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CNN/You Tube Debate - Transcript


Location: St. Petersburg, FL

CNN/You Tube Debate - Transcript


MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, was New York a sanctuary city?

MR. ROMNEY: Absolutely. Called itself a sanctuary city, and as a matter of fact, when the Welfare Reform Act that President Clinton brought forward said that they were going to end the sanctuary policy of New York City, the mayor brought a suit to maintain its sanctuary city status. And the idea that they reported any illegal alien that committed a crime, how about the fact that people who are here illegally are violating the law. They didn't report everybody they found that was here illegally, and -- (interrupted by cheers, applause) -- this -- this just happens to be a difference between Mayor Giuliani and myself and probably others on the stage as well, which is we're going to have to recognize in this country that we welcome people here legally. But the mayor said, and I quote almost verbatim, which is, if you happen to be in this country in an undocumented status -- and that means you're here illegally -- then we welcome you here. We want you here. We'll protect you here. That's the wrong attitude. Instead we should say, if you're illegally, you should not be here; we're not going to give you benefits other than those required by the law, like health care and education. And that's the course we're going to have to pursue.

MR. COOPER: Mayor Giuliani?

MR. GIULIANI: It's unfortunate, but Mitt generally criticizes people in a situation in which he's had far the worst record. For example, in his case, there were six sanctuary cities; he did nothing about them. There was even a sanctuary mansion. At his own home illegal immigrants were being employed -- (laughter, cheers, applause) -- not -- not -- not being turned in to anybody or by anyone.

And then, when he deputized the police, he did it two weeks before he was going to leave office, and they never seemed to even catch the illegal immigrants who were working at his mansion. So I would say he had sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right. I got to allow Governor Romney just to respond, then we'll move on.

MR. ROMNEY: Mayor, you know better than that.


MR. ROMNEY: Yeah? Okay, then let -- then listen, all right? Then listen. First of all --

MR. GIULIANI: You did -- you did -- you did have illegal immigrants working at your mansion, didn't you?

MR. ROMNEY: No, I did not. So let's just talk about that.

Are you suggesting, Mr. Mayor -- because I -- I think it's really kind of offensive, actually, to suggest -- to say look, you know what, if -- if you're a homeowner and you hire a company to come provide a service at your home -- paint the home, put on the roof -- if you hear someone that's working out there -- not that you've employed, but that the company has -- if you hear someone with a funny accent, you as a homeowner are supposed to go out there and say, I want to see your papers? Is that what you're suggesting?

MR. GIULIANI: What I -- what I'm suggesting is if you --

MR. ROMNEY: No, no, let's -- that's -- that's what -- (inaudible).

MR. GIULIANI: -- if you -- if you -- if -- if you are -- if you are going to -- (cheers, applause) --

MR. ROMNEY: Let me -- let me just --

MR. GIULIANI: If you -- if you are going to take --

MR. ROMNEY: Let me finish the rest of my story.

MR. GIULIANI: If you're going to take --

MR. ROMNEY: Let me finish the rest of --

MR. COOPER: No, you asked him a question, let him respond, and we got to move on.

MR. GIULIANI: If you're going to take this holier-than-thou attitude that your whole approach to immigration was so -- was so --

MR. ROMNEY: I'm sorry, immigration is not holier-than-thou, Mayor; it's the law.

MR. GIULIANI: You're going to take a holier-than-thou attitude that you are perfect on immigration --

MR. ROMNEY: I'm not perfect.

MR. GIULIANI: It just so happens that you have a special immigration problem that nobody else here has. (Laughter.) You were employing illegal immigrants.

MR. ROMNEY: You know, one -- one --

MR. GIULIANI: That is a pretty serious thing. (Applause.) They were under your nose. (Applause.) And --

MR. COOPER: All right, we need to --

MR. GIULIANI: -- and -- and --

MR. ROMNEY: I ask the mayor again: Are you suggesting, Mayor, that if you have a company that you hired to provide a service --

REP. HUNTER (?): Cooper, let us jump in here.

MR. ROMNEY: -- that you now are responsible for going out and checking the employees of that company, particularly those that -- that might look different or don't -- doesn't have an accent like yours, and ask for their papers? I don't think that's America, number one.

Number two, let me --

MR. COOPER: We got to move on.

MR. ROMNEY: -- let me tell you what I did as governor. I said no to drivers' licenses for illegals. I said, number two, we're going to make sure that those that come here don't get a tuition break in our schools, which -- I disagree with other folks on that one. (Applause.)

Number three, number three, I applied to have our state police enforce the immigration laws in May, seven months before I was out of office. It took the federal government a long time to get the approvals.

MR. COOPER: Okay --

MR. ROMNEY: And we enforced the law, and Massachusetts is not a sanctuary state. And the -- the policies of the mayor of pursuing a sanctuary nation or pursuing a sanctuary city are frankly wrong.

MR. COOPER: We've got a number --


MR. COOPER: -- we've got a number of questions from our viewers on this topic. So where -- we have a lot more to talk about on this. (Applause.) You will have another chance to respond.


MR. COOPER: -- on immigration as well, and it's going go for Governor Huckabee. Let's watch.

Q Governor Huckabee, as governor in Arkansas, you gave illegal aliens a discount for college in Arkansas by allowing them to pay lower in-state tuition rates. However, we have thousands of military members currently serving our country in Iraq with children at home. If these children chose to move to Arkansas to attend college, they would have to pay three times the tuition rate that illegal aliens pay. Would you support a federal law which would require any state to give these tuition rates to illegal aliens to give the same rate to the children of our military members?

MR. COOPER: Governor Huckabee, you have 90 seconds.

MR. HUCKABEE: Thank you very much.

Ashley, first of all, let me just express that you're a little misinformed. We never passed a bill that gave special privileges to the children of illegals to go to college.

Now, let me tell you what I did do. I supported a bill that would have allowed those children who had been in our schools their entire school life the opportunity to have the same scholarship that their peers had who had also gone to high school with them and sat in the same classrooms. They couldn't just move in in their senior year and go to college. It wasn't about out-of-state tuition; it was an academic meritorious scholarship called the Academic Challenge Scholarship.

Now, let me tell you a couple of provisions of it.

And by the way, it didn't pass. It passed the House, but got in the Senate and got caught up in the same kind of controversy that this country's caught up in.

Here's what happened. This bill would have said that if you came here not because you made the choice but because your parents did, that we're not going to punish a child because the parent committed a crime. That's not what we typically do in this country. It said that if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student, you completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and you also had to be drug and alcohol free, and the other provision, you had to be applying for citizenship.

It accomplished two thing that we knew we wanted to do, and that is, number one, bring people from illegal status to legal status; and the second thing, we wanted people to be taxpayers, not tax takers, and that's what that provision did.

And finally, would we give that provision to the children of veterans personally? What we've done with not just the children of veterans but, most importantly, veterans, is disgraceful in this country. And that's why I've proposed a Veterans Bill of Rights that, if anything, would give our veterans the most --


MR. HUCKABEE: -- exceptional privileges of all, because they are the ones who have earned all of our freedom, every single one of them. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you called -- you called Governor Huckabee a liberal on immigration.

(Applause for Mr. Huckabee continues.)
MR. COOPER: We've got another question from a YouTube watcher. Let's watch.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, you know, I like Mike, and I heard what he just said. But he basically said that he fought for giving scholarships to illegal aliens. And he had a great reason for doing so. It reminds me of what it's like talking to liberals in Massachusetts. All right? They have great reasons for taking taxpayer money and using it for things they think are the right thing to do.

Mike, that's not your money. That's the taxpayers' money. (Cheers, applause.) And the right thing here is to say to people that are here legally as citizens or legal aliens, we're going to help you.

But if you're here illegally, you ought to be able to return home or get in line with everybody else, but illegals are -- are not going to get taxpayer-funded breaks that are better than our own citizens', those that come from other states or those that come here -- (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: You have 30 seconds to respond.

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, but they didn't get something better; they had to earn it.

And you know something, I worked my way through college. I started work when I was 14 and I had to pay my own way through, and I know how hard it was to get that degree. I'm standing here tonight on this stage because I got an education. If I hadn't had the education, I wouldn't be standing on this stage. I might be picking lettuce. I might be a person who needed government support rather than who was giving so much money in taxes I want to get rid of the tax code that we've got and make it really different.


MR. HUCKABEE: Mitt, let me finish. No, let me finish, Mitt.


MR. HUCKABEE: In all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We're a better country than that. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: We've got another question -- we've got one more question for --

MR. ROMNEY: I get -- I get a chance to just respond to that.

We're not punishing children for what their parents did. And I respect the fact that you worked your way through college and it got you to where you are. That's wonderful. A lot of people in this country do tremendous things to get their education.

But the question is, are we going to give taxpayer-funded benefits to kids that are here illegally and put them ahead of kids that are here legally? There's only so much money to go around --

MR. HUCKABEE: No -- (inaudible) -- (number of scholarships ?), Mitt.

MR. ROMNEY: -- and we decide -- there's only so much money to go around -- let me finish too.

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, let's just be factual.

MR. COOPER: You've got 30 seconds. Your time's up.

MR. ROMNEY: There's only so much money. Are we going to say that kids that are here illegally are going to get a special deal? Are they going to get a deal better than other kids? Do they get benefits by virtue of coming here illegally? And the answer is no.

MR. HUCKABEE: No, they've got to earn it. That was the difference. They had to earn it by their record.

MR. ROMNEY: They had to be here illegally.


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

We've got a question moving onto another topic -- the economy, money.

Next question.

Q My name is Sarah Loderock (sp). I'm 18 years old, and I'm from Scottdale, Pennsylvania, and I'm a student at Penn State University. Often I've heard both politicians and voters express their concern with providing a better future for their children. A concern of my generation is the trillions of dollars in national debt and what kind of responsibility we will have for that in the future. My question for you all is: If elected, what measures will you take to tackle the national debt and control spending?


MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, what would you do to control spending?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, the senator is absolutely right. Every bill that comes forward that's got pork in it and earmarks that are unnecessary, we've got to veto them and send them back. And that's a lesson that's going to have to be done.

But, you know, it's got to be broader than that. We're going to have to see fundamental change in the way Washington works. We're just not going to get out-of-the-box thinking with inside-the-Beltway politics. And we're going to have to fundamentally go at something like our entitlements and say, "We've got to reform those."

I took on a major issue, which was health care, found a way to get people health insurance without having to expand government, without having to raise taxes. We're going to have to go after entitlements. We're going to have to set a cap, as I have proposed, on all non-military discretionary spending at inflation less 1 percent. Anything above that, we veto it.


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: I doubt you can do it, but very short answers.

Congressman Tancredo.

REP. TANCREDO: Yes, I can. I have the highest rating, by the way, from the American Conservative Union of anybody on this stage --

MR. COOPER: Oh yeah?

REP. TANCREDO: -- and yes, to Grover because he knows I have the highest rating from the Americans For Tax Reform. (Scattered cheers.) Thank you very much, Grover. Appreciate it.

MR. COOPER: Governor Huckabee.

MR. HUCKABEE: I would. Anderson, in fact, I've signed a pledge to that effect and would keep that pledge.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: I've signed Grover's pledge as well. I believe I was the first person on this stage to do so.


MR. COOPER: All right.

Next question.

Q Hi. I'm Ted Fatirous (sp) from Manhattan Beach, California. Mm. Nothing says delicious like cheap corn subsidized by the American taxpayer. For a lot of Americans, however, a bitter taste is left in their mouth when they learn about how the U.S. taxpayer bankrolls billions of dollars in farm subsidies that mostly go to large agribusiness interests. I'm curious which candidates who label themselves fiscally responsible will endorse the elimination of farm subsidies if they are elected president in 2008.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, a lot of folks in Iowa interested in this answer. (Laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: (Chuckles.)

MR. COOPER: So I hear.

MR. ROMNEY: Not to mention Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and so forth.

We don't want to find ourselves with regards to our food supply in the same kind of position we're in with regards to our energy supply. And so it's important for us to make sure that our farmers are able to stay on the -- on the farm and raise the crops that we need to have a secure source of food. And so I believe in supports that will allow us to do that.

At the same time, I recognize that we're also investing in new technologies to get ourselves energy-independent, and I happen to believe that some of the best sources for having renewable energy come from the farm. And so we're investing with subsidies in those areas to create new -- new technology that otherwise wouldn't be ready for the market yet.

So I support these programs.

And finally, I'd say this. We have in our nation about one out of three acres that are planted are for sale overseas. We send products around the world. We're competing with European and Brazilian and other farmers, and we're competing in a marketplace where they are heavily subsidized, at great disadvantage for our farmers. And so if we're going to change our support structure, we want to make sure that they change their support structure and we do this together, as opposed to unilaterally saying we're going to put our farmers in a tough position and have the farmers of the rest of the world continue to be subsidized.

So, open markets, let our goods go around the world, and secure our source of food.


MR. COOPER: All right. We're going to have three commercial breaks throughout this entire debate. This is the first one, and as we go to it, we go to another campaign-style video, this one from Senator Fred Thompson.

(Begin video.)

MR. ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years., that we should sustain and support it.

MR. HUCKABEE: Others have suggested a surcharge on the income tax. That's acceptable. I'm fine with that. Others have suggested perhaps a sales tax. That's fine.

(End video.) (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Actually, given the nature of that video, we're not going to go to break right now. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. : (Off mike.)

MR. COOPER: I think it's something we should talk about.

Senator Thompson, what's up with that? (Laughter, applause.)

MR. THOMPSON: Just want to give my buddies here a little extra air time. (Laughter, applause.)

I mean -- I mean, what's -- what do you mean, what's up with it? These are their words.

MR. COOPER: Okay. I should allow time to respond. (Applause.)

Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: I'm not sure who that young guy was at the beginning of that film, but I can tell you this, which is -- I don't know how many times I could tell it -- I was wrong. All right? (Applause.) I was effectively pro-choice when I ran for office. If -- if people in this country are looking for someone who's never made a mistake on a policy issue and is not willing to admit they're ever wrong, why, then they're going to have to find somebody else, because on abortion, I was wrong and I changed my mind.

As the governor -- this didn't just happen the last couple of weeks or the last year, this happened when I was governor -- the first time a bill came to my desk that related to life, I could not sign a bill that would take away human life. I came down on the side of life every single instance as governor of Massachusetts. I was awarded by the Massachusetts Citizens for Life with their leadership award for my record. I'm proud to be pro-life, and I'm not going to be apologizing to people for becoming pro-life. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Huckabee, a 30-seconds response.

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I was governor nearly 11 years, and in that time I cut 90 taxes. Over that period of time, the income tax remained exactly what it was. The sales tax was one penny higher. But I did do a number of tax cuts that helped a lot of people all over the place, like eliminating the marriage penalty, doubling the child care tax credit, getting rid of capital gains on the sale of a home, cutting capital gains on other things. I have a great record on fiscal conservatism.

But one thing I've learned. You know, when you get attacked, it's not always bad. It's like my old pastor used to tell me: When they're kicking you in the rear, it's just proving you're still out front. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: I'm sure there are some -- (inaudible) -- who might want to change their videos that they've given us after seeing Senator Thompson's, but it's too late to do that.

We're going to go take a short break. We'll be right back. (Applause.)


MR. COOPER: Staying on the topic, another question from the viewer.

ERIC BERNTSEN (PHOENIX, ARIZONA): Hi there. I'm Eric Berntsen from Phoenix, Arizona. Got a quick question for all you candidates.

Any of you want to tell us about your gun collection -- roughly how many you own; what your favorite make, model and caliber is; if any of them require a tax stamp?


MR. COOPER: Is there anyone here besides Senator McCain who does not own a gun? Mayor Giuliani, you don't?

MR. ROMNEY: Let --

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: I have two guns in my home. They're owned by my son Josh.

MR. COOPER: All right. So yes.

We have another question on a similar topic.

MR. ROMNEY: He buys expensive things for me.

(Begin YouTube video.)

Q Hi. This is me and my son, Prentice (sp). We're from Atlanta.

Q I want to ask you guys a question. I notice you spend billions of dollars on the war in Iraq every year, but what about the war going on in your own country, black on black crime? Two hundred to 400 black men die yearly in one city alone. What are you going to do about that war? It feels like the Taliban's right outside.

MR. COOPER: Talking about black-on-black crime, crime in the inner cities. Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, first of all, Prentice (sp) is pretty fortunate, because he's got a dad standing next to him that apparently loves him, by all appearances there, and that's probably the best thing you can do for a kid, is to have a mom and a dad. (Applause.)

And it's time in this -- in this country that we go back to the kind of values that allow kids to have moms and dads. In the African- American community today, 68 percent of kids born are born out of wedlock. And so we're going to try and once again re-inculcate in this country the kind of values that have made us so strong -- family values.

Secondly --

MR. COOPER: The question's what are you going to do about the war in the inner city?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, one -- about the war in the inner city? Number one is to get more moms and dads. That's number one. And thank heavens Bill Cosby said it like it was. That's where the root of crime starts.

Number two, we've got to have better education in our schools. I think that the civil rights issue of our time is the failure of inner city schools to prepare kids in the inner city for the jobs of tomorrow.

And number three, of course, you have to do a better job with our policing. And I was very proud that I added one state police class after another. We had the largest state police in the history of our state during my term. We put in place tough laws related to drunk driving. Sex offenders. They have their pictures now posted on the Internet. We took actions to be tough on crime, and I was pleased that violent crime in my state during my term reduced by 7 percent.

MR. COOPER: Mayor Giuliani, your campaign manager last week called Governor Romney a mediocre, one-term governor. On the issue of fighting crime, is he a crime fighter?

MR. GIULIANI: The governor has a mixed record in fighting crime. For example, murder went up by 7.5 percent. Burglary went up. One other category of violent crime went up. Some categories of violent crime went down. So it would be fair to say it's a mixed record. The reality is, I had a very strong record in doing precisely what the young man was asking about, and that is, reducing crime, and specifically in neighborhoods that would be regarded as poor neighborhoods, the neighborhoods that had the most crime.

For example, in Harlem we reduced crime by about 80 percent. We reduced shootings overall in the city by 74 percent. The City of New York was one of the most dangerous cities in America. And particularly in the neighborhoods this young man is worried about -- they were really dangerous -- they are not that way anymore.

And we made the changes with the COMPSTAT program, the broken windows theory and with very, very good leadership.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, I have to allow you 30 seconds to respond.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh, I think we all recognize that the mayor did a wonderful reducing crime in the city of New York. I'm not a mayor; I'm not running for a mayor's job. I didn't have a police commissioner. But I did take the actions that I could as a state -- as a state governor to improve our state police, to strengthen our state police, to be able to put in place the DNA laboratory. We more than tripled the size of our DNA laboratory and did the things we could to improve our crime -- our crime enforcement, and I'm proud of the fact that we were able to reduce crime during my tenure.


MR. COOPER: Another question.

Q Hello. My name is A.J., and I'm from Millstone, New Jersey. I would like all the candidates to give an answer on this. If hypothetically Roe versus Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortion, and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Yes or no.


MR. COOPER: Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: I agree with Senator Thompson, which is we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states. I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said we don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period. That would be wonderful. I'd be delighted. I'd be --

MR. COOPER: The question is, would you sign that bill?

MR. ROMNEY: Let me say it. I'd be delighted to sign that bill. But that's not where we are. That's not where America is today. Where America is is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in the country, terrific.



Similar question. Let's watch.

Q I'm Joseph. I'm from Dallas, Texas. And how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? (Shows a Bible.) And I mean specifically this book that I'm holding in my hand. Do you believe this book?

MR. COOPER: I think we got his question. Mayor Giuliani?

MR. GIULIANI: Well, I --

MR. HUCKABEE: Do I need to help you out, Mayor, on this one? (Laughter.)

MR. GIULIANI: What was it?

MR. HUCKABEE: I said, do I need to help you out on this one here? (Laughs.)

MR. GIULIANI: Do you want me to help you out? Wait a second. You're the minister. You're going to help me out on this one.

MR. HUCKABEE: I'm trying to help you out.

MR. GIULIANI: Okay. The reality is, I believe it, but I don't believe it necessarily literally true in every single respect. I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be interpreted in a modern context.

So, yes, I believe it. I think it's the greatest book ever written. I read it frequently. I read it very frequently when I've gone through the bigger crises in my life, and I find great wisdom in it. And it does define, to a very large extent, my faith. But I don't believe every single thing in the literal sense of Jonah being in the belly of the whale. You know, there are some things in it that I think were put there as allegorical.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney.

MR. ROMNEY: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. (Applause.) And I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it's a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible.

MR. COOPER: Does that mean you believe every word?

MR. ROMNEY: You know -- yeah, I believe it's the word of God. The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don't disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it.


MR. COOPER: Our next question -- our next question comes from Seattle, Washington.

ANDREW JONES (SEATTLE, WASHINGTON): Hello, gentlemen. I'm Andrew, and I'm a college student from Seattle, Washington.

Recently, Senator McCain has come strongly against using waterboarding as an instrument of interrogation. My question for the rest of you is, considering that Mr. McCain is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject, how can those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position?

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, he certainly is an expert, and I -- and I certainly would want to get his counsel on a matter of this nature. But I do not believe that as a -- a presidential candidate it is wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating people.

I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way, shape or form. We --

MR. COOPER: Is waterboarding torture?

MR. ROMNEY: And -- as I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don't think it's wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use. And that is something which I would want to receive the counsel not only of Senator McCain, but of a lot of other people. And there are people who -- who, for many, many years, get the information we need to make sure that we protect our country.

And by the way, I want to make sure these folks are kept at Guantanamo. I don't want the people that are carrying out attacks in this country to be brought into our jail system and to be given legal representation in this country. I want to make sure that -- that what happened to -- (applause) -- to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed happens to other people who are terrorists. He was captured. He was the so- called mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy. And he turned to his captors and he said, "I'll see you in New York with my lawyers." I presume ACLU lawyers. But that's not what happened. (Laughter.)

He went to Guantanamo and he met GIs and CIA interrogators, and that's just exactly how it ought to be. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: There are -- Senator McCain. There are reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, Governor, I'm astonished that you haven't found out what waterboarding is.

MR. ROMNEY: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.

SEN. MCCAIN: Then I am astonished that you would think such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are -- held captive, and anyone who could believe that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Conventions. (Applause.) It's in violation of existing law.

And Governor, let me tell you, if we're going to get the high ground in this world and we're going to be America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years, we're not going to torture people. We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going to do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak.

And I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others. And how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond, please.

MR. ROMNEY: Senator McCain, I appreciate your strong response, and you have the credentials upon which to make that response. I did not say, and I do not say, that we're in -- that I'm in favor of torture. I am not. I'm not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able to do.

And I get that -- and I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years. I'd get that advice by talking to former general in our military, and I don't believe --


MR. ROMNEY: -- I don't believe it's appropriate for me as a presidential candidate to lay out all of the issues one by one --


MR. ROMNEY: -- get question one by one, is this torture, is that torture.

MR. COOPER: Senator McCain?

MR. ROMNEY: That's something which I'm going to take your and other people's counsel on.


MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you said in 1994 that you looked forward to the day when gays and lesbians could serve, and I quote, "openly and honestly" in our nation's military. Do you stand by that?

MR. ROMNEY: This isn't that time. This is not that time. We're in a middle of a war. The people who have watched --

MR. COOPER: Do you look forward to that time, though, one day?

MR. ROMNEY: I'm going to listen to the people who run the military to see what the circumstances are like. And my view is that at this stage this is not the time for us to make that kind of a change.

MR. COOPER: Is there a change in your position from 1994?

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I didn't think it would work. I didn't think "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would work. That was my -- I didn't think that would work. I thought that was a policy -- when I heard about it, I laughed. I said that doesn't make any sense to me. And you know what? It's been there now for what, 15 years? Seems to have worked.

MR. COOPER: So just on clear -- at this point, do you still look forward to a day when gays can serve openly in the military, or no longer?

MR. ROMNEY: I look forward to hearing from the military exactly what they believe is the right way to have the right kind of cohesion and support in our -- in our troops, and I'll listen to what they have to say. (Boos.)

MR. COOPER: All right.


MR. COOPER: Another question about a local economy.

ADAM FLORZAK (ILLINOIS): This is Adam Florzak of Illinois.

The national debt is now growing so quickly it will have increased by over half a million dollars in just the time it takes to ask this question. Over the years, politicians have borrowed just under $2 trillion from the Social Security trust fund to cover these massive budget deficits, and now the retirements of our generation are at risk. What will you do as president to help repay this money and restore the trust?

MR. COOPER: Senator Thompson, a lot of retirees here in Florida. Ninety seconds.

MR. THOMPSON: One of the things I would do for his generation is protect him from our generation. (Laughter, applause.) We're -- he's absolutely right: We're spending his money, we're spending his children's money, and we're spending the money of kids yet to be born.

In 2017, Social Security will be in the red. Pretty soon it will be out of money. It will go bankrupt. In fact, our entitlement programs put together will take over the entire budget by about 2040. So that's why I get back to the point I made earlier. All these programs that we talk about on the news every day are a thimbleful in the ocean compared to the entitlement tsunami that's coming to hit us.

Now, we can do some things now, as I've proposed about Social Security, without having to really hurt anybody and give people to invest for their future while they're their working, or we can wait and let our grandkids or children, depending on how old they are, solve this problem that we have left them. It's not only a fiscal issue, it's a moral issue, as far as I'm concerned.

MR. COOPER: Governor McCain? Sorry -- Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you.

That's one of the problems we face, and a big one, which is the overspending in Washington and the debt and the obligations we have. We also face tough new competition coming from Asia. We face global jihad, which we just talked about very briefly. We face a whole series of extraordinary problems. Overuse of oil. Entitlements out of control.

It's time for us to recognize we're going to have to take a new course in this country, not follow Hillary Clinton off to the left, instead to follow the pathway Ronald Reagan blazed, which is to say we're going to have a stronger America with a stronger economy and have somebody who understands how jobs come and go, who understands what propels our economy will strengthen our economy, strengthen our military and strengthen our families.


MR. COOPER: Our next question. Let's watch.

Q Hello. My name is Leroy Brooks. I am from Houston, Texas. And my question is for all the candidates. Does this flag right here represent the symbol of racism, the symbol of political ideology, the symbol of Southern heritage, or is it something completely different?

MR. COOPER: Talking about the stars and bars. Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- right now with the kinds of issues we got in this country, I'm not going to get involved in a flag like that. That's not a flag that I recognize so that I would (haul/hold ?) it up in my room. The people of our country have decided not to fly that flag. I think that's the right thing. (Applause.)

My own view is that this country can go beyond that kind of stuff and that instead we can do as a party what we need to do, which is to reach out to all Americans.

Every time I listen to someone like John Edwards get on TV and say there are two Americans (sic), I just want to -- I just want to throw something at the TV, because there are not two Americas. There's one America. We are a nation united. We face extraordinary challenges right now, and Democrats dividing us and tearing down this country are doing exactly the wrong thing.

We're succeeding in Iraq. We've got tough challenges. We can overcome them. But we do not need to have that kind of divisive talk. And that flag, frankly, is divisive and it shouldn't be shown.

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.

(Cross talk.)

MR. GIULIANI: Hey, Krul. I'm Giuliani, he's Krul -- (laughter) -- so I'll explain it to him like in Brooklyn. I am American League fan. I root for the American League team when they get into the World Series; I've done it for 50 years. I actually rooted for the Red Sox -- (boos) -- I can't help it, I'm an American League fan. I rooted for the White Sox, the Tigers, the Red Sox.

As soon as the World Series are over, I rooted for the Yankees again, we're going to beat you next year. (Cheers, applause.) I, unfortunately, have lost a bet already to John McCain with the Arizona Diamondbacks, so I don't have a 100 (sic) record. But I do point out that when I was mayor of New York City, the Yankees won four world championships. (Cheers, applause.)

And -- wait, wait, wait -- I wanted to put this in our reel, but they cut it out, so I'm going to get it in -- and since I've left being mayor of New York City, the Yankees have won none. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, very quickly, your chance.

MR. ROMNEY: Eighty-seven -- 87 long years -- we waited 87 long years. And true suffering Red Sox fans that my family and I are, we could not have been more happy than to see the Red Sox win the World Series except by being able to beat the Yankees when they were ahead three games to none.

And so I have to tell you that, like most Americans, we love our sports teams and we hate the Yankees. (Laughter, applause.)

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