Republican debate transcript and video October 18,2011(Part 1)

Republican debate transcript and video October 18,2011(Part 1)

Aired October 18, 2011 – 20:00   ET

Republicans Get heated during CNN WRLC Debate (Media Credit: CNN)Republicans Get heated during CNN WRLC Debate (Media Credit: CNN)


Tonight, the presidential candidates come here to win the West.


NARRATOR: The west. From the mountain majesty of the Rockies, to the desert sands of the Mojave, the American frontier is a historic land of opportunity for Republicans.


NARRATOR: Tonight, the fight for the GOP presidential nomination comes here, to a region where Barack Obama made inroads four years ago, to a state that could be decisive in the primary season and the general election, to a city where dreams are made and crushed.

Stand by for a Las Vegas event, the Republican presidential contenders on stage and in depth after a dramatic reshuffling of the pack.

Herman Cain, now among the leaders surging in recent weeks.

PERRY: We put more boots on the ground.

NARRATOR: Rick Perry, trying to get back on track after a meteoric rise.


NARRATOR: And Mitt Romney, steady, holding his place in the top tier.

They could have the most to win or lose. But Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul could be wildcards. And Rick Santorum, eager to beat the odds.

The candidates facing tough questions about jobs and the economy, the immigration wars, and other issues that matter to westerners and voters across the nation.

Now, with nothing less than America’s future at stake, the presidential campaign goes West.



COOPER: And welcome to the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian in Las Vegas, our host of the Western Republican Presidential Debate.

Tonight, seven contenders will be on this stage to convince you he or she should be the Republican nominee for the president of the United States.

I’m Anderson Cooper.

Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world.

Tonight’s debate is airing on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol, and the American Forces Network.

We want to thank our cosponsors, the Western Republican Leadership Conference, representing 16 western states and territories. Western voters will play an active role in tonight’s debate. Voters here in our audience will have a chance to put questions directly to the candidates on this stage.

Let’s meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

Joining us on stage, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.


COOPER: The former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.


COOPER: Texas Governor Rick Perry.


COOPER: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.


COOPER: The former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Herman Cain.


COOPER: Texas Congressman Ron Paul.


COOPER: And the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.


COOPER: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Republican candidates for president of the United States.


COOPER: Well, the crowd is on its feet. Everyone, please remain standing. It’s time now for our national anthem performed tonight by Tony award-winner Anthony Crivello, starring as the Phantom in “Phantom Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas spectacular. Please stand for the national anthem.




COOPER: I want to ask the candidates to please take your podiums. While the candidates are taking their podiums, I just want to tell you a little bit more about how tonight’s debate is going to work. I’ll be the moderator. I’ll ask questions on a wide range of issues. And I’ll work to make sure that each candidate is getting his or her fair share of questions.

Also, Western voters right here in the hall will be asking questions, as well, and viewers watching at home can participate, also. We’re accepting questions for the candidates on Twitter. If you send a question for the candidates on Twitter, make sure to include the hash tag #cnndebate, on Facebook at, and on

Now, each candidate will have about one minute to answer the questions and 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. I’ll make sure candidates get time to respond if they’re singled out for criticism. There are no buzzers. There’s no bells. I’ll just politely inform the candidates when they need to wrap things up.

We want everyone watching to emerge from this debate more informed about the candidates, more able to judge who should be the next president of the United States.

Now that everyone is in place, it’s time for the candidates to introduce themselves to our audience. All the candidates are going to keep it short. Here’s an example. I’m Anderson Cooper. I’m usually anchoring “AC 360″ on CNN, but I’m honored to be here in Las Vegas at the Western Republican Presidential Debate. That will be my introduction.


So, Senator Santorum, you’re first. Let’s start with you.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Anderson. I’m Rick Santorum. My wife, Karen, and I are the parents of seven children. And my little girl, Isabella, 3 years old, had some surgery today. She’s doing fine. But I just wanted to send to her a little “I love you” and I will take the red eye home to be with you tomorrow and make sure that you’re feeling fine.


REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Congressman Ron Paul from Texas. I’m the champion of liberty. I am the only one that has offered a balanced budget in — in a sincere method. And also, I present the case for a free society as being the best defense for peace and prosperity.


HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am businessman Herman Cain. I’ve been married to my wife, Gloria, for 43 years. And I’m a 42-year businessman, which means I solve problems for a living.


ROMNEY: I’m Mitt Romney. I was a businessman for 25 years. Then I had the fun of getting the chance to help run the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City next door. And then I had the fun also of being governor of Massachusetts. I also solve problems, sometimes for a living, sometimes for other people to make things better. And I hope to be your president. Thank you.


PERRY: Good evening. I’m Texas Governor Rick Perry, a proven job-creator and a man who is about economic growth, an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience.


FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Newt Gingrich. And unlike President Obama, I’m glad to be in Las Vegas. I think it’s a great place to have a convention.


And — and when I am president, we’re going to replace class warfare with cooperation so all Americans can get off food stamps and onto paychecks.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, my name is Michele Bachmann. I am thrilled to be able to be with you tonight in Las Vegas. And this is one night when I hope what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.


COOPER: All right. Let’s — time to begin. We’ll begin with actually a question in the hall.

QUESTION: This is for all candidates. What’s your position on replacing the federal income tax with a federal sales tax?

COOPER: I’ll direct that to Congresswoman Bachmann. You’ve been very critical of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, which calls for a 9 percent sales tax, a 9 percent income tax, and 9 percent corporate tax. In fact, you’ve said it would destroy the economy. Why?

BACHMANN: Well, I am a former federal tax litigation attorney. And also, my husband and I are job-creators.

One thing I know about Congress, being a member of Congress for five years, is that any time you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away. When we got the income tax in 1913, the top rate was 7 percent. By 1980, the top rate was 70 percent. If we give Congress a 9 percent sales tax, how long will it take a liberal president and a liberal Congress to run that up to maybe 90 percent? Who knows?

What I do know is that we also have to be concerned about the hidden tax of the value-added tax, because at every step and stage of production, you’d be taxing that item 9 percent on the profit. That’s the worry.

In my plan — again, that’s a tax plan, it’s not a jobs plan — my plan for economic recovery is real jobs right now. I have a tax plan. I have a jobs plan. I have an energy plan and a plan to really turn this country around and create millions of high-paying jobs.

COOPER: Mr. Cain, a lot of prominent conservatives now are coming forward saying that your 9-9-9 plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class voters, on lower-income voters.

CAIN: The thing that I would encourage people to do before they engage in this knee-jerk reaction is read our analysis. It is available at It was performed by Fiscal Associates. And all of the claims that are made against it, it is a jobs plan, it is revenue-neutral, it does not raise taxes on those that are making the least. All of those are simply not true.

The reason that my plan — the reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians, they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair. They want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million-word mess.

Let’s throw out the 10-million-word mess and put in our plan, which will liberate the American workers and liberate American businesses.


COOPER: Senator Santorum, will his plan raise taxes?

SANTORUM: Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness, and it’s great. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan. That’s the analysis. And it makes sense, because when — when you don’t provide a standard deduction, when you don’t provide anything for low-income individuals, and you have a sales tax and an income tax and, as Michele said, a value-added tax, which is really what his corporate tax is, we’re talking about major increases in taxes on people.

He also doesn’t have anything that takes care of the families. I mean, you have — you have a situation where, under Herman’s plan, a single person pays as much in taxes as a — as a man and a woman raising three children. Ever since we’ve had the income tax in America, we’ve always taken advantage of the fact that we want to encourage people to — to have children and not have to pay more already to raise children, but also pay that additional taxes — we gave some breaks for families. He doesn’t do that in this bill.

And we’re going to — we’ve seen that happen in Europe. And what happened? Boom, birth rates went into — into the basement. It’s a bad tax for — again, it’s bold. I give him credit for — for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families, and it’s not good for low-income…


COOPER: I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond. That 84 percent figure comes from the Tax Policy Center.

CAIN: That simply is not true. I invite people to look at our analysis, which we make available.

Secondly, the — the point that he makes about is a value-added tax — I’m sorry, Representative Bachmann — it’s not a value-added tax. It’s a single tax.

And I invite every American to do their own math, because most of these are knee-jerk reactions. And we do provide a provision, if you read the analysis, something we call opportunity zones that will, in fact, address the issue of those making the least.

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