Transcript and video of Republican Debate June 13, 2011 New Hampshire (Part 4)

Republican Presidential Debate In New Hampshire pt.4

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas gestures as he answers a question as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, listen during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

KING: Welcome back to our Republican debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

One of the things we are very eager to do throughout the campaign is to involve you at home and to use technology and innovation. So if you have a smartphone, look at your screen right now.

If you’ve used it before, you’ll know. You’ll see an electronic code on your screen. You can snap a picture of that code, you’ll get some exclusive access about the debate. Some behind-the-scenes video, some analysis and content. We’ll do this throughout the debate and we’ll do it throughout the campaign.

Now we’re going to get back to questioning our seven Republican candidates for president.

Right before the break we did this thing called “This or That.” Just to learn a little bit about the personality of the candidates.

Senator Santorum doesn’t stay up very late. He’s a parent. I understand that. He said if he had to he would pick Leno over Conan.

Congresswoman Bachmann, to you, Elvis or Johnny Cash?

BACHMANN: That’s really tough. That’s really — both, both.

KING: Both?

BACHMANN: Yes.

KING: Both.

BACHMANN: I’ve “Christmas with Elvis” on my iPod.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: All right. Now we know what’s on the congresswoman’s iPod.

Let’s get to John Distaso of the “Union Leader.” He’s down here in the audience and he has a question.

JOHN DISTASO, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER SR. POLITICAL REPORTER: Thank you, John.

To federal — Congressman Paul, this is for you. The federal government now assists many industries, green jobs, the auto industry, research and development, all get subsidies. Given the current state of the economy, what standards do you have, if any, for government assistance to private enterprise?

PAUL: There shouldn’t be any government assistance to private enterprise. It’s not morally correct, it’s legal, it’s bad economics. It’s not part of the constitution. If you allow an economy to thrive, they’ll decide how R&D works or where they invest their monies.

But when the politicians get in and direct things, you get the malinvestment. They do the dumb things. They might build too many houses. And they might not direct their research to the right places. So no, it’s a fallacy to think that government and politicians and bureaucrats are smart enough to manage the economy, so it shouldn’t happen.

KING: All right. These are the Republicans, the conservative candidates. Every time you applaud, I know you’re happy with the answer. You take your time away, though.

We would expect to get an answer of less government is better. One of the questions we want to explore tonight is when — when do you reach that extraordinary moment where the government might want to do something.

Mr. Cain, I want to ask you because you’re a businessman who initially at least supported the TARP program. The former senator Judd Gregg of this great state of New Hampshire was one of the architects of that program during the late hours of the Bush administration. Then you said, quote, “We needed to do something drastic because we were facing a very drastic situation.”

CAIN: I studied the financial meltdown and concluded on my own that we needed to do something drastic, yes. When the concept of TARP was first presented to the public, I was willing to go along with it. But then when the administration started to implement it on a discretionary basis, picking winners and losers and also directing funds to General Motors and others that had nothing to do with the financial system, that’s where I totally disagreed.

We should — the government should not be selecting winners and losers, and I don’t believe in this concept of too big to fail. If they fail, the free market will figure out who’s going to pick the up the pieces.

KING: Well, let’s stay on this topic. Let’s bring Tom Fahey back into the conversation. He has a question — Tom.

FAHEY: Yes, thank you, John. I wanted to ask Governor Romney about the auto industry. General Motors and Chrysler have rebounded since the Obama administration bailed them up. Bankruptcy is no longer a threat.

Would you say the bailout program was a success?

ROMNEY: The bailout program was not a success because the bailout program wasted a lot of money. About $17 billion was used unnecessarily.

When the CEOs of the auto companies went to Washington asking for money from Washington, I wrote an op-ed, and I said, look, the right process for these companies is not a bailout, not a big check from Washington, but instead letting these enterprises go through bankruptcy, re-emerge, getting rid of the unnecessary costs that they had, the excessive debt, re-emerge, and that would be the preferred way for them to be able to get on their feet again.

Instead, the Bush administration and the Obama administration wrote checks to the auto industry. Ultimately, they went through the very bankruptcy process that I suggested from the beginning.

But the big difference was $17 billion was wasted. And then President Obama, given that money, was able to put his hands on the scales of justice and give the company to the UAW.

There is a perception in this country that government knows better than the private sector, that Washington and President Obama have a better view for how an industry ought to be run. Well, they’re wrong. The right way for America to create jobs is to — is to keep government in its place and to allow the private sector and the — and the energy and passion of the American people create a brighter future for our kids and for ourselves.

KING: Let me read you, Governor, just a little bit of an op-ed piece you wrote back in November 2008.

(APPLAUSE)

“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” From a profit standpoint, they’re doing pretty well right now. On that point, “kiss goodbye,” I understand you disagree with the policy. Kiss the industry goodbye, were you wrong?

ROMNEY: No, I wasn’t wrong, because if you read the rest of the op-ed piece, it says what they need to do is go through a bankruptcy process to shed unnecessary costs. If they just get paid checks after checks from the federal government, they’re going to be locked in with high UAW costs, legacy costs. They’ll never be able to get on their feet. They have to go through bankruptcy.

And it turned out that that’s finally what they did. And the head of the UAW, he wrote an op-ed piece saying, Romney’s wrong, the government has to step in and give them a check.

That’s the wrong way to go. Use the process of law. Use the process of American ingenuity. Don’t have government try and guide this economy.

KING: Anyone — is there anyone here who, given that prospect, and President Bush started the program, given that prospect, anyone here who would have stepped in and said, “I don’t want to do this, but this is the backbone of American manufacturing, I’ll do something”?

SANTORUM: No, absolutely not. We should — we should not have had a TARP. We should not have had the auto bailout. Governor Romney’s right. They could have gone through a structured bankruptcy without the federal government.

All the federal government did was basically tip to the cronies, tip to the unions, gave the unions the company. If they’d have gone through the orderly bankruptcy process, gone through a structured bankruptcy, they’d have come out in the same place, only we would have kept the integrity of the bankruptcy process without the government putting its fingers into it.

KING: Quickly, please.

BACHMANN: John, I was in the middle of this debate. I was behind closed doors with Secretary Paulson when he came and made the extraordinary, never-before-made request to Congress: Give us a $700 billion blank check with no strings attached.

And I fought behind closed doors against my own party on TARP. It was a wrong vote then. It’s continued to be a wrong vote since then. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. You have to take principle over your party.

KING: All right, let’s continue the conversation, but we’ll come back to this if we have to. Let’s go to Jean Mackin in Hancock. She has a question.

MACKIN: Thanks, John. This question goes out to Speaker Gingrich. Next month, the space shuttle program is scheduled to retire after 30 years, and last year, President Obama effectively killed government-run space flight to the International Space Station and wants to turn it over to private companies. In the meantime, U.S. astronauts would ride Russian spacecraft at a cost of $50 million to $63 million a seat. What role should the government play in future space exploration?

GINGRICH: Well, sadly — and I say this, sadly, because I’m a big fan of going into space and I actually worked to get the shuttle program to survive at one point — NASA has become an absolute case study in why bureaucracy can’t innovate.

If you take all the money we’ve spent at NASA since we landed on the moon and you had applied that money for incentives to the private sector, we would today probably have a permanent station on the moon, three or four permanent stations in space, a new generation of lift vehicles. And instead, what we’ve had is bureaucracy after bureaucracy after bureaucracy and failure after failure.

I think it’s a tragedy, because younger Americans ought to have the excitement of thinking that they, too, could be part of reaching out to a new frontier.

You know, you’d asked earlier, John, about this idea of limits because we’re a developed country. We’re not a developed country. The scientific future is going to open up, and we’re at the beginning of a whole new cycle of extraordinary opportunities. And, unfortunately, NASA is standing in the way of it, when NASA ought to be getting out of the way and encouraging the private sector.

KING: Is there any candidate who would step in and say, no, this is vital to America’s identity, this is vital to America’s innovation, I want the government to stay in the lead here when it comes to manned space flight? Nobody?

PAWLENTY: Yeah, I think the space program has played a vital role for the United States of America. I think in the context…

KING: But can we afford it going forward?

PAWLENTY: In the context of our budget challenges, it can be refocused and reprioritized, but I don’t think we should be eliminating the space program. We can partner with private providers to get more economies of scale and scale it back, but I don’t think we should eliminate the space program.

KING: In a sentence — in a sentence or two?

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: John, you mischaracterized me. I didn’t say end the space program. We built the transcontinental railroads without a national department of railroads. I said you could get into space faster, better, more effectively, more creatively if you decentralized it, got it out of Washington, and cut out the bureaucracy. It’s not about getting rid of the space program; it’s about getting to a real space program that works.

ROMNEY: I think fundamentally there are some people — and most of them are Democrats, but not all — who really believe that the government knows how to do things better than the private sector.

KING: All right, let’s go down to the…

ROMNEY: And they happen to be wrong. And… (CROSSTALK)

KING: All right, the role of government — we’ll continue on the role of government. I’m sorry — Josh, please.

MCELVEEN: Thanks very much, John. And, Governor Pawlenty, I’d like to go back to you. Let’s talk about housing. Roughly right now, there are about a million — a million homes in the — in the hands of banks and lenders, millions of more homeowners are upside-down, meaning they owe more than their home is worth. What would you or your administration do to try to right the housing ship?

PAWLENTY: Well, the first thing we need to do is get the government out of crony capitalism. We have this alliance between big government, big unions, and certain big bailout businesses. And as Congressman Paul said a few minutes ago, we had politicians in Congress trying to micromanage the housing market, and they created a bubble and they created the mess. And now we have all these innocent bystanders, the good people of the United States of America, many middle-income and modest-income people, who’ve been devastated by this.

And so the market is going to have to adjust. The programs that President Obama has put forward haven’t really worked. They’ve been a failure. They’ve been slow. They haven’t really solved the problem.

But the best thing that we can do is get the economy moving again. And it’s not going to happen by growing government. His way failed. We’ve got to get the private sector going. We have to have people starting businesses, growing businesses, building things, starting places of employment. This is how we’re going to get money back in people’s pockets and get them financially stable.

KING: So, Congressman, come into the conversation. As you do, don’t make it just about foreclosures. This is — this is an interesting topic of discussion, especially — especially when money is scarce and you’ve got to start cutting. It’s a question of priorities. What should the government be doing? And maybe what should the government be doing in a better economy that it can’t do now that has to go?

So talk about foreclosures a bit, but then tell me something, if you were president and you were dealing with it in your first few weeks, and you said, “I might like to do this, but I can’t afford to do this,” be as specific as you can, what goes?

PAUL: Well, I — I would want to do much less, much sooner. The government shouldn’t be involved. You take the bankruptcies, we’ve been doing a whole lot. We’ve been propping them up. We’ve had the Federal Reserve buy all the illiquid assets, which were worthless, stick it with the taxpayers. The people who’ve made the money when the bubble was being blown up, they’re the ones who got bailed out.

But you want the correction. Corrections are good. The mal- investment in the bubbles are caused by the Federal Reserve and the government, and we keep propping it up. And that’s why this is going — it was predictable it would come. It’s predictable it’s lasted three years. And it’s predictable, as long as we do what we’re doing in Washington, it’s going to last another 10 years.

We’re doing what we did in the depression. We’re doing what the Japanese have done. You need to get the prices of houses down to clear the market, but they’re trying to keep the prices up. They actually have programs in Washington which stimulating housing. You need to clear the — clear the market and then we can all go back to work. But what we’re doing now is absolutely wrong.

KING: Well, let me give you another topic that people say the government is too involved in. That’s food safety. You worked in the business.

CAIN: Yes.

KING: You see the E. coli scare that’s going on in Europe right now. You’re trying to cut money. The FDA, other agencies that get involved in that are in front of you. What do you do?

CAIN: You look inside the FDA and determine whether or not it needs to be streamlined, and maybe it does.

KING: But should the federal government be doing food safety inspections?

CAIN: The federal government should be doing food safety, yes. But I want to go back to this point about what we need to do to help the housing market.

We don’t just have one problem; we have a crisis of the three E’s. We’ve got the economy, entitlement spending, and energy. We’ve got to simultaneously work on all of those so we can put 13 million to 14 million people back to work. That’s what we’ve got to do. So it’s not just a single issue. It is the multiplicity and the compounding effect of those three critical problems.

KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

KING: All right, we need to work in another break. I know all the candidates want to get in on these issues and other issues. We will get back to them, I promise you that.

As we go to break, remember at home, if you have a question on Facebook, send it to us. If you have a question on Twitter, send it to us. You also can use your smartphone to get some exclusive information.

We’re playing a little bit of an exercise called “This or That” to learn more about our candidates. It was Conan or Leno. It was Elvis or Johnny Cash.

Mr. Speaker, “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol”?

GINGRICH: “American Idol.”

KING: “American Idol” it is.

Our candidates continue their debate in just a moment. Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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