CNN Teaparty GOP debate: September 12, 2011 (Rick Perry, Romney, Bachmann, Ron Paul)

Tonight CNN will be conducting a GOP debate in conjunction with the Teaparty Express organization. Feel free to leave comments below before, during or after the debate. This post will be updated after a transcript becomes available.

Participants: Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum.

Suggested reading: Tea Party Patriots admit immigration "isn't an issue for us", all the dozens of other posts showing why the tea parties are a pernicious group, the links in the list of candidates above, CNN, Wolf Blitzer, debates, and some questions in my Twitter feed: @24AheadDotCom_ . There's no chance at all that CNN is going to really press any of the candidates on anything that would make the establishment uncomfortable, specifically immigration and trade. Nor is there any chance that CNN will really press them on the fringe, LibertarianLite ideas of the teapartiers.

UPDATE: I listed the wrong set of tools earlier: CNN joined with the Teaparty Express, not the Teaparty "Patriots". The former group is even more transparently bogus than the second, and many fervent teapartiers don't consider Express to be an echt group at all due to them being controlled by a GOP operative.

UPDATE 2: This was, as I predicted, yet another CNN disgrace. One of the questions from a teapartier simply asked the candidates "My question is, what would you do to get the economy moving forward? Do you have a plan? And, if so, what is it?" They already have plans: those plans are on their websites, they've discussed the plans in speeches, and those like Bachmann are legislators with a long public record to the present day. The teapartier who asked that question simply wasted everyone's time. That question might be important to her, but what's important to the U.S. is that we find out the details and downsides of their plans. To a teapartier, what's important to the U.S. doesn't matter all that much. And, of course, asking candidates such worthless questions allows CNN to avoid asking tough questions.

An equally bad question was asked by yet another teapartier: "What would you to do remove the illegal immigrants from our country?" First, they're illegal aliens, not immigrants. Second, that question is a bit "harsh". And, third, the question simply allowed the candidates to launch into stock speeches. Which does a better service to the U.S.: someone who doesn't know that much about immigration asking questions, or someone who does asking questions?

In his response to the teapartier, Santorum didn't exactly answer how he intends to reduce the number of illegal aliens in the U.S., he just supported immigration enforcement until the border is secure. Then, apparently he'd be open to some form of legalization (see comprehensive immigration reform, aka amnesty).

Then, Perry simply discussed border enforcement, without discussing what if anything he intends to do about those illegal aliens already here. He also came out yet again against a full border fence. Santorum was then asked how he intends to attract Latino voters. Instead of challenging the assumption of voting one's race, Santorum brought up Rick Perry's plan to give illegal aliens in-state tuition. He made a (probably intentional) gaffe: "Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote -- I mean, the Latino voters. " Which isn't smart because it will be used against him rather than simply playing it straight (assuming it was intentional).

Then, Rick Perry played the race card, twice:

PERRY: In the state of Texas, if you've been in the state of Texas for three years, if you're working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there.

And the bottom line is it doesn't make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way. No matter how you got into that state, from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you. And that's what we've done in the state of Texas. And I'm proud that we are having those individuals be contributing members of our society rather than telling them, you go be on the government dole.

BLITZER: You heard some boos there. But go ahead, Congresswoman Bachmann, is that basically the DREAM Act that President Obama wants as well?

BACHMANN: Yes, it's very similar. And I think that the American way is not to give taxpayer subsidized benefits to people who have broken our laws or who are here in the United States illegally. That is not the American way. Because the immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws.

What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket legally with sponsors so that if anything happens to them, they don't fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them. And then they also have to agree to learn the speak the English language, learn American history and our constitution. That's the American way.

BLITZER: I'm going to bring Governor Huntsman here. But go ahead, Governor Perry.

PERRY ; I'm not for the DREAM Act that they are talking about in Washington D.C. that is amnesty. What we did in the state of Texas was clearly a states right issue. And the legislature passed with only four dissenting votes in the House and the Senate to allow this to occur.

We were clearly sending a message to young people, regardless of what the sound of their last name is, that we believe in you. That if you want to live in the state of Texas and you want to pursue citizenship, that we're going to allow you the opportunity to be contributing members in the state of Texas and not be a drag on our state.

What Perry supports results in illegal aliens taking college slots and discounts away from U.S. citizens. He's presenting not doing that as racial, when it's a simply matter of being more loyal to your fellow citizens than to foreign citizens. Needless to say, neither Blitzer nor the other candidates called him on that. It's true that the DREAM Act grants amnesty unlike state laws, but the impact on U.S. citizens vis-a-vis depriving them of college is similar.

Then, Huntsman accused Perry of treason:

BLITZER: Hold on a second, Governor Huntsman, you also signed legislation in Utah that gave driving privileges to illegal immigrants. Was that a good idea?

HUNTSMAN: Well, first of all, let me say for Rick to say that you can't secure the border I think is pretty much a treasonous comment.

MALE: I didn't hear that.

HUNTSMAN: Rick, we can secure the border. We can secure the border through means of fences, through technology, through the deployment of our National Guard troops, we can get it done. In fact, when the elected president of the United States, I would work with you and the other three border governors to ensure that through your law enforcement officials you can verify that that border is secure.

But I will tell you before Wolf here directs a question, they were given a driver's license before and they were using that for identification purposes. And I thought that was wrong. Instead we issued a driver privilege card, which in our state allowed our economy to continue to function. And it said in very bold letters, not to be used for identification purposes. It was a pragmatic local government driven fix and it proved that the tenth amendment works.

We believe in local fixes and solutions.

The bottom line is that the law Huntsman supported enabled illegal immigration, and to help his state's economy.

Then, there was this bit of fantasy from Romney:

BLITZER: All right. Governor Romney, do you have a problem with either what Governor Huntsman did in Utah or Governor Perry did in Texas?

ROMNEY: yeah with both, actually. The question began by saying how do we attract Latino voters. And the answer is by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or their ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they'd be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that's what we represent. And that's why we'll win collecting support from Latinos across the country.

With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a fence and of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America's great beneficence.

And with regards to giving driver's licenses to people that are here illegally, that creates a patina of legal status. There are sanctuary cities in some parts of the country.

One of the things I did in my state was to say, look, I'm going to get my state police authorized to be able to enforce immigration laws and make sure those people who we arrest are put in jail, to find out they're here illegally, we're going to get them out of here.

We have to recognize that this is the party that believes in supporting the law. We're going to enforce the law. We're the party of opportunity, we're also the party of legal law abiding citizens. And that's something we're going to attract people of all backgrounds.

Few people come here just to go on the dole. However, Hispanics as a whole are very supportive of social welfare spending. Some Hispanics (Cuban-Americans) are rightwing-leaning, others aren't (Mexican-Americans). The latter makes up the bulk of Hispanics in the U.S., and it's foolish for Romney to pretend otherwise. The rest of Romney's comment isn't that bad, it's just not strong enough and it's not clear whether he actually believes in any of that strongly.


PERRY: As I said it earlier, we basically had a decision to make. Are we going to give people an incentive to be contributing members of this society or are we going to tell them no, we're going to put you on the government dole? In the state of Texas, and this is a states right issue, if in Massachusetts you didn't want to do that or Utah you didn't want to do this, that's fine. But in the state of Texas where Mexico has a clear and a long relationship with this state, we decided it was in the best interest of those young people to give them the opportunity to go on to college and to have the opportunity. They're pursuing citizenship in this country rather than saying, you know, we're going to put you over here and put you on the government dole for the rest of your life. We don't think that was the right thing to do. And it's working. And it's working well in the state of Texas.

That's a false choice. As detailed here for years, Perry and other border state governors could have easily pressed DC to increase immigration enforcement just as Jan Brewer has done over the last year or so. The last thing Perry would want is to shut down the flow of cheap labor from Mexico which benefits his benefactors.

Finally in the immigration segment:

BLITZER: I know you want to respond, too, because he said that what you did in Utah was a mistake giving driving privileges to illegal immigrants.

HUNTSMAN: I think we can spend all night talking about where Mitt's been on all the issues of the day. And that would take forever. But let me just say that all the Latino voters, Hispanic voters want is opportunity, can we say that? The greatest thing that we can do for the people in this country is -- on illegal immigration is fix homeland security.

I mean, when are we going to have an honest conversation in this country about the root causes. We can't process people. The H1B visa process is broken. We need to bring in brain power to this country to shore up our economic might. We need to bring in foreign capital to raise real estate prices as well.

We need a fixed Department of Homeland Security.

See skilled immigration and H1B. And, as mentioned above, the opportunity that most Hispanics want may not be consistent with GOP principles: most will support a strong redistributionist policy rather than the go-it-alone spirit of the current GOP. As for the last line, apparently Huntsman wants to relive the mortgage mess.

UPDATE 3: The earlier debate video went away, so I added a video of the full debate.

UPDATE 4: Trying yet another video. Other videos at and .