CNN Republican Presidential Debate November 22, 2011 (Heritage, AEI, Washington DC, GOP, Romney, Gingrich, Cain, Perry, Ron Paul, Bachmann, Santorum, Huntsman)
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The long series of worthless GOP debates continues with yet another from CNN tonight in Washington DC. It will be moderated by Wolf Blitzer and is being held in conjunction with the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. The horse race starts at 8pm Eastern.
Like the one just 10 days ago, tonight's debate will focus on national security and foreign policy. If CNN were actually interested in hashing out the best policies, they'd have people whose policies are opposite those on stage quiz them. Instead - aside from Ron Paul - those on stage will fundamentally agree with both Heritage and AEI, and the supposed debate will be little more than an echo chamber. Expect Paul's concerns - some of which might be valid - to be marginalized by all others present.
Feel free to leave comments below before, during or after the debate. This post will be updated after a transcript becomes available.
Suggested reading: the links in the list of candidates above, debates, and most importantly of all the alternative to bogus political debates. That plan would ensure that the presidential candidates promote vetted policies with only known side-effects. All the debates so far simply allow candidates to give their stock speeches without being challenged on the flaws in their plans.
UPDATE: A transcript of the immigration portion follows, and it underlines just how fake this and all the other debates are. The candidates just gave stock speeches, and CNN got their gotcha moment as Newt Gingrich said this (see more below):
And I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.
The "create legality" part has already been shown wanting in the entries on the Newt Gingrich page. The rest of that statement could have been shown wanting if there had been anyone around who could engage Gingrich on this issue. What he's doing is promoting policies that will make things even worse and encourage more family separations by encouraging more people to come here illegally. He's complaining about a situation he'd make worse.
Rick Perry repeated his tires spiel about securing the border, "boots on the ground", all the things he's said many times before. He's also previously pledged to secure the border within a year.
Ron Paul would tie reducing illegal immigration to ending the welfare state, something that is never going to happen. Ron Paul's ideas about that are not based in reality.
Cain presented something that wouldn't "solve the whole problem" by a long shot. Simply securing the border wouldn't do anything about Fifth Columnists like Gil Cedillo or the far more powerful racial power group the National Council of La Raza and others of their ilk. The high immigration Cain supports would lead to networks that future illegal aliens would take advantage of and would form a power base for the Democrats and the far-left.
Then, Blitzer asked about skilled immigration. See the link for the aspects of that that you'll never hear on CNN. Santorum engaged in Ron Paul-style magical thinking, Reaganesquely saying that the financial activity created by the innovation of skilled immigrant would "trickle down to blue-collar workers" and giving a shout-out to dealing with "income mobility".
Then, Gingrich said his bit above, supported skilled immigration, and pointed out that he voted for the 1986 amnesty. However, what you won't hear from virtually anyone else is that he also promoted Helen Krieble's absurd Red Card immigration plan. See that link for a long discussion of just some of the very many things wrong with it. As with everything else that happens in debates, that illustrates exactly why we need policy debates with experts able to ask the candidates real questions. Wolf Blitzer doesn't know Helen Krieble from Alex Trebek, but someone like Mark Krikorian does and could walk Gingrich through all the problems with it.
Note that Gingrich said he wanted comprehensive immigration reform, which contradicts his earlier piecemeal approach. He also yet again came out in support of the anti-American DREAM Act (see the links).
Bachmann, like the others, supported skilled immigration.
The only one who at least talks slightly strong on this issue was Romney. I don't mean the fake strong like Cain, but actually ever so slightly strong and with ideas that might fly. Of course, Romney is just as fake as all the rest and would push amnesty - whether called that or Comprehensive Immigration Reform or Guest Workers or Red Cards or whatever - just as strongly as all the rest.
We need real debates, and we need real candidates who represent the opinions of the majority of Americans on this subject.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the historic Constitution Hall here in Washington, D.C. We're at the CNN Republican National Security Debate. Let's go right to the audience. We have a question. Please, give us your name and your organization.
TRULUCK: Thank you. My name is Phil Truluck. I'm executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Heritage Foundation. And I'd like to thank all the candidates for joining us tonight. I know some of you may want to be in other places, but we appreciate you being here and sharing your views with us.
Let's -- I'd like to turn it back a little bit, a little closer to home, and talk about what's going on on the borders, our southern border. As all of you know, the drug-related crimes and violence are getting heavier and heavier in that area. First, do you consider that to be a national interest threat? And, secondly, what could we be doing with the Mexican government to help stop these drug cartels?
BLITZER: Let's go to Governor Perry. You represent the state with the longest border with Mexico right now. What do you think you should do, if you were President of the United States, as far as using the United States military?
PERRY: Well, let me kind of broaden it out. I think it's time for a 21st century Monroe Doctrine. When you think about what we put in place in the -- in the 1820s, and then we used it again in the 1960s with the Soviet Union. We're seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico, as well as Iran, with their ploy to come into the United States.
We know that Hugo Chavez and the Iranian government has one of the largest -- I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.
So putting that secure border in place with strategic fencing, with the boots on the ground, with the aviation assets, and then working with Mexico in particular, whether it's putting sanctions against the banks, whether it's working with them on security with Mexico, all of those together can make that country substantially more secure and our borders secure.
As the President of the United States, I will promise you one thing, that within 12 months of the inaugural, that border will be shut down, and it will be secure.
BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you're from Texas. Do you agree with your governor?
PAUL: Not entirely.
PAUL: No, the drug was mentioned. I think that's another war we ought to cancel, because it's...
PAUL: ... to nobody's benefit. And that's where the violence is coming from. But, yes, we do have a national responsibility for our borders. What I'm, sort of, tired of is all the money spent and lives lost worrying about the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan and forgetting about our borders between the United States and Mexico. We should think more about, you know, what we do at home.
We need better immigration services, obviously. But, you know, if you subsidize something or give people incentives, you get more of it. So if you give easy road to citizenship, you're going to have more illegals. If you have a weak economy, which is understandable and we should have prevented, that's understandable.
But giving -- mandating to the states and to Texas that we have to provide free medical care and free education, that's a great burden. It's a great burden to California and all the border states.
So I would say eliminate all these benefits and talk about eliminating the welfare state because it's detrimental not only to here but the people that come because that's the incentive to bring their families with them.
BLITZER: But I just want you to clarify. When you say cancel the war on drugs, does that mean legalize all these drugs? PAUL: I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure.
You can -- you can at least let sick people have marijuana because it's helpful, but compassionate conservatives say, well, we can't do this; we're going to put people who are sick and dying with cancer and they're being helped with marijuana, if they have multiple sclerosis -- the federal government's going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison.
Why don't we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol? Alcohol is a deadly drug. What about -- the real deadly drugs are the prescription drugs. They kill a lot more people than the illegal drugs.
So the drug war is out of control. I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spend -- like, over the last 40 years, $1 trillion on this war. And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn't worked.
BLITZER: Herman Cain, let me let you...
... weigh in.
CAIN: Yes. Allow me to answer the gentleman's question. The answer is yes. An insecure border is a national security threat for the following reasons.
Number one, we know that terrorists have come into this country by way of Mexico. Secondly, 40 percent of the people in Mexico, according to a survey, already believe that their country is a failed state. Thirdly, the number of people killed in Mexico last year equals the number of people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
So yes, so let's solve the whole problem. Number one, secure the border for real. Number two, enforce the laws that are already there. We don't need new laws. Number three, promote the current path to citizenship. Clean up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. so people can come through the front door instead of sneaking in the side door. And, number four, to deal with the illegals that are already here, empower the states to do what the federal government is not capable of doing.
BLITZER: Let's stay on this subject. Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: I have a question about high-skilled immigration. We hear a lot about low-skilled immigration, so I want to ask you about high-skilled immigration.
What would you do to ensure that the United States is as welcoming as possible to the world's skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs?
BLITZER: Senator Santorum?
SANTORUM: Well, as the son of a legal immigrant to this country, I strongly believe in legal immigration and believe we are that shining city on the hill, that our future -- if you look at all of the jobs that are being created in our economy today, a huge percentage of them come from the legal immigrants of this county -- country who have innovated, who created great products, who created great companies and employed lots of people.
That's one of the reasons that -- that I put together my economic plan, was to take all that great innovation that's coming as a result, in part, of legal immigration and make sure that those products that are being created are actually made here in America.
That's part of the problem that -- you know, Reaganomics was criticized as trickle-down. Problem is, we're not seeing that money trickle down to the blue-collar workers in America. And that's why I put forth a four-point economic plan to revitalize manufacturing that begins with zeroing out the corporate tax for manufacturers; also, regulatory reform, repatriation of profits, if invested in this country, to pay no taxes; and finally, energy policy that will explode the energy industry in this country.
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We do those things, we'll not only have the innovation, which I support, coming from legal -- legal immigrants, but we'll have that money trickle down to blue-collar workers and we can see that income mobility that a lot of people are right in that is not happening in America.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Speaker Gingrich, let me let you broaden out this conversation. Back in the '80s -- and you remember this well. I was covering you then. Ronald Reagan and you -- you voted for legislation that had a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as you well remember. There were, what, maybe 12 million, 10 million -- 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States right now.
Some called it amnesty then; they still call it amnesty now. What would you do if you were President of the United States, with these millions of illegal immigrants, many of whom have been in this country for a long time?
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me start and just say I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here.
GINGRICH: You know, about five blocks down the street, you'll see a statue of Einstein. Einstein came here as an immigrant. So let's be clear how much the United States has drawn upon the world to be richer, better and more inclusive.
I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it -- and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.
We got neither. So I think you've got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said. I believe ultimately you have to find some system -- once you've put every piece in place, which includes the guest worker program, you need something like a World War II Selective Service Board that, frankly, reviews the people who are here. If you're here -- if you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. period. If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.
The Creeble Foundation is a very good red card program that says you get to be legal, but you don't get a pass to citizenship. And so there's a way to ultimately end up with a country where there's no more illegality, but you haven't automatically given amnesty to anyone.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you agree with the speaker?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don't agree that you would make 11 million workers legal, because that, in effect, is amnesty. And I also don't agree that you would give the DREAM Act on a federal level. And those are two things that I believe that the speaker had been for, and he can speak for himself.
But those are two areas that I don't agree with. What I do think, though, is what Steve -- what Steve Jobs said to President Obama. He had said to President Obama that he had to move a great deal of his operation over to China because he couldn't find 30,000 engineers to be able to do the work that needed to be done.
That's what we want to do. We do want to have people. And I agree with the speaker, people like chemists and engineers, and people who are highly skilled.
We think about the United States and what's in the best interests of the United States. If we can utilize these workers, like Steve jobs wanted to, then we need to offer those visas. That will help the United States. But I don't agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal.
BLITZER: Let me let the speaker respond to that.
GINGRICH: Well, I mean, two things, first of all, in the DREAM Act, the one part that I like is the one which allows people who came here with their parents to join the U.S. military, which they could have done if they were back home, and if they serve on it with the U.S. military to acquire citizenship, which is something any foreigner can do.
And I don't see any reason to punish somebody who came here at three years of age, but who wants to serve the United States of America. I specifically did not say we'd make the 11 million people legal.
I do suggest if you go back to your district, and you find people who have been here 25 years and have two generations of family and have been paying taxes and are in a local church, as somebody who believes strongly in family, you'll have a hard time explaining why that particular subset is being broken up and forced to leave, given the fact that they've been law-abiding citizens for 25 years.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you want to respond?
BACHMANN: If I understood correctly, I think the speaker just said that that would make 11 people -- 11 million people who are here illegally now legal. That's really the issue that we're dealing with. And also, it would be the DREAM Act, the federal DREAM Act, which would offer taxpayer-subsidized benefits to illegal aliens. We need to move away from magnets (ph), not offer more.
BLITZER: Let's broaden it out.
Governor Romney, where do you stand? Are you with the speaker, that some of those illegal immigrants -- I think -- he didn't say all -- some of them, if they have roots, they belong to a church, for example, should be allowed to stay in this country?
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, amnesty is a magnet. What when we have had in the past, programs that have said that if people who come here illegally are going to get to stay illegally for the rest of their life, that's going to only encourage more people to come here illegally.
The right course for our immigration system is to say we welcome people who want to come here legally. We're going to have a system that makes that easier and more transparent. But to make sure we're able to bring in the best and brightest -- and, by the way, I agree with the speaker in terms of -- I'd staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who's got a degree of math, science, a Masters degree, Ph.D.
We want those brains in our country. But in order to bring people in legally we've got to stop illegal immigration. That means turning off the magnets of amnesty, in-state tuition for illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire people that have come here illegally.
We welcome legal immigration. This is a party, this is a party that loves legal immigration. But we have to stop illegal immigration for all the reasons the questioner raised, which is, it is bringing in people who in some cases can be terrorists, in other cases they become burdens on our society.
And we have to finally have immigration laws that protect our border, secure the border, turn off the magnets, and make sure we have people come to this country legally to build our economy.
BLITZER: Just to precise, and I'll give Speaker Gingrich a chance to respond. Are you saying that what he's proposing, giving amnesty in effect, or allowing some of these illegal immigrants to stay, is a magnet that would entice others to come to this country illegally?
ROMNEY: There's no question. But to say that we're going to say to the people who have come here illegally that now you're all going to get to stay or some large number are going to get to stay and become permanent residents of the United States, that will only encourage more people to do the same thing.
People respond to incentives. And if you can become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you'll do so. What I want to do is bring people into this country legally, particularly those that have education and skill that allows us to compete globally. (APPLAUSE)
GINGRICH: I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who have been here a quarter century, who have children and grandchildren, who are members of the community, who may have done something 25 years ago, separate them from their families, and expel them.
I do believe if you've been here recently and have no ties to the U.S., we should deport you. I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties for employers, but I would urge all of you to look at the Krieble Foundation Plan.
I don't see how the -- the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.
BLITZER: Governor Perry, are you with the speaker or with the governor, Governor Romney?
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here we go again, Mitt. You and I standing by each other again and you used the words about the magnets. And that's one of the things that we obviously have to do is to stop those magnets for individuals to come in here.
But the real issue is securing that border. And this conversation is not ever going to end until we get the border secure. But I do think that there is a way. That after we secure that border that you can have a process in place for individual who are law- abiding citizens who have done only one thing, as Newt says, 25 years ago or whatever that period of time was, that you can put something in place that basically continues to keep those families together.
But the idea that we're having this long and lengthy conversation here, until we have a secure border is just an intellectual exercise. You've got to secure the border first. And I know how to do that. I've been dealing with it for 10 years.
And we have to put the boots on the ground and the aviation assets in place, and secure that border once and for all, and be committed to it. BLITZER: Let me let Governor Romney respond.
ROMNEY: Yes, I don't disagree with what Governor Perry indicated. Certainly we have to secure the border. And we talk about people who have been here 25 years, that is the extreme exception...
BLITZER: You would let them stay.
ROMNEY: ... not the rule.
BLITZER: You would let them stay?
ROMNEY: I'm not going to start drawing lines here about who gets to stay and who get to go. The principle is that we are not going to have an amnesty system that says that people who come here illegally get to stay for the rest of their life in this country legally.
The answer is we're going to have a system that gives people who come legally a card that identifies them as coming here legally. Employers are going to be expected to inspect that card, see if they're here legally. On that basis we're going to be able to bring you to this country.
The number of people that we need to power our industries, whether that's agriculture or high tech, we welcome people in here with visa programs. We have a whole series of legal programs. But the idea of focusing a Republican debate on amnesty and who we're going to give it to, is a huge mistake.
Secure our border, protect legal immigration, and return to a system that follows the law.