to take care of ourselves and get the government out of our lives and off our back and out of our wallets. (Cheers, applause.)


MR. COOPER: Let's go to the next question. It's for Ron Paul.

Q Mark Strauss, Davenport, Iowa. This question is for Ron Paul. Mr. Paul, I think we both know that the Republican Party's never going to give you the nomination, but I'm hoping that you're crazy like a fox like that and you're using this exposure to propel yourself into an Independent run.

My question is for Ron Paul. Mr. Paul, are you going to let America down by not running as an Independent?

Thank you.

REP. PAUL: Now, that's what I call a tough question because I have no intention of doing this. I am a Republican. I have won 10 times as a Republican, and we're doing quite well. We had 5,000 people show up and rally in front of the Independence Hall with blacks and Hispanics and a cross-section of this country. Do you know that we raised $4.3 million in one day -- (cheers, applause) -- without spending one cent. We didn't even pay an individual to go out, and they weren't professional fundraisers.

It came in here. It was automatic. We're struggling to figure out how to spend the money. This country is in a revolution. They're sick and tired of what they're getting, and I happen to be lucky enough to be part of it. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: I'll take that as a no. Okay.

We -- unfortunately, this is our last question of the night.

Q (Chris Krul, Bonita Springs, FL): Guiliani, can you explain why you, being a lifelong Yankees, fan, that this year, at the -- after the Yankees lost everything, you rooted for the Red Sox in the postseason. Can you explain that position for me? (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?

REP. PAUL: Yeah. I want to ask him that question, too.

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