Former Governor Jeb Bush (FL);
Governor Chris Christie (NJ);
Senator Ted Cruz (TX);
Governor John Kasich (OH);
Senator Marco Rubio (FL);
David Muir (ABC News); and
Martha Raddatz (ABC News)
MUIR: Good evening, again, everyone. This is the first time since Iowa and the only time before the New Hampshire primary that the Republican candidates will have the opportunity to face each other.
The people of Iowa have been heard. Now it's New Hampshire's turn. In just three days, voters here will decide who they think should be the Republican nominee for president.
RADDATZ: Questions of leadership and character have dominated the news ever since the Iowa caucuses a few days ago. Here with us to question the candidates this evening are Josh McElveen from WMUR here in Manchester and author and commentator Mary Katherine Ham.
MUIR: So let's welcome the candidates for the Republican nomination for president.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. [applause]
RADDATZ: Dr. Ben Carson. [applause]
MUIR: Texas Senator Ted Cruz. [applause]
RADDATZ: Businessman Donald Trump. [applause]
MUIR: Florida Senator Marco Rubio. [applause]
RADDATZ: Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush. [applause]
MUIR: And Ohio Governor John Kasich. [applause]
RADDATZ: Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates. [applause]
MUIR: And Dr. Ben Carson, please come out on the stage. He's standing there, as well. Dr. Carson. [applause]
RADDATZ: And Donald Trump. [applause]
MUIR: And lastly, we welcome back to the debate stage, Donald Trump. [applause]
CHRISTIE: What about Kasich? Can I introduce Kasich?
MUIR: It was so noisy in here. Yes. Yes. We're going to introduce Ohio Governor John kasich. [applause]
The applause so loud here in the hall.
RADDATZ: The applause so loud you couldn't hear. We couldn't hear, either. That's a good sign for the excitement this evening.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight, just days before voters here in New Hampshire make their decisions. The rules are simple and have been agreed to by all the campaigns. There will be 60 seconds to answer and if another candidate is mentioned in that answer, that candidate will have 30 seconds to respond. There are green, yellow and red lights that each candidate will see to signal when time is up and they will also hear this sound.
MUIR: So let's get started. We welcome you all to the debate stage here tonight. We're going to tackle the issues Americans are most concerned about, the economy, ISIS, Homeland Security. And here in New Hampshire, some of the most heated rhetoric yet over who is best suited to step in on day one, who has the experience, who has the temperament to be commander-in-chief.
Mr. Trump, Senator Cruz has said about you right here in New Hampshire this week, quote, "I don't know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way, having his finger on the button. We're liable to wake up one morning, and if he were president, he would nuke Denmark." Saying, quote, "That's temperament of a leader to keep this country safe."
I wanted to give you the opportunity to respond to this and to tell the American people tonight why you do have the temperament to be commander-in-chief.
TRUMP: I actually think I have the best temperament. I built a massive corporation. I employ thousands and thousands of people. I've gotten along with people for years and years, have tremendous relationships with many people, including politicians on both sides. And no matter how you cut it, when I — when I came out, I hit immigration, I hit it very hard. Everybody said, "Oh, the temperament," because I talked about illegal immigration.
Now, everybody's coming to me, they're all trying to say, well, he's right, we have to come to him. I hit other things. I talked about Muslims. We have a problem. Nobody else wanted to mention the problem, I brought it up. I took a lot of heat. We have to have a temporary something, because there's something going on that's not good. And remember this, I'm the only one up here, when the war of Iraq — in Iraq, I was the one that said, "Don't go, don't do it, you're going to destabilize the Middle East." So, I'm not one with a trigger. I'm not one with a trigger. Other people up here, believe me, would be a lot faster.
But I'll build the mill arbitrary stronger, bigger, better than anybody up here, and nobody is going to mess with us. That, I can tell you. [applause]
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. I want to bring this to Senator Cruz, then.
Because Senator, you did said of Trump's behavior this week, that's not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.
CRUZ: Well, you know, David, the assessment the voters are making here in New Hampshire and across the country is they are evaluating each and every one of us. They are looking to our experience. They are looking to our knowledge. They are looking to our temperament and judgment. They are looking to our clarity of vision and our strength of resolve.
The world is getting much more dangerous. We've had seven years with Barack Obama in the oval office, a commander-in-chief that is unwilling even to acknowledge the enemy we're facing. This is a president who, in the wake of Paris, in the wake of San Bernardino, will not even use the words radical Islamic terrorism, much less focus on defeating the enemy.
I am convinced every individual standing on this stage, would make a much better commander-in-chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. [applause]
And the primary voters are making the assessment for each of us, who is best prepared to keep this country safe, to rebuild the military, to rebuild our Navy, our Air Force, our Army, our Marines, and to ensure that we keep America safe.
MUIR: Senator Cruz, I did ask about Mr. Trump. You said he doesn't have the temperament to be commander-in-chief. Do you stand by those words?
CRUZ: I think that is an assessment the voters are going to make. And they are going to make it of each and everyone of us. They are going to assess who is level-headed, who has clear vision, who has judgment, who can confront our enemies, who can confront the threats we face in this country, and who can have the judgment when to engage and when not to engage — both are incredibly important for a commander-in-chief, knowing how to go after our enemies.
In the case of Iran, for example, who has the clarity of vision to understand that the Ayatollah Khamenei, when he chants, "Death to America," he means it. We need a president with the judgment and resolve to keep this country safe from radical Islamic terrorists.
MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you. We're going to continue on this notion of readiness and experience. I'm going to come back.
TRUMP: Am I allowed to respond? I have to respond.
MUIR: If you would like to respond, Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: First of all, I respect what Ted just said, but if you noticed, he didn't answer your question. And that's what's going to happen — OK. [applause]
That's what's going to happen with our enemies and the people we compete against. We're going to win with Trump. We're going to win. We don't win anymore. Our country doesn't win anymore. We're going to win with Trump. And people back down with Trump. And that's what I like and that's what the country is going to like. [applause]
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. And we're going to continue on this notion of readiness and on experience, but I want to ask about a headline that was back in the papers again this morning.
Dr. Carson, on the day of the Iowa caucuses, the Cruz campaign sent out messages and voicemails saying, quote, "Breaking news. Dr. Ben Carson will be planning to suspend his campaign following tonight's caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news."
But as we can all see, you are still standing here tonight. Late this week, your campaign sent this e-mail, quote, "This kind of deceitful behavior is why the American people don't trust politicians. If Senator Cruz does not act, then he clearly represents D.C. values."
What kind of action do you think Senator Cruz should take?
CARSON: Well, you know, when I wasn't introduced No. 2, as was the plan, I thought maybe he thought I already had dropped out. But... [applause]
But you know, today is the 105th anniversary, or — 105th birthday of Ronald Reagan. His 11 Commandment was not to speak ill of another Republican. So, I'm not going to use this opportunity to savage the reputation of Senator Cruz. [applause]
But I will say — I will say — I will say that I was very disappointed that members of his team thought so little of me that they thought that after having hundreds, if not thousands of volunteers and college students who sacrificed their time and were dedicated to the cause — one even died — to think that I would just walk away ten minutes before the caucus and say, "Forget about you guys."
I mean, who would do something like that? Now, I don't think anyone on this stage would do something like that. And to assume that someone would, what does that tell you? So, unfortunately, it did happen.
It gives us a very good example of certain types of Washington ethics. Washington ethics. Washington ethics basically says, if it's legal, you do what you need to do in order to win. That's not my ethics. My ethics is, you do what's right.
MUIR: Senator Cruz. [applause]
Dr. Carson, thank you.
Senator Cruz, you have said that Dr. Carson and his wife have become friends of yours. I'm curious as why you didn't call ahead of time to either the doctor or his wife or have your campaign check in with the other campaign before sending out those messages.
CRUZ: Ben is a good and honorable man and Ben and Candy have become friends. He has an amazing life story that has inspired millions, including me. When this transpired, I apologized to him then and I do so now. Ben, I'm sorry.
Let me tell you the facts of what occurred for those who are interested in knowing. On Monday night, about 6:30 p.m., CNN reported that Ben was not going from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Rather, he was, quote, "Taking a break from campaigning."
They reported that on television, CNN's political anchors, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer, said it was highly unusual and highly significant. My political team saw CNN's report breaking news and they forwarded that news to our volunteers, it was being covered on live television.
Now, at the time, I was at the caucuses, I was getting ready to speak at the caucuses just like Ben was, just like everyone else was. I knew nothing about this. A couple hours later, I found out about it. I was told that Ben was unhappy. I called him that evening because I respect him very, very highly. I didn't reach him that evening.
I reached him the next day and apologized. He asked me then, he said, Ted, would you make this apologize in public? I said, yes, I will. And I did so. I regret that subsequently, CNN reported on that — they didn't correct that story until 9:15 that night. So from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15, that's what CNN was reporting.
Subsequent to that initial report, Ben's campaign put out a statement saying that he was not suspending his campaign. I wish that our campaign staff had forwarded that statement. They were unaware of it, I wish that they had, that's why I apologized.
MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you.
We're going to move on here. Back to the issues...
CARSON: Since I was mentioned...
MUIR: Dr. Carson, please.
CARSON: This is great you guys. I want you all to mention me when you say something. [laughter]
In fact, the time line indicates that initial tweet from CNN was followed by another one within one minute that clarified that I was not dropping out. So, what happened to that one, it is unclear. But the bottom line is, we can see what happened, everybody can see what happened and you can make your own judgment.
MUIR: Dr. Carson, thank you. Thank you, doctor.
Senator Rubio. I want to stay on the issue of readiness to be president and experience and questions about you being a first-term senator.
Governor Christie warning voters here in New Hampshire against voting for another first-term senator as America did with Barack Obama in 2008. Arguing that you are, quote, " not ready to be president of the United States."
And Senator Santorum, who we all know, dropped out of the race and endorsed you, had a hard time when asked on national television, listing your accomplishments as senator. Tonight, what are your accomplishments in the Senate that demonstrate you are ready to be president of the United States?
RUBIO: Well, let me say, from protecting the people of Florida from imminent domain abuse, to bringing accountability to the V.A., to the Girls Count Act, to sanctioning groups, I'm proud of my service in the United States Senate and before that, in the Florida legislature.
I will say, if politics becomes and the presidency becomes about electing people who have been Congress or in the Senate the longest, we should all rally around Joe Biden. He's been around 1,000 years. He's passed hundreds of bills and I don't think any of us believe Joe Biden should be president of the United States.
And let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world.
That's why he passed Obamacare and the stimulus and Dodd-Frank and the deal with Iran. It is a systematic effort to change America. When I'm president of the United States, we are going to re-embrace all the things that made America the greatest nation in the world and we are going to leave our children with what they deserve: the single greatest nation in the history of the world.
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you. [applause]
I do want to ask Governor Christie, Governor Christie, you said fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me when it comes to electing a first-term senator. You heard Senator Rubio make the case that he does have the experience. Your response?
CHRISTIE: Sure. First, let's remember something. Every morning when a United States senator wakes up, they think about what kind of speech can I give or what kind of bill can I drop? Every morning, when I wake up, I think about what kind of problem do I need to solve for the people who actually elected me?
It's a different experience, it's a much different experience. And the fact is, Marco, you shouldn't compare yourself to Joe Biden and you shouldn't say that that's what we're doing. Here is exactly what we're doing.
You have not be involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable. You just simply haven't. [applause]
And the fact is — the fact when you talk about the Hezbollah Sanctions Act that you list as one of your accomplishments you just did, you weren't even there to vote for it. That's not leadership, that's truancy. [applause]
And the fact is that what we need to do — what we need to have in this country is not to make the same mistake we made eight years ago. The fact is it does matter when you have to make decisions and be held accountable for them. It does matter when the challenges don't come on a list of a piece of paper of what to vote yes or no every day, but when the problems come in from the people that you serve.
I like Marco Rubio, and he's a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions. We've watched it happen, everybody. For the last seven years, the people of New Hampshire are smart. Do not make the same mistake again.
RUBIO: If I may respond to that. [applause]
MUIR: Governor, thank you. Senator Rubio?
RUBIO: Well, I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie's governorship of New Jersey, they've been downgraded nine times in their credit rating. This country already has a debt problem, we don't need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of his state.
But I would add this. Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don't want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America. And when I'm elected president, this will become once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you. I want to bring in governor bush on this, because you...
CHRISTIE: Hold on one second.
MUIR: ... have made this...
CHRISTIE: Excuse me...
MUIR: If you'd like to respond to economic...
CHRISTIE: I think he mentioned me and my record in there, so I think I get a chance to respond. You see, everybody, I want the people at home to think about this. That's what Washington, D.C. Does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him. [applause]
See Marco — Marco, the thing is this. When you're president of the United States, when you're a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn't solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state's history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I've done.
None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United States Senate. It's a fine job, I'm glad you ran for it, but it does not prepare you for president of the United States. [applause]
MUIR: Senator Rubio?
RUBIO: Chris — Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn't even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back. And then you stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back to campaign. Those are the facts.
Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he's doing.
CHRISTIE: There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.
RUBIO: Well, that's the — that's the reason why this campaign is so important. Because I think this notion — I think this is an important point. We have to understand what we're going through here. We are not facing a president that doesn't know what he's doing. He knows what he is doing. That's why he's done the things he's done.
That's why we have a president that passed Obamacare and the stimulus. All this damage that he's done to America is deliberate. This is a president that's trying to redefine this country. That's why this election is truly a referendum on our identity as a nation, as a people. Our future is at stake.
This election is not about the past. It is about what kind of country this is going to be in the 21st century, and if we elect someone like Barack Obama, a Hillary Clinton, a Bernie Sanders or anyone like that, our children are going to be the first Americans to inherit a diminishes country. That will not happen if I'm elected.
MUIR: Governor Christie, we will — we will...
BUSH: Chris, why don't you mention my name so I can get into this.
CHRISTIE: You know what the shame is — you know what the shame is, Marco? The shame is that you would actually criticize somebody for showing up to work, plowing the streets, getting the trains running back on time when you've never been responsible for that in your entire life.
RUBIO: Chris, you didn't want to go back. You didn't want to go back. [applause]
CHRISTIE: And the fact is, I went back, it got done and here's...
RUBIO: You didn't want to go back, Chris.
CHRISTIE: Oh, so — wait a second. Is that one of the skills you get as a United States senator ESP also? Because I don't think it is.
RUBIO: Chris, everybody — you said you weren't going to go back. He told everyone he wasn't going to go back. They had to shame him into going back. And when he decided to go back, he criticized the young lady, saying, what am I supposed to do, go back with a mop and clean up the flooding?
CHRISTIE: It gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points.
MUIR: Governor Christie — thank you, Governor. I will mention — listen...
RUBIO: ... It's your record, it's not a talking point...
MUIR: ... Listen, people... [applause]
Governor Bush, I'll mention your name so that you can come in on this...
BUSH: ... I appreciate that, I really do, thank you.
MUIR: I want to bring you in on this because you've made this central to your campaign right here in New Hampshire in the last couple of days. Four Years ago you said of Senator Rubio, he was ready to be Vice President. You spoke of his experience as well. You said he has the fortitude to be a good President, but just this week you said Senator Rubio accomplished, quote, "nothing" in the Senate. How do you square the two?
BUSH: Well, first of all he said the exact same thing about me, that I would make a great Vice Presidential nominee when Mitt Romney was considering. I said the same thing about Marco. I think we were both right at the time, and Mitt picked somebody else. So, let's move on to the 2016 race. Who has the leadership skills... [applause]...who has the leadership skills to lead? And, I'm proud of the fact that I have 12 Medal of Honor recipients, over 30 admirals and generals that believe that I would be a steady hand as Commander in Chief. That I serve as Governor of the state of Florida where we cut taxes and reduced government. I took on very powerful interests, forged consensus, fought for my beliefs, implemented them and the state was better off.
We had eight hurricanes and four tropical storms in 16 months. The whole state was turned upside down. It required a steady hand. Leadership. You learn this, you learn it by doing it. It's not something that you just go up, and on the job do it. [applause]
It's not the same. Look, let's be clear. Marco Rubio is a gifted, gifted politician, and he may have the skills to be a President of the United States, but we've tried it the old way with Barack Obama, with soaring eloquence and we got — we didn't get a leader we got someone who wants to divide the country up. The next President...[bell rings]...going to have to forge consensus to bring about a set of common purposes so that we can move forward again in this country...
MUIR: ... We're going to continue with leadership now. Martha?
RADDATZ: Senator Cruz, you are a first term Senator as well. Your opponents say you, like Senator Rubio, are not prepared to be Commander in Chief. You have talked tough about threats we face in the Mid-East. It was reported just moments ago that the North Koreans test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea has nuclear weapons, and conducted another nuclear test just last month.
The missile that was launched is the kind the North Koreans hope could someday carry a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States. How would you respond if Commander in Chief to that launch?
CRUZ: Well, I would note, initially the fact that we're seeing the launch, and we're seeing the launch from a nuclear North Korea is the direct result of the failures of the first Clinton administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. Billions of dollars flowed into North Korea in exchange for promises not to build nuclear weapons. They took those billions and built nuclear weapons.
And, I would note also the lead negotiator in that failed North Korea sanctions deal was a woman named Wendy Sherman who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promptly recruited to come back to be the lead negotiator with Iran. So, what we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing of where we will be with Iran.
With respect to North Korea and what we should do now, one of the first things we should do is expand our missile defense capacity. We ought to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea. South Korea wants them. One of the real risks of this launch, North Korea wants to launch a satellite, and one of the greatest risks of the satellite is they would place a nuclear device in the satellite. As it would orbit around the Earth, and as it got over the United States they would detonate that nuclear weapon and set of what's called an EMP, and electromagnetic pulse which could take down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, potentially killing millions.
We need to harden the grid to defend ourselves, and we need missile defense to protect ourselves against North Korea.
RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you this, if you were Commander in Chief tonight would you have order the U.S. military to destroy that missile preemptively on the launchpad to prevent North Korea from becoming an even graver threat?
CRUZ: You know, at this point I'm not going to speculate on that without the intelligence briefing that any Commander in Chief would have, knowing what exactly is there. [applause]
One of the real problems...
RADDATZ: ... Senator Cruz, let me tell you this, you have talked tough about the Mid-East, you haven't gotten those intelligence briefings about that. Why not tell us whether you would preemptively strike a missile on a launchpad that threatens the U.S...
CRUZ: ... Actually, with respect, I have gotten the intelligence briefings on the Mid-East. Those have been going on for many years. I haven't gotten the intelligence briefing tonight on what North Korea's doing because I'm here in new Hampshire. When you're responding to an immediate incident, you need to know the intelligence of what's occurring.
But what I was saying — look, it is qualitatively different dealing with a country once they have nuclear weapons. It's why you prevent them from getting nuclear weapons in the first place — because your hands are somewhat tied once they have nukes.
It's why this Iranian nuclear deal is so catastrophic, and it's why I've pledged, on the very first day in office, to rip to shreds this Iranian nuclear deal so we're not sitting here in five years, wondering what to do about an Iranian missile launch when they have nuclear weapons. The stakes are too high for that.
RADDATZ: Okay. Senator Cruz, I will say that missile has been sitting there for quite some time, and they have had eyes on it.
RUBIO: But Martha, just — Martha, just to clarify on that point, because he's right, and one more thing to point — it is standard procedure of the United States to shoot down those missiles once launched if they pose a threat to civilians, land and ships.
RADDATZ: Senator Rubio, I'm talking about a preemptive strike on the launch pad.
RUBIO: Well — no, I understand. And not — but — but I think it's important to note that it is — and Senator Cruz, I think, was alluding to this, as well — it is the standard procedure of the United States, if those missiles pose a threat to land, civilians, our allies or any of our assets, to shoot down that missile in mid-flight.
I understand your question was about a preemptive strike, but my point is that there is in place now contingencies to avoid any sort of that strike from going errant and destroying any — any assets of the United States, or implicating or hurting any of our allies or any of our assets in the region.
RADDATZ: OK. Thank you, Senator Rubio.
Governor Kasich, how would you respond to tonight's launch?
KASICH: Well, we've got to to step up the pressure. And by the way, I've gotta say, after being here, every one of my 100 town hall meetings in New Hampshire were a lot more fun than what I saw here today, were so much more positive.
Look, in terms of North Korea, Martha, we have to make sure that we intercept both the ships and their aircraft, because what they're trying to do is to proliferate this very dangerous material, along with the — with the technology, the instruments that can be used for mass destruction.
That's what I worry about the most, frankly, is non-state actors, people who don't have a uniform, people don't have a country, who can spread this, who are not subject to the — to the mutual assured defense. In other words, you strike us, we strike you.
Some of these radicals, they don't care about that. That's what I worry about, for my children, and for their children, going forward. So, we have to be very tough.
And we should tell the Chinese, look, if you're not going to do this ballistic missile defense to the Koreans, ballistic missile defense to Japan — and by the way, we should impose the same kind of sanctions on North Korea that we imposed on Iran, because they're able to shift money. They're able to send money and receive money. [bell rings]
We've gotta to be very tough on this. And frankly, I think we could have — I think we could have let the Japanese know that if you want to take action on that — on that missile that's rising, you want to take action — you will have our support, if that's what you think is the best thing to do. We cannot continue to be weak in the face of the North Koreans, or, frankly, in the entire rest of the world.
Martha, this is — this is the — relates...
RADDATZ: Thank you, Governor Kasich. Thank you — thank you...
BUSH: ... this relates to strategic patience. [applause]
RADDATZ: ... Governor Bush, I'll get to you in a moment.
BUSH: This relates to the strategic patience of the Obama administration. They come up with these great marketing terms, and what they do is they pull back, and voids are filled, and they're now filled by asymmetric threats of terror, as well as nation-states on the run.
The next president of the United States is gonna have to get the United States back in the game, and if a preemptive strike is necessary to keep us safe, then we should do it. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you, Governor Bush.
Mr. Trump, do you have a red line with North Korea? Would you consider military action? And how far would you let them go?
TRUMP: Well, let me say a couple of things. First of all, Marco said earlier on that President Obama knows exactly what he's doing, like we have this president that really knows. I disagree, respectfully, with Marco.
I think we have a president who, as a president, is totally incompetent, and he doesn't know what he's doing. [applause]
I think he has no idea what he's doing. And our country is going to hell. So, I just want to say, we disagree on that. Is that okay?
RUBIO: Yeah. I have a — I got mentioned, can I respond?
RADDATZ: And I'd like him to finish the question, please.
TRUMP: As to North Korea?
RADDATZ: Specific — as to North Korea.
TRUMP: We have — tremendous — has been just sucked out of our country by China. China says they don't have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time. I do tremendous — the largest bank in the world is in one of my buildings in Manhattan.
I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country — they're rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem. [bell rings]
They can do it quickly and surgically. That's what we should do with North Korea.
RADDATZ: Senator Rubio, you were mentioned. [applause]
RUBIO: Here's the broader point, as well, and then I think it touches on what Donald just mentioned. Barack Obama views America as this arrogant global power that needed to be cut down to size. OK?
This is a president that views this country as a country that's been too powerful in the world and we create problems around the world.
For example, it's one of the reasons why he had betrayed Israel, because he believes that if we create separation from Israel, it will help our relations in the Islamic world. The same is happening in the Asia-Pacific region with accommodations to North Korea. North Korean should be back on that list of terrorist nations, as an example.
And Donald's absolutely right. China does have a lot of influence over North Korea and he should be leveraging our relationship with the Chinese to ensure that North Korea no longer has access to the resources that have allowed them — a country that has no economy to develop long range missiles already capable of reaching the west coast of the United States potentially.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Senator Rubio.
Governor Bush, another problem facing the commander-in-chief right now is that North Korea is currently detaining an American college student. What would you do to get that college student back home?
BUSH: Well, first of all, it's interesting that that happened literally days when this hostage release took place in Iran. A day or two days afterwards, North Korea took a — held an American student hostage. I think it's when we send a signal of weakness, when we are negotiating to release people that committed crimes in our country for people that didn't commit crimes that are held hostage in Iran.
We saw the shameful treatment of our sailors, that this creates weakness — sends a signal of weakness around the world. The next president of the United States is going to have to get back in the game. Where the United States' word matters. Where we back up our allies, where we don't send signals of weakness. We need to use every — every influence possible to get this student back.
And I think John is right about this, there are crippling sanctions that are available, as it relates to the two or three banks that North Korea uses to — to — use it — illicit trade. We ought to re-establish sanctions, not just because of the student, but because of their actions that they're taking right now, as it relates to building this missile capability.
RADDATZ: Governor Christie, I want to go to you on the same question. [applause]
CHRISTIE: Let's get something...
RADDATZ: Would you negotiate with North Korea to...
CHRISTIE: No. Let's make something very clear. I learned seven years as a federal prosecutor in dealing with types of situations like we're talking about in North Korea, where criminals take people hostage. You never pay ransom to the criminals. Ever. You never pay ransom to the criminals. Everyone out at home watching tonight understands that principle.
And so, what you need to do is to engage in a much different way with these folks. They do not understand anything but toughness and strength, and we need to engage the Chinese to deal with the North Koreans, but we also need to make sure that they understand there's a commander-in-chief who will not pay ransom for any hostage.
This president and his former secretary of State are for paying ransom for hostages. When do that, you endanger even more Americans around the world to be the subject of this type of hostage taking and illegal detention. You need a strong commander-in-chief who will look these folks in the eye and say, we will not put up with this and we will take whatever actions we need to take, not only to get our people home safely, but to swiftly and surely punish those who believe they can violate the law and violate American's sovereign rights to travel the world freely and safely.
This is unacceptable. And this is why this president is so weak and why the secretary of State, who is embracing a third Barack Obama term, would be even weaker.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Governor Christie. [applause]
MUIR: Martha, we're going to turn to immigration now. And I want to bring in Governor Kasich because you told us in an ABC interview, Governor, quote, "It is completely ridiculous to think we are going to go into neighborhoods, grab people out of their homes and ship people back to Mexico." Adding, quote, "That's not where the party is. The party is not for departing 11.5 million people."
But Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz, who have made deportation central to their campaigns, top the national polls. So, my question for you, are you not where the voters are?
KASICH: Well, you know, David, I — I've just spent a lot of time here in this state, as I mentioned earlier, and we have to have practical solutions, just like we were just talking about a few minutes ago on North Korea. Look, the situation is, we need to finish the border. It has to be completed. Just like we lock our doors at night, the country has to be able to lock its doors. And we can have a guest worker program, where people can come in and out in an orderly way.
And then for the 11.5 million that are here, if they have not committed a crime since they've been here, I believe they ought to pay some back taxes, pay a fine, never get on the path to citizenship, but get legalization. It is not — I couldn't even imagine how we would even begin to think about taking a mom or a dad out of a house when they have not committed a crime since they've been here, leaving their children in the house. I mean, that is not, in my opinion, the kind of values that we believe in.
And secondly, I think at the end of the day, that Americans would support a plan like this. I think Congress would pass a plan to finish the border, guest worker, pay a fine, a path to legalization, and not citizenship. And we've got to get this done. And I will tell you this, within the first 100 days that I am president, I will put that proposal to the Congress. And I will tell you, as a former Congressman, and an executive, in Ohio, I can promise you that I believe you'll get the votes to pass that, and we can move on with that issue and protect our border. That's what I think.
MUIR: Governor Kasich, thank you. [applause]
I want to bring this next to Senator Cruz. You heard what the governor said. He said, "We need practical solutions." And you've said, "I don't intend to send jack boots to knock on doors. That's not how we enforce the law for any crime."
So, what is your plan? How will you deport 11.5 million undocumented people? And be specific. How would you do it?
CRUZ: So, in terms of a practical solution, I've laid out the most detailed plan for solving illegal immigration. It's 11 pages, single-spaced, chapter and verse. It's on our website, tedcruz.org.
In short, we're going to do, we're going to build a wall. We're going to triple the border patrol. We're going to increase — and actually, since Donald enjoyed that, I will simply say, I've got somebody in mind to build it.
We're going to increase four-fold, the fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, so that you have technology monitoring an attempted incursion to direct the boots on the ground where they're occurring. We're going to put in place a strong e-verify system in the workplace, so you can't get a job without proving you are here legally.
We'll put in place a biometric exit-entry system on visas, because 40 percent of illegal immigration comes not over the border illegally, but people coming on visas and overstaying.
We will end sanctuary cities by cutting off taxpayer dollars to any jurisdiction that defies federal immigration law. [applause] And we will end welfare benefits for those here illegally. [applause]
MUIR: Let me just ask you this, though, because Governor Kasich was talking about the families and what you do with the families that you would have to send home.
Can you tell the American people tonight how you would do that?
CRUZ: What you do is, you enforce the law. You know, under the Constitution, the president has an obligation to, quote, "Take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Federal immigration law provides, if someone is here illegally and is apprehended, they are to be deported.
We saw just this past week the head of the border patrol union testify before Congress that President Obama had given the order to the border patrol to stand down, not to enforce the law. That is wrong. I will enforce the law, and for everyone who says, you can't possibly do that, I would note that in eight years, Bill Clinton deported 12 million people.
In eight years, George W. Bush deported 10 million people. Enforcing the law — we can do it. What is missing is the political will. And when they were deporting the people, the border wasn't secure, so they'd come right back. Once you secure the border, enforcing the law will solve this problem and that will benefit American workers.
MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you. I want to bring in Senator Rubio.
This question is about immigration, it is also about leadership. You're aware of the criticism from many candidates on this stage tonight that you co-authored the so-called Gang of Eight bill that would have created a path to citizenship for people here illegally.
Governor Christie has said of you, as soon as you felt the heat, you turned tail and run. Governor Bush has said, "I don't think we need people cutting and running anymore."
Did you fight for your own legislation, Senator, or did you run from it?
RUBIO: Here's the bottom line. We can't get that legislation passed. The American people will not support doing anything about people that are in this country illegally until the law is enforced first, and you prove it to them.
This has been abundantly clear. Every effort over the last ten years to do those comprehensively has failed. And it has failed because the American people have zero trust that the federal government will enforce our laws.
And that's why since then, I have said repeatedly, if you are serious about immigration reform, then the key that unlocks the door to being able to do that is not just to pass a law that says it is going to enforce the law, but to actually do it. To hire the 20,000 new border agents, to finish the fencing and walls, to put in place mandatory e-verify, to put in place an entry-exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays.
And once that is in place and that's working, I believe the American people will support a very reasonable, but responsible approach to people that have been here a long time, who are not dangerous criminals, who pay taxes and pay fines for what they did.
But until then, none of that is going to be possible.
MUIR: But I'm asking, did you fight for the legislation at the time or did you run from it as you're...
RUBIO: Well, the legislation passed, but it has no support. In essence, it couldn't pass in the House, it will never pass in the United States until we secure the border, and it is not the way we're going to do when I'm president.
When I'm president, we are going to enforce the law first, prove to people that illegal immigration is under control. And then we'll see what the American people are willing to support when it comes to people that are not criminals, who have been in the this country for a long time and who otherwise would like to stay.
MUIR: Governor Christie?
CHRISTIE: Yeah, David, I would just like you to listen, again, everybody.
This is the difference between being a governor who actually has to be responsible for problems and not answering a question. The question was, "Did he fight for his legislation?" [applause]
It's abundantly clear that he didn't. It's abundantly clear that he didn't fight for the legislation.
When the teachers unions attacked me with $20 million of ads because I wanted to reform teacher tenure, I fought them and fought them and fought them and I won.
When they didn't want — when people wanted to raise taxes in my state at Democratic legislature and threatened to close down the government, I told them, fine. Close down the government. I'll get in my cars, head to the governor's mansion, order a pizza, open a beer and watch the Mets. You can call me when the government reopens.
And guess what they didn't do? They didn't pass a tax increase, because I vetoed it and they never closed the government because they knew I would fight for what I believed in. The fact of the matter is, a leader must fight for what they believe in. Not handicap it and say, well maybe since I can't win this one, I'll run. That's not what leadership is. [bell rings] That's what Congress is. [applause]
MUIR: Governor thank you.
RUBIO: Leadership is ultimately about solving the problem. And the approach that was tried and has been tried now repeatedly over ten years to do this comprehensively, all at once in a massive piece of legislation has no chance of passage.
It is not leadership to continue to try something that has no chance of happening. I want to make progress on this issue. It has been discussed now for 30 years and nothing ever happens.
And I am telling you that the only way forward on this issue that has any chance of happening, meaning gaining the support of the American people, you cannot do this without the support of the American people, is an approach that begins by proving that once and for all, illegal immigration is under control.
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you. We want to turn to health care in this country, and for that, author and commentator, Mary Katherine Ham tonight.
HAM: Thanks, David.
Good evening, guys.
TRUMP: Good evening.
RUBIO: Good evening.
CHRISTIE: Good evening.
KASICH: Good evening.
CARSON: Good evening.
CRUZ: Good evening.
BUSH: Good evening.
HAM: Mr. Trump.
HAM: In the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton has criticized Bernie Sanders' plan for single payer government health care, noting it would require big, across the board tax increases for Americans. In doing so, she's doubling down on Obamacare, despite its persistent unpopularity.
Mr. Trump, you have said you want to appeal Obamacare. You have also said, quote, "Everybody's got to be covered," adding, quote, "The government's going to pay for it." Are you closer to Bernie Sanders' vision for health care than Hillary Clinton's?
TRUMP: I don't think I am. I think I'm closer to common sense. We are going to repeal Obamacare. [applause]
We're going to repeal Obamacare. We are going to replace Obamacare with something so much better. And there are so many examples of it. And I will tell you, part of the reason we have some people laughing, because you have insurance people that take care of everybody up here.
I am self-funded. The only one they're not taking care of is me. We have our lines around each state. The insurance companies are getting rich on Obamacare. The insurance companies are getting rich on health care and health services and everything having to do with health. We are going to end that.
We're going to take out the artificial boundaries, the artificial lines. We're going to get a plan where people compete, free enterprise. They compete. So much better. [applause]
In addition to that, you have the health care savings plans, which are excellent. What I do say is, there will be a certain number of people that will be on the street dying and as a Republican, I don't want that to happen. We're going to take care of people that are dying on the street because there will be a group of people that are not going to be able to even think in terms of private or anything else and we're going to take care of those people.
And I think everybody on this stage would have to agree...[bell rings]...you're not going to let people die, sitting in the middle of a street in any city in this country. [applause]
RADDATZ: Senator Cruz, to that point, Mr. Trump has said that your position on health care means that maybe you've got, quote, "no heart". There is a question here, though, about uncovered folks. You suggested repealing and replacing Obamacare. As we learned with President Obama's broken promise that everyone could keep their plan, any major plan — change in health care policy carries with it the risk that some people will lose their insurance coverage or have to change it.
How do you reassure that those people that repealing and replacing Obamacare is still in their best interest?
CRUZ: Well, let me take two different parts of that. Let me start with socialized medicine. Socialized medicine is a disaster. It does not work. If you look at the countries that have imposed socialized medicine, that have put the government in charge of providing medicine, what inevitably happens is rationing.
You have a scarcity of doctors. You have rationing. And that means the elderly are told, we're going to ration a hip replacement, we're going to ration a knee replacement. We're going to ration end- of-life care.
We're right now heading into a medical system with about a 90,000-doctor shortage in America and socialized medicine; whether proposed by the Democrats or proposed by a Republican would hurt the people of this country.
What should we do on health care? If I'm elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare. [applause]
And once we do that, we will adopt common sense reforms, number one, we'll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low cost catastrophic insurance.
We'll expand health savings accounts; and we will de-link health insurance from employment so that you don't lose your health insurance when you lose your job, and that way health insurance can be personal, portable and affordable and we keep government from getting in between us and our doctors. [applause]
HAM: Dr. Carson, you have some experience with this matter. In the past, you have said that Obamacare should be replaced before it's repealed. How and why?
CARSON: Well, thank you. You know, I was hoping to get a chance to talk about North Korea. I was the only one who didn't get to do that, and I've got stuff to say about it, let me tell you.
But at any rate, you have to replace it with something that makes sense. It doesn't make sense. And the reason that I dislike Obamacare is because the government comes in and tells the people — which the nation is supposed to be centered on — that we don't care what you think, this is what we're doing. And if you don't like it, too bad. That's a problem. And we can't afford to do that because that will fundamentally change America.
I have proposed a health empowerment account system. Everybody gets a health empowerment account the day they are born, they keep it until they die. They can pass it on. We pay for it with the same dollars that we pay for traditional health care with, recognizing that we spend twice as much as many countries per capita and health care and don't have as such access.
We give people the ability to shift money within their health empowerment account so that each family basically becomes its own insurance company without a middleman; that saves you a awful lot of money. And that will lower the cost of your catastrophic insurance tremendously, because the only thing coming out of that is catastrophic health care.
And then in terms of taking care of the indigent, we have another whole system, and I can go ahead and explain it, but I don't have the time, but I'd be happy to if you give me some more time. But go to my website bencarson.com, read about it. You can read about everything that's been discussed here in great detail. [applause]
HAM: Thank you, Dr. Carson. David, Martha, back to you.
MUIR: Mary Katherine, thank you. We want to turn now to the issue of eminent domain, which is being debated right here in New Hampshire. And Josh McElveen is the political director and the anchor of WMUR TV. Josh?
MCELVEEN: Thank you, David. And good evening, candidates. Mr. Trump, you have said, quote, "I love eminent domain" which is the seizure of private property for the sake of the greater good theoretically. You tried to use the measure in business endeavors, you've said you'd support its use for the Keystone Pipeline project.
Here in New Hampshire, a project, though, known as the Northern pass would bring hydro-electric power from Canada into the Northeastern grid. Do you see eminent domain as an appropriate tool to get that done?
TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you about eminent domain because almost all of these people actually criticize it, but so many people have hit me with commercials and other things about eminent domain.
Eminent domain is an absolute necessity for a country, for our country. Without it, you wouldn't have roads, you wouldn't have hospitals, you wouldn't have anything. You wouldn't have schools, you wouldn't have bridges. You need eminent domain. And a lot of the big conservatives that tell me how conservative they are — I think I'm more than they are — they tell me, oh — well, they all want the Keystone Pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline, without eminent domain, it wouldn't go 10 feet, OK? You need eminent domain. And eminent domain is a good thing, not a bad thing.
And what a lot of people don't know because they were all saying, oh, you're going to take their property. When somebody — when eminent domain is used on somebody's property, that person gets a fortune. They get at least fair market value, and if they are smart, they'll get two or three times the value of their property. But without eminent domain, you don't have roads, highways, schools, bridges or anything.
So eminent domain — it's not that I love it, but eminent domain is absolutely — it's a necessity for a country. And certainly it's a necessity for our country.
MCELVEEN: So would that be yes on the Northern Pass project? [applause]
BUSH: The difference — the difference between eminent domain for public purpose — as Donald said, roads and infrastructure, pipelines and all that — that's for public purpose. But what Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose, that is down right wrong. [applause]
And here's the problem with that. The problem was, it was to tear down — it was to tear down — it was to tear down the house...
TRUMP: Jeb wants to be — he wants to be a tough guy tonight. I didn't take the property.
BUSH: And the net result was — you tried.
TRUMP: I didn't take the property.
BUSH: And you lost in the court.
TRUMP: The woman ultimately didn't want to do that. I walked away.
BUSH: That is not true. And the simple fact is to turn this into a limousine parking lot for his casinos is a not public use. [applause]
And in Florida, based on what we did, we made that impossible. It is part of our Constitution. That's the better approach. That is the conservative approach.
MCELVEEN: Mr. Trump, take 30 seconds.
TRUMP: Well, let me just — you know, he wants to be a tough guy. A lot of times, you'll have — you'll have — and it didn't work very well.
BUSH: How tough it is to take away property from an elderly woman?
TRUMP: A lot of time — let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times — a lot of times...
BUSH: How tough it is to take away a property from an elderly woman?
TRUMP: ... you — let me talk. Let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times...[booing]...that's all of his donors and special interests out there. [booing]
So — it's what it is. That's what — and by the way, let me just tell you, we needed tickets. You can't get them. You know who has the tickets for the — I'm talking about, to the television audience? Donors, special interests, the people that are putting up the money. [booing]
That's who it is. The RNC told us. We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're not loving me...[booing]...the reason they're not — excuse me. The reason they're not loving me is, I don't want their money. I'm going to do the right thing for the American public. I don't want their money. I don't need their money. And I'm the only one up here that can say that.
Eminent domain, the Keystone pipeline — do you consider that a private job? Do you — do you consider that...
BUSH: I consider it a public use.
TRUMP: No — no, let me ask you, Jeb. [bell rings] Do you consider the Keystone pipeline private?
BUSH: It's a public use. It's a public use.
TRUMP: Is it public or private?
BUSH: It's a public use.
TRUMP: Real — a public use?
TRUMP: No, it's a private job.
BUSH: It's a public use.
TRUMP: It's a private job.
BUSH: Established by the courts — federal, state courts.
TRUMP: You wouldn't have the Keystone pipeline that you want so badly without eminent domain.
MCELVEEN: All right, gentlemen...
TRUMP: You wouldn't have massive — excuse me, Josh — you wouldn't have massive factories without eminent domain. [booing]
MCELVEEN: Gentlemen, we do have to move forward. Dave, Martha, back to you.
MUIR: Josh, thank you.
When we come back here tonight, jobs, ISIS, and what it means to be a conservative. [applause]
The Republican debate continues right here from New Hampshire on ABC. We'll be right back.
MUIR: And, we welcome you back to the Republican debate from New Hampshire tonight here on ABC. We're going to turn now to what it means to be a conservative, and I want to turn to Governor Kasich.
Governor, while campaigning here in New Hampshire, you were already asked about groans from some conservatives after your endorsements from the New York Times, and the Boston Globe. You said, quote, "What conservatives have to know is they have to say, look isn't it nice to have a conservative like me liked? And, maybe the ought to think about it because if I get elected president, the Republican party and the definition of conservatism is going to change."
How would you change conservatism?
KASICH: Well, first of all, look. As the New York Times said, he's certainly not a moderate, but he can bring people together to solve problems. The fact of the matter is I've cut taxes more than anybody in the country this year. I have balanced budgets, the federal budget, the state of Ohio budget, we're running a $2 billion dollar surplus, we're up 400,000 jobs, and in Washington we were able to have significant job growth whenever we balanced the budget of which I was the architect.
But, here's the beauty of it, it's not just balancing a budget, it's about jobs. You know, when I was kid growing up in a neighborhood where Dad went home at night and said, "I lost my job today", it just killed the family.
It just was a devastating effect. We have to have economic growth, but once we have economic growth I believe we have to reach out to people who live in the shadows. I believe we need to help the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor. We need to help the developmentally disabled to rise, and we need to help our friends in the minority community develop entrepreneurship. In other words, in American, conservatism should mean not only that some rise with conservative principles, but everybody has a chance to rise regardless of who they are so they can live their God given purpose. That's what conservatism should be. [applause]
MUIR: Governor Kasich, thank you.
Mr. Trump, you've heard the argument from many of the candidates on this stage that you're not a true conservative. Tell the voters watching tonight why you are.
TRUMP: Well, I think I am, and to me, I view the word conservative as a derivative I — of — of the word conserve. We want to converse our money. We want to conserve our wealth. We want to conserve. We want to be smart. We want to be smart where we go, where we spend, how we spend. We want to conserve our country. We want to save our country. And we have people that have no idea how to do that and they are not doing it, and it's a very important word and it's something I believe in very, very strongly.
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. [applause]
Senator Rubio, you have said yourself that you don't think Donald Trump is running as a conservative. Did he convince you?
RUBIO: Well, I think conservatism is about three things and Donald touched on one of them, but it's about three things. The first is conservatism is about limited government, especially at the federal level. The federal government is a limited government, limited by the Constitution, which delineates its powers. If it's not in the Constitution, it does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to states, local communities and the private sector.
It's about free enterprise, which is an economic model that allows everyone to rise without pulling anyone down. The reason why free enterprise is the greatest economic model in the history of the world is because it's the only economic model where you can make poor people richer without making rich people poor.
And it's about a strong national defense. It's about believing, unlike Barack Obama, that the world is a safer and a better place when America is the strongest military and the strongest nation on this planet. That's conservatism. [applause]
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you. I want to turn this discussion to the economy now.
And Mr. Trump, Governor Christie has said, "I tell everybody who goes to a Donald Trump event, if you get to ask a question, just ask him how." Christie said, "I don't care which of the things he talks about, just ask him how." You have said that you'd be the greatest jobs president God ever created. Tell Americans watching tonight how many jobs you would create in the first term and how.
TRUMP: Well, before I go there, I will tell you, I will bring jobs back from China. I will bring jobs back from Japan. I will bring jobs back from Mexico, where New Hampshire, by the way, has been virtually wiped out. They've lost so many businesses going to Mexico because of horrible trade deals. And now we're about to sign another trade deal, TPP, which is going to be a disaster for this country because they don't talk about monetary manipulation. It is going to be a disaster.
I'm going to bring jobs back and I'll start bringing them back very fast. Under my tax plan — right now, we're the highest taxed country in the world. Under my plan, we cut not only taxes for the middle class, but we cut taxes for corporations. We will bring back trillions of dollars that's offshore. Right now, they have $2.5 trillion, and in my opinion, it's much more than that. That's what the government says. All of that money is going to come back.
And we're not going to lose Pfizer, which is now leaving, and other great companies, which is now leaving. And they're all leaving. We have many, many companies that are leaving this country. We're not going to lose them anymore because we're going to have a tax structure that is going to keep them in our country.
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you.
There are a lot of governors on this stage tonight and Governor Christie, Governor Kasich said of you, quote, "In Ohio, we balanced a budget. They don't have one over in New Jersey. Our credit has been strengthened. Their credit has been downgraded. We've got more jobs."
How important are those metrics in choosing the next president? And is his job — is his record on jobs, I should say, actually stronger than yours?
CHRISTIE: Well, he deserves credit for his record on jobs. He's done a very good job as governor of Ohio. Never said that John hasn't. He's done a very good job. [applause]
But — but unfortunately, John's been so busy doing over stuff, he's using old statistics. That's OK. New Jersey had its best year of job growth in the last 15 years under five different governors this year in New Jersey. New Jersey cut spending over $2.3 billion and we have 10,000 fewer employees than we had when I walked in the door. John has a bigger government now and more employees than he had when he walked in the door.
But all that doesn't matter. What really matters is this, that executive experience really matters. You heard this on the stage tonight. We've heard it said on the stage that President Obama knows exactly what he's doing.
I'd like to ask all the veterans listening out there tonight, who are waiting in line for healthcare, who are literally dying because the Veterans Administration doesn't work, do you think Barack Obama knows what he's doing? I don't. And I'll tell you something. Anybody who evaluates him is knowing what he's doing and managing the government doesn't know how to manage a government themselves.
And one last thing, David, which I think is really important. I listened to Senator Rubio's answer on his bill. He said his bill couldn't pass on the gang of eight. He acted as if he was somehow disembodied from the bill. It was his bill. He said this idea doesn't work. It was his idea.
See, when you're a governor, you have to take responsibility for these things. You can't just act as if it happened out of nowhere. We have to take responsibility as executives. I take responsibility for my record in New Jersey. We've rebuilt the economy and rebuilt after the second-worst natural disaster in American history. I'm proud of my record. And by the way, I like Kasich's record, too. He's a good governor. [applause]
MUIR: Thank you, Governor.
KASICH: Look, I'm — I'm not here — I like Chris.
MUIR: He didn't say your record was better than his.
KASICH: Let — but let me — let me just tell you. First of all, we have the lowest number of state employees in 30 years.
Secondly, we have grown government at the rate of inflation. And I went from an $8 billion hole to a $2 billion surplus. And we've grown jobs by 400,000 — that's one of the fastest growing states in the country. Our pensions are secure and our credit is rock solid.
Now, I've learned that, what makes things work, what gets the economy going, not just in Ohio, but in Washington — and it's three things. Common sense regulations, which we have, lower taxes, which we have, the lowest taxes, tax cuts in the country. And thirdly, a fiscal plan to balance the budget.
When you go from $8 billion in the hole to $2 billion in the black, when you cut taxes by $5 billion and you grow over 400,000 jobs, that is a record that I can take to Washington, using the same formula that I used in Washington when I was part of the effort to balance the budget to give us a surplus and to create jobs.
MUIR: Governor Kasich, thank you.
KASICH: That's what I did and I'll do it again in the first 100 days.
MUIR: Governor Kasich, thank you. I do want to turn from jobs to taxes.
RUBIO: Now, see, I was mentioned by Governor...
MUIR: If you would like to respond to the governor, you can.
MUIR: I'm coming to you next with a question, anyway. You can respond to that question.
RUBIO: OK, good, then I'll get to it [inaudible]. Here's the...
MUIR: We're going from jobs to taxes, and here's the...
RUBIO: Well, no, sorry. Let me respond to that question.
MUIR: To the Gang of Eight bill first?
RUBIO: Well, here's the response. I think anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn't doing what he's doing on purpose doesn't understand what we're dealing with here, OK? This is a president — this is a president who is trying to change this country. When he talked about change, he wasn't talking about dealing with our problems.
Obamacare was not an accident. The undermining of the Second Amendment is not an accident. The gutting of our military is not an accident. The undermining of America on the global stage is not an accident. Barack Obama is, indeed, trying to redefine this country. We better understand what we're dealing with here, because that's what Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to double down on if they are elected.
MUIR: The governor wasn't talking about the president, he was talking about the Gang of Eight bill. [applause]
RUBIO: No. He talked about Barack Obama.
MUIR: So, let me ask you about taxes, Senator Rubio.
MUIR: A recent poll, 68 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on people making more than $1 million a year. Are they wrong?
RUBIO: I don't know of any problem in America that's going to be fixed with a tax increase. We have an economy today, an economy today that is not creating jobs that pay enough.
And one of the reasons why is because we have one of the most expensive business tax rates on the planet. Our combined business rate puts us among the highest in the industrialized world. And then on top of that, we are the only one that has a worldwide system of taxation, where an American company who makes money abroad has to pay taxes where they made the money and then taxes a second time when they bring it back.
The combination of these two things has stranded over $2 trillion, the equivalent of the size of the Russian economy, $2 trillion of American corporate money stranded overseas, combined with all of these inversions of companies leaving us.
The solution to the problems we have today are not a tax increase. It is to lower our taxes on both people and on companies, so we can make America globally competitive again. [applause]
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you.
I want to bring in Governor Bush. And Governor, I just want to repeat that number for you — 68 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on people making more than a million.
What do you say to the people who believe that tonight?
BUSH: I would like to see more millionaires. I think we need to grow more millionaires, we need create a prosperity society where people can rise up. [applause]
This notion that somehow we're undertaxed as a nation is just fool hearty, when we have entitlements growing far faster than our ability to pay for it. A conservative, because that's the point of this, believes in limited government, believes in a entrepreneurial capitalism and a strong national defense.
But it also has to be, we need to reform things. In my town hall meetings, I went to a place where a woman described her neighbor, who has a better economic deal by not working than her struggling to make ends meet. We need to be on the side of working people. And you know, the problem with the left is, another tax, another regulation, another mandate makes it harder for them to rise up.
Everything that we should do should be focused on high, sustained economic growth, where the middle class gets a raise for the first time, and where people are rewarded for work, rather than non-work. And I know how to do this. And if people are interested in the specifics of this, they ought to go to jeb2016.com. [applause]
MUIR: Knew that was coming. Governor, thank you.
CHRISTIE: David? Hey, David? David? Hey, David? I actually have experience with raising taxes on millionaires in my state. It was done. It was done by my predecessor.
And I want everybody in the public who is in that 68 percent, I want to tell you the truth. You're wrong. And here is why you're wrong. After New Jersey raised taxes on millionaires, we lost, in the next four years, $70 billion in wealth left our state.
It left our state to go where it would be treated more kindly. If the United States raised taxes any further, that money will leave the United States, as well. We won't have better jobs.
Let New Jersey be the canary in the coal mine. It is a failed idea and a failed policy, it's class warfare. It happened in my state. I've stopped it from happening again. But we cannot do it.
The 68 percent of the people are wrong about that, it will hurt the American economy. We tried it in New Jersey. Come take a look — it did not work. [applause]
MUIR: Governor Christie, thank you. [applause] Martha?
RADDATZ: Senator Cruz, you advocate what you call carpet bombing, or saturation bombing, to defeat ISIS, citing the more than 1,100 air attacks that the U.S. carried out during the first Gulf War in 1991.
Explain how a strategy to defeat a standing army would work against an unconventional terrorist group that is now hiding amongst the population.
CRUZ: Well, sure. It starts with a commander-in-chief that sets the objective. And the objective has to be utterly and completely destroying ISIS. Obama hasn't started with that objective and everything else flows from there.
Once you set that objective, we have the tools to carry that out. The first tool is overwhelming air power. It is one of the blessings of the United States of America, having the greatest military on the face of the earth, is we have the ability to use that air power.
As you know, in the first Persian Gulf War, it was 1,100 air attacks a day. Obama is launching between 15 and 30. Now, when I say saturation carpet bombing, that is not indiscriminate.
That is targeted at oil facilities. It's targeted at the oil tankers. It's targeted at command and control locations. It's targeted at infrastructure. It's targeted at communications. It's targeted at bombing all of the roads and bridges going in and out of Raqqa. It's using overwhelming air power.
You know, couple of weeks ago, it was reported that a facility is open called Jihadist University. Now, the question I wonder, why is that building still standing? It should be rubble. And if you had a president...[bell rings] [applause]... all though I will say this. I would be willing to wait until freshman orientation before launching those bombs.
RADDATZ: Senator Cruz, would you like to expand or loosen the rules of engagement? I was just over in a command center in Erbil and they said they thought the rules of engagement worked. Because you have so many civilians in those populated areas, they don't want to hit civilians.
CRUZ: Martha, I will tell you, I have visited with active duty military, with veterans over and over and over again in town halls all over the state of New Hampshire. What we are doing to our sons and daughters, it is immoral. We are sending them into fight with their arms tied behind their back. They cannot defend themselves. And it is wrong. [applause]
And I will tell you this. Look. America has always been reluctant to use military force. It's the last step we take. But if and when we use it when it comes to defeating ISIS, we should use it. We should use overwhelming force, kill the enemy and then get the heck out. Don't engage in nation-building but instead, allow our soldiers to do their jobs instead of risking their lives with politicians making it impossible to accomplish the objective. [applause]
RADDATZ: So, loosen the rules of engagement?
CRUZ: Absolutely, yes.
RADDATZ: Senator Rubio, you said in the last debate that ISIS is the most dangerous, jihadist group in the history of mankind And that will it take overwhelming U.S. force to defeat them. Can you specifically tell us what you mean by overwhelming force?
RUBIO: Well, first, we need to understand who they are. ISIS is not just a jihadist group, they're an apocalyptic group. They want to trigger a showdown in a city named Tibet between the west and themselves which they believe will trigger the arrival of their messianic figure.
And I'm not saying that's what's going to happen. The reason why it's important to understand that is because these are not groups that are just going to go away on their own. They are going to have to be defeated. And I believe they need to be defeated on the ground, by a ground force, made up primarily of Sunni Arabs.
It will take Sunni Arabs to reject them ideologically and defeat them militarily. That will require a coalition of Iraqis and Syrians, that are also Sunnis, but it will also require the cooperation of Jordanians, Egyptians. We should ask more of the Saudis.
That will need to be backed up with more U.S. special operation forces alongside them. And it will have to be backed up with increased air strikes. And we are going to have to strike them, not just in Iraq and in Syria, but in every other part of the world where they have now created hubs of operation. They have affiliates in over a dozen countries across this planet. They have a sophisticated network of radicalizing people here in the homeland and around the world. [bell rings]
But it all begins by taking away their their safe operating spaces with a ground force that a U.S.-led coalition takes on. [applause]
RADDATZ: Again, Senator Rubio, you've already said ISIS is the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind. So, that would make it more dangerous than Al Qaida, the insurgents we fought in Iraq. We committed hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to fight those groups. So if ISIS is the most dangerous group in history, why not commit a large U.S. ground force?
RUBIO: Because they currently occupy Sunni cities and villages. Sunni cities and villages can only truly be liberated and held by Sunnis themselves. If they are held by Shias it will trigger sectarian violence. The Kurds are incredible fighters and they will liberate the Kurdish areas, but Kurds can not and do not want to liberate and hold Sunni villages and towns.
It will take Sunni fighters themselves in that region to take those villages and cities, and then to hold them and avoid the sort of sectarian violence that follows in the past.
And why that is important is because if Sunnis are not able to govern themselves in these areas, you are going to have a successor group to ISIS. ISIS is a successor group of Al Qaida. In fact, they broke away...[bell rings]...from Al Qaida, because as horrible as Al Qaida is, ISIS thought Al Qaida was not radical enough. This is who we're dealing with, and they have more money than Al Qaida ever had.
BUSH: Martha — Martha, if I...
RADDATZ: Well, what would you do — what would you do differently to try to get those Sunni forces? They have not been coming forward.
RUBIO: Well, the problem with the Sunni forces in the region is they don't trust this administration. This administration cut a deal with their mortal enemies, the Shia, in Iran. It poisoned the well with these countries. It makes it very difficult to cooperate with them as a result.
They also, by the way, understand what real U.S. air power looks like. They saw the Iraq war. They saw, up close, also Afghanistan. They know what air power looks like when the United States is committed to the cause. And they see the airstrikes that are being conducted now, and they say to themselves, that's not real commitment. We know what real commitment looks like.
The — the Jordanian king was in Washington three weeks ago. He told everyone who would listen that they have begged for permission from the coalition to target caravans. And the coalition — meaning U.S. leadership on the ground...[bell rings]...would not allow them to proceed with those airstrikes.
RADDATZ: Mr. Trump — thank you very much, Senator Rubio. Mr. Trump. [applause]
You have said you will vigorously bomb ISIS. You've said, "we've got to get rid of ISIS, quickly, quickly." How would you get rid of them so quickly? And please give us specifics.
TRUMP: Well, four years ago, I said, bomb the oil and take the oil. And if we did that, they wouldn't have the wealth they have right now. Now, I still say the same thing, because we're doing little pinpricks. We're not even bombing — if somebody's driving a truck, they give notice to the person driving the truck, "we're going to bomb." If they don't get out of the truck, the truck sails away with the oil.
We actually have a case where we don't want to bomb the oil, because we don't want to hurt — pollute the atmosphere. Can you imagine General Douglas MacArthur or General Patton saying we can't bomb because we're gonna hurt the atmosphere?
You have to knock the hell out of the oil. You have to take the oil. And you have also back channels of banking. You have people that you think are our great allies, our friends, in the Middle East, that are paying tremendous numbers of — tremendous amounts of money to ISIS.
So we have to stop those circuits. Nobody knows banking better than I do. They have back circuits, back channels. Tremendous amounts of money is coming in through the banking system. So between the oil and the banking, you will dry them up. But it should have been done four years ago, not now.
RADDATZ: And — and what would you do in those cities, where there are people who we are trying to help, who ISIS is essentially holding hostage?
TRUMP: You have to go in — first of all, when you take away their money, when you take away their wealth, that'll very much weaken — and it will happen fairly fast.
They'll last for about a year, based on all of the wealth they've accumulated. But when you stop the banking channels and when you stop the oil and take the oil — not just bomb it, take it — when you do that, it's going to dry up very quickly. They're going to become a very weakened power, quickly. Thank you.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Mr. Trump. [applause]
Let's turn to Libya. Governor Bush, it is a country in chaos. There is no government. This week, defense officials said there are now 5,000 ISIS fighters there, roughly doubling previous estimates. We know you and others have been critical of the administration's handling of Libya after the initial air strikes that you supported.
But this is a problem you would stand to inherit if you're the next president. Reports this week said the administration is considering new air strikes, possible special operations raids. Would you support renewed air strikes or any U.S. involvement on the ground?
BUSH: I would. And I would do it in concert, again, with our Arab allies and with Europe, most particularly in this case. This is the lesson learned: in history, if you bomb something and not do anything as it relates to deal with the aftermath of this, if you don't have a stable government, you get what we have in Libya.
And this is not — leading from behind is not an effective policy. We have to lead. Without the United States, nothing seems to work. Europe doesn't have the ability to — to — to lead — forward lead in this regard.
And so dealing with the caliphate is important, because it now has spawned other areas. There have been 70-plus attacks in 17 countries, either inspired by ISIS or organized by ISIS, Libya being the most important one now.
We have to deal with the caliphate, with building a Sunni army there, but we also have to deal with it in Libya. And I think the United States, ultimately, is going to play — play a significant role in this.
The problem with the Obama administration is that they see this incrementally. They're reluctant. They don't lead. No one knows whether we're serious, and when we do it, we do it in increments you can barely see. [bell rings]
The United States has to lead in a much more aggressive way than we're doing right now. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Governor Bush. Dr. Carson?
CARSON: I want to say something about this, because I'm not here just to add beauty to the stage. [laughter]
You know, I've been talking about Libya for quite a long time. I think I was the first one to start talking about it because I say we have to have a proactive foreign policy strategy. And of course, the next place that ISIS is going to attack to is Libya.
If you want to expand your caliphate and increase your influence, then you're going to go to a place that's strategically located. You go north, across the Mediterranean. You're into southern Europe. You go south, you're into Chad and Sudan and Niger. Not to mention the fact that you have much more oil than you do in Iraq. That's the kind of place that they're going to go to, therefore, we need to be thinking about how do we prevent them from tacking over there. They're already sending their fighters there, we need to be consulting with our military experts and asking them what do they need in order to prevent ISIS from being able to take over Libya. That's going to have enormous concede for us.
RADDATZ: And would you support renewed airstrikes?
CARSON: I would support the possibility of renewed airstrikes if in conjunction with our Joint Chiefs and our military people they felt that was an appropriate strategy.
The fact of the matter is none of us up here is a military expert, and we sometimes act like we are, but we're not. And if we actually sit down and talk with them and get them to understand our plan and their impression of what needs to be done, I think we're going to make a lot more progress.
BUSH: Martha and David, I just...
RADDATZ: We're going to move on.
BUSH: Martha and David...
MUIR: Martha, thank you. We're just going to — we're going to stay on ISIS here and the war on terror, because as you know, there's been a debate in this country about how to deal with the enemy and about enhanced interrogation techniques ever since 9/11.
So Senator Cruz, you have said, quote, "torture is wrong, unambiguously, period. Civilized nations do not engage in torture." Some of the other candidates say they don't think waterboarding is torture. Mr. Trump has said, I would bring it back. Senator Cruz, is waterboarding torture?
CRUZ: Well, under the definition of torture, no, it's not. Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.
MUIR: If elected president, would you bring it back?
CRUZ: I would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use. And indeed, I joined with Senator McCain in legislation that would prohibit line officers from employing it because I think bad things happen when enhanced interrogation is employed at lower levels.
But when it comes to keeping this country safe, the commander in chief has inherent constitutional authority to keep this country safe. And so, if it were necessary to, say, prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack, you can rest assured that as commander in chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe.
MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you. Mr. Trump, you said not only does it work, but that you'd bring it back.
TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what. In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people. We have things that we have never seen before — as a group, we have never seen before, what's happening right now.
The medieval times — I mean, we studied medieval times — not since medieval times have people seen what's going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding. [applause]
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. Governor Bush, you have said that you won't rule waterboarding out. Congress has passed laws banning the use of waterboarding by the military and the CIA, as you know. Would you want Congress to change that if you're elected president?
BUSH: No, no, I wouldn't. No, I wouldn't. And it was used sparingly, Congress has changed the laws and I — and I think where we stand is the appropriate place. But what we need to do is to make sure that we expand our intelligence capabilities.
The idea that we're going to solve this fight with predator drones, killing people somehow is a — is more acceptable than capturing them, securing the information. This is why closing Guantanamo is a complete disaster. What we need to do is make sure that we are kept safe...[applause]...by having intelligence capabilities, both human and technological intelligence capabilities far superior than what we have today. That's how you get a more safe place is by making sure that we're fully engaged. And right now, this administration doesn't do that.
MUIR: Governor Bush, thank you. [applause]
Senator Rubio, I do want to ask you, you have said that you do not want to telegraph to the enemy what you would do as commander in chief. But for the American people watching tonight who want to know where the next president will stand, do you believe waterboarding is torture?
RUBIO: Well, when people talk about interrogating terrorists, they're acting like this is some sort of law enforcement function. Law enforcement is about gathering evidence to take someone to trial, and convict them. Anti-terrorism is about finding out information to prevent a future attack so the same tactics do not apply.
And, it is true, we should not be discussing in a wide spread way the exact tactics that we're going to use because that allows terrorist to know to practice how to evade us.
But, here's the bigger problem with all this, we're not interrogating anybody right now. Guantanamo's being emptied by this president. We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out, and we shouldn't be releasing these killers who are rejoining the battlefield against the United States. [applause]
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you.
We want to turn now to the topic of executive orders, and for that, we're going to turn back to Mary Katharine Ham. Mary Katharine?
HAM: Thanks, David. Senator Cruz, on the campaign trail you've promised voters a lot, in fact if you're elected president you'd say you end Common Core immediately, abolish the IRS, and do away with sanctuary cities. You've also been a persistent critic of President Obama's executive overreach, going it alone, not working with Congress. How do you intend to implement this aggressive agenda within your Constitutional authority, especially given that it would require working with Congress and Washington players with whom you're happy to say you have a strained relationship?
CRUZ: Well, thank you for that question. You know, there are three avenues of presidential authority to change the direction of this country. The first is executive power, the second is foreign policy, and the third is legislation. Executive power, as we all know, has been the preferred vehicle of President Obama, abusing his authority, abusing his constitutional authority.
Now, the silver lining of that is everything done with executive power can be undone with executive power, so I have pledged on day one I will rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action Barack Obama has done. That means on day one his efforts to restrict the Second Amendment go away with the strike of a pen. That means on day one his illegal executive amnesty goes away with the strike of a pen.
The reason I can end Common Core at the federal level is because Obama is abusing executive power using Race to the Top funds in the Department of Education to force it on the states. That's one avenue.
The second avenue of change is foreign policy, and foreign policy can change the fastest. It's worth remembering that Iran released our hostages the day Reagan...[bell rings]...was sworn in. And, the third is legislation, and that can only be done with the people behind you, which is why the two big legislative initiatives I'm campaigning on are repealing Obamacare, and adopting a simple flat tax to abolish the IRS. [applause]
HAM: Mr. Trump, Senator Cruz is known for opposing deals, you literally wrote the book on making them. Senator Cruz has mentioned that on the trail. What would you say to those conservatives that are concerned that a deal maker will just perpetuate the same deals in Washington and the way that things run now [inaudible]...
TRUMP: ... No, a good deal maker will make great deals, but we'll do it the way our founders thought it should be done. People get together, they make deals. Ronald Reagan did it with Tip O'Neil very successfully, you didn't hear so much about executive orders, if you heard about it at all. You have to be able to get a consensus.
Now, the real person like it was mentioned about the deal with Iran, how bad a deal is that? It doesn't get any more amateurish than that. A good deal maker would never make a deal like that. With Congress, you have to get everybody in a room, and you have to get them to agree. But, you have to get them to agree what you want, and that's part of being a deal maker. You can't leave the White House, go to Hawaii and play golf for three weeks and be a real deal maker. It doesn't work that way. You have to get people in, grab them, hug them, kiss them, and get the deal done. But, it's got to be the deal that you want. [applause]
HAM: Governor Kasich, is the problem with Washington that there are too many deals, or too few?
KASICH: Well, right now the deals — there's no leadership. I mean, a lot of the things that we're talking about here tonight, on the border, and so many of the things. What we should be doing on foreign policy, you know what the problem is, Mary Katharine? There's not a leader that gets somebody to rise up.
You have to have a leader that can inspire, and actually some of what Donald was saying is true. Look, do you know how hard it was...
KASICH: ... to get the balance the federal budget balanced? You have to plead with people. To do what we've done in Ohio, you have to plead with people, then you go back down to Washington and do the same thing.
You see, we have to remind people we're Americans before we're Republicans and Democrats, and when we wait, and when we delay what we end up doing, Mary Katharine, is we make the United States weaker. In fact, it's a foreign policy issue because people look at America not solving problems and they say what are they doing over there? So the point is you have to work with people.
The problem with executive authority for the president, it's really bad news for this reason. Since he's given up on working with Congress, he thinks he can impose anything he wants. He's not a king. He's a president. An executive order should be used frankly in consolidation and with consulting with the leadership in the — in the Congress.
I've done it in Ohio. I consult. I could use executive orders, but I don't trump the legislature, because if you do, you aggravate them, you anger them and then the long-term prospects get bleak. We have to solve problems in America by coming together, Republicans and Democrats, Americans first, party and ideology second — in the second back seat of this country. That's what we need to do. [applause]
And we can do it. And we can do it.
BUSH: This is a — this is an important subject. I agree with everything that's been said here about repealing unconstitutional rules and rules that are creating real burdens for investing that creating jobs.
But we also ought to get back to being a Tenth Amendment country, as well, a country that respects the states to be able to make more decisions. And in the Bush administration, we would shift transportation dollars back to the states. I trust Kasich and Christie to build the roads and the infrastructure of their states than Washington, D.C.
EPA delegated authority, back to the states. Education dollars, back to the states. I would like to see reform take place all across the country, where there's more vouchers, more freedom. [applause]
If we did that, we would shrink government's power in Washington, D.C. and we would have a much more effective government, where people would begin to trust our government again, because now, no one believes it works.
KASICH: Mary Katherine, let me just say this to you. [applause]
You must have an agenda that you are ready to move on in the first 100 days. Jeb is right. If you delay and you wait, the Washington operators will take you down. I can tell you this, in the first 100 days, I will have legislation to freeze federal regulations, have them reviewed by the vice president, reduce state taxes on individuals, reduce taxes on corporations, have a fiscal plan to balance the budget, get the border protected and begin to fix Social Security in the first 100 days.
So, anybody who is here tonight, if I get elected president, head out tomorrow and buy a seat belt, because there's going to be so much happening in the first 100 days, it's going to make your head spin. We're going to move America forward. I promise you. We're going to move us forward. [applause]
BUSH: You mentioned me. He mentioned me. One other thing that I think we ought to do, along with repealing Obamacare, we need to shift all of this power of healthcare, which is the most egregious form of federal power that is suppressing wages and incomes, and allow governors to have the Medicaid plans so that they can create 21st century Medicaid insurance for people that are stuck in poverty. There's so much that can be done, but I don't trust Washington to do it. I trust the state capitals to be the place — to be the source of innovation and reform in this country. [applause]
HAM: Thank you, governors. Martha and David, back to you.
MUIR: Mary Katherine, thank you.
We want to turn to something the governor of New Hampshire said... [laughter]
KASICH: Jeb mentioned me. Time for me to go again.
BUSH: I didn't mention him the second time.
KASICH: He says he didn't mention me the second time. I thought I heard it, Jeb. No. I'm just kidding. Thank you all very much for listening and being patient with all of us tonight. Thank you.
MUIR: A connection here on the stage. We're going to move on to what the governor of New Hampshire said just this week, and that is that heroin overdose is not the second-leading cause of death in this state. You don't need me to tell you that. But there's another number, 48 percent of the people here in this state knows someone who has abused heroin.
Josh, who covers this for WMUR, has the next question.
MCELVEEN: You're all aware, candidates, this is a major problem here in New Hampshire. It's a very deadly problem as well. Last month, New Hampshire senators Kelly Ayotte, Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat, they went down to Washington, along with the police chief of the state's largest city to testify before the Judiciary Committee in D.C.
Senator Cruz, you're a member of that committee. Your campaign schedule didn't allow you to attend this. Even so, the police chief called your absence outrageous, given the severity of the problem. Last week, though, you told a personal story of a close family member's struggle with addiction. What can you say to law enforcement right now to convince them that you understand the severity of this problem and you're not just saying what people want to hear days before the primary?
CRUZ: Well, Josh, as you noted, this is a problem that, for me, I understand first-hand. My older sister, Myriam, who was my half- sister, struggled her whole life with drug and alcohol addiction. My father and her mom divorced when she was a little girl and she was angry her whole life, and she ended up marrying a man who had been in and out of jail. She then became a single mom and she herself went to jail several times and she ended up spending some time in a crack house.
I still remember my father and me driving up to get Myriam out of that crack house to try to convince her she needed to be a mom to — to my nephew Joey.
She wasn't willing to listen. She was not willing to change the path she was on. She was angry. I was — had just gotten my first job coming out of law school. I took a $20,000 loan on a credit card to put my nephew, Joey, in Valley Forge Military Academy — he was in sixth grade at the time, to pay his way through that.
And about five, six years ago, Miriam died of an overdose. It was — the coroner ruled it accidental. We don't know. She went to one night, had taken too many pills, and Joey walked in and found her dead.
This is an absolute epidemic. We need leadership to solve it. Solving it has to occur at the state and local level with programs like A.A., and counseling, and churches and charities. But it also has to be securing the borders, because you have got Mexican cartels that are smuggling vast amounts of heroin into this country.
We know how to secure the borders. What is missing is the political will to do it.
And as president, I will secure the border, we will end this deluge of drugs that is flowing over our southern border and that is killing Americans across this country.
MCELVEEN: And Governor Christie, you have talked a lot about this issue here in New Hampshire. [applause]
State reforms, criminal justice reforms, access to treatment.
To Senator Cruz's point, let's take it a step further. Would you be willing to engage in cross-border enforcement into Mexico, a place where law enforcement in New Hampshire has traced at lot of this supply back to. Would you engage in cross-border enforcement without the cooperation without the Mexican government?
CHRISTIE: Of course I would. As a former United States attorney who spent seven years of my life fighting this on the streets of my state, I would do that. But we need to do more. And let me tell you what we've done in New Jersey, Josh. We are working with the folks in New Hampshire in their legislature right now to show them how we're helping to solve this problem in New Jersey.
Not just for this campaign — three years ago, I proposed a law that we signed into effect, which said that anyone who was a non- violent, non-dealing, first-time drug offender no longer goes to prison in New Jersey. They go to mandatory, in-patient drug treatment.
What has happened is, crime has gone down 20 percent in those years. The prison population has gone down 10 percent. We've now closed the state prison — closed a state prison, and we're turning it into a drug rehabilitation facility, so people can get the tools they need.
Listen, everyone out there knows this in New Hampshire. This is a disease. It's not a moral failing, it's a disease. And we need to get people the treatment they need. And let me tell you why. Because I'm pro-life.
And I'm pro life not just for the nine months in the womb, I'm pro-life for when they get out and it's a lot more complicated. [applause]
Sixteen-year-old, heroin-addicted drug girl on the floor of the county lockup, I'm pro-life for her life. The 42-year-old lawyer who is taking Oxycontin and can't get out of bed and support his family — I'm pro-life for his life. Everyone of those lives is an individual gift from God.
And the last thing is this. These efforts we've taken over the last three years, 2015 in New Jersey, for the first time in four years, drug overdose deaths have gone down, not up.
I'll bring the same solutions to the country. [applause]
MCELVEEN: Governor Christie, thank you very much.
David, Martha, back to you.
RADDATZ: Thank you, Governor Christie. Thank you, Josh.
Our partner in this debate, the Independent Journal Review, has collected questions from some prominent conservatives around the country.
Here's a videotaped question from radio host Larry O'Connor.
[begin video clip]
O'CONNOR: In 2008, we saw how motivated an electorate can be when they think their vote is making history. Let's face it: if Hillary Clinton is the nominee for the Democrats, you'll be running against the prospect of the first woman president.
How will you change that narrative and motivate the electorate behind your candidacy?
[end video clip]
RADDATZ: Mr. Trump, I'm going to give that question to you. You took it — you took it away anyway.
TRUMP: Yes. OK, good. It looked like he was looking right at me, right there.
I think that — I look at what's going on, I look at all of the polls, I do very, very well against Hillary Clinton. I can tell you, I'm the last person that she wants to run against.
And I think you can see what we've done in terms of galvanizing. I've been all over the country. We're — last night, I was in South Carolina, we had 12,000 people. It set up in about four days. We have galvanized and we've created a movement. A lot of it has to do with — as an example, Josh's question on drugs.
I'm the first person that said, "Build a wall." But I mean, a real wall, not a toy wall like they have right now. A real wall. And you'll solve lots of problems.
But we will galvanize the people of this country, and we will beat Hillary Clinton. Because — assuming that she runs, by the way, how she gets away with the e-mail stuff is hard to believe. So, I don't know that she's going to be running. But on the assumption she runs... [applause]
I mean, look. And speaking of that, if she runs, she's running for one reason. She's going to be able to run for one reason, and that's because the Democrats are protecting her. Because so many people have done so much less than her, and they were absolutely — their lives have been destroyed.
But on the assumption they do protect her, I will win the election and we will win it by a lot. We will win it handily. We cannot have another four years of essentially Barack Obama. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you, Mr. Trump.
I'm going to go to Senator Rubio on this. How would you change that narrative?
RUBIO: I think it's already happening. Look at the turnout in Iowa. A historic number of people came out and voted in those caucuses. There are saying the same thing is going to happen here in New Hampshire. Look at the rallies that every single person on this stage is having. Much higher numbers than you used to see in the past and here is why.
Because people are starting to understand, very clearly, that this election is going to be a turning point. That 2016 is not just a choice between Republican or Democrat. It is a referendum on our identity as a nation and as a people.
So here is what Hillary Clinton needs to understand. We're going to have our primary, we're going to have our debates — which by the way, are twice as many as the Democrats have been willing to have themselves. But we're going to bring this party together and we are going to defeat Hillary Clinton, because she is unqualified to be the president of the United States of America.
She put classified information on her computer because she thinks she's above the law and anyone who lies to the families of people who have lost their loved ones in the service of our country like she did in Benghazi, can never be the commander-in-chief of the United States of America. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you, Senator Rubio. Dr. Carson, I want to go to you on Larry O' Connor's question. Would you change the narrative?
CARSON: It's the same question?
CARSON: Yes. Well, first of all, I think it would be a pretty easy contrast, quite frankly, between myself and Hillary Clinton. In one case, you have someone who is known as a deceitful individual. An individual who at Benghazi, which I will never let go, quite frankly, because I think of those two men who went up there on the top of that compound with machine guns, firing away, allowing their colleagues to escape.
And I'm sure, in the back of their mind, they were just saying, if we can just hold on, help is on the way. But help was not on the way. When did we in the United States not send people to help our own people? You know, this is not who we are. [applause]
And — I would simply make it a referendum on honesty and integrity versus deceit and the Washington way.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much Dr. Carson. I'm going to go back to David.
MUIR: Governor, well come to you in the next segment.
When we come back, questions about race, about our veterans and social issues what younger conservative voters are now saying as we continue with New Hampshire with the Republican debate, right here on ABC.
MUIR: Welcome back to New Hampshire, ABC News coverage of the Republican debate, and it's great to have you back at the podiums, and we want to turn to race in America.
And Mr. Trump, there are many who argue cell phones and smartphones are just now exposing what's been happening in this country for years. Cases of excessive force against minorities.
As you know, Mr. Trump, on the other side, the FBI director recently said there's a chill wind blowing through law enforcement because of increased scrutiny. You have said police are the most mistreated people in America. As president, how do you bridge the divide?
TRUMP: Well, there is a divide, but I have to say that the police are absolutely mistreated and misunderstood, and if there is an incident, whether it's an incident done purposely — which is a horror, and you should really take very strong action — or if it is a mistake, it's on your news casts all night, all week, all month, and it never ends.
The police in this country have done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order, and they're afraid for their jobs, they're afraid of the mistreatment they get, and I'm telling you that not only, me speaking, minorities all over the country, they respect the police of this country and we have to give them more respect.
They can't act. They can't act. They're afraid for losing their pension, their job. They don't know what to do. And I deal with them all the time. We have to give great respect, far greater than we are right now, to our really fantastic police. [applause]
MUIR: Great. Mr. Trump, I did ask about bridging the divide though as president. So what would you say to the American families who say we have lived through this, we have seen excessive force? What would you say to those people?
TRUMP: Well, they do. And, you know, they sue. Everybody sues, right? They see excessive — I mean, they go out, they sue. We have so much litigation — I see the courts, I see what they're doing. They sue, and you know what? We don't want excessive force. But at what point — you know, either you're going to have a police force that can do its job...
I was just up in Manchester, I met with the police officers yesterday. Tremendous people. They love the area, they love the people, they love all the people. They want to do their job. And you're going to have abuse and you're going to have problems, and you've got to solve the problems and you have to weed out the problems. But the police in this country are absolutely amazing people.
KASICH: David, David...
MUIR: I do want to ask — Governor Kasich?
KASICH: I wanted — I wanted to say, look, this — there can be a win-win here. I have formed a collaborative between police and community leaders because people have to respect law enforcement. A family doesn't want dad or mom going home in a box. And for our community leaders, many of them think the system not only works — not only doesn't work for them, but it works against them.
And I created a big collaborative in Ohio made up of law enforcement, community leaders, the head of my public safety and a former Democrat, liberal Senate senator Nina Turner, run it. They got together, they made recommendations on recruiting, on hiring, on the use of deadly force and what we're about to do is to bring community and police together so we can have a win-win.
We need more win-wins in America and we don't have to pick one over another divide. We love the police, but we've got to be responsible to the people in the community. We have to do all of that. [applause]
MUIR: Governor, thank you. Senator Rubio, I want to ask you next, President Obama visited a mosque this week in America for the first time in his presidency. President George W. Bush visited a mosque after September 11th. You said of President Obama, quote, "he's always pitting people against each other." So I'm curious, how are the two visits different, and would you visit a mosque as president?
RUBIO: I would. But that's not — the issue — my problem with what he did is he continues to put out this fiction that there's widespread systematic discrimination against Muslim Americans.
First of all, let's recognize this. If you go to a national cemetery in this country, you will see stars of Davids and crosses, but you see crescent moons. There are brave men and women who happen to be Muslim Americans who are serving this country in uniform and who have died in the service of this country. And we recognize that and we honor that. But by the same token, we face a very significant threat of home grown violent extremism.
We need to have strong, positive relationships in the Islamic communities in this country so they will identify and report this activity, especially mosques, for example, that are participating not just in hate speech, but inciting violence and taking acts against us.
And I do believe it is important also to recognize, you want to talk about religious discrimination in America. Well, I don't think Barack Obama is being sued by any Islamic groups, but he is being sued by the Little Sisters of the Poor. We are facing in this country Christian groups and groups that hold traditional values who feel and in fact are being discriminated against by the laws of this country that try to force them to vie to violate their conscience. [applause]
MUIR: Senator Rubio, thank you. Martha?
RADDATZ: Governor Christie, earlier this week, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a global emergency. The same kind of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus in Latin America are found here in the United States, and the virus has been linked to severe birth defects.
Governor Christie, at the peak of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, you ordered an American nurse who landed at Newark Airport be detained and quarantined. As fear spreads now of the Zika virus and with the Rio Olympics just months away, is there a scenario where you would quarantine people traveling back from Brazil to prevent the spread in the United States?
CHRISTIE: You bet I would. And the fact is that because I took strong action to make sure that anyone who was showing symptoms — remember what happened with that nurse. She was showing symptoms and coming back from a place that had the ebola virus active and she had been treating patients. This was not just some — like, we picked up her just for the heck of it, alright?
We did it because she was showing symptoms, and the fact is that's the way we should make these decision. You make these decisions based upon the symptoms, the medicine, and the law. We quarantined her, she turned out to test negative ultimately after 48 hours, and we released her back to the State of Maine.
But, I want to add something on the issue of mosques. Now, I'm the only one up here who's had a law enforcement background as a U.S. Attorney after September 11th. I went to mosques throughout my state to build bridges. To build bridges between our community in law enforcement so we can get intelligence and information from these folks.
I've had the experience of working with them as Governor of New Jersey as well. We cannot mix the radical Islamic jihadist with everyday Muslim-Americans. New Jersey is the second largest Muslim- American population in America, of any state. These are good, law abiding, hard working people. What they need is our cooperation, and our understanding. They do not just need broadsides against them because of the religious faith they practice.
RADDATZ: Governor Christie, thank you. [applause]
I'm going to move to Dr. Carson, and go back to the Zika virus, is that going too far, quarantining? You're a doctor, what would you do?
CARSON: Well, you know, it's not a simple issue, and now, you know, we've gotten evidence that there can been active viruses in other bodily fluids like saliva and urine. So, this is going to be, obviously, a big deal.
Do we quarantine people? If we have evidence that they are infected, and that there is evidence that that infection can spread by something that they're doing, yes. But, just willy-nilly going out and quarantining a bunch of people because they've been to Brazil, I don't believe that that's going to work. What we really need to be thinking about is how do we get this disease under control?
And this is where we need rapid response. We need a rapid response for ebola, we need rapid response for Zika, there will be other things that will come up. These are the kinds of things that the NIH, the CDC, can be very effective in. We need to give the the appropriate support for those kind of things.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much, Dr. Carson.
I want to move on to the military. Senator Rubio, all restrictions on women in combat as long as they qualify. Positions including special operations forces, like Navy Seals. Just this week military leaders of the Army and Marine Corps said that they believed young women, just as young men are required to do, should sign up for Selective Service in case the Draft is reinstated.
Many of you have young daughters. Senator Rubio, should young women be required to sign up for Selective Service in case of a national emergency?
RUBIO: First, let me say there are already women today serving in roles that are like combat. That, in fact, whose lives are in very serious danger, and so I have no problem whatsoever with people of either gender serving in combat so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised. But, I support that, and obviously now that that is the case I do believe that Selective Service should be opened up for both men and women in case a Draft is ever instituted.
I think the more fundamental challenge we're now facing is what's happening to the U.S. military — I've said this many times, and I think it's important to start paying attention to this. Our Air Force is about to be the smallest it's been in 100 years. I'm sorry, in our history. Our Army is set to be smaller than it's been since the second World War, and our Navy is about to be the smallest than it's been in 100 years.
I think we need to begin to refocus on rebuilding our military because every time we have cut our military in the history of this country we have had to come back later and rebuild it, and it costs more, and it's a lot more chaotic and dangerous. When I'm president, we are rebuilding the U.S. military. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you, Senator Rubio. Governor Bush, do you believe that young women...
BUSH: ... Say it again?
RADDATZ: Do you believe young women should sign up for Selective Service, be required to sign up...
BUSH: ... I do, and I do think that we should not impose any kind of political agenda on the military. There should be — if women can meet the requirements, the minimum requirements for combat service they ought to have the right to do it. For sure. It ought to be focused on the morale as well. We got to make sure that we have readiness much higher than we do today. We need to eliminate the sequester which is devastating our military.
We can't be focusing on the political side of this, we need to realize that our military force is how we project our word in the world. When we're weak militarily it doesn't matter what we say. We can talk about red lines, and ISIS being the J.V. team, and reset buttons and all this. If we don't have a strong military than no one fears us, and they take actions that are against our national interest.
RADDATZ: Tell me what you'd say to American people out there...[applause]...who are sitting at home, who have daughters, who might worry about those answers, and might worry...
BUSH: ... Why would they worry about it...
RADDATZ: ... if the Draft is reinstituted?
BUSH: ... Well, the Draft's not going to be reinstituted, but why — if women are accessing...
RADDATZ: ... Are you saying you'd do away with it?
BUSH: No. I didn't say that. You — you asked a question not about the draft, you asked about registering. And if women are going to be...
RADDATZ: You register for the draft.
BUSH: If — but...
RADDATZ: If it's reinstituted.
BUSH: ... we don't have a draft. I'm not suggesting we have a draft. What I'm suggesting is that we ought to have readiness being the first priority of our military, and secondly, that we make sure that the morale is high. And right now, neither one of those are acceptable because we've been gutting the military budget.
We also need to reform our procurement process. We need to make sure there are more men and women in uniform than people — than civilians in our Defense Department. There's a lot of things that we need to reform to bring our defense capabilities into the 21st century and I'm the guy that could do that. That's why I have the support of generals, of admirals, of 12 Medal of Honor recipients and many other people that know that I would be a steady commander-in-chief and rebuild our military. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you very much.
CHRISTIE: Can I — can I be really — can I be really clear on this, because I am the father of two daughters. One of them is here tonight. What my wife and I have taught our daughters right from the beginning, that their sense of self-worth, their sense of value, their sense of what they want to do with their life comes not from the outside, but comes from within. And if a young woman in this country wants to go and fight to defend their country, she should be permitted to do so.
Part of that also needs to be part of a greater effort in this country, and so there's no reason why one — young women should be discriminated against from registering for the selective service. The fact is, we need to be a party and a people that makes sure that our women in this country understand anything they can dream, anything that they want to aspire to, they can do. That's the way we raised our daughters and that's what we should aspire to as president for all of the women in our country. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Governor Christie.
CARSON: Can I say something...
RADDATZ: We just covered — wait one second, Dr. Carson.
CARSON: Something about the draft. Very quickly.
RADDATZ: Very quickly.
CARSON: You know, 14 percent decrease in the number of people applying for voluntary military service, and I think part of it is because of the way that we treat our veterans. You know, we wouldn't be a free country if it wasn't for them, and we have 22 veterans per day committing suicide.
So, I think what we should do is have an external support system for people once they volunteer and it should follow them throughout their career, should follow them for three years, five years afterwards, a year before they get out, should be working on integrating them back into society, so that they quit on Friday and they start their new job. They should have health empowerment accounts that are subsidized so they can go to any medical facility and be taken care of. They can go to a V.A. if they want to.
But if we start taking care of our veterans the right way, we won't have to ever worry about a draft again. [applause]
RADDATZ: Thank you very much for bringing up that subject, Dr. Carson, of our veterans.
And for another question about our veterans, we go back to Josh McElveen from WMUR. Josh?
MCELVEEN: Thank you, Martha. None of you on stage tonight have ever worn a uniform as a member of the armed services. That's the reality of it. But as commander-in-chief, you'll also be charged with the care of 23 million active duty service members and veterans in this country.
Some have suggested privatizing the V.A. as a way to enhance care and increase the quality of the care and access. Others say that veterans should carry I.D. cards that allow them access to any hospital or health care provider. Governor Bush, what specifically would you do to ensure that those who have sacrificed for us are cared for?
BUSH: I totally agree that we need to give veterans more choices. A veterans card to be able to go to a private provider will enhance the quality of the service inside the Department of Veterans Affairs. We need career civil service reform. Only three people were fired after waiting lists were dropped where veterans didn't get care and people died. It is outrageous. And Hillary Clinton says that that's acceptable? Because she is captive of the public service uniforms.
Career civil service reform would allow the next president to fire people that are — that are showing sheer incompetence. At a town hall meeting today, someone came — told a story of their father who looked like he was 85. He had — he got a bill eight years later from an operation he had, eight years it took. They couldn't resolve the dispute and then he was told that he died. Literally, the Veterans Administration sent a death certificate to this guy and it took nine months to clarify the guy — I met him. He's voting for me. And he is — likely to be alive. [laughter] [applause]
This is — this is outrageous. It is completely outrageous. So, giving veterans more choices, creating centers of excellence, focusing on the true problems that exist. Dr. Carson is completely right. We need to start focusing on this earlier, before they become veterans so that there's a customized plan so people don't fall through the cracks. We can do this, but it's going to require someone who has proven leadership skills to make it happen. [applause]
MCELVEEN: Governor Kasich, do you have a favored approach?
KASICH: Josh, I mean, clearly, when a veteran comes home, they should get health care anywhere they want to go. In our state, which is what we should do in the country, you know, if they drive a truck from Kabul to Kandahar in Afghanistan, we say, you can drive a truck from Columbus to Cleveland, and you don't have to go get a license. We're going to hand you one.
And if you've got expertise in the military, we're going to give you college credit or community college credit for the things that you did for our country. And in addition to that, I'll tell you, one of the biggest things I think has to be done — and I would do it as president — the Pentagon has got to work with the returning soldier, sailor, along with the family, and we — they're the most valuable employees in the country. I call them golden employees.
Everybody wants to hire a veteran. But there is a disconnect between the job openings and the veteran when the veteran comes back. The veteran is a leader. The veteran is strong. The veteran is drug free. There should be no unemployment among veterans.
And if the Pentagon will work with the veterans' services agencies all across this country, Josh, we can get people jobs and we can get them jobs quickly, get them their health care...[bell rings]...get them their college education. Let's lift them. They're the greatest people defending the United States of America and we need to take care of them, and we will. We will. [applause]
MCELVEEN: Senator Rubio, go ahead?
RUBIO: Well, my brother's a veteran. We're very proud of him in our family. He served as a green beret in the 7th Special Forces from 1968 through 1971. And as part of his training, he jumped out of an airplane and he lost his two front teeth.
And for years, he's had to go to get these dental claims. And every times he goes to get one of these dental claims filled, the V.A. asks him, "well, how do we know you lost your teeth in the Army?" And he says, "well, it's the only time I ever jumped out of a plane." [laughter] But he's had to fight through this process, and I've watched it firsthand. That's why I'm proud that I worked in a bipartisan way. We passed the V.A. Accountability bill that, for the first time, allows us to fire — allows the V.A. secretary to fire someone who's not doing a good job, who's a senior executive.
And the governor's right. They've only fired three people up to now. More people will be fired if I'm president. But the portability part of it is incredibly important.
Veterans should be able to take their V.A. benefits to any hospital or any doctor they want to go to. When I am president of the United States, veterans will be able to take their benefits to any hospital or doctor that they choose. [applause]
MCELVEEN: Senator Rubio, thanks very much. Going to move forward now. David, Martha, back to you.
MUIR: Josh, thank you. I want to turn to a family that New Hampshire voters know quite well, and Senator Cruz, the issue of hostages has been a very real and painful one here in this state.
As we all know, James Foley was killed. His mother, Diane, said our government should be willing to negotiate, arguing that families should also be allowed to raise money for ransom. What would you say to Diane Foley tonight? Should families be allowed to raise money for ransom for their loved ones?
CRUZ: Well, look, I recognize it is an agonizing experience when anyone is facing a loved — loved member who's been kidnapped. But at the same time, putting in place legal regimes that encourage the payment of ransom has the effect of putting a bounty on other Americans. There is a reason it has been longstanding U.S. policy that we don't negotiate with terrorists, we don't pay ransoms.
If you look at what President Obama has done over and over again, whether it was the James Bergdahl deal, which was absolutely shameful, releasing five senior Taliban terrorists to bring Bergdahl back, or whether it was this recent deal with Iran, where, again, up to 21 terrorists or potential terrorists were — were released or not prosecuted in order to bring back four Americans, what that does — does is it effectively puts a bounty on American servicemen and women serving abroad, on American tourists traveling abroad.
And the proper approach...[bell rings]...is a president and commander in chief that defends this country and that goes after — goes after the terrorists, rather than showing them weakness and encouraging them to target more Americans.
MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you. Mr. Trump, what would you say to Diane Foley? Should families be allowed to raise money for ransom?
TRUMP: Well, I — I know Diane Foley very well. Her husband and — these are tremendous people. I spoke for them, I raised a lot of money for the foundation. I fully understand, James, one of — that was really the first that we saw, really visually saw — it was so horrible.
And I will tell you, though, with all of that being said, you can not negotiate this way with terrorists. If you do, you are going to have many, many more James Foleys.
James Foley was a great young man. His parents are incredible people. They've done such a good job, since his — since his death. But you just cannot negotiate that way with terrorists, or you're gonna have so many other James Foleys.
And one thing on the vets — during the last debate, I raised $6 million for the vets, and I will tell you something...[applause]...I will tell you that I think nobody here, nobody on this stage, gets along with the veterans groups in New Hampshire better than I do without ball (ph) to sarel (ph) and all of the people that I deal with and these are great people.
The one thing that we're not mentioning, there's tremendous fraud, waste and abuse in the Veterans Administration and if I'm running things, that's going to disappear...[bell rings]...and it's going to disappear quickly. [applause]
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you.
We want to turn now to social issues and young voters and for the question, from Mary Katherine.
HAM: Thank you David.
Senator Rubio. One of the lazier pieces of political conventional wisdom is that so-called social issues are hurting Republicans with young people. But on the two most prominent social issues, polling with millennials actually moves in different directions.
On one hand, it is clear, young people across the political spectrum increasingly favor same sex marriage. However young voters have not moved to the left on abortion. In fact, large numbers of them favor at least some modest restrictions that conservatives have supported. How do you speak to millennials on both these issues, while Democrats will inevitable charge intolerance and extremism?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I don't believe that believing in traditional marriage the way I do makes you a bigot or a hater. It means that you believe that this institution that's been around for millenial is an important cornerstone of society. I respect people that believe differently. But I believe deeply, that marriage should be between one man and one woman. [applause]
On the issue of life, to me, the issue of life is not a political issue. It's a human rights issue and it's a difficult issue, because it puts in conflict two competing rights. On the one hand is the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body which is a real right.
And on the other hand is the right of an unborn human child to live. And they're in conflict. And as a policy maker, I must choose which one of these two sides takes precedence. And I have chosen to err on the side of life.
Here's what I find outrageous. There has been five Democratic debates. The media has not asked them a single question on abortion and on abortion, the Democrats are extremists. Why doesn't the media ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that all abortion should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child.
Why don't they ask Hillary Clinton why she believe that partial- birth abortion, which is a gruesome procedure that has been outlawed in this country, she thinks that's a fundamental right. They are the extremists...[bell rings]...when it comes to the issue of abortion and I can't wait to expose them in a general election. [applause]
HAM: Governor Bush? I want to come to you. Your allies have recently attacked Senator Rubio for being too pro-life to be elected in November. You made a similar charge stating it in an interview. This is a pro-life party. Do you stand behind that criticism?
BUSH: Look, I'm pro-life. In fact, on this stage, I'm the most pro-life person because I've acted on it for eight years as governor of the state of Florida. [applause]
Where we abolished partial-birth abortion, where parents have the right to be notified when their teenage child is having an abortion. We were the first state to do a choose life license plate to raise money for adoption. We were the first state to have state monies go to crisis pregnancy centers, which recently was just increased to $4 million a year.
We created greater regulation on abortion clinics, where there were horrific procedures. So I'm pro life, but I believe there should be exceptions: rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. And so, that belief, and my consistency on this, makes me, I think, poised to be in the right place, the sweet spot for a Republican nominee. And others may have a different view and I respect it. [applause] BUSH: But I think we have to be cognizant of the fact there's a lot of people that are concerned about having a pro-life position without any exceptions. [applause]
RUBIO: I do support protection for the life of the mother because I'm pro-life. I just believe deeply that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. If I'm president and there's a bill that's passed that saves lives but it has exceptions, I'll sign it.
But I do believe deeply that all human life is worthy of the protection of laws. I've already said, for me, the issue of life is not a political issue and I want to be frank. I would rather lose an election than be wrong on the issue of life. [applause]
HAM: Governor Christie. You too, have talked about Senator Rubio's position on the life issue. Some conservative activists have called this line of attack harmful to the pro-life cause.
CHRISTIE: Well, I've been pretty helpful to the pro-life cause in one of the most pro-choice states in the union. I've stood up for the first time and now for the last six years we've de-funded Planned Parenthood, not talked about it like they do in Washington D.C.
But for six years as governor, Planned Parenthood does not receive that funding from the state budget anymore; over $50 million worth of money that's been saved now, that is not going to do exactly what Hillary Clinton wants to have done and has advocated for.
She believes that organization, which engages in the systematic murder of children in the womb, in order to maximize the value of their body parts for sale on the open market, is an acceptable position.
Let me tell you something, I don't care if you are a millennial or whether you are in your 90s, no one is for that type of activity, unless you are the most radical type of extremist on this issue, like Senator Clinton and her party is on this issue.
I'll say one other thing. The fact is, that I believe that if a woman has been raped, that is a birth and a pregnancy that she should be able to terminate. If she is the victim of incest — this is not a woman's choice. This is a woman being violated.
And the fact is that we have always has believed, as has Ronald Reagan, that we have self-defense for women who have been raped and impregnated because of it, or the subject of incest and been impregnated for it.
That woman should not have to deliver that child if they believe that violation is now an act of self-defense by terminating that pregnancy.
HAM: Thank you, all. Back to you, David and Martha. [applause]
MUIR: Mary Katherine, thank you.
We're going to have closing statements here in just a moment, but before we go, quick lightning round. Come November, two battle-ground states, but they face off tomorrow in the Super Bowl.
Governor Kasich, who wins? [laughter]
KASICH: Carolina's going to win that one. I hate to say it. But they're going to win that one.
MUIR: Governor Bush?
BUSH: Peyton Manning is supporting me. And I'm for Denver. [laughter]
MUIR: Senator Rubio?
RUBIO: Well, I was going for Peyton Manning, but now I'm rooting for Carolina. [laughter]
MUIR: [inaudible] Mr. Trump?
CRUZ: With an eye to February 20th, Carolina.
MUIR: All right, Dr. Carson?
CARSON: With 100 percent certainly, I will predict the winner — it will either be Denver or Carolina.
MUIR: Yeah. Governor Christie, the last word?
MUIR: Denver. Thank you so much, gentlemen.
Closing statements in just a moment, right here, as the ABC News Republican debate continues from New Hampshire, right after this.
MUIR: We welcome you back. The New Hampshire primary, of course, is Tuesday, but time now for closing statements. And we begin tonight with Governor Kasich.
KASICH: Well, folks, I've done now over 100 town hall meetings and I've loved every second of it. It has been the greatest thing in the world. And I want you to know that you've changed me, because I've listened to your stories and I've had your hugs and I've seen your tears, and I've seen you walk away and say, I now have hope.
You know, I've had a conservative message, but a positive message — not just a conservative message, but a positive message about how we can bring people together, how we can restore America's strength, lift everyone. New Hampshire, please give me a chance to carry this message forward to the United States of America. And then, I will come back. Thank you, loved it. And God bless you. [applause]
RADDATZ: Governor Christie.
CHRISTIE: Thank you. I've spent the last 13 years of my life focused on one thing: serving the people who have given me the opportunity to serve them. Not about politics, not about partisanship, but putting the people of my state and our country first.
I'm proud to have rebuild my state after Hurricane Sandy, and I'm incredibly proud to be on this stage tonight with these men asking for your vote.
New Hampshire, I spent 70 days here with you. You've gotten to know my heart. My heart is to help you solve the problems of your state...[bell rings]...and the problems of our nation. If you give me your vote on Tuesday I will do just that. [applause]
MUIR: Governor Bush.
BUSH: I want to thank the people of New Hampshire, and I want to celebrate the birthday of a great president, Ronald Reagan would have been 105 today. [applause]
President Reagan believed in the future of our country, believed in its greatness, had a hopeful, optimistic message. Drew people towards our cause. We need someone who has a proven record to take our case to the American people because our philosophy is by far the best one. Limited government, entrepreneurial capitalism, of peace through strength. I believe I have the skills to take our party to victory in November.
I ask for your support on Tuesday to keep America, and make America a safer, stronger, and freer. Thank you all very much. [applause]
RADDATZ: Dr. Carson.
CARSON: For many months, the political class, pundits, the media, have tried to ignore or bury me. They say that politics is too complex, and too sleazy. You can't survive. Well, guess what? I'm still here, and I'm not going any place either.
And, I believe there is still a place in our country for faith, integrity, and common sense. Hundreds of thousands of you drafted me to run for president...[bell rings]... And, I am going to with the help of God, and you, once again place the American people at the pinnacle with the government there to serve it. [applause]
MUIR: Thank you, Dr. Carson. Senator Rubio.
RUBIO: Thank you. You know, this week I had the great pleasure of having my kids join me on the campaign trail. I hadn't' seen them in a while, and it was great to have them alongside me, but the most important part of it is that it once again reminded me of what's at stake.
Here in New Hampshire in less than 72 hours, we are literally deciding what kind of country we will be like when they are my age. What kind of country they will be able to raise their families in. And, that's why I'm asking you for your vote. You vote for me, and we will unite this party, we will grow the conservative movement, we will defeat Hillary Clinton, and we will leave our children what our parents left us. The single greatest nation in the history of all mankind.
Thank you. [applause]
RADDATZ: Senator Cruz.
CRUZ: You know, every candidate running for president says they will stand up to Washington. The natural follow up question is when have you ever stood up to Washington.
Last week we saw a powerful illustration of that. I campaigned in the state of Iowa four-square against the ethanol mandate, something everyone said was political suicide. My two leading competitors both attacked me for it. The governor of the state said vote for anyone but Cruz, and lobbyists spent millions of dollars in attack ads, but I stood and said we should have no mandates, a level playing field, and the people of Iowa put country and our children above the cronyism and corporate welfare...[bell rings]... We can turn this country around if we get back to the Constitution. And, I will always stand with the American people against the bipartisan corruption of Washington. [applause]
MUIR: Thank you. Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: That's because he got Ben Carson's votes, by the way, but we won't [inaudible]. Our country that we love so much doesn't win anymore. We don't win with the military, we don't' win on the border. You look at New Hampshire with the tremendous problem we have with heroin. Number one thing I hear from the people of New Hampshire, who I love, and developed such relationships, we don't win with healthcare. We don't win with trade.
You look at what other countries are doing to us. China. Everyone, they're killing us on trade. If I'm elected president, we will win, and we will win, and we will win. Thank you, thank you very much. [applause]
MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. Thanks to all the candidates on the stage here tonight. We thank the people of Manchester, New Hampshire for having this debate, and to everyone at home. The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday.