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Republican Presidential Debate


Location: Manchester, NH

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.


MR. GIBSON: Congressman Paul, let me ask you: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine or would you change it?

REP. PAUL: Well, I certainly agreed with his foreign policy that he ran on and that we as Republicans won in the year 2000 -- you know, the humble foreign policy, no nation-building, don't be the policeman of the world. And we were strongly critical of the policy of the Clinton administration, that did the opposite. And we fell short. Of course, the excuse is that 9/11 changed everything, but the Bush doctrine of preemptive war is not a minor change. This is huge. This is the first time we as a nation accept as our policy that we start the wars. I don't understand this. And that all options are on the table to go after Iran? This -- this is not -- this is not necessary. These are third-world nations. They're not capable.

But I think it's the misunderstanding or the disagreements that we've had in this debate along the campaign trail is the -- the nature of the threat. I'm as concerned about the nature of the threat of terrorism as anybody, if not more so. But they don't attack us because we're free and prosperous. And there are radicals in all elements on -- in -- in all religions that will result to violence. But if we don't understand that the reaction is -- is because we invade their countries, we -- and occupy their countries, we have bases in their country, and that we haven't done it just since 9/11, but we have done that a long time.

I mean, it was the Air Force base in Saudi Arabia before 9/11 that was given as the excuse. If we don't understand that, we can't win this war against terrorism.

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.

MR. THOMPSON: Charlie, is this subject still open?


MR. THOMPSON: Can we comment on that?

I served on the Intelligence Committee in the Senate. I was the floor manager for the Republicans on the homeland security bill. So I have a bit of a different vantage point than some of my colleagues on this.

The question had to do with preemption. Preemption didn't just appear one day as a good idea. After the Cold War, we had one big enemy and one big weapon against us. When we kind of took a holiday from history in the '90s and let our military slide and our intelligence capabilities slide, the world was changing. We now have multiple enemies. We now have terrorists and various groups, al Qaeda, rogue nations in different stages of developing nuclear weapons. We must be prepared for the different kind of weaponry that we're facing. We could be attacked with a biological weapon and not even know it for a long period of time. This is a different world.

So instead of mutually assured destruction, which we lived under for a long time, it's now a world where preemption has got to be an option under the right circumstances.

MR. GIBSON: So you would keep the Bush policy?

MR. THOMPSON: Things that happen on the other side of the world sometimes can affect us such as, perhaps, Pakistan. We should only go in where we should and where we're able to.

MR. GIBSON: Let me --

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie?

MR. GIBSON: Yeah, go ahead.

MR. GIULIANI: Just make one point. Ron's analysis is really seriously flawed. The idea that the attack took place because of American foreign policy is precisely the reason I handed back a $10 million check to a Saudi prince, who gave me that money at Ground Zero for the Twin Towers fund and then put out a press release saying America should change its foreign policy. It seems to me if you don't face this squarely, to have an Islamic terrorist threat against us, it's an existential threat, it has nothing to do with our foreign policy; it has to do with their ideas, their theories, the things that they have done (and/in ?) the way they've perverted their religion into a hatred of us. And what's at stake are the things that are best about us -- our freedom of religion, our freedom for women, our right to vote, our free economic system.

Our foreign policy is irrelevant, totally irrelevant. If you read what they write, if you bother to listen to what they say, this comes out of their own perverted thinking.

REP. PAUL: Charlie.

MR. GIBSON: Go ahead.

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. : 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.)


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.

MR. GIBSON: Gentlemen, I --

REP. PAUL: What you're doing is damaging our relationship by destroying our relationship with all Muslims.

MR. GIULIANI: I do not.

REP. PAUL: That's what you're doing.

MR. GIBSON: Time. Time.

MR. THOMPSON: Charlie, you started it.

MR. GIBSON: I did start it, yes. I did. (Laughter.)

MR. : Charlie, you wanted a free-for-all.

MR. GIULIANI: It is important to make this point. Just the opposite, Ron. I have great respect for the Islamic religion. I have great respect for the Arab world, for the Middle East. I think we should be closer to them. I think we should trade more with them. I think we should have cultural exchanges with them. The overwhelming majority of the Islamic world --

REP. PAUL: Why do we support their dictators, then? Why do we prop up all their dictators?

MR. GIULIANI: And on the evening of September 11, 2001, the day my city was attacked, I got on television and I said to the people of my city, we're not going to engage in group blame. This is a small group of people.

This does not typify a great religion and a great people.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to --

MR. GIULIANI: I do not accept that criticism.

REP. PAUL: (Off mike.)

MR. ROMNEY (?): We're going to miss you tomorrow night. (Laughter.)


MR. GIBSON: I'm going to run out of time on this, but I want to come back to that point. Go ahead.

REP. PAUL: The president asks a very important question, and we should all come together and we shouldn't have that many disagreements because we should be bound down by the Constitution.

But the people in this country think we live in an age of relative ethics, is what they've kind of come to the conclusion of. Sure, profess to believe in the Constitution, but why have we gone to war since World War II without a declaration of war? Why do we have a monetary system that is not designed by the Constitution? Why do we have a welfare state running out of control not designed by the Constitution? You can't pay lip service to the Constitution without obeying it.

And we should have peace and prosperity -- that should be our goal. We in foreign policy ought to have a golden rule: We ought to treat others as we would want others to treat us, and we don't treat others so fairly. We treat them like we're the bully, that we're the policeman of the world, and we're going to tell them to behave. If we don't -- if they don't listen to us, we bomb them. If they listen to us, we give them more money. And it's bankrupting this country because we don't live up to our principles. The principles are embedded in our Constitution.


REP. PAUL: Charlie, you really answered the question -- you answered it in your question, because you said how can we afford a trillion-dollar war and we can't afford health care? Well, that's the reason. The resources are going overseas. We're fighting a trillion- dollar war, and we shouldn't be doing it. Those resources should be spent back here at home.

There is an inflationary factor. We can't afford it. We do have good medical care, but the costs are so high now that our people in this country are actually going to India and getting their heart surgery done. They pay the plane ticket, the hospital, and the hotel and they get it for half price. So it's inflation.

But if you don't understand how inflation comes, we can't solve this problem. It comes from deficit financing with this war-mongering foreign policy we have.

We run up the deficits. We tax. We borrow. We borrow from the Chinese. We can't borrow enough. Then what do we do? We print the money, and then you wonder where the inflation comes? The value of the dollar goes down and prices go up where the government gets involved in certain things, like housing or medical care or education. Prices are skyrocketing. So you have to deal with the monetary issue to solve the problem of the medical issue.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Thompson.

MR. THOMPSON: Hmm. (Laughter.)

REP. PAUL: Don't print any more money. We don't need any more money.

MR. THOMPSON: So if we would stop printing so much money, we could get out of the war and provide health care to everybody? (Laughter.)

REP. PAUL: If we get out of the war, we wouldn't have to print the money.

MR. THOMPSON: Okay. I just wanted to make -- I just wanted to --

REP. PAUL: What's wrong with backing the money by something --

MR. GIBSON: All right, let him go. Let him --

MR. THOMPSON: I wanted to make sure -- I wanted to make sure I had this right.

Let me -- let me break it down a little bit so I can understand it a little bit better.

REP. PAUL: Keep trying.


REP. PAUL: I think there's two points I'd like to make: One, I get a little bit worried when we talk about the tamper-proof ID for illegals or immigrants because how do you do that? Anybody that is an immigrant or looks like an immigrant would have to have an ID, and then you can't discriminate, so everyone's going to have the ID. I think it's opening the door for the national ID, and we should be very, very careful about that.

But one thing that we haven't talked about here is about the economics of illegal immigration. You can't solve this problem as long as you have the runaway welfare state and the excessive spending and the wiping out of the middle class through inflation because that's what directs the hostility is people are hurting. And then when we have all these mandates on the hospitals and on our schools, and no wonder -- the incentives are there.

There's an incentive for a lot of our people not to work because they can get welfare, and there's a lot of incentive because they know they're going to get amnesty. We gave it to the illegals in the '80s, and then we put mandates on the states to compel them to have medical care, and you say, "Well, that's compassionate." But what happens if the hospital closes and then the people here in this country don't get medical care?

So you can't divorce it from the economics. You've got to get rid of the incentives -- no amnesty and no forced benefits -- because obviously they'll bring their families. And it just won't work if you try to see this in a vacuum, and you have to deal with it as a whole -- as an economic issue as well.


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.)


REP. PAUL: You know, it's interesting that you asked this question because we have a lot of similarities. As a matter of fact, Barack Obama and myself, because our campaign is made up of young people. And frequently we will have young people joining us that came from the Barack Obama's campaign, and we're very pleased. But Barack spoke out against the war before it started, and he respects civil liberties, and I respect him for that. But the question is, is why would it be? I assume it's because of the similarity in the age of us two candidates that young people are attracted to us. (Laughter.) But it is -- it's the youthfulness of the ideas that bring the young people to us, but there is a difference between what Barack Obama's talking about because he does give hope to young people.

And that's what happens in our campaign, but I talk a lot more about different kind of economic policies. I talk about personal liberty and the right to people's personal life and getting -- stopping these wars and coming home and having a sensible monetary policy, and young people like this. But Barack Obama is not going to talk about the goal of getting rid of the income tax and dealing with monetary policy.

I mean, he -- he is too much into the welfare state issue, not quite understanding how free market economics is the truly compassionate system. If we care about the poor and want to help the poor, you have to have free markets. You can't have a welfare state in order to try to take care of people.

MR. GIBSON: Let me move on.

People in this state, and everywhere, are worried about gas prices. When 2007 began, oil was $61 a barrel. It was 100 (dollars) last week. We haven't even begun to see the demand that India and China is going to put on the world's oil market. Don't you have to, in the end, level with people that gas prices are at this level to stay and, if anything, they're going to go higher? And isn't not to do so intellectual dishonesty?

Anybody? (Laughter.) Go ahead.

REP. PAUL: I'll be glad to answer that question because it's something I talk about all the time and it's a very important question. The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a very good chart that explains this. If you look at the price of oil in the last 10 years, if you look at it in terms of dollars, it went up 350 percent. If you look at it in Euros, it went up about 200 percent. If you look at it in the price of gold, it stayed flat. It's the inflation, it's the printing of money, it's the destruction of the value of the dollar.

Added onto this, the notion that we go to protect our oil -- oil was $27 when we went over there to get the oil and protect the oil and take the oil from Iraq. There's less than -- there's less than about half the production now in Iraq right now and we're threatening Iran, and that pushes prices up. It pushes up the concept of supply and demand.

But you can't deal with the price of oil without dealing with the supply and demand of dollars. When you devalue the dollar -- and the dollar is going down every day, and the further the dollar goes down, the higher the prices of oil going up. We have to understand that.


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