Republican debate Oct 18, 2011 (last part) with video clips and transcript
Below are video clips and the transcript.
COOPER: We’re going to move on to an issue very important here in the state of Nevada and throughout the West. We have a question from the hall.
QUESTION: Yeah, my question is, those of us who own property here in Nevada have been devastated by the real estate bubble. What would you do as president to help fix the overall problem of real estate and foreclosures in America?
COOPER: Senator Santorum, Nevada has the highest rate of foreclosure. SANTORUM: Yeah, I mean, it’s — it’s a situation right now where obviously the market’s in — has been decimated. And so now you’re looking at, how do you repair it? The problem is — in the first place, is that several people up here, the, quote, “businesspeople,” supported the TARP, supported the bailout. Governors Perry, Romney…
SANTORUM: No, you wrote a letter on the day of the vote — you wrote a letter on the day of the vote, Governor, saying to vote for the plan. That’s what you — I mean, that — the letter’s been…
PERRY: No, I didn’t.
SANTORUM: Yes, you did, Governor. You sent…
COOPER: You’ll have a chance to respond. Let him finish.
SANTORUM: Joe Manchin signed it with you. So you — you supported it. Governor Romney and Herman Cain all supported the — the TARP program, which started this ball…
CAIN: Not all of it.
SANTORUM: I mean, I — I mean, you guys complain about Governor Romney flip-flopping. I mean, look at what’s going on here. I mean, the — the bottom line is, you all supported it, you all started this ball rolling, where the government injected itself in trying to make — trying to fix the market with the government top-down trying to do it, and (ph) managed decline. And what happened was, people who did things that were wrong invested in things, took risks, were bailed out, and the folks who acted responsibly are now getting hurt because their houses have gone down in value. We need to let the market work, and that’s what hasn’t been happening so far.
COOPER: I’m going to allow each of the three of you to respond.
Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.
PERRY: The fact is, Rick just has that wrong. We wrote a letter to Congress asking them to act. What we meant by acting was, cut the regulations, cut the taxation burden, not passing TARP.
There is clearly a letter out of our office that says that, Rick. I’ll get you a copy of it so you’ll understand it.
SANTORUM: Hold on. I need to respond to that.
He sent a letter the day of the vote on the floor of the House saying, pass the economic plan. There was only one plan, and that was the plan that was voted on the floor. It was TARP.
You sent a letter on that day saying, vote for that plan. Now, you can send a letter later saying I didn’t mean it, but when you said it, it was the only plan that was in play, and that was the TARP plan.
COOPER: Governor Perry — do you want to respond, Governor Perry?
PERRY: I’m just telling you I know what we sent, I know what the intention was. You can read it any way you want, but the fact of the matter, I wasn’t for TARP, and have talked about it for years since then.
COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.
ROMNEY: There’s an effort on the part of people in Washington to think somehow they know better than markets, how to rebalance America’s economy. And the idea of the federal government running around and saying, hey, we’re going to give you some money for trading in your old car, or we’re going to give you a few thousand bucks for buying a new house, or we’re going to keep banks from foreclosing if you can’t make your payments, these kind of actions on the part of government haven’t worked.
The right course is to let markets work. And in order to get markets to work and to help people, the best we can do is to get the economy going. And that’s why the fundamental restructuring I’ve described is so essential to help homeowners and people across this country.
COOPER: Mr. Cain, I want you to be able to respond. Thirty seconds.
CAIN: I have said before that we were in a crisis at the end of 2008 with this potential financial meltdown. I supported the concept of TARP, but then, when this administration used discretion and did a whole lot of things that the American people didn’t like, I was then against it. So yes, and I’m owning up to that.
Now, getting back to the gentleman’s question in terms of what we need to do, we need to get government out of the way. It starts with making sure that we can boost this economy and then reform Dodd-Frank and reform a lot of these other regulations that have gotten in the way –
CAIN: — and let the market do it just like Mitt has talked about.
COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, does the federal government have a role in keeping people in their homes, saving people from foreclosure, in the state of Nevada?
BACHMANN: That was the question that was initially asked. And what I want to say is this — every day I’m out somewhere in the United States of America, and most of the time I’m talking to moms across this country. When you talk about housing, when you talk about foreclosures, you’re talking about women who are at the end of their rope because they’re losing their nest for their children and for their family. And there are women right now all across this country and moms across this country whose husbands, through no fault of their own, are losing their job, and they can’t keep that house. And there are women who are losing that house.
I’m a mom. I talk to these moms.
I just want to say one thing to moms all across America tonight. This is a real issue. It’s got to be solved.
President Obama has failed you on this issue of housing and foreclosures. I will not fail you on this issue. I will turn this country around.
We will turn the economy around. We will create jobs. That’s how you hold on to your house.
Hold on, moms out there. It’s not too late.
COOPER: We have another question. This one is a Twitter question.
“How do you explain the Occupy Wall Street movement happening across the country? And how does it relate with your message?”
Herman Cain, I’ve got to ask you, you said, — two weeks ago, you said, “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”
That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that?
CAIN: Yes, I do still say that. And here’s why.
CAIN: I still stand by my statement, and here’s why.
They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good. Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration.
So I do stand by them.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, you’ve been — Congressman Paul, you’ve been critical of Governor Romney for — for holding fundraisers with — with Wall Streeters. Do you think he understands what the protest is about? Do you understand?
PAUL: Well, I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims. There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can’t blame the victims.
But we also have to point — I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I’d go over to the Federal Reserve.
They — they create the financial bubbles. And you have to understand that you can’t solve these problems if you don’t know where these bubbles come from.
But then, when the bailout came and supported by both parties, you have to realize, oh, wait, Republicans were still in charge. So the bailouts came from both parties. Guess who they bailed out? The big corporations of people who were ripping off the people in the derivatives market. And they said, oh, the world’s going to come to an end unless we bail out all the banks. So the banks were involved, and the Federal Reserve was involved.
But who got stuck? The middle class got stuck. They got stuck. They lost their jobs, and they lost their houses. If you had to give money out, you should have given it to people who were losing their mortgages, not to the banks.
COOPER: Mr. Cain, do you want to respond? He referenced you. So if you want to respond, you have 30 seconds.
CAIN: All I want to say is that representative Paul is partly right, but he’s mixing problems here. It’s more than one problem. Look, the people — the banks — yes, the banks and the businesses on Wall Street, yes, the way that was administered was not right.
But my point is this: What are the people who are protesting want from bankers on Wall Street, to come downstairs and write them a check? This is what we don’t understand. Take — go and get to the source of the problem, is all I’m saying.
COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds.
CAIN: And that’s the White House.
COOPER: And then we’ll go to Governor Romney.
PAUL: Yes, the argument is it’s — the program was OK, but it was mismanaged. But I work on the assumption that government’s not very capable of managing almost anything…
… so you shouldn’t put that much trust in the government. You have — you have to trust the marketplace. And when the government gets involved, they have to deal with fraud. And how many people have gone to jail either in the government, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, that participated in this? And nobody suffers the consequences. All these investigations, and yet the people who lose their jobs and lose their houses, it’s their fault, according — that’s why they’re on Wall Street. And we can’t blame them. We have to blame the business cycle…
PAUL: … and the economic policies that led to this disaster.
COOPER: Governor Romney, you — you originally called the protests “dangerous.” You said it was class warfare. You recently sounded more sympathetic. Where do you stand now? What is your message to those people protesting?
ROMNEY: Look, we can spend our time talking about what happened three years ago and what the cause was of our collapse. But let’s talk about what’s happened over the last three years. We’ve had a president responsible for this economy for the last three years, and he’s failed us.
He’s failed us in part because he has no idea how the private sector works or how to create jobs. On every single issue, he’s made it harder for our economy to reboot. And as a result, we have 25 million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work or in part- time work and can’t get full-time employed. Home values going down. You have median income in America that in the last three years has dropped by 10 percent.
Americans are hurting across this country, and the president’s out there campaigning. Why isn’t he governing? He doesn’t — he doesn’t have a jobs plan even now. This — this is a critical time for America.
And I — and I can tell you that this is time to have someone who understands how the economy works, who can get America working again. Instead of dividing and blaming, as this president is, let’s grow America again and have jobs that are the envy of the world. And I know how to do it.
COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. We’re going to continue on the other side. We’ll be right back.
COOPER: I’m Anderson Cooper, the western Republican presidential debate, live from the Venetian in Las Vegas. As you watch the debate tonight, send us your comments and questions for the candidates on Twitter. Use the hashtag #CNNDebate. Also contact us on Facebook and cnn.com.
When we come back, the right to bears and should a candidate’s faith matter? We’ll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN GOP debate live from the Venetian in Las Vegas. Let’s continue. We’ve got an e-mail question that was left at cnnpolitics.com. This is from a Mike Richards who says: “With the controversy surrounding Robert Jeffress, is it acceptable to let the issue of a candidate’s faith shape the debate?”
Senator Santorum, this is in reference to a Baptist pastor who, at the Values Voter Summit, after introducing Governor Rick Perry, said of — said that “Mitt Romney is not a Christian,” and that “Mormonism is a cult.” Those were his words.
COOPER: Should voters pay attention to a candidate’s religion?
SANTORUM: I think they should pay attention to the candidate’s values, what the candidate stands for.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SANTORUM: That’s what is at play. And the person’s faith — and you look at that faith and what the faith teaches with respect to morals and values that are reflected in that person’s belief structure. So that’s — those are important things.
I — I’m a Catholic. Catholic has social teachings. Catholic has teachings as to what’s right and what’s wrong. And those are legitimate things for voters to look at, to say if you’re a faithful Catholic, which I try to be — fall short all the time, but I try to be — and — and it’s a legitimate thing to look at as to what the tenets and teachings of that faith are with respect to how you live your life and — and how you would govern this country.
With respect to what is the road to salvation, that’s a whole different story. That’s not applicable to what — what the role is of being the president or a senator or any other job.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you agree with that?
GINGRICH: Well, I think if the question is, does faith matter? Absolutely. How can you have a country which is founded on truths which begins we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights? How can you have the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which says religion, morality and knowledge being important, education matters. That’s the order: religion, morality and knowledge.
Now, I happen to think that none of us should rush in judgment of others in the way in which they approach God. And I think that all of us up here I believe would agree. (APPLAUSE)
But I think all of us would also agree that there’s a very central part of your faith in how you approach public life. And I, frankly, would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments, because then I’d wonder, where’s your judgment — how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?
Who you pray to, how you pray, how you come close to God is between you and God. But the notion that you’re endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America.
COOPER: Governor Perry, Mitt Romney asked you to repudiate the comments of that pastor who introduced you on that stage. He didn’t make the comments on the stage; he made them afterward in an interview. Will you repudiate those comments?
ROMNEY: Well, our faith — I can no more remove my faith than I can that I’m the son of a tenant farmer. I mean, the issue, are we going to be individuals who stand by our faith? I have said I didn’t agree with that individual’s statement. And our founding fathers truly understood and had an understanding of — of freedom of religion.
And this country is based on, as — as Newt talked about, these values that are so important as we go forward. And the idea that we should not have our freedom of — of religion to be taken away by any means, but we also are a country that is free to express our opinions. That individual expressed an opinion. I didn’t agree with it, Mitt, and I said so. But the fact is, Americans understand faith. And what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident of the White House.
Governor Romney, is that — is that acceptable to you?
ROMNEY: You know, with — with regards to the disparaging comments about my faith, I’ve heard worse, so I’m not going to lose sleep over that.
What I actually found was most troubling in what the reverend said in the introduction was he said, in choosing our nominee, we should inspect his religion. And someone who is a good moral person is not someone who we should select; instead, we should choose someone who subscribes to our religious belief.
That — that idea that we should choose people based upon their religion for public office is what I find to be most troubling, because the founders of this country went to great length to make sure — and even put it in the Constitution — that we would not choose people who represent us in government based upon their religion, that this would be a nation that recognized and respected other faiths, where there’s a plurality of faiths, where there was tolerance for other people and faiths. That’s bedrock principle.
And it was that principle, Governor, that I wanted you to be able to, no, no, that’s wrong, Reverend Jeffress. Instead of saying as you did, “Boy, that introduction knocked the ball out of the park,” I’d have said, “Reverend Jeffress, you got that wrong. We should select people not based upon their faith.” Even though — and I don’t suggest you distance yourself from your faith any more than I would. But the concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think, is a very dangerous and — and enormous departure from the principles of our — of our Constitution.
COOPER: Would you still like him to say that?
(UNKNOWN): I’m sorry?
COOPER: Would — would you still like the governor to say that? Or was that something you wanted him to…
ROMNEY: I’ll let him — that’s his choice.
COOPER: Do you want to respond to that, Governor Perry?
PERRY: I have. I said I did not agree with the — Pastor Jeffress’s remarks. I don’t agree with them. I — I can’t apologize any more than that.
ROMNEY: That’s fine.
COOPER: We’ve got a question from the audience.
QUESTION: Currently, there’s a deficit reduction measure to cut defense spending by $500 billion. Would you support such a reduction in defense spending? And if elected president, how will you provide a strong national defense?
COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, should defense be cut?
BACHMANN: Well, $500 billion is the amount that the questioner had mentioned. And don’t forget, this was an historic week when it came to American foreign policy.
We saw potentially an international assassination attempt from Iran on American soil. That says something about Iran, that they disrespect the United States so much, that they would attempt some sort of heinous act like that.
Then, we saw the president of the United States engage American troops in a fourth conflict in a foreign land. This is historic.
Then, on Sunday, we heard the reports that now that — in Iraq, the 5,000 troops that were going to be left there won’t even be granted immunity by Iraq. This is how disrespected the United States is in the world today, and it’s because of President Obama’s failed policies.
He’s taken his eyes off the number one issue in the world. That’s an Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. That makes all of us in much danger.
BACHMANN: And the president of Iran is a genocidal maniac. We need to stand up against Iran.
COOPER: Congresswoman –
BACHMANN: And as president of the United States, I will. We will be respected again in the world.
COOPER: The question though was about budget cuts. And is everything on the table in terms of cutting the budget?
BACHMANN: Absolutely everything.
COOPER: So defense spending would be on the table, should be?
BACHMANN: Defense spending is on the table, but again, Anderson, now with the president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin, and he put our Special Operations Forces in Africa.
COOPER: I just want to make sure. OK. It’s on the table.
BACHMANN: It’s on the table, but we cannot cut it by $500 billion. We can’t do that to tour brave men and women who are on the ground fighting for us.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?
GINGRICH: I mean, if you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of the super committee, which has now got a magic number to achieve. And if it doesn’t achieve the magic number, then we’ll all have to shoot ourselves in the head so that when they come back with a really dumb idea to merely cut off our right leg, we’ll all be grateful that they’re only semi-stupid instead of being totally stupid.
GINGRICH: Now, the idea that you have a bunch of historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget tells you everything you need to know about the bankruptcy of the current elite in this country in both parties. The fact is, we ought to first figure out what threaten us, we ought to figure out what strategies will respond to that. We should figure out what structures we need for those strategies. We should then cost them.
I helped found the Military Reform Caucus. I’m a hawk, but I’m a cheap hawk. But the fact is, to say I’m going to put the security of the United States up against some arbitrary budget number is suicidally stupid.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, you’ve proposed –
COOPER: Congressman Paul, you just proposed eliminating the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, Housing and Urban Development. You say it will save a trillion dollars in one year.
COOPER: You’re proposing a 15 percent cut to the Defense Department. Can you guarantee national security will not be hurt by that?
PAUL: I think it would be enhanced. I don’t want to cut any defense. And you have to get it straight. There’s a lot of money spent in the military budget that doesn’t do any good for our defense.
How does it help us to keep troops in Korea all these years? We’re broke. We have to borrow this money.
Why are we in Japan? Why do we subsidize Germany, and they subsidize their socialized system over there? Because we pay for it. We’re broke.
And this whole thing that this can’t be on the table, I’ll tell you what, this debt bubble is the thing you better really worry about, because it’s imploding on us right now. It’s worldwide.
We are no more removed from this than man the man on the moon. It’s going to get much worse.
And to cut military spending is a wise thing to do. We would be safer if we weren’t in so many places.
We have an empire. We can’t afford it. The empires always bring great nations down. We spread ourselves too thinly around the world. This is what’s happened throughout history, and we’re doing it to ourselves.
The most recent empire to fail was an empire that went into, of all places, Afghanistan…
PAUL: … they went broke. So where are we? In Afghanistan. I say it’s time to come home. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: It’s time.
We have a Twitter question. Given that Israel has just negotiated with Palestine for a soldier, would any of you negotiate for a hostage?
Herman Cain, let me ask this to you. A few hours ago you were asked by Wolf Blitzer, if al Qaeda had an American soldier in captivity, and they demanded the release of everyone at Guantanamo Bay, would you release them? And you said, quote: “I can see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer. Can you explain?
CAIN: The rest of the statement was quite simply, you would have to consider the entire situation. But let me say this first, I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists. We have to lay that principle down first.
Now being that you have to look at each individual situation and consider all the facts. The point that I made about this particular situation is that I’m sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to consider a lot of things before he made that.
So on the surface, I don’t think we can say he did the right thing or not. A responsible decision-maker would have considered everything.
COOPER: But you’re saying you could — I mean, in your words, you’ve said that I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer. Isn’t that negotiating with, in this case, al Qaeda?
CAIN: I don’t recall him saying that it was al Qaeda-related.
COOPER: Yes, he did. He said…
CAIN: Well, I don’t really — my policy will be we cannot negotiate with terrorists. That’s where we have to start as a fundamental principle.
COOPER: Senator Santorum?
SANTORUM: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, you can’t negotiate with terrorists, period.
To address Congressman Paul’s answer and the other answer on military spending, I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending. The first order of the federal government, the only thing the federal government can do that no other level of government can do is protect us. It is the first duty of the president of the United States is to protect us.
SANTORUM: And we should have the resources — we should have all the resources in place to make sure that we can defend our borders, that we can make sure that when we engage in foreign countries, we do so to succeed.
That has been the problem in this administration. We’ve had political objectives instead of objectives for success. And that’s why we haven’t succeeded. And as Michele said and correctly said, the central threat right now is Iran.
The disrespect, yes, but it’s more than that. They sent a message. The two countries that they went after was the leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the, quote, “secular world,” the United States.
This was a call by Iran to say we are the ones who are going to be the supreme leader of the Islamic world…
SANTORUM: … and we are going to be the supreme leader of the secular world. And that’s why they attacked here. And, by the way, they did it in coordination…
SANTORUM: … with Central and South Americans, which I have been talking about and writing about and talking about for 10 years.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, you were referenced in that answer, 30 seconds.
PAUL: Well, I think we’re on economic suicide if we’re not even willing to look at some of these overseas expenditures, 150 bases — 900 bases, 150 different countries. We have enough weapons to blow up the world about 20-25 times. We have more weapons than all the other countries put together essentially.
And we want to spend more and more, and you can’t cut a penny? I mean, this is why we’re at an impasse. I want to hear somebody up here willing to cut something. Something real.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PAUL: This budget is in bad shape and the financial calamity is going to be much worse than anybody ever invading this country. Which country — are they going to invade this country? They can’t even shoot a missile at us.
COOPER: We have a question in the hall that gets to your question. The question in the hall on foreign aid? Yes, ma’am.
VICKI O’KEEFE, BOULDER CITY, NEVADA: The American people are suffering in our country right now. Why do we continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?
COOPER: Governor Perry, what about that? I mean…
(APPLAUSE) PERRY: Absolutely. I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. Clearly there are places. As a matter of fact, I think it’s time for us to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: When you think about — when you think about the Palestinian Authority circumventing those Oslo Accords and going to New York to try to create the conflict and to have themselves approved as a state without going through the proper channels is a travesty.
And I think it’s time not only to have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular the U.N. Why are we funding that organization?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Governor Romney, should foreign aid be eliminated?
ROMNEY: Foreign aid has several elements. One of those elements is defense, is to make sure that we are able to have the defense resources we want in certain places of the world. That probably ought to fall under the Department of Defense budget rather than a foreign aid budget.
Part of it is humanitarian aid around the world. I happen to think it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are — and think of that borrowed money on today (ph).
And finally there’s a portion of our foreign aid that allows us to carry out our activities in the world such as what’s happening in Pakistan where we’re taking — we’re supplying our troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan.
But let me tell you: We’re spending more on foreign aid than we ought to be spending. And Congressman Paul asked, is there a place we can cut the budget? Let me tell you where we cut the budget. Discretionary accounts you bring back to 2008 level. We get rid of Obamacare. Number three, we take Medicaid, turn it back to the states, grow it at only 1 percent to 2 percent per year. Number three, we cut — number four, rather, we cut federal employment by at least 10 percent through attrition. And finally, we say to federal employees: You’re not going to make more money than the people in the private sector who are paying for you. We link their compensation.
PAUL: On foreign aid, that should be the easiest thing to cut. It’s not authorized in the Constitution that we can take money from you and give it to particular countries around the world. To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries. And it becomes weapons of war. Essentially, no well — no matter how well-motivated it is…
COOPER: Congressman Paul, would you cut aid to Israel?
PAUL: I would cut all foreign aid. I would treat everybody equally and fairly. And I don’t think aid to Israel actually helps them. I think it teaches them to be dependent. We’re on a bankruptcy course.
And — and look at what’s the result of all that foreign aid we gave to Egypt? I mean, their — their dictator that we pumped up, we spent all these billions of dollars, and now there’s a more hostile regime in Egypt. And that’s what’s happening all around Israel. That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us. It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back. They should be able to deal with their neighbors…
COOPER: Time. Congresswoman Bachmann…
PAUL: … at their own will.
COOPER: Should we cut foreign aid to Israel?
BACHMANN: No, we should not be cutting foreign aid to Israel. Israel is our greatest ally. The biggest problem is the fact…
… that the president — the biggest problem with this administration in foreign policy is that President Obama is the first president since Israel declared her sovereignty put daylight between the United States and Israel. That heavily contributed to the current hostilities that we see in the Middle East region.
Cutting back on foreign aid is one thing. Being reimbursed by nations that we have liberated is another. We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations.
Now, I need to add something on this issue of negotiating for hostages. This is a very serious issue. For any candidate to say that they would release the prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for a hostage would be absolutely contrary to the historical nature of the United States and what we do in our policy. That’s naive; we cannot do that. The United States has done well because we have an absolute policy: We don’t negotiate.
COOPER: Herman Cain, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds, because she was referring to — basically saying you were naive or if — if that’s what you were suggesting. CAIN: No, I — I said that I believe in the philosophy of we don’t negotiate with terrorists. I think — I didn’t say — I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go. No, that wasn’t — that wasn’t the intent at all.
But let me go back to this, if I could, very quickly in the time that I have left, the question that you asked about, foreign aid. My approach is an extension of the Reagan approach: Peace through strength, which is peace through strength and clarity. If we clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies, then we ought to continue to give money to our friends, like Israel.
COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Congressman Paul, and then we’ve got to go.
PAUL: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to make a statement. I want to ask a question. Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran? We all know that was done.
SANTORUM: That’s not — Iran was a sovereign country. It was not a terrorist organization, number one.
PAUL: Oh, they were our good friends back then, huh?
SANTORUM: They’re not our good friends. They’re — they’re — they’re a sovereign country, just like the — the Palestinian Authority is not the good friends of Israel.
PAUL: He negotiated for hostages.
SANTORUM: There’s — there’s a role — we negotiated with hostages (inaudible) the Soviet Union. We’ve negotiated with hostages, depending on the scale. But there’s a difference between releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in response to a terrorist demand…
PAUL: But they’re all suspects. They’re not terrorists. You haven’t convicted them of anything.
SANTORUM: Then — then — then negotiating with other countries, where we may have an interest, and that is certainly a proper role for the United States, too.
COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. I do want to give Speaker Gingrich 30 seconds, and then…
GINGRICH: Just very straightforward. Callista and I did a film on Ronald Reagan. There’s a very painful moment in the film when he looks in the camera and says, “I didn’t think we did this. I’m against doing it. I went back and looked. The truth is, we did. It was an enormous mistake.”
And he thought the Iranian deals with a terrible mistake.
COOPER: We’re going to take a short break. Our debate though continues on the other side of the break, so stay tuned.
When we return, which candidate has the best chance to beat Barack Obama, and should it matter in your vote?
Stay with us.
COOPER: And welcome back. The GOP debate is under way.
Let’s talk about probably the most important issue to everybody on this stage, and probably just about everybody in this room, which is, who can beat President Barack Obama in this next election?
In today’s new CNN/ORC poll, 41 percent of Republican voters think that Governor Romney has the best chance of beating the president.
COOPER: To Senator Santorum, you got one percent. Why shouldn’t Republican voters go with the candidate they feel that can best beat President Obama?
SANTORUM: Well, the Pew poll last week asked how many people in this country can name any of us? And less than 50 percent could come up with even one. So, the idea that this has any relevance to people who aren’t paying close attention to this debate is, in fact, irrelevant. What’s relevant is to look at the track record.
No one in this field has won a swing state. Pennsylvania is a swing state. We win Pennsylvania, we win the election. The Republicans nominate it.
I’ve won it twice. I defeated a Democratic incumbent, winning it the first time, and I won the state of Pennsylvania, the only senator to win a state who was a conservative that George Bush lost. Bush lost it by 5, I won it by 6.
So, you have someone who is defeated and been matched up against three Democratic incumbents. I’m 3-0.
Nobody in this field has won a major race against a Democratic incumbent except me. No one has won a swing state except me as a conservative.
I didn’t run as a Democrat in Texas when it was popular, won and win there. I didn’t run as a liberal in 1994. I ran in 1994, the same year Mitt did in Massachusetts. He ran as a liberal, to the left of Kennedy, and lost. I ran as a conservative against James Carville and Paul Begala, and I won.
In 2002, he ran as a moderate. He ran as a moderate in — in Massachusetts. I ran for re-election having sponsored and passed welfare reform, having authored the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
SANTORUM: I was a — a moral conservative, I was a foreign policy conservative…
COOPER: Time, Senator.
SANTORUM: … I was a fiscal conservative, and I got elected in a state that hasn’t elected a president since 1988 as a Republican.
COOPER: Thank you.
Governor Romney, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds, since he referenced you.
ROMNEY: I think the people of America are looking for someone who can beat President Obama and can get the country on the right track. And I believe that they’ve recognized that if they elect someone who’s spent their life in politics that they’re not going to be able to post up well against President Obama and convince the American people of the truth of the — of the principles that we believe in.
I believe that, having spent my life in the private sector, having actually created jobs is what allows me to have the kind of support that’s going to allow me to replace President Obama and get the country on the right track again. That, for me, is a distinguishing feature that’s going to get me elected as the president of the United States.
Governor Perry, was he referring to you?
PERRY: If you want to know how someone’s going to act in the future, look how they act in the past. I mean, so, Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts in that period of time, you were 47th in the nation in job creation. During that same period of time, we created 20 times more jobs. As a matter of fact, you’d created 40,000 jobs total in your four years. Last two months, we created more jobs than that in Texas.
What we need is someone who will draw a bright contrast between themselves and President Obama. And let me tell you one thing: I will draw that bright contrast.
COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds. Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: Yeah. With regards to track record in the past, Governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore’s campaign, all right?
(LAUGHTER) And there was a fellow — there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running. So if we’re looking at the past, I think we know where you were.
Secondly, our unemployment rate I got down to 4.7 percent, pretty darn good. I think a lot of people would be happy to have 4.7 percent. And with regards…
With regards to the — to the record — to the record in Texas, you probably also ought to tell people that if you look over the last several years, 40 percent, almost half the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens, illegal immigrants.
PERRY: That is an absolute falsehood on its face, Mitt.
COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Governor Perry.
ROMNEY: It’s actually — it’s actually…
PERRY: That is — that is absolutely incorrect, sir.
ROMNEY: Well, take a look at the study.
PERRY: There’s a third — there’s been a third party take a look at that study, and it is absolutely incorrect. The fact is, Texas has led the nation in job creation. eBay and Facebook and Caterpillar didn’t come there because there weren’t jobs and there wasn’t an environment to be created.
That’s what Americans are looking for. They’re looking for somebody that they trust, that knows has the executive governing experience. I’ve got it. You failed as the governor of Massachusetts.
COOPER: I’ve got to give Governor Romney 30 seconds. He said you failed.
ROMNEY: I’m very proud of the fact — actually, during the four years we were both governors, my unemployment rate in Massachusetts was lower than your unemployment rate in Texas. That’s number one.
Number two, getting it down to 4.7, I’m pretty happy with. We worked very hard to balance our budget, did every year, put in place a rainy-day fund of $2 billion by the time I was finished.
And I’ll tell you this, the American people would be happy for an individual who can lead the country who’s actually created jobs, not just watching them get created by others, but someone who knows how the economy works because he’s been in it. I have. I’ve created jobs. I’ll use that skill to get America working again. That’s what we want.
COOPER: Herman Cain, you’re — Herman Cain, you’re tied with Governor Romney in some of the polls for the top leadership position right now. Is a — are they the ones — are either Governor Perry or Governor Romney, are they the ones who should be president?
CAIN: No, I should be president.
COOPER: Well, obviously.
CAIN: Governor Romney has a very distinguished career, and I would agree with much of what he has said. And there’s one difference between the two of us in terms of our experience. With all due respect, his business executive experience has been more Wall Street- oriented; mine has been more Main Street.
I have managed small companies. I’ve actually had to clean the parking lot. I’ve worked with groups of businesses, et cetera.
And as far as contrasting me with President Obama, if I am fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, it’s going to be the problem-solver who fixes stuff versus the president who hasn’t fixed anything in this country.
COOPER: Governor Romney, you’ve got 30 seconds.
ROMNEY: I — I appreciate that. And probably the fact that we’re doing as well as we are is we both have a private-sector background. That probably helps.
But I just want to set the record state on my record — record straight on my record. I’ve been chief executive officer four times, once for a start-up and three times for turnarounds. One was a financial services company. That was the start-up. A — a consulting company, that’s a mainstream business. The Olympics, that’s certainly mainstream. And, of course, the state of Massachusetts. In all those settings, I’ve learned how to create jobs.
COOPER: Your campaigns are telling us we have to end. It’s time…
BACHMANN: Oh, no, no, no…
GINGRICH: Wait a second.
BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson, that is…
COOPER: It’s your campaigns. I’m… BACHMANN: Anderson…
COOPER: If you want to defy your campaigns, go ahead. Congresswoman Bachmann, 30 seconds.
BACHMANN: Anderson — Anderson, the good news is, the cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president; there’s no question about that.
Now the question is, we need to listen to Ronald Reagan who said no pastels, bold colors. I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?
BACHMANN: We can’t settle in this race.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?
GINGRICH: Let me — let me just point out for a second that maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House.
And the — the technique you’ve used maximizes going back and forth over and over again.
I just want to say two things. I think that I would be the strongest candidate because of sheer substance, if you go to newt.org and look at the 21st Century Contract with America. As the nominee, I will challenge Obama to meet the Lincoln-Douglas standard of seven three-hour debate, no time — no moderator, only a timekeeper. I believe we can defeat him decisively to a point where we re-establish a conservative America on our values. And I think that is a key part of thinking about next year.
COOPER: We’d love to host those on CNN.
I want to thank all the candidates, the GOP candidates tonight.
COOPER: I want to thank all the candidates for a spirited debate on the stage. We also want to thank our co-sponsors, the Western Republican Leadership Conference, our host, the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian. Our coverage of “America’s Choice 2012″ continues right now here on CNN.