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3rd Debate

Page history last edited by Mike 10 years, 10 months ago

3rd Republican Debate

 

Governor Romney, I wanted to start by asking you a question on which every American has formed an opinion. We’ve lost 3,400 troops; civilian casualties are even higher, and the Iraqi government does not appear ready to provide for the security of its own country.

 

Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will, and what I mean by that — or a null set. And that is that if you’re saying let’s turn back the clock, and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in. I supported the president’s decision based on what we knew at that time. I think we were underprepared and underplanned for what came after we knocked down Saddam Hussein.

 

By the way, Harry Reid was wrong. We did not lose the war in Iraq. And that’s not the sort of thing you say when you have men and women in harm’s way.

 

We did, however, not do a great job after we knocked down Saddam Hussein and won the war to take him down, and his military. And at this stage, the right thing for us to do is to see if we can possibly stabilize the central government in Iraq so that they can have stability and so we can bring our troops home as soon as possible.

 

Not to do that adds an enormous potential risk that the whole region could be embroiled in a regional conflict.

 


Would you use a tactical nuclear weapons to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb?

Governor Romney, I want to get you on the record. Do you agree with the mayor, the governor, others here, that the use of tactical nuclear weapons, potentially, would be possible if that were the only way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: You don’t take options off the table. But what you do is stand back and say, “What’s going on here?” Do you see what’s happening in Sudan and Afghanistan, in Iraq and Iraq? All over the world we’re seeing the same thing happening, and that is, people are testing the United States of America.

 

And we have to make sure they understand that we’re not arrogant. We have resolve. And we have the strength to protect our interests and to protect people who love liberty. For that to happen, we’re going to have not just to attack each one of these problems one by one, but say, “How do we help move the world of Islam so that the moderate Muslims can reject the extreme?” And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a strong military and an effort to combine with our allies in such a way —

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: — that we combine for an effort to help move Islam towards modernity.

 

That’s what we’re going to have to do instead of looking at each theater one by one and saying: We’ll bomb here, we’ll attack here, we’ll go to Sudan.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: I watched the Democrats. They don’t think there’s a war on terror.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: There is a war going on, and we need a broad response to make sure that these people have a different vision.

 

MR. BLITZER: All right. Thank you, Governor. (Applause.)

 

 


How do you respond to McCain's accusation that you are pandering on immigration?

 

I want to get to Senator McCain in a moment. But first, Governor Romney, Senator McCain has accused you of flip-flopping on this issue, in effect. Yesterday in Miami, he said the following: “Pandering for votes on this issue while offering no solution to the problem amounts to doing nothing, and doing nothing is silent amnesty.”

 

What do you say to Senator McCain?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, he’s my friend. He campaigned for me two times and I consider him a friend. I’m not going to make this a matter of personal politics. It’s an issue that’s way too important for that.

 

My view is that we should enforce immigration laws. And this bill, unfortunately, has at least one provision that’s a real problem. It’s the Z visa. And what it allows is people who’ve come here illegally to stay here for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily as citizens; they have to wait 13 years to become citizens. That’s not the point.

 

The point is, every illegal alien, almost every one, under this bill gets to stay here. That’s not fair to the millions and millions of people around the world that would love to come here —

 

MR. BLITZER: All right.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: — and join with family members, bring skill and education that we need. It’s simply not fair to say those people get put ahead in the line of all the people who’ve been waiting legally to come to this country.

 

MR. BLITZER: All right. (Applause.)


Governor Romney, what would you do with the 12 million or so illegal immigrants who are right now in this country?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, one is to enforce the law as it exists. The law that was passed in 1986 — (applause) — the law passed in 1986 asked for us to secure the border and said also to put in place an employment verification system. Neither one of those was done. So let’s make sure that we enforce the law as it exists.

And if you want to improve this bill, well, one thing you could do to make it better is to take that Z visa and make it temporary, instead of a permanent right to stay in America. That’s simply just not fair. (Applause.)

 


 

Why should people who oppose abortion believe you are pro-life?

 

MR. BLITZER: You made, Governor Romney, this decision on abortion, opposing abortion, relatively recently.

 

Why should conservatives out there, people who oppose abortion believe you?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, people can look at my record. I’m not going to apologize for the fact that I became pro-life. I served as governor; as I was governor, as we were debating cloning and as we were debating also embryo farming, I said Roe v. Wade has gone too far. I want to make it very clear that I’m pro-life. People here in New Hampshire have seen that I’ve fought for life. I fought also for a traditional marriage, to keep taxes down, to have education in our schools that includes abstinence education. I’ve fought for English immersion in our schools. I know that I’ve got conservative credentials, and that’s one of the things that brings me to this race.

 

But there’s something bigger in conservatism that I don’t think we’ve spoken about, and that is that America is a land of opportunity, and our future is going to be far brighter than our past, not just as we overcome these challenges, but as we take advantage of the new opportunity of the 21st century.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you very much, Governor. (Applause.)

 


Governor Romney, there was a recent poll here in New Hampshire. Ten percent said they wouldn’t vote for you because you’re a Mormon. And last week we saw that picture of that man who refused to shake your hand because you are a Mormon.

 

What would you like to say to the voters out there tonight about your faith, about yourself and about God?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, President Kennedy some time ago said he was not a Catholic running for president; he was an American running for president. And I’m happy — a proud member of my faith.

 

You know, I think it’s a fair question for people to ask, “What do you believe?” And I think, as you want to understand what I believe, you could recognize that the values that I have are the same values you’ll find in faiths across this country.

 

I believe in God, believe in the Bible, believe Jesus Christ is my savior. I believe that God created man in his image. I believe that the freedoms of man derive from inalienable rights that were given to us by God. And I also believe that there are some pundits out there that are hoping that I’ll distance myself from my church so that that’ll help me politically, and that’s not going to happen. (Applause.)

 


I want Governor Romney to weigh in as well. There’s a perception, at least among some, that Republicans are — at least the Republican Party — very close to big oil. A lot of Americans are suffering now from the price of gasoline, the high price of gasoline.

 

What do you say to that — the audience out there who believes that there’s too much of an alliance, if you will, between the big oil companies and Republicans?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, first of all, Rudy Giuliani is right in terms of an Apollo project to get us energy independent, and the effects of that on global warming are positive. It’s a no-regrets policy. It’s a great idea.

 

Secondly, with regards to big oil, big oil is making a lot of money right now, and I’d like to see them using that money to invest in refineries. Don’t forget that when companies earn profit, that money is supposed to be reinvested in growth. And our refineries are old. Someone said to me — Matt Simons, an investment banker down in Houston, he said our refineries today are rust with paint holding them up. And we need to see these companies, if they’re making that kind of money, reinvest in capital equipment.

 

But let’s not forget, where the money is being made this year is not just — throughout these years is not just in Exxon and Shell and the major oil companies, it’s in the countries that own this oil. Russia last year took in $500 billion by selling oil. Ahmadinejad, Putin, Chavez — these people are getting rich off of people buying too much oil. And that’s why we have to pursue, as a strategic imperative, energy independence for America. And it takes that Apollo project. It also takes biodiesel, biofuel, ethanol —

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: — cellulosic ethanol, nuclear power, more drilling in ANWR. We have to be serious also about efficiency —

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: — and that’s going to allow us to become energy independent.

 


 

Do you believe that gays should be able to serve openly in the military

 

Governor Romney, the mayor referred to the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which was implemented during the Clinton administration, after Bill Clinton became president.

 

In 1994 you were quoted as saying that you advocated gays being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military. The question to you is, do you still feel that way?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: No, actually, when I first heard of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, I thought it sounded awfully silly. I didn’t think that would be very effective. And I turned out to be wrong. It’s been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. And I agree with what Mayor Giuliani said: that this is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on. I wouldn’t change it at this point. We can look at down the road.

 

But it does seem to me that we have much bigger issues as a nation we ought to be talking about than that policy right now.

 


 

What do you say to conservatives who are critical of your health care plan?

 

Governor Romney, you worked with the Democrats in the state legislature in your home state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You worked with Ted Kennedy to come up with a program that provides some — that mandates, in effect, the individual health insurance coverage. Some conservatives say this is simply big government, more liberal involvement in people’s lives.

 

What do you say to those conservatives who are critical of the way you handled this issue in Massachusetts?

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Well, I want to talk to the people, not just to those conservatives who are critical, and the people of this country recognize that they got some real concerns in health care. And I learned after I was governor a short of period of time, I talked to people, and they say, “If I lose my job, I’m worried I’ll lose my insurance, and my insurance premiums are getting higher and higher and higher.”

 

And I talked to small business people, and they said, “I can’t afford the policies anymore.”

 

And we said: You know what? We got to find a way to get everybody insured. And the last thing we want is to have the government take over health care, because anything they take over gets worse, not better. We’re not going to turn to Washington, because Washington makes a mess. Washington’s all talk.

 

We said: We need to find a way to get everybody in our state insured with private insurance. The half a million who didn’t have insurance, all the people worried that if they lost their job, they’d lose insurance — we said we got to find a way to get them insured without raising taxes, without a government takeover, and that’s what we did.

 

MR. BLITZER: (Off mike.) Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: It relies on personal responsibility.

 

This is a big issue for this country. Every Democrat up there’s talking about a form of socialized medicine, government takeover, massive tax increase. We have to stand up and not just talk about it.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you. . Governor Mitt Romney: I’m the guy who actually tackled this issue. We get all of our citizens insured. We get people that were uninsured with private health insurance. We have to stand up and say the market works. Personal responsibility works.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: We’re going to have insurance for all of our citizens they can afford, that’s theirs, that’s portable.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: They never have to worry about losing it.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: That’s the answer.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you, Governor. (Applause.)

 


 

Why are you airing ads in Spanish if you think English should be the official language?

 

Do you have a question tonight for Governor Romney?

 

Q Yes, I do.

 

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for joining us tonight in beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire; however, my question is for Governor Romney exclusively.

 

You’ve been accused of — you’ve been accused of flip-flopping on immigration. Just earlier tonight, you indicated that you said that you’d want the national language of the United States to be English. However, why are you airing ads in Spanish?

 

MS. VAUGHN: Governor, let me also add something on this. Your campaign also provides a Spanish-speaking version of your website with your son also speaking in Spanish.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Let me make it real clear — I’m not anti-immigrant. I love immigrants. I love legal immigrants coming to our country. I’m happy to communicate to them, and I hope they vote for me.

 

And I’m happy to have people all over the country, and I’m going to reach out to them in any language I can to have them — have them vote for me and understand why I’m going to support making this a great land.

 

I’ll tell you as well, I very firmly believe that we have to make sure that we enforce our borders, that we have an employment verification system, and that those people who have come here illegally do not get an advantage to become permanent residents, they do not get a special pathway. That’s a mistake. That’s the problem I have with the bill that — the Kennedy-McCain bill. That’s a mistake, in my view.

 

Now, let me tell you what I think about a broader issue. We’ve talked tonight about all of the issues as they relate to the problems that we have, and I understand that. But we have extraordinary opportunities. What the Republican party has to stand for is more than solving problems. In the 19th century, the new frontier for us was the American West. In the 20th century, it was Europe — selling products to Europe and North America. Now Asia has come out of poverty. A billion people —

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: — who were steeped in poverty are coming out of poverty. They’re consumers. We can sell products to them, medicines, technology —

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you, Governor.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: — energy. We are a party of the future, and we have to stop worrying about the problems and thinking we can’t deal with those. We have to focus on the future and our opportunity to make America a great place for our kids and grandkids. Thank you.

 


What would you do to include moderate Republicans and independents?

 

MS. GARGASZ: What would you do to include moderate Republicans and to bring back to the party those independents who were formerly registered Republicans?

 

MR. BLITZER: All right. I got to let all three of them respond. Governor Romney, go ahead. Go ahead first. But do it very briefly.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: The model for how the Republican Party wins, and wins moderates, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, is who? Ronald Reagan. He did it.

 

Ronald Reagan won in Massachusetts both times he ran. How did he do that? He had a stool he sat on that had three legs. One was a strong military; and today a strong military needs more troops, more funding to make sure that our troops are cared for in the battlefield with the equipment they need, and our veterans receive the care they need when they get home.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thanks.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: Strong military, strong economy, keeping our taxes down, and strong families and strong family values.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

 

Governor Mitt Romney: That’s the stool with all three legs.

 

MR. BLITZER: Mayor —

 

Governor Mitt Romney: And one more thing, optimism and a vision for the future.

 

MR. BLITZER: Thank you. (Applause.)

 

Each Question, One at a time:

 

  1. Was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?
  2. Would you use a tactical nuclear weapons to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb?
  3. How do you respond to Mccain's accusation that you are pandering on immigration?
  4. What would you do with the 12 million illegal immigrants who are in this country?
  5. Why should people who oppose abortion believe you are pro-life?
  6. What would you like to say to the voters about your faith?
  7. Is there too much of an alliance between big oil companies and Republicans?
  8. Do you believe that gays should be able to serve openly in the military?
  9. What do you say to conservatives who are critical of your health care plan?
  10. Why are you airing ads in spanish if you think English should be the official language?
  11. What would you do to include moderate Republicans and independents?

 

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