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Name: Ed Waldo
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I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang. And now, smeared by Fox News and Sean Hannity, as well! Plus, FEARED by Ted Nugent! AND Hated by the Freepers!

08 January 2008

How Crazy Is Bush, Actually?

[Begin Voice of Blogistan Transmission]

“But I do believe that -- I can predict that the historians will say that George W. Bush recognized the threats of the 21st century, clearly defined them, and had great faith in the capacity of liberty to transform hopelessness to hope, and laid the foundation for peace by making some awfully difficult decisions.” -- George W. Bush

Americans' tax dollars at work:

Interview of the President by Yonit Levi, Channel 2 News
Map Room

January 4, 2008

4:05 P.M. EST

Q Mr. President, firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to Washington.

Q Thank you very much. You're just about to come to the Middle East. And in Annapolis you said that the parties will make every effort to reach an agreement, until the end of 2008. And I -- you know, I don't want to sound skeptic, but I'm an Israeli and it's in our nature.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. (Laughter.)

Q Why do you believe that you can reach peace in 12 months, when it hasn't been attainable in the seven years of your presidency -- and long before that?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we can reach a vision of what a Palestinian state would look like. But I have made it abundantly clear that the existence of a state will be subject to the obligations in the road map. And so the goal is to have something other than just verbs -- words. In other words, here's what a state will look like. And what's important for that is that the Palestinians need to have something to hope for, something to be for. There needs -- Abbas, who has agreed that Israel has the right to exist, must be able to say to his people: be for me, support me, and this is what can happen; if you follow the way of the terrorists and the killers, this will never happen.

And so I'm optimistic that we can have the outlines of a state defined. In other words, negotiations on borders and right of return and these different issues can be settled. I'm optimistic because I believe Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas want to achieve that objective. I know I'm willing to help. But I believe we can get that done, and I think it's in Israel's interest to get it done.

One reason why it was impossible to get a two-state solution moving forward previous to this is, one, when we first came into office there was an intifada. Secondly, a lot of people didn't necessarily agree with the two-state solution as being in Israel's interest. Ariel Sharon changed that point of view. Prime Minister Olmert campaigned on that. And so we have a good chance.

I do want to emphasize, however, that the state won't come into being just because we defined a state. It will come into being subject to the road map, and that's important for the Israeli people to understand.

Q So there won't necessarily be a complete, ratified signed agreement by the end of your --

THE PRESIDENT: There will be an agreement on what a state would look like, in my judgment. I think it'll happen. I also believe that the leaders know me, and I know them, and that there's a -- you know, they say, well, are you going to have a time table? One time table is the departure of President George W. Bush from the White House -- not that that I'm any great, heroic figure, but they know me and they're comfortable with me and I am a known quantity. And therefore the question is will they decide to make the efforts necessary to get the deal done while I'm President, as opposed to maybe the next person won't agree with a two-state, or maybe the next person will take a while to get moving.

So there's a -- I am not going to try to force the issue because of my own time table. On the other hand, I do believe Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas want to see this done. And therefore I'm optimistic it will get done by 2008.

Q So I am moving on to Iran, and I think the question on every Israeli's mind -- and you're the best man to answer it -- is, is Iran an immediate threat to the existence of Israel?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, if I were an Israeli, I would take the words of the Iranian President seriously. And as President of the United States, I take him seriously. And I've spoken very bluntly about what that would mean, what an attack on Israel would mean if Iran were to do that.

Q You said World War III, if I --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I did. I said that we will defend our ally -- no ands, ifs or buts. And so -- now, I am -- one of the concerns I'm sure amongst the Israeli population is whether this intelligence estimate that came out, what does it mean. It means to me that Iran was a threat and Iran is a threat. In other words, just because they had a military covert program that it suspended doesn't mean, one, they could restart it. And two, doesn't mean that their capacity to enrich couldn't -- you know, so-called civilian program -- couldn't be transferred to a military. So I see it as a threat.

Whether there's an imminent attack coming, I don't think so. The Iranians, I'm confident, know there would be a significant retaliation. The key, however, is to make sure that they don't end up with a weapon. And one of the things I will talk to the Prime Minister about again is our strategy to solve this issue diplomatically.

Q You say "diplomatically," but is a military strike still an option --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the U.S. always maintains a military option. I have told the American people that I believe we can solve this issue diplomatically. Diplomacy works best when all options are on the table. And we're making some progress. The Russians and the Chinese, as well as the other members of the U.N. Security Council supported two Security Council resolutions -- which some might say aren't very effective; I think they are.

I think they're effective in the sense that it creates a sense of isolation amongst the Iranians. And I constantly speak to the Iranian people when I say, you can do better than a government which is causing you to be isolated; your economy can do better than it's doing; because of your government's decision not to be honest with the world, not to be transparent, not to listen to the IAEA, there will be continued economic sanctions, some of them unilaterally, some of them bilaterally. Sanctions on their financial institutions, for example, can be very effective.

And so the United States -- we've spent a lot of time on this issue, keeping the pressure on the Iranians.

Q So we're looking to something a lot nicer -- the upcoming U.S. elections. And I seem to recall you liked to be on the campaign trail. You were there twice and you won. Are you a little bit, you know, envious of the candidates?

THE PRESIDENT: It's an interesting question. I know exactly what they're going through. Laura and I -- well, Laura and I were talking about what it was like the day before, like, the Iowa caucuses. You know, I've been through three Iowa caucuses: one, when my dad beat Ronald Reagan in 1980, and then lost; two, that when my dad came in third in Iowa in 1988 and won; and, of course, our own caucus, which then -- you know, we win Iowa, go immediately to New Hampshire, lose, and eventually win.

And so there's a -- it's just the beginning of a long process. And it's an important process for American politicians because it does two things: one, it lets the electorate see how people handle stress, and equally importantly, it lets the candidate, the person running determine whether or not they have the inner fortitude necessary to be the President of the United States. Because if things were okay and everything is, you know, smooth, the job is kind of -- it's interesting. It's always interesting, don't get me wrong, but when times are tough is when you're really tested; when you have to make the tough decisions of war and peace. And it requires an inner fortitude that I think you begin to develop when you're out there in those primaries.

So this is the beginning of a fairly long process, although it's been -- to answer your question, I don't wish for things that are impossible to wish for. And so I'm an observer, but with a pretty intimate knowledge of the sentiments that these candidates are going through.

Q I imagine so. You are, you know, reaching the end of your presidency in a year, and it's sort of the season to summarize. Can you tell me what your -- you consider as your biggest achievement, and what, if anything, do you regret?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. First of all, I'm going to get a lot done next year.

Q Of course.

THE PRESIDENT: I really am. You know, there's this great myth about how the President, because there's an election, or because it's the last year of his presidency, not much is going to get done. Quite the contrary. We'll get a lot done.

I would think that -- first of all, I don't believe there's such a thing as an accurate short-term history. I'm still -- I read a lot of history these days. I like to read a lot about Abraham Lincoln, for example. And if they're still analyzing the 16th -- the history of the 16th President, see, then I -- the 43rd guy just doesn't need to worry about it. I'll be long gone. (Laughter.) But I do believe that --

Q Isn't that kind of sad, that you won't be appreciated enough until after you're --

THE PRESIDENT: No, what really matters in life is do you have a set of principles, and are you willing to live your life based upon those principles. That's what matters most to me. My priorities are really my faith and my family. And we're blessed with a lot of friends. I just don't -- I'm not the kind of person that -- I don't spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, I guess is the best way to say it. But I do believe that -- I can predict that the historians will say that George W. Bush recognized the threats of the 21st century, clearly defined them, and had great faith in the capacity of liberty to transform hopelessness to hope, and laid the foundation for peace by making some awfully difficult decisions.

Q And finally, can I ask you, when you do leave the White House, you're still fairly young, you know, what's next for you after you're the leader of the free world?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I don't know. I do know where I'm going to live, and that's in Texas.

Q Texas.

THE PRESIDENT: I tell my friends from Texas, I left the state with a state of principles, and I'm returning with the same set of principles. And I didn't compromise my beliefs in order to be the popular guy, or the hip guy, or the guy that every -- you know, the cultural elite likes. But I don't know. I'm going to build a library with a freedom institute attached to it.

And it's not just freedom from tyranny, it's freedom from disease. One of the great initiatives of my administration has been the HIV/AIDS initiative on the continent of Africa. Laura and I are very much involved in an initiative to end malaria. And thanks to the taxpayers of our country, we've dedicated about $1.6 billion to help save babies' lives. It's the tyranny of hunger, the tyranny of ignorance. I mean, there's all kinds of ways that I think I can help others realize the great blessings of life.

But I haven't gotten there yet. I've got too much to do. I mean, I've been thinking about this trip to the Middle East today, and I'm excited to go, I really am. You know, my first trip to Israel, and only trip to Israel, was in 1998. And I remember being in a hotel room and opened the curtain over the Old City, and the sun was just coming up, and it just glowed. It was golden. And I told Laura, I can't believe what I'm looking at. And after she got her contacts on -- (laughter) -- she came and looked.

And, you know, one of the great ironies of that trip was that I was on a helicopter tour of the West Bank with Ariel Sharon. You know, life works in funny ways. I had just finished a reelection campaign in Texas, and there was a lot of pressure and a lot of talk about me running for President. But I don't think either of us would have guessed that both of us would have been serving in our respective offices in a defining moment in history. And that defining moment is the willingness of free nations to confront the ideology of hate; those who use murder to achieve political objectives. And yet there we were. I'm saddened by the fact that he's in the state he's in. But nevertheless, it was -- the beginning of a relationship started in a helicopter flying over the West Bank in 1998, and I'm glad -- I'm really glad to be coming back. I'm looking forward to being with my friend, Prime Minister Olmert, and other leaders.

Q Mr. President, thank you so much again for taking the time to talk to us. Thank you so much.

THE PRESIDENT: You bet, thank you.

Q And have a safe trip, and best of luck. We're all keeping our fingers crossed for you.

THE PRESIDENT*: We'll be fine.

Q Thank you.

END 4:18 P.M. EST

[* Any resemblance to a lawfully elected president entirely coincidental.]

[End Voice of Blogistan Transmission]

06 January 2008

New Hampshire I - Democratic Debate

[begin transmission, Voice of Blogistan]

January 5, 2008

The Democratic Debate in New Hampshire

The following is the transcript of the Democratic presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., as transcribed by Federal News Service.



MR. GIBSON: And so let me introduce them from left to right. We have with us former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Senator Hillary Clinton from New York. And again, for the first 45 minutes of this debate I will be posing questions in three rather broad categories. We'll do 15 minutes each, but with the hope that I can sort of stay out of the way to the extent possible and let the candidates discuss the issues among themselves. There are no lights to limit time limits, at least for this part of the debate, and -- but I will interrupt politely, I hope, if things seem to be going a little bit long. So let me start with what is generally agreed to be, I think, the greatest threat to the United States today and somewhat to my surprise has not been discussed as much in the presidential debates this year as I thought would be, and that is nuclear terrorism. And for some background, here's ABC's chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross.

BRIAN ROSS: (From videotape.) After more than six years of trying, the United States still does not have a reliable way to spot nuclear material that terrorists might smuggle into the country. Watch as ABC News twice did in demonstrations without being caught, and after six years of trying the United States has yet to capture the man who says it his religious duty to get nuclear weapons, Osama bin Laden. And in the last 18 months U.S. officials say his al Qaeda has regrouped using safe havens along the Pakistani border to train and dispatch hundreds of new recruits. And just as troubling, amidst all the turmoil in Pakistan, the influence of bin Laden continues to grow there, a country with many nuclear weapons. Charlie? (End of videotape.)

MR. GIBSON: Brian Ross there. Well, Osama bin Laden, as he pointed out, has said it is his duty to try to get nuclear weapons. Al Qaeda has been reconstituted and re-energized in the western part of Pakistan. And so my general question is: How aggressively would you go after al Qaeda leadership there? And let me start with you, Senator Obama, because it was you who said in your foreign policy speech that you would go into western Pakistan if you had actionable intelligence to go after him whether or not the Pakistani government agreed. Do you stand by that?

SEN. OBAMA: I absolutely do stand by it, Charlie. What I said was that we should do everything in our power to push and cooperate with the Pakistani government in taking on al Qaeda, which is now based in northwest Pakistan. And what we know from our National Intelligence Estimates is that al Qaeda is stronger now than at any time since 2001, and so back in August I said we should work with the Pakistani government. First of all, they encourage democracy in Pakistan, so you've got a legitimate government that we're working with, and secondly, that we have to press them to do more to take on al Qaeda in their territory.

What I said was if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike. And I should add that Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, the heads of the 9/11 commission, a few months later wrote an editorial saying the exact same thing. I think it's indisputable that that should be our course.

Let me just add one thing, though, on the broader issue of nuclear proliferation. This is something that I've worked on since I've been in the Senate. I worked with Richard Lugar, then the Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to pass the next stage of what was Nunn-Lugar, so that we would have improved interdiction of potentially nuclear materials. And it is important for us to rebuild a nuclear nonproliferant -- proliferation strategy -- something that this administration, frankly, has ignored, and has made us less safe as a consequence. It would not cost us that much, for example, and it would take about four years for us to lock down the loose nuclear weapons that are still floating out there, and we have not done the job.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to go to the others in a moment, but what you just outlined is essentially the Bush doctrine: we can attack if we want to, no matter the sovereignty of the Pakistanis.

SEN. OBAMA: No, that -- that is not the same thing because here we have a situation where al Qaeda, a sworn enemy of the United States that killed 3,000 Americans and is currently plotting to do the same, is in the territory of Pakistan. We know that. And you know, this is not speculation. This is not a situation where we anticipate a possible threat in the future. And my job as commander in chief will be to make sure that we strike anybody who would do America harm when we have actionable intelligence to do so.

MR. GIBSON: Edwards, do you agree with him?

MR. EDWARDS: If I know what -- if I as president of the United States, know where Osama bin Laden is, I would go get him. Period. This man is the mastermind of a mass murder in the United States of America. He is public enemy number one, as al Qaeda is.

But I would add this has to be put in the bigger context of: What should America be doing over the long term to deal with this whole issue of nuclear proliferation? Because if you look at Pakistan, it's a perfect vehicle for actually thinking about this issue. Here's an unstable leader, Musharraf, in a country with a serious radical, violently radical element that could, under some circumstances, take over the government. If they did, they would have control of a nuclear weapon. They could either use it or they could turn it over to a terrorist organization to be used against America or some of our allies.

I think the bigger picture on this is, what do we do over the long term? Because what we're doing now is essentially an ad hoc, nation by nation, case by case basis of trying to control the spread of this nuclear technology. In the short term, that is exactly what we should do and what I would do as president of the United States. But A.Q. Khan, who developed the nuclear weapon for Pakistan, we know has already spread some of this technology to other places and I think this ad hoc policy does not work over the long term.

And what I believe we should be doing, over the long term, and what I will do as president of the United States, besides dealing with these short term threats -- which are very serious and should be taken seriously -- I, as president of the United States, want to do what some Republicans and some Democrats have said, which is to lead a long-term initiative, international initiative, to actually rid the world of nuclear weapons, because that is the only way to make the world safer and securer and to keep America safe.

MR. GIBSON: Well, you led me right up to the point of what you'd do if the Islamic radicals actually took control of the Pakistani government and therefore were in control of nuclear weapons, and then you went away from there. But I'll come back to that in a moment.

Governor Richardson.

GOV. RICHARDSON: In any foreign policy decision, I would use diplomacy first, in response to your question. And that basically means that the last thing we need in the Muslim world is another action like Iraq which is going to enflame the Muslim world in a horrendous way.

Now, here's what I would do. First, with Pakistan, here's an example of a country, a potentially failed nation-state with nuclear weapons. What a president must do is have a foreign policy of principles and realism. And the Bush foreign policy, with Musharraf, we get the worst of all worlds. We have a situation where he has not gone after al Qaeda in his own country, despite the fact that we've given him $11 billion. And he's also severely damaged the constitution. He's basically said that he is the supreme dictator. So we have the worst of all worlds.

What I would specifically do as president is I would ask Musharraf to step aside. There is a provision in the Pakistani constitution --

MR. GIBSON: Ask him to step aside?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Yes, for a caretaker --

MR. GIBSON: And what -- (inaudible)?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Because we have the leverage to do that.

MR. GIBSON: Hasn't worked so far.

GOV. RICHARDSON: We have the leverage to do that, and I -- I would send a high-level envoy to ask him to step aside. There's a provision in the Pakistani constitution for a caretaker government of technocrats. This happened when a previous prime minister died. And I would make it unmistakably clear that he had to have elections.

Now, elections are scheduled tentatively for February. A broadly based government, it's what's best for the United States.

MR. GIBSON: I understand your point about diplomacy. But Senator Obama's postulate was, we have actionable intelligence, the Musharraf government won't move; do we, should we, go in to western Pakistan and essentially try to take him out?

GOV. RICHARDSON: If we have actionable intelligence that is real, and if Musharraf is incapable -- which he is, because here's a man who has not stood up for his democracy, he is virtually in a situation where he's losing control -- then you do take that action. However, Charlie, first you use diplomacy. And diplomacy is to try to get what is best for the United States. And that is, a democratic Pakistan with free and fair elections and a concerted effort on the part of Musharraf or whoever is in the leadership in Pakistan to go after terrorists in those safe havens, which they have not done.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Clinton.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think it's important to get back to your question, because obviously that's the most direct threat to the United States. We did take action similar to what has been described about 10 years ago based on what was thought to be actionable intelligence, sending in missiles to try to target bin Laden and his top leadership, who were thought to be at a certain meeting place. They were not taken out at the time. So we have to be very conscious of all the consequences.

Now, as far as I know, there are, like, five things, quickly, that we should be looking at.

Bin Laden has in large measure regrouped because we did not put in the troops and make the commitment to aggressively going after him inside Afghanistan when we had a chance. Therefore we need more NATO troops and a faster effort to train the Afghan army so that we do have the personnel and the technology, including the Predators, to be able to be on the spot at the time to try to move as quickly as possible.

Secondly, I think it's imperative that any actionable intelligence that would lead to a strike inside Pakistan's territory be given the most careful consideration, and at some point probably when the missiles have been launched -- the Pakistani government has to know they're on the way because one of the problems is the inherent paranoia about India in the region in Pakistan, so that we've got to have a plan to try to make sure we don't ignite some kind of reaction before we even know whether the action we took with the missiles has worked.

Real quickly, thirdly, so far as we know right now, the nuclear technology is considered secure, but there isn't any guarantee, especially given the political turmoil going on inside Pakistan. I would work very hard to try to get Musharraf, who is the elected president -- these elections are about parliamentary positions. If you remove Musharraf and have elections, it's going to be very difficult for the United States to be able to control what comes next. I would try to get Musharraf to share the security responsibility of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the United States and perhaps Great Britain so that there is some failsafe.

And just finally, I think that what we have to do with Musharraf and Afghanistan is to repair the failed policies of the Bush administration, and that's going to require intensive effort in the region. And Bill is right that we should be engaged in that diplomacy right away. But this is the forgotten front line in the war against terrorism because the Bush administration has walked away.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Charlie, I want us to just remember history. I want us to remember history. Years ago we backed the Shah of Iran, a dictator. We are paying for that policy today by having backed a tyrant who repressed his people -- unintended consequences.

A president has to act. I believe that we have to be on the side of the Pakistani people, not on the side of the dictator. And what we have today is an opportunity to get Musharraf to step aside, to move towards this caretaker government, but also to use the leverage of the assistance we've given him. Most of the assistance that we've given him -- $11 billion -- he hasn't used to go after terrorists. He's put it in military assistance for his fight against India; the money has been stolen. We get the worst of all worlds. If we stand on a foreign policy of principle, of human rights, along with protecting our security, that is the best direction for our foreign policy.

SEN. OBAMA: Let me just pick up on a couple things that have been said. I think people are in broad agreement here, but I think one of the things that's been left out is Iraq. And part of the reason that we neglected Afghanistan, part of the reason that we didn't go after bin Laden as aggressively as we should have is we were distracted by a war of choice, and that's the flaw of the Bush doctrine. It wasn't that he went after those who attacked; it was that he went after those who didn't. And as a consequence, we have been bogged down, paid extraordinary -- an extraordinary price in blood and treasure, and we have fanned the anti-American sentiment that actually makes it more difficult for us to act in Pakistan.

Just one more point I want to make on this, Charlie: I think it is absolutely true that we have to, as much as possible, get Pakistan's agreement before we act, and that's always going to be the case.

MR. GIBSON: I want to --

SEN. OBAMA: But we have to make sure that we do not hesitate to act when it comes to al Qaeda because they are currently stronger than they were at any time since 2001, partly because we took our eye off the ball.

MR. GIBSON: I want to get to another question, and it really is the central one in my mind in nuclear terrorism. The next president of the United States may have to deal with a nuclear attack on an American city. I've read a lot about this in recent days. The best nuclear experts in the world say there's a 30 percent chance in the next 10 years. Some estimates are higher: Graham Allison at Harvard says it's over 50 percent.

Senator Sam Nunn, in 2005, who knows a lot about this, posed two questions that stick in my mind, and I want to put them to you here. On the day after a nuclear weapon goes off in an American city, what would we wish we had done to prevent it? And what will we actually do on the day after?


SEN. OBAMA: Well --

MR. EDWARDS: Well --


MR. EDWARDS: You're asking me?


MR. EDWARDS: Well, let me say first, this is the very points I was making a few minutes ago. In the short term we're faced with very, very serious threats about the possibility of these nuclear weapons getting in the hands of a terrorist group or somebody who wants to attack the United States of America. The first thing is we have to immediately find out who's responsible and go after them, and that is the responsibility of the president of the United States because if someone has attacked us with a nuclear weapon, it means they have nuclear technology, it means they could have gotten another nuclear weapon into the United States that we're unaware of.

We have to find these people immediately and use every tool available to us to stop them.

Secondly, it is the responsibility of the United States -- and by the way, what I'm about to say doesn't just apply to a nuclear attack, it applies to this crisis that exists in Pakistan right now with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto -- it is the responsibility of the president, in times like this, to be a force for strength, principled strength, but also calmness. It is enormously important for the president of the United States not to take -- to react, and to react strongly, but to do it in a way that is calming for the American people and calming for the world, because it would be an enormous mistake for the president of the United States to take a terrible, dangerous situation where millions of Americans or thousands of Americans could have lost their lives, and to ratchet up the rhetoric and make it worse than it already is.

Q Let me come to the two Sam Nunn questions to you, Senator.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, as I said, I've already been working on this, and I think this is the most significant foreign policy issue that we confront. We would obviously have to retaliate against anybody who struck American soil, whether it was nuclear or not. It would be a much more profound issue if it were nuclear weapons.

That's why it's so important for us to rebuild the nuclear proliferation -- nonproliferation treaty that has fallen apart under this administration. We have not made a commitment to work with the Russians to reduce our own nuclear stockpiles. That has weakened our capacity to pressure other countries to give up nuclear technology.

We have not locked down the loose nuclear weapons that are out there right now. These are all things that we should be taking leadership on.

And part of what we need to do in changing our foreign policy is not just end the war in Iraq; we have to change the mindset that ignores long-term threats and engages in the sorts of actions that are not making us safe over the long term.

MR. GIBSON: And I know, Senator Clinton, you've worked on this as well.

SEN. CLINTON: Yes, I have.

MR. GIBSON: But in terms of retaliation, this is not likely going to be a state that sets off a nuclear attack in a city, it's going to be a stateless group.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, the first -- the first part of your question was what would we wish we had done. And I have worked on this and passed legislation to move in the direction that I think we should go to have a very high level of commitment from the White House, including a person responsible in our government for marshaling our resources against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There has to be a better organizing effort to make sure that every part of the United States government is working together.

I don't think we've done what we need to do on homeland defense. You started that segment talking about the ease with which ABC smuggled things in to this country. We haven't done enough on port security. We have not made the kind of commitment that is necessary or protect us from this kind of importation.

But let me just add that when you look at where we are, the stateless terrorists will operate from somewhere. I mean, part of our message has to be there is no safe haven. If we can demonstrate that the people responsible for planning the nuclear attack on our country may not themselves be in a government or associated with a state, but have a haven within one, then every state in the world must know we will retaliate against those states.

There cannot be safe havens for stateless terrorists who are in these networks that are plotting to have the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the smuggling into our country or elsewhere of the kind of suitcase device that could cause such havoc.

So I think we have to be very, very clear. You know, deterrence worked during the Cold War in large measure because the United States made it clear to the Soviet Union that there would be massive retaliation. We have to make it clear to those states that would give safe haven to stateless terrorists that would launch a nuclear attack against America that they would also face very heavy retaliation.

MR. GIBSON: Final word, Governor.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Charlie, when I was secretary of Energy, that was one of my responsibilities, securing nuclear stockpiles, nuclear materials, mainly with the Soviet Union. And I went there many time; we made progress. But since then there's been a proliferation of loose nuclear weapons, mainly in the hands of terrorists, that could cross presumably a border, that could be smuggled in in a cargo ship with our very weak port security.

If I'm elected president, I will do two things. First, I will seek immediate negotiations with the Soviet Union and other nuclear states to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.

But also a treaty on fissionable material, where you have verification, where you try to secure those loose nuclear weapons from states like North Korea and others that -- that could be drifting into the international community.

But most importantly, I think we have to realize that the challenges America faces internationally, they're -- they are transnational. They're stateless. This international terrorism is nuclear terrorism, it's environmental degradation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making us less dependent on fossil fuels. Those are the transnational challenges that are going to require international cooperation.

And this president believes in unilateralism. This president believes in going military-first. This president believes in preemption. You discussed this in the Republican debate.

MR. GIBSON: I'm --

GOV. RICHARDSON: My foreign policy'd be different.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to -- I'm going to move on.

GOV. RICHARDSON: It'd be realism, human rights, and principles.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to move on, and I'm going to move on to domestic policy -- how much the government is spending, how much you would spend with the programs you've proposed and the promises you've made. And some of that is entitlements. For a little background, ABC's Betsy Stark.

BETSY STARK: (From videotape.) Every hour this new year another 400 baby boomers will turn 60, swelling the ranks of those soon eligible to collect Social Security and Medicare. The forecasts are foreboding. By 2017, the Social Security surplus runs dry and the system begins taking in less tax revenue than it pays out in benefits.

For Medicare, the problems are even more severe. By 2013, the program's hospital insurance fund is expected to fall into the red and the insurance premiums seniors pay for doctors' visits and prescription drugs are projected to keep rising.

Many young Americans simply assume there will be nothing left for them to guarantee the security of their old age.


MR. GIBSON: So I hope we have time to get to some of that. But before we get to it, talking about domestic policy, I want to get to the concept of change. Because 60 percent of the people going into the Democratic caucuses in Iowa said they were going to go there for change, and that seemed to redound to your benefit, Senator Obama.

And arriving here in New Hampshire, Senator Clinton, you called into question, really, what that means. And you said, and I'm quoting you now, "On a lot of issues, it's hard to know where he" -- referring to Senator Obama -- "stands. And people need to ask that. Everybody needs to be vetted." So let me have a little dialogue between the two of you.

What does he need to be vetted on, and what questions are there about Senator Obama that are unanswered?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, let me say first that I think we're all advocating for change. We all want to change the status quo, which is George W. Bush and the Republican domination of Washington for so many years. And we all are putting forth ideas about how best to deliver that change.

But I don't think you make change by, you know, calling for it or by demanding it. I think it is a result of very hard work, bringing people together, stating clearly what your goals are, what your principles are, and then achieving them.

And I do think that, you know, part of what this primary process is all about -- and New Hampshire voters are, you know, famously independent in making their judgments -- is to look at our records, to evaluate where we stand and what we stand for. And I think that there is a lot of, you know, room to ask all of us questions.

You know, Senator Obama has been -- as the Associated Press described it, he could have a pretty good debate with himself, because four years ago he was for single-payer health care. Then he moved toward a rejection of that, a more incremental approach. Then he was for universal health care; then he proposed a health care plan that doesn't cover everybody.

I think that's relevant. I mean, I think that what we are looking for is a president we can count on, that you know where that president is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And I think that, you know, there questions that, you know, should be asked and answered from each of us. And I'd certainly have no problem with whatever scrutiny comes my way.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Obama?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think the Associated Press was quoting some of your folks, Hillary, so let's talk specifically about health care, since you mentioned that.

I have been entirely consistent in my position on health care. What I said, and I have said on the campaign trail this time, is if I were designing a system from scratch, I would set up a single-payer system because we could gain enormous efficiencies from it. Our medical care costs twice as much per capita as any other advanced nation.

But what I've also said is that given that half of the people are getting already employer-based health care, that it would be impractical for us to do so, which is why I put forward a plan that says anybody can get health care that is the same as the health care that I have as a member of Congress, similar to the plans that you and John have offered.

We do have a philosophical difference. John and yourself believe that if we do not mandate care -- if we don't force the government to get -- to -- if the government does not force taxpayers to buy health care, that we will penalize them in some fashion. I disagree with that because as I go around town hall meetings, I don't meet people who are trying to avoid getting health care; the problem is they can't afford it. The costs are too high. And so, as a consequence, we focus on reducing costs.

Now, this is a legitimate argument for us to have, but it's not true that I leave them out. Your premise is they won't buy it even if it's affordable. I disagree with that.

Now let me just make one last point, because you say that somehow I've not been specific. Social Security is a great example, something that you've just raised, Charlie, and here's an area where John and myself were actually quite specific and said if we are going to deal with this problem realistically what we need to do is to raise the cap on the payroll tax so that wealthy individuals are paying a little bit more into the system right now. Somebody like Warren Buffet pays a fraction of 1 percent of his income in payroll tax whereas the majority of the audience here pays payroll tax on a hundred percent of their income, and I've said that was not fair. You criticized me for that, which is fine. We have a disagreement on that, but that's hardly because I wasn't specific on it. I was very specific on it, and --

SEN. CLINTON: Well, but I want to go back to health care and make another point. You have a mandate in your health care plan.

SEN. OBAMA: For children.

SEN. CLINTON: You mandate -- you mandate parents to have health care for children.

SEN. OBAMA: That's exactly right.

SEN. CLINTON: And obviously you did that because you want all children covered.

SEN. OBAMA: Because they don't have a choice.

SEN. CLINTON: So -- so -- well, they don't have a choice, and you're going to make sure that parents get health care for children. So you know, you stop short of going the distance to make sure that we had a system that could actually deliver health care for everyone. But it's not only about health care. You know, I think that two weeks ago you criticized Senator Edwards in saying that he was unelectable because he had changed positions over the course of four years, that four years ago he wasn't for universal health care, now he is. Well, you've changed positions within three years on, you know, a range of issues that you put forth when you ran for the Senate and now you have changed. You know, you said you would vote against the Patriot Act; you came to the Senate, you voted for it. You said that you would vote against funding for the Iraq war; you came to the Senate and you voted for $300 billion of it.

So I just think it's fair for people to understand that many of the charges that have been leveled not just at me, but also at Senator Edwards, are not totally, you know, unrelated to the very record that you have.

And you've said records matter, and I think that we should get into examining everybody's record.

SEN. OBAMA: Let me -- I want John to be able to get in on this, but since this was directed at me, let me just make sure that I -- I address this.

First of all, I never said John was unelectable. Somebody asked me specifically what did I think was the difference between myself and John, and I pointed out some areas where I thought we had some differences. And --

SEN. CLINTON: And you said that he had changed positions, did you not?

SEN. OBAMA: And I did, because I thought that I had been more consistent on those positions.

I have no problem, Hillary, with you pointing out areas where you think we have differences. But on health care, for example, the reason that I mandate for children is because children do not have a choice. Adults do, and it's my belief that they will choose to have health care if it is affordable. Now, that's a perfectly legitimate policy difference for us to have. That is different from saying that I will refuse to cover or leave out a bunch of individuals.

And the last point I just want to make on this is -- Charlie, is these are all good public servants, and everybody has great qualifications and has done good things. But what I think is important that we don't do is to try to distort each other's records as, you know, Election Day approaches here in New Hampshire, because what I think the people of America are looking for are folks who are going to be straight about the issues and are going to be interested in solving problems and bringing people together. That's the reason I think we did so well in Iowa.

MR. GIBSON: You've been very patient.

SEN. OBAMA: You have, and I appreciate it.

MR. EDWARDS: Thank you. Thank you. No, you're welcome. You're more than welcome.

Let me just say a quick word about this. You know, Senator Obama and I have differences. We do. We have a difference about health care, which he and I have talked about before. We have a fundamental difference about the way you bring about change. But both of us are powerful voices for change.

And I might add, we finished first and second in the Iowa caucus, I think in part as a result of that.

Now, what I would say is this: Any time you speak out powerfully for change, the forces of status quo attack. That's exactly what happens. It's fine to have a disagreement about health care. To say that Senator Obama is having a debate with himself from some Associated Press story, I think is just not -- that's not the kind of discussion we should be having. I think that every time this happens -- what will occur every time he speaks out for change, every time I fight for change, the forces of status quo are going to attack. Every single time. And what we have to remember -- and this is the overarching issue here -- because what we really need in New Hampshire and in future state primaries is we need an unfiltered debate between the agents of change, about how we bring about that change, because we have differences about that. But the -- the one thing I do not argue with him about is he believes deeply in change and I believe deeply in change. And anytime you're fighting for that, I mean, I didn't hear these kinds of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead. Now that she's not, we hear them. And anytime you speak out -- anytime you speak out for change, this is what happens.

MR. GIBSON: With apologies --

SEN. CLINTON: Well, making change -- making --

MR. GIBSON: With apologies to Governor Richardson, I think we --

SEN. CLINTON: Wait a minute now, wait a minute. I'm going to respond to this because obviously -- making change is not about what you believe. It's not about a speech you make. It is about working hard. There are 7,000 kids in New Hampshire who have health care because I helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program. There's 2,700 National Guard and Reserve members who have access to health care, because on a bipartisan basis, I pushed legislation through over the objection of the Pentagon, over the threat of a veto from President Bush.

I want to make change, but I've already made change. I will continue to make change. I'm not just running on a promise of change, I'm running on 35 years of change. I'm running on having taken on the drug companies and the health insurance companies, taking on the oil companies.

So, you know, I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered. The best way to know what change I will produce is to look at the changes that I've already made.

MR. EDWARDS: Can I respond briefly to that?

MR. GIBSON: Let me -- I'll let you respond. Let me -- in all fairness to Governor Richardson.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I've been in hostage negotiations that are a lot more civil than this. (Laughter, applause.) And -- no, I -- (chuckles). You know, I think one of the things that we need to remember -- I'm going to say this again, because I said it in a previous debate. Let's stay positive. You know? There will be plenty of time to get negative with the Republicans. You heard them earlier. (Laughter.)

Let us talk about how we're going to make sure that we deliver health care for the American people, how we change America's foreign policy, how we make schools better and pay teachers better and get rid of No Child Left Behind.

Look, what we need is change, there's no question.

But you know, what ever happened to experience? Is experience kind of a leper? (Laughter.) What is wrong with -- you know, what is wrong with having -- (scattered applause) -- what is wrong with having been like myself -- 14 years in the Congress, two Cabinet positions? I mean, I've gone head to head with the North Koreans. We got the remains of soldiers back. We persuaded them to reduce their nuclear weapons. What is wrong with being a governor and going to a state and giving health care to kids under 12 and creating jobs and balancing budgets? What is wrong with being a secretary of Energy who has made America or tried to make America a land of clean energy or as a governor -- my point is this: We want to change this country, but you have to have -- you have to know how to do it, and there's nothing wrong with having experience.

So you know, I love change, we all are for change. But the question is examine the record of those that in the past have produced change, and that has taken responsibilities. We need somebody that has been tested.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to go to Senator Edwards and then Senator Obama, and then we'll move on.

MR. EDWARDS: Thank you very much.

What I would say in response to the discussion that just took place is we have to understand what's at stake. Nobody cares about hearing a bunch of politicians fight. They're not the slightest bit interested in that, and they shouldn't be interested in it. What's at stake here is a fight for the future of the middle class, and we do have different perspectives on how we'd fight for the middle class, how we'd fight for jobs, how we'd fight for health care.

I believe -- and I believe it very strongly -- that there are entrenched special interests, very well-financed -- some examples are drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies, et cetera -- that stand between America and the change that we need. And I think if you defend the way the system works, it's very hard to take those people on.

I believe -- and it's -- (inaudible) -- these people; I'm 54 years old. I've been fighting these people, these irresponsible corporations. And there are good corporations in America, Charlie. I want to point that out. Good corporations, good employers: Costco; AT&T, for example, is now working to help unionize some of their offices and to bring jobs back. But I want to --

MR. GIBSON: We'll get to the commercials later.

MR. EDWARDS: No, let me -- let me finish this. I want to finish this.

The point is this. I think there are differences between us about how we fight for the future of the middle class. And I believe you have to be willing to take on these entrenched special interests. And I think if you're not willing to do it, it is impossible to bring about the change that the country needs.

MR. GIBSON: Final word, Senator.

SEN. OBAMA: And just to wrap up, part of the change that's desperately needed is to enlist the American people in the process of self-government. And one of the areas that I have constantly worked on is not only pushing aside the special interests -- this past year, passing the toughest ethic reform legislation since Watergate -- but also making sure that the government is transparent and accountable. And that's what I think people were responding to in Iowa. We saw it here in New Hampshire today. They want somebody who's taking straight to them about the choices that are ahead, and they want to make sure that government is responding to them directly because folks out there feel the American dream is slipping away. They are working harder for less; they are paying more for health care, for college, for gas at the pump; and they are having a tougher time saving and retiring. And what they don't feel is that the government is listening to them and responding to them.

That's the kind of change that I think we need.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to move on to our third subject before I run out of time. And I want to turn to Iraq.

We started the surge early this year. You all opposed it. But there are real signs it has worked. So for background, our man in Baghdad for ABC, Terry McCarthy.

TERRY MCCARTHY (ABC): (From videotape.) It has been a tough 12 months in Iraq, with more U.S. troops killed than in any previous year of the war. But overall, the addition of an extra 30,000 troops has helped to reduce violence substantially. Civilian killings are down 65 percent in the last six months. U.S. deaths are down from 126 in May to 23 in December.

General Petraeus has repeatedly said the solution in Iraq must be political, not military. So far, political progress has been frustratingly slow. But a year ago, many Americans, and Iraqis, too, thought the country was a lost cause. Today, with improved security, life is returning to the streets of Baghdad. Nobody yet says the war is over; but Iraqis are finally able to hope that things might be getting better.


MR. GIBSON: So I want to ask all of you, are any of you ready to say that the surge has worked? And Senator Clinton, let me start with you, because when General Petraeus was in Washington in September, you said it would take a willful suspension of disbelief to think that the surge could do any good.

SEN. CLINTON: And that's right, because remember the purpose behind the surge was to create the space and time for political reconciliation, for the Iraqi government to do what only it can do and trying to deal with the myriad of unresolved problems that confront it.

And as your report said, you know, we have the greatest military in the world. We send in more of our troops, they will be able to dampen down the violence, but there has not been a willingness on the part of the Iraqi government to do what the surge was intended to do, to push them to begin to make the tough decisions. And in the absence of that political action, 23 Americans dying in December is totally unacceptable. You know, there is no more cause for us to be there if the Iraqis are just not going to do what they need to do to take care of their own country.

So it's time to bring our troops home and to bring them home as quickly and responsibly as possible and unfortunately, I don't see any reason why they should remain beyond, you know, today. I think George Bush doesn't intend to bring them home, but certainly I have said when I'm president I will. Within 60 days, I'll start that withdrawal.

GOV. RICHARDSON: The policy's a massive failure. Here are the measurements that we should look at: Thirty-nine hundred Americans have lost their lives. There are 60,000 Americans today that are wounded, mainly mentally wounded. Tell that to the family that only 23 died in December.

Look, here are the barometers that we need to look at. First, there is no military solution; there's a political solution. Secondly, has there been progress in any political compromises of reconciliation between the Sunni, the Shi'a and the Kurds? Zero. Has there been progress in sharing oil revenues? Zero. Has there been any regional elections? Zero. Is the Maliki government intensifying its efforts to train the Iraqi security forces more than they have? No. Is there any end to Iran's efforts to bring terrorist activities to Iraq? No. Iran, Syria -- no one has participated in the regional solution.

Charlie, I mean, this is a -- this is why I'm running for president; because until we end this war, we cannot talk about the issues that need to be dealt with here -- universal health care, improving schools, bringing people together. You can't have change until you end the war, and that means bringing all of our troops home --

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to --

GOV. RICHARDSON: -- within a year and leaving none behind.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to take this to Senator Obama and to Senator Edwards. But -- but -- and I'm not here to debate -- but parliament meets, and the oil law is under consideration, de- Ba'athification has progressed to some extent, and were it not for the surge, instead of counting votes we'd be counting bodies in the streets.

GOV. RICHARDSON: But this has been going on -- (off mike) -- Charlie.

MR. GIBSON: And all of you -- all of you wanted the troops out --

GOV. RICHARDSON: There has been serious talk --

MR. GIBSON: -- last year.

SEN. OBAMA: Charlie?

MR. GIBSON: Would you have seen this kind of greater security in Iraq if we had followed your recommendations to pull the troops out last year?

Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Let me respond. I think the bar of success has become so low that we've lost perspective on what should be our long- term national interests. It was a mistake to go in from the start, and that's why I opposed this war from the start.

It has cost us upwards of $1 trillion. It may get close to 2 (trillion dollars). We have lost young men and women on the battlefield, and we have not made ourselves safer as a consequence.

Now, I had no doubt -- and I said at the time, when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence. But understand, we started in 2006 with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. We saw a spike in the violence, the surge reduced that violence, and we now are, two years later, back where we started two years ago. We have gone full circle at enormous cost to the American people.

What we have to do is to begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there in perpetuity. Now, it will -- we should be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province -- Sunni tribes -- who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what, the Americans may be leaving soon, and we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shi'as. We should start negotiating now. That's how you change behavior.

And that's why I will send a clear signal to the Iraqi government. They will have ample time to get their act together, to actually pass an oil law, which has been -- they've been talking about now for years.

They will actually be able to conduct de-Ba'athification. We will support them in all of those efforts. But what we can't do is to continue to ignore the enormous strains that this has placed on the American taxpayer as well as the anti-American sentiment that it is fanning and the neglect that's happening in Afghanistan as a consequence.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to go to Senator Edwards, but all of you serve in Congress or did serve in Congress. You know how slow legislatures can move; you've all experienced it in the United States Congress. But Senator Edwards, let me go to you.

Some of you -- Governor Richardson, Senator Obama -- you have talked about a timetable for withdrawal, getting all troops out by the end of 2009, 2010. If the generals in Iraq came to you, as President Edwards, and said, "Mr. President," -- on January 21st, 2009 -- "You're wrong. You can't do this. You're going to send Iraq back into the kind of chaos we had before," are you going to stick with it?

MR. EDWARDS: It is the responsibility of the president of the United States and the commander in chief to make policy decisions. It is the responsibility -- of course I would always listen to my uniformed military leadership directly, not filtered through civilians, directly -- but if you look at what happened in Iraq when the Brits began to pull their troops out, in the part of Iraq where those troops were located, there was a significant reduction in violence.

What the whole purpose, just to be clear with people, the whole purpose for the surge was to create some environment where there could be political progress and political reconciliation between Sunni and Shi'a. Everyone believes -- even George Bush acknowledges that that's -- that's what we're trying to accomplish. The question is, how do you get there? Look at the loss of American lives, $600 billion dollars and counting, and there's been essentially no political progress. I don't believe, and I think others would agree, that there will be political progress until we make it clear that we're going to stop propping the Sunni and Shi'a up with American lives and with the American taxpayer dollars.

So what we need to do -- and let me be very specific, and this is what I will do as president -- in the first year that I am president, I will pull 40(,000) to 50,000 troops out very quickly.

I will continue a steady redeployment of combat troops out of Iraq until they are all out, within about nine to 10 months. If my military leadership says we need some more time to make sure that we can do this in the most effective way and the most efficient way and the safest way for my troops, of course I'd be listening to what they have to say. But I will end combat missions in Iraq in the first year and there will be no permanent military bases.

We have to end this war, and the only way to end the war is to end the occupation, which is what I will do as president.

MR. GIBSON: I've got one minute left and I owe each of your 30 seconds.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, John, you can't end the war without -- you've got to get all the troops out to end the war because they become targets.

MR. EDWARDS: I agree.

GOV. RICHARDSON: And if you leave a small force behind then you cannot bring the political reconciliation that is needed. You cannot bring a peacekeeping force by the United Nations or a donor conference to take over the $570 billion that we've spent on this war -- on resources that should be spent on health care and education for our own people. This is where, with all due respect, we differ.

I bring the troops back within a year. I don't want in five years because I did, in another debate -- some of you said you would keep troops -- you wouldn't say -- you wouldn't get them out by 2013. I don't want in five years to have to look at an eight-year-old today -- an eighth-grader -- an American eighth-grader today who is serving five years from now in Iraq. I don't want to hear about a death of an American.

I -- you know, as a governor, I fly the flags half mast upon a death. I'm sick of doing that. We need to stop that. We need to think of our veterans that are coming back with PTSD, with traumatic brain injuries, with mental anguish. We have a crisis on our hands.

And my whole point is that this whole campaign, everything we talk about -- universal health care, improving schools, helping kids -- cannot happen until we get out of this war because the Congress and the president basically have a dysfunctional relationship where nothing gets done. And I can see that as a governor from my state as I try to deal with health care and education.

MR. GIBSON: Governor.

GOV. RICHARDSON: So this is why it's so fundamental, and this is why I'm running for president -- to end this war, and the way you do it is by getting all the troops out in one year.

MR. GIBSON: I owed you 30 seconds; now you owe me 45, but that's all right. (Laughter.)

Senator Clinton?

SEN. CLINTON: I think we're in vigorous agreement about getting our troops home as quickly and responsibly as we possibly can, serving notice on the Maliki government that the blank check they've had from George Bush is no longer valid. We're going to have to have intensive diplomatic efforts in the region.

I don't think anyone can predict what the consequences will be, and I think we have to be ready for whatever they might be. We have to figure out what we're going to do with the 100,000-plus American civilians who are there working at the embassy, working for not-for- profits or American businesses. We have to figure out what we're going to do about all the Iraqis who sided with us, you know, like the translators who helped the Marines in Fallujah, whom I met, who said they wouldn't have survived without them. Are we going to leave them?

You know, this is a complicated enterprise, so it has to be done right. And last spring I began demanding that the Bush administration tell us whether they were undertaking the kind of planning that is necessary for the withdrawal, and clearly they're not. So as soon as I am elected, I will task the joint chiefs and the secretary of Defense and the security advisers to provide such a plan and to begin to execute it within 60 days.

MR. GIBSON: All right. Let me thank all of you. We're going to take a commercial break -- three minutes. I'm going to bring Scott Spradling from WMUR up here and we'll continue with some questions when the Democratic debate from Manchester, New Hampshire continues.


MR. GIBSON: And I am joined for the last half of this debate, as I was for the Republican debate, by the political director of our station here in Manchester, New Hampshire, Scott Spradling.

And I appreciate all of you again being with us. It's good to have the four leading Democratic candidates with us. Just to reintroduce them: Senator John Edwards -- former Senator John Edwards, Senator Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Hillary Clinton.


MR. SPRADLING: Senator, I'd like to start with you. I was watching the exchange in the first half and saw what looked like a little bit of a double-team that's probably going to have a lot of people talking tomorrow morning.

SEN. CLINTON: (Laughs.) (Inaudible) -- notice.

MR. SPRADLING: Yeah, I did notice. And I'd like to ask you this.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center has been consistently trying to probe the minds of New Hampshire voters and get a sense of what they think about all of you. I'd be happy to report that the experience-versus-change debate seems to be sinking in. And what I'd like to get is to this:

New Hampshire voters seem to believe that of those of you on the stage, you are the most experienced and the most electable. In terms of change, they see Senators Obama and Edwards as the agents of change, in New Hampshire mindset. My question to you is simply this: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight, who see a resume and like it but are hesitating on the likability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings. (Laughter.)

MR. SPRADLING: I'm sorry, Senator. (Scattered applause.) I'm sorry.

SEN. CLINTON: But I'll try to go on. (Laughter.)

He's very likable. I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad.

SEN. OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary. (Inaudible.)

SEN. CLINTON: Thank you (so much ?). (Laughter.) I appreciate that.

You know, I think this is one of the most serious decisions that the voters of New Hampshire have ever had to make. And I really believe that the most important question is, who is ready to be president on day one?

You know, the problems waiting -- some of which we have talked about already -- are huge, and the stakes could not be higher.

And you know, in 2000 we, unfortunately, ended up with a president who people said they wanted to have a beer with; who said he wanted to be a uniter, not a divider; who said that he had his intuition and he was going to, you know, really come into the White House and transform the country. And you know, at least I think there are the majority of Americans who think that was not the right choice.

So I am offering 35 years of experience making change and the results to show for it. I, you know, respect and like both Senator Edwards and Senator Obama. But I think if you want to know what change each of us will bring about, look at what we've done. And there are a lot of differences that I think need to be aired for the voters of New Hampshire because I stand on my record of experience, and I appreciate Governor Richardson's long history of serving our country. But I think I am an agent of change. I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change -- (applause) -- with consequences across our country and the world. And that on the specific issues that I have worked on for a lifetime and the plans I have put forth, I believe I am more prepared and ready to actually deliver change, and I think that ultimately is what Americans want to know and believe.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator, thank you.

Senator Obama, I don't know if your ears were ringing during the first debate. I asked a question about you earlier and am interested to hear your response to what the Republican candidates for president laid out in arguments for you not being elected president. I revved up the Republican attack machine, please respond.

SEN. OBAMA: (Chuckles.) Well, you know, I have to admit that I was going back and forth between the Republicans and football. (Laughter.) But I --

MR. SPRADLING: How are the Redskins doing?

SEN. OBAMA: The Redskins lost. They -- (inaudible). (Laughter.)

But look, I think there's no doubt that any of the candidates on this stage would represent significant change from George Bush and we've seen a disaster in both foreign policy and domestic policy over the last seven years.

But what the people in Iowa were responding to, what I think that we're seeing here in New Hampshire is a hunger for a different kind of politics that is very specific about pushing aside special interests that have come to dominate the agenda and the debate, reducing the power of lobbyists -- something that I have done. I think people are very concerned about making sure that the American people are let back into their government.

So when I, for example, worked with a Republican to set up a searchable database so that every dollar of federal spending, we would know. If there was a bridge to nowhere, you'd know where -- who was sponsoring it, and hopefully embarrassing them.

If there was a no-bid contract to Halliburton, you'd know about that.

Those are the kinds of steps that will actually lead to real changes in people's lives, and that's how I worked at the state level, bringing Republicans and Democrats together, to provide health insurance to people who didn't have it; that's how we were able to provide tax cuts to working families. And that is what I intend to do as president of the United States of America.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator Thompson referred to your support as endorsement by some of the most liberal groups in the nation, trying to paint a picture that you would be way left of center.

SEN. OBAMA: Of course, but Scott, that's what they're going to do to any Democrat. I mean, we -- you know, we've seen this movie before. We know the Republican playbook. Here's what I'm betting on, though, is that regardless of what the Republican candidates are talking about, I think there are a whole host of Republicans and certainly Independents who have lost trust in their government, who don't believe anybody is listening to them, who are staggering under rising costs of health care, college education, don't believe what politicians say, and we can draw those Independents and some Republicans into a working coalition, a working majority for change.

And the fact of the matter is, we -- I think that Senator Clinton's done some good work. I think Bill Richardson's done some good work, as has John Edwards, but what we haven't seen over the last -- many years, even preceding George Bush, is tackling the big issues: getting health care reform finally done, getting an energy policy that works. And that's going to require a working majority for change. We're starting to build that. We saw it in Iowa, we're going to build it here in New Hampshire, and I think we can build it across the country.

MR. SPRADLING: Governor Richardson, I'm curious. Do you think to be president of the United States, that prior executive experience is necessary? And is relative youth a detriment?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I think prior executive experience is very important. I'm the only governor here. I'm the only person here who has actually balanced budgets. I've balanced five. I've created 80,000 new jobs. I've lowered taxes for everybody. I've insured kids under 12 in my state. I've improved education.

You know, you want somebody in this position that has had executive experience. And I will also say, Charlie, since, you know, I noticed Scott mentioned everybody else in the poll, he didn't mention me -- (laughter) -- but that's okay.

SEN. OBAMA: Does that hurt your feelings, too?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, a little bit. (Laughter.)

MR. SPRADLING: Would you like to know?

GOV. RICHARDSON: You know -- you know, let's face it, the next president -- the next president is going to have to have foreign policy experience. And of all the candidates here, you know, I'm the only one that's negotiated with foreign governments. I'm the only one that has faced down the North Koreans and Saddam Hussein. I'm the only one that has had the highest national security clearance. You know? So there's something about having experience and been tested, and represented --

MR. SPRADLING: Follow up on that, then --


MR. SPRADLING: -- with your resume. I don't mean to interrupt. But I remember you as Energy secretary coming to Boston for an energy summit way back in February of 2000, when the dialogue then was very similar to the dialogue that it is now. Rising fuel prices. A struggling supply.

Frustration in the homes across New England, and a call for some help.

Here we are, this past Thursday, we've established it that it's $100 a barrel. Is it fair to say to you in this experience argument that you as Energy secretary, you didn't get it done then, so why believe you'd get it done now? Because we're having the same debate.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Look, both parties have been failures in dealing with energy policy. But you know -- and I remember meeting you there. Remember what I did, Scott. I went to OPEc countries and tried to get them to increase production so prices'd go down. I created -- at the time, there was a home heating oil crisis here in New England. I created reserves of home heating oil. And look at the price now in New Hampshire -- 3.20 (dollars), something like that. It's the highest ever.

You know, what we need is an energy revolution in this country. Not some of the bills that the congress has passed. We need to go to 50 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. We need to have 30 percent of all our electricity renewable. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2040. And we need the American people to sacrifice a little bit.

I would ask the American people, when it comes to being more energy-conscious, to be cognizant of appliances, of fuel efficiency, the vehicles we drive, mass transit. You know, I -- and I did, when I was Energy secretary, air conditioners 30 percent more efficient. I started the renewable portfolio. So I did some things, Scott.

The problem, you're right, we need a bipartisan approach, but we need to reduce fossil fuels by 50 percent by the year 2020, because our planet is getting damaged. And Al Gore has been right. He deserves the Nobel Prize. I'm glad he stayed out of the race. (Laughter.)

MR. SPRADLING: (Laughs.) I'm going to go to Senator Edwards for just a moment.

You answered the first part of my question about executive experience. You didn't talk about whether relative youth is a detriment.

GOV. RICHARDSON: I didn't hear that.

MR. SPRADLING: I asked -- when I asked you the question, I said, is prior executive experience a key requirement for being president and is relative youth a detriment.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Relative youth? No. You know, John F. Kennedy was 42 years old when he was elected president. He's my hero, and I think he was one of our greatest presidents because -- because he inspired, because he said he could go to the moon in 10 years, because he -- he said that we all collectively have to do something for the common good.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator Edwards?

MR. EDWARDS: What's my question? (Laughter.) No, I'm glad that people like me, Hillary. (Laughs.) I'm glad they like --

MR. SPRADLING: -- prior executive experience and is relative youth a detriment?

MR. EDWARDS: No, I think what matters -- we've had -- we've had a lot of conversation about the first day in the White House. I think we ought to picture what that first day in the White House would be for each of us. I'll just speak for myself.

You know, I'm the candidate up here who's never taken a dime from a Washington lobbyist in my entire time in public life, or a dime from a special interest PAC. The first day that I'm president of the United States there will be no corporate lobbyists working in my White House. There will be no lobbyist who's lobbied for foreign governments.

And this is a very personal cause for me, because I come from a family -- my father's in the audience tonight -- where my father worked for 37 years in the mills. He didn't get a chance, like I did, to have a college education. And this is a fight for the middle class and families just like the one I grew up with. My grandmother, who helped raise me, had a fifth- or sixth-grade education, came from a family of sharecroppers.

This fight is deeply personal to me. I've been engaged in it my whole life -- the fight for the middle class, the fight against powerful, special interests and it is a fight I will wage on behalf of the American people as president of the United States and win, as I have for 54 years.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator, I'd like to follow that up then.


MR. SPRADLING: You served six years in the U.S. Senate.


MR. SPRADLING: And on the campaign trail, it seems like you don't talk a lot about the six years. The people of New Hampshire probably remember you talking about your war vote --


MR. SPRADLING: -- and explaining later on why you weren't happy about that. Can you give New Hampshire voters a guide of something significant that you accomplished in your six years as a U.S. senator --

MR. EDWARDS: Absolutely.

MR. SPRADLING: -- that would give us some guide as to what kind of president you're going to be?

MR. EDWARDS: Absolutely. I can tell you exactly one -- I'll give you one very specific example, a big example.

When the Democrats finally took over the United States Senate, the first issue that was brought to the table was the so-called "Patient's Bill of Rights", so that patients and families can make their own health care decisions. What's happening now is insurance companies are running all over people. I mean, the case of Natalie Sarkisyan, which a lot of the audience would be familiar with -- 17 year old girl who lost her life a couple of weeks ago because her insurance company would not pay for a liver transplant operation. She had health insurance, but the insurance company wouldn't pay for it. They finally caved in a few hours before she died.

We need a president who will take these people on. What we did -- and I didn't do it alone, don't claim to have done it alone -- but I, Senator McCain who was here earlier, Senator Kennedy, the three of us wrote the Patient's Bill of Rights, the three of us took on the powerful insurance industry and their lobby every single day of the fight for the Patient's Bill of Rights and we got that bill through the United States Senate and got it passed.

And I'm proud of having done that, but that's just an example of why this battle is personal for me. You know, we need a president who believes deeply in here, who believes deeply in this battle, and it is personal for me. When I see these lobbyists roaming around Washington, D.C., taking all the politicians to cocktail parties, I mean, the picture I get in my head is my father and my grandmother going in that mill every day so that I could have the chances I've had. Where is their voice in this democracy? When are they going to get heard? They need a president who will stand up for them and so does every American who's listened to this debate.

SEN. OBAMA: I just want to add I agree with John, which is why I prohibited lobbyists from buying meals for members of Congress --

MR. EDWARDS: Good idea.

SEN. OBAMA: -- because -- and some of them complained. They said --

MR. EDWARDS: Maybe they'll get a little --

MR. SPRADLING: Well, with all due respect --

SEN. OBAMA: -- they said, where am I going to eat?

MR. SPRADLING: They can now buy food for members of Congress if the members of Congress are standing up. (Laughter.) That's my understanding what the rules have changed. You can't sit down and eat, but you can stand up and eat.

SEN. OBAMA: Yeah, well, the --

MR. SPRADLING: Tell me why that's changed. (Laughter.)

SEN. OBAMA: Here's -- here's -- here's -- here's what we did. They can't buy meals, they can't provide gifts; they can no longer lend corporate -- (off mike) --

MR. SPRADLING: They can have huge parties for you as long as you're standing up.

MR. EDWARDS: They can't eat as much if they're standing up, John (sic). (Laughter.)

SEN. OBAMA: That's true. Look, the -- we are now disclosing -- if they're bundling money for members of Congress, they've got to disclose who they're bundling money from and who they're giving it to.

But here's -- here's -- here's the critical point that I want to make. Not only does this have to be personal, John -- and you know, I completely agree. When I think about health care, I think about my mother, who, when she was dying of cancer, had to read an insurance form because she had just gotten a new job and they were trying to figure out whether or not this was going to be treated as a preexisting condition and whether or not they would pay her medical bills.

And I -- so I've seen the costs of a health care system that is broken in very personal terms.

But what I also believe, if we're going to bring about real change, then we have to bring in the American people. You know, we have to bet on them, and that's what's been lost. People, I think, feel that they are not heard at all, they are not involved. And the only way we're going to muster enough power over the long term to actually get something done is if we've got a working majority, which is why it's so important --

MR. GIBSON: Now I want to go to Senator --

SEN. CLINTON: Can we just have a -- can we just have a sort of a reality break for a minute? Because I think that it is important to make some kind of an assessment of these -- of these statements.

You know, Senator Edwards did work and get the Patients Bill of Rights through the Senate; it never got through the House. One of the reasons that Natalie may well have died is because there isn't a Patients Bill of Rights. We don't have a Patients Bill of Rights.

MR. EDWARDS: Because George Bush -- George Bush killed it.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, that's right, he killed it. So we've got to have a plan and a real push to get it through.

You know, when it comes to lobbyists, you know, Senator Obama's chair in New Hampshire is a lobbyist. He lobbies for the drug companies. So I think it's important that all of us be held to the same standards, that we're all held accountable.

You know, the energy bill that passed in 2005 was larded with all kinds of special interest breaks, giveaways to the oil companies. Senator Obama voted for it. I did not because I knew that it was going to be an absolute nightmare. Now we're all out on the campaign trail talking about taking the tax subsidies away from the oil companies, some of which were in that 2005 energy bill.

So you know, words are not actions.

And as beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are, they are not action. You know, what we've got to do is translate talk into action and feeling into reality. I have a long record of doing that, of taking on the very interests that you have just rightly excoriated because of the overdue influence that they have in our government. And you know, probably nobody up here has been the subject of more incoming fire from the Republicans and the special interests, so I think I know exactly what I'm walking into and I am prepared to take them on.

MR. SPRADLING: So, Senator --

MR. : Charlie, can I --

MR. SPRADLING: Does it mean that you're further down the road than your opponents in this, or are you saying that you can do things that these folks can't do when it comes to being an agent of change? SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely, because I've been an agent of change. You know, you go back 35 years -- you know, I worked to help make the case for the law that thankfully required that public schools give an education to children with special needs. I worked to reform education and health care in Arkansas against, you know, some pretty tough odds.

MR. : Scott?

SEN. CLINTON: In the White House, I worked to create health care for kids and reform a lot of the other programs like taking on the drug companies.

MR. SPRADLING: And to be clear, they can't. You're saying they can't.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I'm not saying that -- I'm only making my case, that this is what I have done.

MR. GIBSON: I'll come to all of you. I didn't want to get into this, but I've covered Washington for a long time and I know President Clinton came to Washington talking about change. President Bush came to Washington talking about change. So many people in the administrations and in Congress say Washington is set up to resist change.

SEN. EDWARDS: Absolutely.

MR. GIBSON: And, God love all of you for making this argument.

SEN. CLINTON: Can I just say -- (laughter, applause).

SEN. CLINTON: (Inaudible) -- if you're going to mention and say the administration, you know, I'm going to respond.

MR. GIBSON: (Inaudible) -- let her talk.

SEN. CLINTON: President Clinton -- wait, just -- President Clinton inherited a deficit, a debt that had been quadrupled in the previous 12 years. Now, anybody who doesn't think taking on the special interests to raise taxes on corporations, raise taxes on the wealthy, began to whittle away at the deficit to be able to leave with a balanced budget and a surplus -- if that didn't take a lot of change that actually produced results, then I think we've got amnesia.

You know, change is hard but change is possible if you're prepared to take it on and follow through.

SEN. OBAMA: Can I --

SEN. EDWARDS: Can we speak to this? Can we speak to this?

I want to say just -- I want to say a quick word about this. You know, it is true that these entrenched interests -- whether you're talking about oil companies, drug companies, gas companies, whoever -- these entrenched interests are literally stealing our children's future. They have a stranglehold on this democracy and they are having an incredibly destructive force on the middle class, on families being able to do what my family has done and so many who are sitting here have been able to do.

And the problem is you can't be with those people, take their money and then challenge them. It doesn't work. You have to be willing to actually stand up and say no -- no to lobbyist money, no to PAC money, no corporate lobbyists working for me in the White House. If you intend to take them on, and if it is personal for you -- and this is extraordinarily personal for me -- if it's personal for you, then you can be successful bringing about the change.

Teddy Roosevelt -- just one quick example -- Teddy Roosevelt -- Teddy Roosevelt, a great American president -- he didn't make deals with the monopolies and the trusts. Teddy Roosevelt took them on, busted the monopolies, busted the trusts. That's what it's going to take.

We have a battle in front of us. We do. I don't think we have a problem with politicians in Washington spending enough time with lobbyists and going to cocktail parties. They do it all the time. They do it every single day, and I'll tell you who's paying the price for those cocktail parties: Natalie Sarkisian, every single American who doesn't have health care coverage, everybody who's going to the gas pump and paying so much money for their gas. When are we going to have a president who actually takes these people on? That's what I'm going to do.

GOV. RICHARDSON: You know --

MR. GIBSON: Senator -- let me to Senator Obama. I'll come to you.


SEN. OBAMA: Look, I think it's easier to be cynical and just say, "You know what, it can't be done because Washington's designed to resist change." But in fact there have been periods of time in our history where a president inspired the American people to do better, and I think we're in one of those moments right now. I think the American people are hungry for something different and can be mobilized around big changes -- not incremental changes, not small changes.

I actually give Bill Clinton enormous credit for having balanced those budgets during those years. It did take political courage for him to do that. But we never built the majority and coalesced the American people around being able to get the other stuff done.

And, you know, so the truth is actually words do inspire. Words do help people get involved. Words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don't discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens. And if they are disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can't be done, then it doesn't. I'm running for president because I want to tell them, yes, we can. And that's why I think they're responding in such large numbers.

GOV. RICHARDSON: You know, this is the kind of Washington bickering that the public turns off to. And you know, with all due respect, as a governor, I'm frustrated every time you guys and the president get nothing done, because then the burden is on us.

And you know, John, I understand your frustration.

I understand, you know, that it's personal.

But you know, to resolve problems, you've got to bring people together. You'd got to heal this country. You can't, you know, it's great to say, "We're going to take everybody on," but you know it's going to take coalitions of people backing us. It's going to take public financing to get the special interests out of politics. It's going to take bipartisanship.

You know, what I've said is that if I'm elected president, I'm going to have a Cabinet of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Now, I won't overdo the Republicans, but -- (laughter) -- but my point is, it's how you govern. It's coalition building. It's bringing the public -- a citizen's corps of activists. It's asking the public to sacrifice, to do something for the country, like being more energy efficient, like national service.

You know, I've got a program -- two years, the government pays for your college loans. your tuition. You give one year of national service to the country. It's involving the electorate. You can't do it by just fighting and taking everybody on. You've got to bring people together and that's a frustration.

MR. EDWARDS: Give me 30 seconds on this, because he just said something. Please.

MR. GIBSON: I'll hold you to it.

MR. EDWARDS: You can.

I actually completely agree that it's the responsibility of the president to unite and galvanize the American people. It is also the responsibility of the president -- and I will do it -- to work with members of Congress to get things done. But these entrenched, moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on the middle class, that are doing -- incredibly destructive to American jobs and health care system, energy, all taxes, trade, they're in everything. Absolutely everything. You cannot nice these people to death. It doesn't work. I have been in the trenches fighting them for my whole adult life.

And it takes strength, backbone, fight, and you have to take them on.

Yes, Barack, I agree with you completely that the best -- we need to unite America and we need to galvanize the American people. MR. EDWARDS: You can.

I actually completely agree that it's the responsibility of the president to unite and galvanize the American people. It is also the responsibility of the president -- and I will do it -- to work with members of Congress to get things done. But these entrenched, moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on the middle class, that are doing -- incredibly destructive to American jobs and health care system, energy, all taxes, trade, they're in everything. Absolutely everything. You cannot nice these people to death. It doesn't work. I have been in the trenches fighting them for my whole adult life.

And it takes strength, backbone, fight, and you have to take them on.

Yes, Barack, I agree with you completely that the best -- we need to unite America and we need to galvanize the American people. MR. EDWARDS: You can.

I actually completely agree that it's the responsibility of the president to unite and galvanize the American people. It is also the responsibility of the president -- and I will do it -- to work with members of Congress to get things done. But these entrenched, moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on the middle class, that are doing -- incredibly destructive to American jobs and health care system, energy, all taxes, trade, they're in everything. Absolutely everything. You cannot nice these people to death. It doesn't work. I have been in the trenches fighting them for my whole adult life.

And it takes strength, backbone, fight, and you have to take them on.

Yes, Barack, I agree with you completely that the best -- we need to unite America and we need to galvanize the American people. MR. EDWARDS: You can.

I actually completely agree that it's the responsibility of the president to unite and galvanize the American people. It is also the responsibility of the president -- and I will do it -- to work with members of Congress to get things done. But these entrenched, moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on the middle class, that are doing -- incredibly destructive to American jobs and health care system, energy, all taxes, trade, they're in everything. Absolutely everything. You cannot nice these people to death. It doesn't work. I have been in the trenches fighting them for my whole adult life.

And it takes strength, backbone, fight, and you have to take them on.

Yes, Barack, I agree with you completely that the best -- we need to unite America and we need to galvanize the American people. MR. EDWARDS: You can.

I actually completely agree that it's the responsibility of the president to unite and galvanize the American people. It is also the responsibility of the president -- and I will do it -- to work with members of Congress to get things done. But these entrenched, moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on the middle class, that are doing -- incredibly destructive to American jobs and health care system, energy, all taxes, trade, they're in everything. Absolutely everything. You cannot nice these people to death. It doesn't work. I have been in the trenches fighting them for my whole adult life.

And it takes strength, backbone, fight, and you have to take them on.

Yes, Barack, I agree with you completely that the best -- we need to unite America and we need to galvanize the American people.

And Bill, I completely agree with what you just said. This is not a fight with politicians, and this is not a -- certainly not a fight with the American people. It is a fight for the American people against those people who are stopping the change.

And Bill, I completely agree with what you just said. This is not a fight with politicians, and this is not a -- certainly not a fight with the American people. It is a fight for the American people against those people who are stopping the change.

And Bill, I completely agree with what you just said. This is not a fight with politicians, and this is not a -- certainly not a fight with the American people. It is a fight for the American people against those people who are stopping the change.

And Bill, I completely agree with what you just said. This is not a fight with politicians, and this is not a -- certainly not a fight with the American people. It is a fight for the American people against those people who are stopping the change.

And Bill, I completely agree with what you just said. This is not a fight with politicians, and this is not a -- certainly not a fight with the American people. It is a fight for the American people against those people who are stopping the change.

MR. GIBSON: All right. Let me turn to something else.

Reversing -- you invoked the name of Al Gore a few moments ago. Reversing or slowing global warming is going to take sacrifice. I'm sort of sorry Chris Dodd isn't here because he's talked a lot about a carbon tax in this election. Al Gore favors a carbon tax. None of you have favored a carbon tax. Is it a bad idea? Or is it just so politically unpalatable that you guys don't want to propose it?

GOV. RICHARDSON: It's -- can I answer? You know, I was Energy secretary. It's a bad idea because when you have a carbon tax, first of all, it's not a mandate. What you want is a mandate on polluters, on coal companies, on -- on -- on those that pollute to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain target -- under my plan, 30 percent by the year 2020, 80 percent by the year 2040. It takes international leadership.

The better way to do it is through a cap-and-trade system, which is a mandate. Furthermore, a carbon tax, that's passed on to consumers. That's passed on to the average person. That's money you take out of the economy. So it's a bad idea. Cap-and-trade is mandate, but it's also going to take presidential leadership. It's going to take all of us here, every American, you know, to think more efficiently about how we transport ourself, what vehicles we purchase, appliances in our homes.

It's going to take a transportation policy that doesn't just build more highways. We have to have commuter rail, light rail, open spaces. We got to have -- we got to have land use policies where we improve people's quality of life.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator Obama?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I agree with Bill, that I think cap-and-trade system makes more sense. That's why I proposed it because you can be very specific in terms of how we're going to reduce the greenhouse gases by a particular level. Now what you have to do is you have to combine it with a hundred percent auction. In other words, every little bit of pollution that is sent up into the atmosphere that polluter is getting charged for it. Not only does that ensure that they don't game the system, but you're also generating billions of dollars that can be invested in solar and wind and biodiesel.

I do disagree with one thing, though, that Bill said, and that is that on a carbon tax the cost will be passed onto consumers and that won't happen with a cap-and-trade. Under a cap-and-trade there will be a cost. Plants are going to have to retrofit their equipment, and that's going to cost money, and they will pass it onto consumers. We have an obligation to use some of the money that we generate to shield low-income and fixed-income individuals from high electricity prices, but we're also going to have to ask the American people to change how they use energy. Everybody's going to have to change their light bulbs. Everybody's going to have to insulate their homes. And that will be a sacrifice, but it's a sacrifice that we can meet. Over the long term it will generate jobs and businesses and can drive our economy for many decades.

SEN. CLINTON: Charlie, let me make a connection here that I think is really important.

I think the economy is slipping toward a recession -- the unemployment figure on Friday hitting 5 percent, the $100 a barrel oil that we also hit this week, the fall of the dollar.

There's a lot of pressures on middle-class families, and the kind of costs that they have to keep up with have all gone up astronomically. I mean, you know, the energy costs of the typical family in New Hampshire since George Bush has been president have tripled, and that's far beyond what -- the cost of the tax cuts that they got from George Bush.

So what we've got to do is use energy as an opportunity to actually jump-start economic recovery. We need to quickly move toward energy efficiency. We should require the utilities to begin to work for energy efficiency and conservation, costs that will be shared and decrease the pressure on families. We need a weatherization and low- income heating emergency program that is out there now helping families in New Hampshire and elsewhere to cover their costs. And we need to look at how doing what is right about energy is not only good for our security and good for the fight against global warming, but it will be essential in dealing with the economic challenges that we face.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Edwards, I will take this question to you, but you raised the issue of the economy right now. And we have a housing crisis in this country.


MR. GIBSON: We have an energy problem in the cost of energy. And we now have a jobs problem. We have, when we are -- and you raised the "R" word, "recession" -- when we are approaching recession, it is consumers who have spent us out of recession in most cases. You're all talking about letting some of the Bush tax cuts lapse.

SEN. CLINTON: Yeah, but Charlie, the tax cuts on the wealthiest of Americans, not the middle-class tax cuts. One of the problems with George Bush's tax policy has been the way he has tilted it toward the wealthy and the well-connected.

MR. GIBSON: If you take a family of -- if you take a family of two professors here at Saint Anselm, they're going to be in the $200,000 category that you're talking about lifting the taxes on. And -- (laughter).

MR. EDWARDS: I don't think they agree with you.

SEN. OBAMA: I'm not sure that that's -- (laughter) --

SEN. CLINTON: That may be NYU, Charlie.

I don't think it's -- (laughter) -- Saint Anselm.

MR. GIBSON: Two public school teachers in New York? (Laughter.)

But that is -- you're in a situation where you're taking money out of the economy is what I'm saying.

SEN. CLINTON: Look, if we set the cap where I'm saying, at 250,000 (dollars) and above, that's a very small percentage. And what I want to do is fix the alternative minimum tax; create these new job opportunities, primarily through clean, renewable energy; but also get back to where middle-class families get the kind of tax relief that they deserve, which they really haven't been getting under George Bush.

MR. EDWARDS: Can I just --

MR. GIBSON: Go ahead, yeah.

MR. EDWARDS: Thank you.

What you see happening in America today, if you're president of the United States and you're looking at this from altitude is you see a very few Americans getting wealthier and wealthier, you see the biggest corporations in America's profits through the roof -- ExxonMobil just made $40 billion, record profits -- all of that happening at the same time that we have 47 million people with no health care, 37 million who will wake up in this country tomorrow worried about feeding and clothing their children. Tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore the uniform of the United States of America and served this country honorably will go to sleep under bridges and on grates.

It's time for us to say and it's time for the president to say enough is enough. This is a battle for the future of our children. This is a battle for the middle class.

Let's take jobs, which we haven't talked about. We've touched on a lot of other things, but we haven't talked about jobs. We've had a trade and tax policy that is bleeding American jobs, and all it has done is pad the profits of the biggest multinational corporations in America. You talk about professors here at this college. Let me say a word about --

MR. GIBSON: Well, I shouldn't have done that, apparently.

MR. EDWARDS: Yeah -- (laughter).

But we are -- they -- I saw a projection just a week or so ago suggesting that America could lose as many as 20 (million) to 30 million more jobs over the next decade. Think about that for a minute, 30 million. And who's the most at-risk group? College graduates. This is not just people who are working in mills and working in factories -- who have been devastated by this, completely devastated -- these are middle-class families, these are college graduates and their jobs at risk. We need a different tax policy, a different trade policy, where the first question is -- and this is what I will ask when I am president of the United States -- is this trade proposal, is this tax proposal, is it good for working, middle- class Americans? That's the question.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: There is no doubt that the economy has been out of balance. It's been out of balance throughout George Bush's tenure. And some of the trends from globalization preceded George Bush.

That's why I have proposed specific tax relief now, immediately, so that we would offset some of the payroll tax, that we would immediately put some additional dollars in the pockets of American families, working families typically making $75,000 a year or less, to not only stimulate the economy, but also to balance out a tax code. And I would pay for it very specifically by closing tax loopholes and tax havens. You've got a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 12,000 corporations. That's either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.

MR. EDWARDS: Yeah -- (laughter).

But we are -- they -- I saw a projection just a week or so ago suggesting that America could lose as many as 20 (million) to 30 million more jobs over the next decade. Think about that for a minute, 30 million. And who's the most at-risk group? College graduates. This is not just people who are working in mills and working in factories -- who have been devastated by this, completely devastated -- these are middle-class families, these are college graduates and their jobs at risk. We need a different tax policy, a different trade policy, where the first question is -- and this is what I will ask when I am president of the United States -- is this trade proposal, is this tax proposal, is it good for working, middle- class Americans? That's the question.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: There is no doubt that the economy has been out of balance. It's been out of balance throughout George Bush's tenure. And some of the trends from globalization preceded George Bush.

That's why I have proposed specific tax relief now, immediately, so that we would offset some of the payroll tax, that we would immediately put some additional dollars in the pockets of American families, working families typically making $75,000 a year or less, to not only stimulate the economy, but also to balance out a tax code. And I would pay for it very specifically by closing tax loopholes and tax havens. You've got a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 12,000 corporations. That's either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.

And beyond that, I will leave it to the pundits to decide what I might or might not have said at any one of the debates.

MR. GIBSON: I will let you off on specificity -- (laughter) -- of take-backs since we're running out of time.

Governor Richardson?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I've made a lot of them. One that I particularly remember -- I think it was here in New Hampshire, the first debate -- I was asked who my favorite Supreme Court justice was, and I said, dead or alive? (Laughter.) I said -- I should have -- I should have stuck to the alive because I then said, "Whizzer" White, because I idolize John F. Kennedy and I figured if he appointed "Whizzer" White, this was a great Supreme Court justice. Well then I find out that "Whizzer" White was against Roe versus Wade, against civil rights -- (laughter). You know, so that's -- that wasn't a good one. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. GIBSON: Senator Edwards, I'll go to you just with a passing comment, that you haven't talked about Mrs. Clinton's attire recently.

MR. EDWARDS: Well, I was actually about to say -- I already figured this out --

MR./SEN. : That was a -- (inaudible).

MR. EDWARDS: -- what -- if you're going to pick the one for me, it was when I made the horrendous mistake of teasing Hillary about her jacket. (Laughter.) And I want her to know I think you look terrific tonight. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. GIBSON: And Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, there have been all kinds of, you know, aspects to my debate performance that I'd love to correct or sharpen, but over all, I actually -- here's an area where I agree with Hillary, that there has been a stark contrast generally between the four of us and those who aren't debating with us now but were previously.

There is going to be a fundamental difference between the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee. Ending the politics of fear that has so dominated our political debate. Making certain that we're actually listening to the American people and the struggles and hardships that they're going through. And I think the opportunity to bring the American people together and to push back those special interests, to actually deliver on meaningful differences in their lives, that's something -- that's a prospect that I think all Democrats should be excited about.

MR. GIBSON: I want to thank all four of you for being here. (Applause.) And I want to thank the six Republicans who preceded you. No matter -- (applause continues) -- no matter who people across the country are supporting, whether it's in this party or the other, we wish all of you well and we thank you for being here. All the best.

[end transmission, Voice of Blogistan]

New Hampshire II - Republican Debate

[begin transmission, Voice of Blogistan]

January 5, 2008

The Republican Debate in New Hampshire

Following is the transcript of the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., as transcribed by Federal News Service.


MR. GIBSON: I thank you all for being here, and I genuinely look forward to this. So let us begin. And I'll start the stopwatch.

President Bush said in his end-of-the-year news conference, "During the primaries and during the general election, I suspect my name may come up a lot." So let's bring it up. And I want to start with foreign policy. And just to set some context, we've got a little background here from ABC's Jonathan Karl.

JONATHAN KARL (ABC): When he was on the debate stage eight years ago, candidate George Bush promised a humble foreign policy. After September 11th, a new Bush doctrine: The United States would hit its enemies before they hit us. Hence, the Iraq war. On terrorism, President Bush told the world, you're either with us or you're against us.

With the second term, an even bolder vision.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) With the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

MR. KARL: Sounding like Woodrow Wilson, the president vowed to push for democracy everywhere. There are exceptions -- support for Musharraf in Pakistan, for example, and the nuclear deal offered to North Korea. From the axis of evil to nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush policy has been bold, but not exactly humble.


MR. GIBSON: So let me start with a general question. If you are the nominee, will you run on the Bush foreign policy record or will you run away from it? And Governor Huckabee, let me start with you because it was you who wrote that the Bush foreign policy reflects an arrogant bunker mentality.

MR. HUCKABEE: And when I made those statements, I was speaking to the fact that there were times when we gave the world the impression that we were going to ignore what they thought or what they felt, and we were going to do whatever it is we wanted to do.

But the fact is we're going to do what is best for the American people. And as president, I will always act in the best interests of our country, but I'll always try to make sure that we're the strongest nation on earth, the most powerful, the most prepared but also the one that uses that strength in a very, very understanding way of making sure that when we use the strength we use it with full understanding of the implications of it.

And let me just finish the thought, Charlie, if I may. There were times when the arrogance was reflected, for example, in the former Defense secretary, who despite getting advice from the Defense Department that we would need 400,000 troops to be able to successfully bring stability to Iraq insisted that we would only use 180,000 troops and we would go in with a light footprint. And there was one particular statement that he made that I found especially troubling. He said we don't go to war with the Army that we want; we go to war with the Army that we have. I felt that the proper way for us to approach this is we don't go to war with the Army we have; we go to war with the Army that we need, and we make sure that we have what we need before we go to war, including a clear definition of what we're going to do, irresistible force when we do it. And once we do it we don't let the politicians interfere or interrupt the battlefield decisions of the commanders with blood on their boots and medals on their chest.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Thompson.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, I think that maybe the governor's rethought his comments that he made about America arrogant foreign policy because it seems now what he's saying is that we were arrogant because we didn't go in with enough troops.

I think that's kind of a different impression than the one that he originally sought to leave.

I don't think our foreign policy has been arrogant. Presidents are not perfect. Policies are not perfect. But the bottom line is we are in a global war with radical Islam. They declared on it -- us -- war on us a long, long time ago. We took note really for the first time on September 11 of 2001.

We must do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves. We weren't considered to be arrogant in Afghanistan when we went in there and won that conflict.

I agree that we made a mistake in terms of going into Iraq as far as the number of troops are concerned, and I think the flawed strategy also. I think that's been rectified now, and I think we're on the -- on the way to prevailing there. And because we are prevailing there, I think it's going to be for a safer United States of America.

MR. GIBSON: Mayor Giuliani, would you run on the president's foreign policy record or away from it?

MR. GIULIANI: I think you run on your foreign policy ideas, theories and policies, which I've laid out in articles.

And I think the president got the big decision of his presidency right -- the big decision that he made on September 20th, 2001, when he put us on offense against Islamic terrorism. And I give him great credit for that because we had been dealing with Islamic terrorism incorrectly up until then. We had been on defense.

We have been responding. The president set a whole different mind- set. It was let's anticipate, let's see if we can prevent another attack. That led to Afghanistan. It led to Iraq. It's led to the Patriot Act. It's led to electronic surveillance. It's led to changing our intelligence services. All that is very, very good.

Mistakes have also been made. Mistakes were made particularly in the period of time after the capture of Saddam Hussein and now, a year ago, when we got to the surge policy.

MR. GIBSON: Well, let me bring up the Bush -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

MR. GIULIANI: If I may add, I think one of the things that would -- would help answer some of the issues that have come up is we should increase the size of our military. Bill Clinton cut the military drastically. It's called the peace dividend, one of those nice- sounding phrases, very devastating. It was a 25, 30 percent cut in the military. President Bush has never made up for that. We -- our Army had been at 725,000; it's down to 500,000. We need at least 10 more combat brigades. We need our -- we need our Marines at 200,000. We need a 300-ship Navy. This president should do it now. If I'm president, I'll do it immediately.

MR. GIBSON: Let me -- let me just ratchet up the question slightly and ask you if you believe in the Bush doctrine, because in September 2002, up -- for years, our foreign policy has been based on the idea that we form alliances, international consensus; we attack -- retaliate if we're attacked. But in 2002 the president said we have a right to a preemptive attack, that we can attack if this country feels threatened. And on that basis -- WMD -- we went into Iraq. We have cited the threat of a nuclear Iran to leave the military option on the table. Do you agree with the doctrine, Senator McCain, if you were president, or would you change it?

SEN. MCCAIN: I agree with the doctrine, and I'd also like to give President Bush a little credit as we have this discussion. Right after 9/11, every expert in the world said there would be another attack on the United States of America. There hasn't been. Now maybe that's all by accident, but if there had been, I think it's very clear where the responsibility would have been placed. So I think we ought to give him credit for that. We went through the greatest reorganization of government since the creation of the Defense Department and the creation of the Defense Department of Homeland Security, and America is safer. America is not safe; America is safer. I'd like to give the president some credit for that.

Now, I strongly disagree with the strategy employed by Secretary Rumsfeld, and by the way, I'm the only one here that disagreed at the time. And I'm the only one at the time that said we've got to employ a new strategy and outlined what it was, which is the Petraeus strategy. And I said at the time I had no confidence in the then- secretary of Defense. But we are succeeding now in Iraq, and the fact is, as we blame the president for the failed strategy, we should give him credit for changing the strategy and changing the leadership so that we now have, I think, one of the finest military leaders in American history in David Petraeus.

So, look, I think we've got enormous challenges ahead of us. I think the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radical Islamic extremists.

And by the way, I'd like to give my friend, the mayor, for the great job that he did after 9/11 and the way that he and the president rallied this nation. But I know how to lead. I've been involved in these issues, and I know how to solve them.

MR. GIBSON: Congressman Paul, let me ask you: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine or would you change it?

REP. PAUL: Well, I certainly agreed with his foreign policy that he ran on and that we as Republicans won in the year 2000 -- you know, the humble foreign policy, no nation-building, don't be the policeman of the world. And we were strongly critical of the policy of the Clinton administration, that did the opposite. And we fell short. Of course, the excuse is that 9/11 changed everything, but the Bush doctrine of preemptive war is not a minor change. This is huge. This is the first time we as a nation accept as our policy that we start the wars. I don't understand this. And that all options are on the table to go after Iran? This -- this is not -- this is not necessary. These are third-world nations. They're not capable.

But I think it's the misunderstanding or the disagreements that we've had in this debate along the campaign trail is the -- the nature of the threat. I'm as concerned about the nature of the threat of terrorism as anybody, if not more so. But they don't attack us because we're free and prosperous. And there are radicals in all elements on -- in -- in all religions that will result to violence. But if we don't understand that the reaction is -- is because we invade their countries, we -- and occupy their countries, we have bases in their country, and that we haven't done it just since 9/11, but we have done that a long time.

I mean, it was the Air Force base in Saudi Arabia before 9/11 that was given as the excuse. If we don't understand that, we can't win this war against terrorism.

MR. GIBSON: You can break in here, Governor Romney.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, unfortunately, Ron, you need a thorough understanding of what radical jihad is -- what the movement is, what its intent is, where it flows from, and the fact is it is trying to bring down, not just us, but it is trying to bring down all moderate Islamic governments, Western governments around the world, as we just saw in Pakistan.

But let's step back with regards to the president. The president is not arrogant. The president does not subject -- or is not subject to a bunker mentality. The president has acted out of his desire to keep America safe, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping this country safe over the last six years.

MR. GIBSON: Let me --

MR. ROMNEY: In addition, let me -- let me continue with my own thoughts on -- on the issue of do we follow his policy or create a new one.

He did the right thing in responding and reacting to the fact that we got attacked. And people now recognize you attack America and there is a response. But we're going to have to move our strategy from simply being a respond to military threat with military action to an effort that says we're going to use our military and non-military resources -- non-military resources, combined with other nations who are our friends, to help move the world of Islam towards modernity and moderation. It's something that former Prime Minister Aznar of Spain spoke about.

The new mission for NATO and for other nations is to help provide the rule of law, education that is not through madrassas, agricultural and economic policies that can be instilled in various Islamic countries so the Muslims are able to reject the extreme and the -- and the terrorists.

We can help them. Our military is going to be needed. We do need -- I agree with what the mayor said; we need to add to our military by at least 100,000 troops, but the answer is to move now to a second phase, a phase of helping Muslims become so strong they can reject the extreme.

MR. THOMPSON: Charlie, is this subject still open?


MR. THOMPSON: Can we comment on that?

I served on the Intelligence Committee in the Senate. I was the floor manager for the Republicans on the homeland security bill. So I have a bit of a different vantage point than some of my colleagues on this.

The question had to do with preemption. Preemption didn't just appear one day as a good idea. After the Cold War, we had one big enemy and one big weapon against us. When we kind of took a holiday from history in the '90s and let our military slide and our intelligence capabilities slide, the world was changing. We now have multiple enemies. We now have terrorists and various groups, al Qaeda, rogue nations in different stages of developing nuclear weapons. We must be prepared for the different kind of weaponry that we're facing. We could be attacked with a biological weapon and not even know it for a long period of time. This is a different world.

So instead of mutually assured destruction, which we lived under for a long time, it's now a world where preemption has got to be an option under the right circumstances.

MR. GIBSON: So you would keep the Bush policy?

MR. THOMPSON: Things that happen on the other side of the world sometimes can affect us such as, perhaps, Pakistan. We should only go in where we should and where we're able to.

MR. GIBSON: Let me --

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie?

MR. GIBSON: Yeah, go ahead.

MR. GIULIANI: Just make one point. Ron's analysis is really seriously flawed. The idea that the attack took place because of American foreign policy is precisely the reason I handed back a $10 million check to a Saudi prince, who gave me that money at Ground Zero for the Twin Towers fund and then put out a press release saying America should change its foreign policy. It seems to me if you don't face this squarely, to have an Islamic terrorist threat against us, it's an existential threat, it has nothing to do with our foreign policy; it has to do with their ideas, their theories, the things that they have done (and/in ?) the way they've perverted their religion into a hatred of us. And what's at stake are the things that are best about us -- our freedom of religion, our freedom for women, our right to vote, our free economic system.

Our foreign policy is irrelevant, totally irrelevant. If you read what they write, if you bother to listen to what they say, this comes out of their own perverted thinking.

REP. PAUL: Charlie.

MR. GIBSON: Go ahead.

REP. PAUL: Let me try to explain so you can understand this better. Try to visualize how we would react if they did that to us. If a country, say China, came that great distance across the ocean, and they say, "We want you to live like us, we want you to have our economic system, we want bases on your land, we want to protect our oil," even if we do that with good intentions, even if the Chinese did that with good intentions, we would all be together and we'd be furious.

MR. ROMNEY: Ron. Ron, you're reading -- you're reading their propaganda.

REP. PAUL: What would you do

MR. ROMNEY: I'd read their -- I'd read their -- I'd read their writings. I'd read what they write to one another, and that's why when someone like Sayyid Qutb lays out the philosophy of radical jihadism and says we want to kill

REP. PAUL: And what you're saying

MR. ROMNEY: Let me complete -- wants to kill Anwar Sadat -- when there's the assassination of Anwar Sadat, it has nothing to do with us. The reason -- why did they kill Madame Bhutto? It has nothing to do with us. This has to do with a battle that is going on within the world of Islam of radical violent jihadists trying to bring down all moderate Islamic people and nations and replace them with a religious caliphate.

REP. PAUL: But this means

MR. ROMNEY: And we are doing our very best to help support the voices of moderation.

MR. THOMPSON: Who had we invaded before 9/11

MR. ROMNEY: They tried it in the Philippines.

REP. PAUL: We were occupying. We had an air base

MR. THOMPSON: Occupying

REP. PAUL: -- in Saudi Arabia.


REP. PAUL: We have propped up -- how many governments have we propped up?

MR. GIBSON: Before we start with Governor Huckabee, I owe you a few seconds because you -- somebody said no -- or Senator Thompson said we're not arrogant; we don't have bunker mentality. Just take a few seconds.

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, in those words -- first of all, Governor Romney, you yourself on 60 Minutes said that we had left Iraq in a mess. You've also said that you weren't going to have this "my way" or "no way" philosophy, and I've been attacked for using the words policy that had an "arrogance and bunker mentality." I didn't say the president was. I supported the president and the war before you did. I supported the surge when you didn't. I'm not a person who is out there taking cheap shots at the president. I worked really hard to get him elected, but I'm not running for George Bush's third term. I want to be president of the United States on my own terms.

And I think it's important for us to recognize that

MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, I get to -- I get to respond to that.

MR. HUCKABEE: Let me finish this. When -- when Congressman Paul

MR. PAUL: And I get a chance to respond. (Laughter.)

MR. HUCKABEE: You'll all get a chance to respond

MR. ROMNEY: I'm out of time.

MR. HUCKABEE: -- before it's over, I'm sure. But

MR. ROMNEY: Governor -- Governor --

MR. HUCKABEE: -- the fact is when there is a -- when there is a serious threat to this country, it is not a threat because we happen to be peace-loving people; it's a threat because in the heart of the radical Islamic faith -- not all Islam, and that's what's very important. This isn't an Islamic problem; this is a jihadist problem. This is an Islamofascism problem. And if you read the writings of those who most influenced -- and Governor Romney mentioned Said Qutub, executed in Egypt in 1966. He is one of the major philosophers behind this. And the fact is, there is nothing about our attacking them that prompts this. They are prompted by the fact they believe that they must establish a worldwide caliphate that has nothing to do with us other than we live and breathe, and their intention is to destroy us.

MR. GIBSON: Very quickly, you went after Governor Romney

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, a number -- a number of things. I disagree with the governor writing in Foreign Affairs magazine that the president's administration suffers from an arrogant bunker mentality.

MR. HUCKABEE: Did you read the article before you commented on it?

MR. ROMNEY: I did read the article.

MR. HUCKABEE: The entire article, before you commented on it.

MR. ROMNEY: I read the entire article, and I thought it -- well, I won't make any further comments. It was not

MR. HUCKABEE: Before you commented on it.

MR. ROMNEY: Before -- I got a copy of the article and read the article. And in the -- in the headline of the article, it said that the Bush -- the Bush

MR. PAUL: Did you read mine? (Laughter.)

MR. GIBSON: I've got to -- I've got to

MR. ROMNEY: John? No, no, hold on. John -- no, I didn't, sorry. (Laughter.) What I read is -- and number two --

MR. PAUL: What about mine?

MR. ROMNEY: Number two -- number two, I did support the surge.

REP. PAUL: Unknown.

MR. ROMNEY: It was Senator McCain of all of us who was out fighting for the surge. He was right on that. On the same day the president announced the surge, I also -- having spoken that day with Fred Kagan, who is one of the brilliant theorists in this regard, I laid out my plan that I thought made sense -- actually, even before the president's speech -- calling for additional troops; I called for a different number. So I also supported the surge from the very beginning.

But look, I -- you know, Governor

MR. HUCKABEE: I'm way over.

MR. ROMNEY: Don't try and characterize my position. Of course, this war has

MR. HUCKABEE: Which one? (Scattered laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: You know -- you know, we're wise to talk about policies and not to make personal attacks.

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, it's not a personal attack, Mitt, because you also supported a timed withdrawal. And Senator Pryor, from my state

MR. ROMNEY: No, that's

MR. HUCKABEE: -- was praising you for that, and

MR. ROMNEY: I do not -- I do not support and have never support a timed withdrawal. So that's wrong, Governor. You know, it's -- it's really helpful if you talk about your policies and the things you believe and let me talk about my policies. And my policy is I've never talked about a time withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That's not the case. Simply wrong. I've also supported the troop surge, Governor, and I supported it on the same day the president brought it forward.

And the critical thing here is for us to stand together and to say I think we do agree with troop surge. We believe that the troop surge is going to make an enormous difference for the world and protect us from the establishment of safe havens from which al Qaeda could launch attacks against us.

MR. GIBSON: Very quickly.

REP. PAUL: There's -- there's always a radical element in almost all -- all religions. They have to have an incentive. We give them that incentive.

The question that you don't -- aren't willing to ask is, why is it that they attack America?

I mean, they don't attack the Canadians. They don't attack the Swiss. If it were merely because they want to go into Europe, why do they

MR. ROMNEY: Is it such a puzzle, is it such a mystery as to why they attack America?

MR. GIULIANI: They attacked Israelis, they attacked Bali

REP. PAUL: It is --

MR. ROMNEY: They're not going after Luxembourg. (Laughter.)


REP. PAUL: It is because we've gone six --

MR. ROMNEY: We're the strongest nation in the world.

MR. GIULIANI: Ron. Ron, it is simply not true. Islamic terrorists killed over 500 Americans before September 11, 2001, going back to the late 1960s. They have also killed people recently in Bali, in London. They have launched attacks in Germany. Where did the attack on the Munich Olympics take place? In the United States? Or did it take place in Germany?

MR. GIBSON: All right, let me stop this --

MR. GIULIANI: I could go on and on. The attack on Leon Klinghoffer.

MR. GIBSON: Let me

MR. GIULIANI: Islamic terrorists have attacked --

REP. PAUL: You paint all Islamics the same way.

MR. GIULIANI: -- all over the world.

MR. ROMNEY: No, of course not.

REP. PAUL: They absolutely do not.

MR. ROMNEY: Of course not.

MR. GIBSON: Gentlemen, I --

REP. PAUL: What you're doing is damaging our relationship by destroying our relationship with all Muslims.

MR. GIULIANI: I do not.

REP. PAUL: That's what you're doing.

MR. GIBSON: Time. Time.

MR. THOMPSON: Charlie, you started it.

MR. GIBSON: I did start it, yes. I did. (Laughter.)

MR. : Charlie, you wanted a free-for-all.

MR. GIULIANI: It is important to make this point. Just the opposite, Ron. I have great respect for the Islamic religion. I have great respect for the Arab world, for the Middle East. I think we should be closer to them. I think we should trade more with them. I think we should have cultural exchanges with them. The overwhelming majority of the Islamic world --

REP. PAUL: Why do we support their dictators, then? Why do we prop up all their dictators?

MR. GIULIANI: And on the evening of September 11, 2001, the day my city was attacked, I got on television and I said to the people of my city, we're not going to engage in group blame. This is a small group of people.

This does not typify a great religion and a great people.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to --

MR. GIULIANI: I do not accept that criticism.

REP. PAUL: (Off mike.)

MR. ROMNEY (?): We're going to miss you tomorrow night. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to move on to domestic policy, and I'm going to violate a promise that I made to all of your campaigns. I promised that we wouldn't do any questions on videotape -- questions from somebody outside this room -- but I'm going to violate it with a question from the president of the United States, who posed a question that I think is important about all of you -- posed a question at his last news conference about what he thought candidates ought to be as they ran. Take a look.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) You can't be the president unless you have a firm set of principles to guide you as you sort through all the problems the world faces. And I would be very hesitant to support somebody who relied upon opinion polls and focus groups to define a way forward for a president. It is -- and so my question to -- if I were asking questions to people running for office, I'd say: What are the principles that will stand on in good times and bad times? What would be the underpinning of -- of -- of your decisions?

MR. GIBSON: What are the principles, and are they constant? You all have been questioning -- as I've watched you campaign, you've all been questioning your opponents. And I'm going to ask Senator McCain, you and Governor Romney, because you two have been going at each other in interviews and in ads about this, of the constancy of your principles, or whether or not you look to opinion polls and focus groups to make up your minds.

So let me have the two of you dialogue with each other about this and answer the president's questions, and then I'll bring the other four in and give them equal time.

SEN. MCCAIN: The principles and philosophy that I hold I've held since I raised my hand at age 17 to -- as a midshipman in the United States Naval Academy to uphold this nation's honor, to serve it, call Americans to sacrifice and serve for their nation and defend the greatest nation in the history of the world. Now we need to restore trust and confidence in government. Now we are in a titanic transcendent struggle of the 21st century, which we have been discussing earlier.

I believe for the last 20 years I've been engaged in every major national security issue that has affected this nation, and I have been involved in many of the decisions as to how those are handled. And I, again, say that I'm glad to know that now everybody supported the surge. I said at the time that General Petraeus and his strategy must be employed, and I was criticized by Republicans at that time. And that was a low point, but stuck to it; I didn't change. I didn't say we needed a secret plan for withdrawal. I said that we can prevail, and as General Petraeus has said, this is the central front in the battle against radical Islamic extremists.

We are succeeding, and I believe that if we'd have done what the Democrats had wanted to do, al Qaeda would be trumpeting to the world that they defeated the United States of America.

So my principles and my philosophy are those embodied in those words that we believe that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. I will defend those. I believe in them. And I believe America's best days are ahead of us.

MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, when I sat down with my family and had the discussion about whether or not to get into this race, we went around the room, and each one of my five sons and five daughters-in-law expressed their views. And it's because of them and because of my concern about the future of America that I'm in this race. I'm convinced that America is the greatest nation on earth, that we are a good nation and a strong nation. And we are safe and prosperous, in part, because of our greatness and our strength.

I'm concerned, though, right now we face challenges of such an unprecedented nature that unless we deal with them honestly and effectively, America will become less of a nation that it needs to be to preserve the peace here and the peace around the world. And I believe it's essential for America to stand for principles of an eternal nature. I think at the heart of our strength is the family. I don't think there's anything more important to the future of America than the work that's going on within the four walls of the American home. I think we have to strengthen America's families. I think we have to have good schools and good health care for moms and dads tending to the needs of kids, that we have to have better schools and better health care. I believe also that this nation has to have a strong and vibrant economy. I don't think we can lead the world unless we have the leading economy. And finally, a strong military to keep us safe.

So my overriding principle is keeping America the strongest nation on earth. And there will be a lot of choices and pulls and tugs in different directions. But keeping America strong through all those elements, through our families and our values, through our economy and its vibrancy and through our military is what is essential to me for the future of this land.

MR. GIBSON: All right. Let me turn to Mayor Giuliani. I must say, you don't sound like two guys who have sniping at one another over and over in your ads and interviews. You sound different.

Mayor Giuliani.

MR. GIULIANI: I think what the president had in mind is that at the core of leadership is knowing what you believe, standing for something. Ronald Reagan was my hero in that respect. I wrote about it in my book "Leadership." And I think one of the things President Bush was getting at is that too many people in politics today put their finger up and go with the poll. You know, you can see it in some of our Democratic colleagues changing their position.

MR. GIBSON: But let me interrupt you for a moment.

MR. GIULIANI: What do I stand for? I laid out 12 commitments to the American people. I wrote them out. The first one is the most important -- keeping this country on offense in the Islamic terrorist war against us. The rest of them lay out what I believe this country has to do over the next four years. That would be my guidepost. If I'm elected president, I'll put that card on my desk, and every day I will try to accomplish it -- end illegal immigration, solve health care through private options, reduce taxes, reduce the size of government on the civilian side, expand the military, appoint strict constructionist judges. These will be the beliefs that I have, the way that Ronald Reagan got elected to increase the size of the military, to reduce taxes.

MR. GIBSON: Let me interrupt you for just a second. Because with all due respect, many of your fellows here on this stage have said you've had to moderate an awful lot of your views to get within the mainstream of the Republican Party and that you don't believe now what you believed when you were mayor.

Governor Huckabee, you've been accused of having been a tax-and- spend governor when you were in Arkansas and changing your beliefs now.

Governor Romney, I don't have to go into how many times they've called you a flip-flopper in terms of issues and what you believed as governor of Massachusetts.

Congressman Paul, respect to you, I don't know that you've changed much except your party -- (laughter) -- because you were a Libertarian when you first ran for president.

Senator Thompson has been accused of running on a more conservative record for president than when he was in the Senate.

And Senator McCain, you've been accused of moderating your views on the Bush tax policies in order to get into the mainstream of the party and on immigration to moderate your views.

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie, that's the reason why you lay out the things that you believe in. There are beliefs that you have that you're not going to vary from, no matter what the winds of change bring about. There are some that you are going to change. Look at Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan had three prime goals: to increase the size of the military to win the cold war, to reduce taxes, and to reduce the deficit. He accomplished two of the three. The third one he wasn't able to accomplish, probably because the first two, in his view, were more important.

So you can't accomplish every single thing that you want. Over a period of time, your views on things are going to change. But if your essential philosophy stays the same, the way it did with Ronald Reagan, the way it did with our great president, that's what leadership is about.

MR. GIBSON: Governor Huckabee.

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, Charlie, I think the question the president was asking is not as much about our policies -- because those can change with each generation, with each year, with each circumstances -- but the principles. What is it that's deep inside of us that -- that guide us, that direct us, that show the framework of what we're going to do. And I think the simple answer for me is all the way back to the document that gave us birth. And it goes like this: That We hold these truths to be self-evident, that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, these being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That we are created equal.

In that sense of equality, the greatest principle is that every human being and every American is equal to each other. One person is not more equal because of his net worth or because of his IQ or because of his ancestry or last name. That was a radical idea when those 56 signers put their names on that document knowing that if their experiment in government didn't work, they were going to die for it.

Those are principles. Those are things that you'll live for, you'll die for. That sense that all of us have an essence of equality and that the primary purpose of a government is to recognize that those rights did not come from government, they came from God, they're to be protected and then defined as the right to a life; the right to liberty, our freedom, to live our lives like we want to live them without government telling us how to do it; and ultimately not to be happy, but to have the pursuit of happiness. That's our principle.

MR. GIBSON: And I take your statement. It is an interesting statement of the basis that we all believe in this country. But you started by saying, "But we can change our policies" -- how often did you say?

MR. HUCKABEE: Our policies often reflect what's going on at the time. For example, if the primary thing we are facing is war, then we're going to be talking about military size and military might. If we have a problem with illegal immigration, the number one issue right now might be securing the borders. I'm not saying we change our positions, but we change the policies in terms of the priority. But those principles don't change. The principles are still to make sure that we recognize the equality of each other and that we recognize where those rights come from and what those rights are.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Thompson?

MR. THOMPSON: Everyone has kind of a wish list. I think it's most important, though, that a president of the United States understand that our principles -- our first principles are based on the Constitution of the United States, understanding the nature of our government, the checks and the balances, the separation of powers that our founding fathers set up a long time ago. There's a reason for that. They knew about human nature. They learned from the wisdom of the ages. They set the government up according to that.

They set the powers out in the Constitution of the federal government and they basically said, "If the powers aren't delineated in this document, they don't exist." And then we got the 10th Amendment that says if they're not delineated, they belong to the people and to the states. That's fundamental to everything else. And then we grew from that principles, such as a dollar belongs in the pocket of the person that earned it unless the government can make a case that it can spend it better; you don't spend money that you don't have; and you certainly don't spend your grandchildren's money with debt that they're not at the table when the decision has been made to spend it.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to run out of time on this, but I want to come back to that point. Go ahead.

REP. PAUL: The president asks a very important question, and we should all come together and we shouldn't have that many disagreements because we should be bound down by the Constitution.

But the people in this country think we live in an age of relative ethics, is what they've kind of come to the conclusion of. Sure, profess to believe in the Constitution, but why have we gone to war since World War II without a declaration of war? Why do we have a monetary system that is not designed by the Constitution? Why do we have a welfare state running out of control not designed by the Constitution? You can't pay lip service to the Constitution without obeying it.

And we should have peace and prosperity -- that should be our goal. We in foreign policy ought to have a golden rule: We ought to treat others as we would want others to treat us, and we don't treat others so fairly. We treat them like we're the bully, that we're the policeman of the world, and we're going to tell them to behave. If we don't -- if they don't listen to us, we bomb them. If they listen to us, we give them more money. And it's bankrupting this country because we don't live up to our principles. The principles are embedded in our Constitution.

MR. GIBSON: Let me turn for the next few moments to health care. The Democrats have talked a lot about this and they have spelled out some pretty specific health care plans. But what you propose, what you have talked about in terms of health care in many ways represents a more basic change in the way health insurance would be obtained. Little background on that: ABC's medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson.

DR. TIM JOHNSON: (From videotape.) In general, Republicans have criticized Democratic proposals for health care reform as radical expansions of the federal government's role. But many health care experts say that it is actually the Republicans' emphasis on individuals buying their own policies versus getting their insurance through employers that is a more radical change. And it raises concerns: Individual policies can be more expensive for the same coverage because of administrative overhead and sales costs. Group policies, like those provided by employers, can bargain with providers for lower costs and do a better job of monitoring quality.

Medical professionals caution that individual insurance may sound good on paper but it usually turns out to be very difficult for people on their own to find quality policies

Medical professionals caution that individual insurance may sound good on paper, but it usually turns out to be very difficult for people on their own to find quality policies at the right cost.


MR. GIBSON: All right. Dr. Tim Johnson, thanks very much.

We're the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't insure all of our citizens. If we can afford a trillion-dollar war in Iraq, why can't we afford medical insurance for everybody?

Governor. Or Mayor. Mr. Mayor.

MR. GIULIANI: The reality is that, with all of its infirmities and difficulties, we have the best health care system in the world. And it may be because we have a system that still is, if not holy, at least in large part still private. To go in the direction that the Democrats want to go -- much more government care, much more government medicine, socialized medicine -- is going to mean a deteriorated state of medicine in this country.

I mean, I said jokingly in one debate, if we go in the direction of socialized medicine, where will Canadians come for health care? (Laughter.) And the reality -- and the reality is --

MR. GIBSON: But do you all -- do you all agree that we have the best health care system in the world?

MR. : Sure.

MR. : Yes.

SEN. MCCAIN: Now -- tell me, when people get sick where they come to to get health care? I --

MR. THOMPSON: We certainly have the best health care.

REP. PAUL: It's --

MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, it -- that doesn't mean it shouldn't be improved. And I think -- I think that the notion of people buying their own private health insurance is a very good one, so long as a lot of them do it. Only 17 million Americans right now buy their own

health insurance. If 50 million Americans were buying their own health insurance -- because it would be just as tax-advantageous to do it that way -- and we had a health savings account, people -- economists believe there'd be a 30 (percent) to 50 percent reduction in the cost of health insurance, and quality would come up.

The only thing that reduces cost and increases quality is a significant, dramatic, large consumer market, not government control.

MR. GIBSON: You all have proposed free market, consumer- purchased insurance, and you all talk about giving tax deductions for buying insurance. Let me do a little math. The average family employer-provided insurance, when the companies buy it, it's $13,000 a family.

Now, you've talked about a 15 (thousand) to 20,000-dollar deduction, right, for people buying their own insurance? If you take a median-income family of $62,000 in this country, you've just saved them $3,000 on their taxes. That doesn't come close to buying an insurance policy.

SEN. MCCAIN: Sure. And next year, if you continue 10 percent inflation associated with it, it'll be even further away, and the next year after that. Because the problem with health care in America is not the quality; it is the inflation. And in all due respect to your expert that we just saw, he's talking about the wrong aspect of this issue.

The right aspect of this issue is inflation. If we could get it under control and get it reduced so that health care costs are reasonable in America, then those people will be able to afford it.

MR. GIBSON: And to get health care costs --

SEN. MCCAIN: And they can -- and they will be able to go out and choose their insurer anywhere in America and they will be able then to get affordable health care in America.

But we have to make the recipient of the health care more responsible. We have to have outcome-based results for health care. We have to emphasize wellness and fitness. One of the most disturbing things in America is the increase in diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure amongst young -- younger Americans. So we have to reward wellness and fitness.

MR. HUCKABEE: Charlie, the problem --

SEN. MCCAIN: And that way we'll have a healthier nation and we will have less health care costs. But again --

You made a statement about European nations; they all get health care. Well, somebody -- some people here in New Hampshire have been to Canada. I don't think they want that system.

MR. : That's not Europe.

MR. ROMNEY: A lot of people have ideas about health care and improving health care. We took the ideas and actually made them work in our state. As people in New Hampshire know, we put in place a plan that gets every citizen in our state health insurance, and it didn't cost us new money. And it didn't require us to raise taxes.

What we found was it was less expensive or no more expensive to help individuals who had been uninsured buy their own private policy than it had been for us to give out free care at the hospital. And since we've put our plan in place last April, we've now had 300,000 people who were uninsured sign up for this insurance. Private insurance.

And where the doctor, the good doctor was wrong is that it's true the insurance companies don't want to sell policies to one person at a time; it's expensive. We established what we called a connector -- a place where individuals could go to buy policies from any company, and that connector would, in turn, send their premiums on to those companies. So the economics of scale existed.

And as a result of what we did, the premiums for health insurance for an individual buying insurance when from $350 a month to $180 a month, with lower deductibles and now with prescription drugs.

MR. GIBSON: Anybody --

MR. ROMNEY: The answer -- let me just -- I just, I want to underline this. We don't have to have government take over health care to get everybody insured. That's what the Democrats keep on hanging out there. The truth is we can get everybody insured in a free market way. We don't need Hillary-care or socialized medicine.

REP. PAUL: Charlie, you really answered the question -- you answered it in your question, because you said how can we afford a trillion-dollar war and we can't afford health care? Well, that's the reason. The resources are going overseas. We're fighting a trillion- dollar war, and we shouldn't be doing it. Those resources should be spent back here at home.

There is an inflationary factor. We can't afford it. We do have good medical care, but the costs are so high now that our people in this country are actually going to India and getting their heart surgery done. They pay the plane ticket, the hospital, and the hotel and they get it for half price. So it's inflation.

But if you don't understand how inflation comes, we can't solve this problem. It comes from deficit financing with this war-mongering foreign policy we have.

We run up the deficits. We tax. We borrow. We borrow from the Chinese. We can't borrow enough. Then what do we do? We print the money, and then you wonder where the inflation comes? The value of the dollar goes down and prices go up where the government gets involved in certain things, like housing or medical care or education. Prices are skyrocketing. So you have to deal with the monetary issue to solve the problem of the medical issue.

MR. GIBSON: Senator Thompson.

MR. THOMPSON: Hmm. (Laughter.)

REP. PAUL: Don't print any more money. We don't need any more money.

MR. THOMPSON: So if we would stop printing so much money, we could get out of the war and provide health care to everybody? (Laughter.)

REP. PAUL: If we get out of the war, we wouldn't have to print the money.

MR. THOMPSON: Okay. I just wanted to make -- I just wanted to --

REP. PAUL: What's wrong with backing the money by something --

MR. GIBSON: All right, let him go. Let him --

MR. THOMPSON: I wanted to make sure -- I wanted to make sure I had this right.

Let me -- let me break it down a little bit so I can understand it a little bit better.

REP. PAUL: Keep trying.

MR. THOMPSON: We've got the best health care in the world. It costs more than it should. We can either go one of two ways. We can let the government take it over, and that'll lower costs, like -- like they do in other countries. We will also sacrifice care, which nobody wants to do -- we're not going to do in this country. Or we can make the markets work more efficiently.

There are a lot of components to that. Part of that is not just giving a tax break to the individual -- that's part of it, but it's also putting them in a position to get the best prices for the care they're getting. We do that in every other aspect of our life. That's what keeps prices as low as they are. I mean, if -- if -- if the consumer had no concept of what the product was costing and did no shopping for it, when you could get an MRI here for one price or over here for half the price, you don't even know that to make the choice, that wouldn't work at all.

So you can do that. You can open up these markets so a person can buy their insurance from all over the country. We've got various state regulations now that, as a practical matter, prohibit that and make the markets work. But we're never -- let's be honest with the people. We're probably never -- if you lower costs, more people who want insurance we'll be able to afford it. We're probably never going to achieve total coverage. A good number of the people who are uninsured can afford to choose not to do so. A good number of people are eligible for government assisted -- (off mike) --

MR. GIBSON: (Off mike) -- Governor Romney -- (off mike) -- mandate and that's an obstacle, although you've backed away from mandates on a national basis.

MR. ROMNEY: No, no, I like mandates. Do the mandates work? Mandates --

MR. THOMPSON: I beg your pardon? (Laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: Let me --

MR. THOMPSON: I didn't know you were going to admit that.

MR. ROMNEY: Let me -- oh, absolutely.

MR. THOMPSON: You like mandates.

MR. ROMNEY: Let me tell you what kind of mandates I like, Fred, which is this --

MR. THOMPSON: And what did you come up with? (Laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: Here's my view. If somebody can afford insurance and decides not to buy it and then they get sick, they ought to pay their own way as opposed to expect the government to pay their way, and that's an American principle. That's a principle of personal responsibility. So I said this: If you can afford to buy insurance, then buy it. You don't have to if you don't want to buy it, but then you've got to put enough money aside that you can pay your own way, because what we're not going to do is say, as we saw more and more people --

MR./SEN. : Governor, you imposed tax -- tax penalties in Massachusetts -- (inaudible) --

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, we said, look, if people can afford to buy it, either buy the insurance or pay your own way. Don't be free riders and pass on the cost of your health care to everybody else --

MR. THOMPSON: The government is going to make you buy insurance --

MR. ROMNEY: No, the government's going to --

MR. THOMPSON: I mean the state. Your state plan, which is, of course, different from your national plan, did require people to make that choice, though. The state required them to do that. What was the penalty if they refused?

MR. ROMNEY: They refused to pay -- let's go back, Fred.

What's -- what's your view? If somebody -- if somebody --

MR. THOMPSON: Well, I asked question first.

MR. ROMNEY: No, okay -- (laughter) -- well, I'll answer your question, you answer mine. If somebody is making, let's say, $100,000 a year and doesn't have health insurance; and they show up at the hospital and they need a thousand-dollar repair of some kind for something that's gone wrong; and they say, look, I'm not insured, I'm not going to pay; do you think they should pay or not?

MR. THOMPSON: Did your plan cut people off at $100,000? Was that the level?

MR. ROMNEY: No, actually --

MR. THOMPSON: Does it only apply to people with $100,000 income and over?

MR. ROMNEY: It actually applies to people at three times federal poverty. They pay for their own policy. At less than three times federal poverty, we help them buy policies. So everybody is insured and everybody is able to buy a policy that's affordable for them.

And the question is this, again: If someone can afford a policy and they choose not to buy it, should they be responsible for paying for their own care, or should they be able to go to the hospital and say, you know what, I'm not insured, you ought to pay for it? What we found was one quarter of the uninsured in my state were making $75,000 a year or more, and my view is they should either buy insurance or they should pay their own way with a health savings account or some other savings account.

MR. GIBSON: We have an expression in television: we get into the weeds. We're in the weeds now on this. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBSON: But let just come to one point. Yes or no? In your national plan, would you mandate people to get insurance?

MR. ROMNEY: I'd have -- I think my plan is a good plan that should be adopted by the states. I wouldn't tell every state --

MR. GIBSON: Would you mandate --

MR. ROMNEY: I would not mandate at the federal level that every state do what we do, but what I would say at the federal level is we'll keep giving you these special payments we make if you adopt plans that get everybody insured. I want to get everybody insured.

In Governor Schwarzenegger's state, he's got a different plan to get people insured. I wouldn't tell him he has to do it my way, but I'd say each state needs to get busy on the job of getting all our citizens insured. It does not cost more money.

MR. GIBSON: I want to give Governor Huckabee a little time, and then we've got to go.

MR. HUCKABEE: Okay. I think it's important to realize that the issue is not just insurance. The issue is that the whole model of our health care system is upside down. We really don't have a health care system. We have a disease care system. And the insurance model that we use, we act like that if we insured everybody we've fixed it, we haven't, because the real problem is that our model, both in the insurance model and the health care model, waits until people are catastrophically ill before it intervenes. And we really have to change the concept to a preventative focus rather than an intervention focus, and that means the entire system starts working on health and wellness because 80 percent of the $2 trillion that we spend on health care goes to chronic disease. We could prevent it or we could cure it, but we don't.

So it's not an issue of there's not enough money to cover people. But if a real health care system exists it has three components: it has affordability, it has quality and it has accessibility. And if it doesn't have those elements, it's not a system, it's a maze, and what we have in America is a health care maze. It's built on the idea that we wait until people are so desperately ill that the cost to try to fix them is catastrophic and out of control, and no wonder we have a system that needs major, major attention.

And by the way, just out of due respect, you said a thousand dollars for a repair; it's about a thousand dollars for a Kleenex at a hospital and more -- (light laughter) -- and that's why we need to have a totally different system that keeps you from going to the hospital in the first place.

MR. GIBSON: And I thought --

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie, a health savings account actually helps to accomplish what the governor is talking about. If somebody can put aside -- and the plans that we've been talking about include a health savings account -- you'd have a -- you'd have an exemption up to 15,000 (dollars). If you could find a policy for 11,000 (dollars), you could have a $4,000 health savings account. You would be able to buy some of your health care and your prevention yourself. It gives you an incentive over a lifetime to deal with wellness.

MR. GIBSON: And I -- I've got to go, but Senator McCain has talked a lot about controlling costs, and you bring up in controlling costs. And all the experts say to me, look, if you're going to control costs, you've got to do three things. You're going to limit access to technology. You're going to limit -- in some way, change the reimbursement system for doctors and hospitals. Or you're going to have limit the amount of treatments. That's the only way we can bring costs down, and that's the third rail of health here. Which of you is going to touch any of that?

MR. HUCKABEE: Charlie, that's not at all what the debate is. The fact is you --

SEN. MCCAIN: With all due respect, I thought I -- was I -- the question --

MR. GIBSON: I'm sorry, yeah, it was turned to you, yes. (Laughter.)

SEN. MCCAIN: I think that there's additional choice here, a choice of having outcome-based treatment.

There are five major diseases that consume 75 percent of health care costs in America. If someone has diabetes, we should give the health care provider a certain amount of money and say, care for that patient and, if at the end of that period of time, then -- and that patient is well, we'll give you a reward, rather than every test, every procedure, every MRI. And we need walk-in clinics, and we need community health care, and we need incentives for home health care as opposed to long-term care.

In my state of Arizona, we adopted a proposal which incentivizes health care providers to keep people in home health care settings. Dramatically less expensive than long-term care. In Arizona we have one-half the number per capita of people in long-term care facilities as the state of Pennsylvania. Incentives to keep costs down, Charlie. There are no incentives in the system today.

Could I just mention one other thing? Both the attorney general of South Carolina -- I don't know why I mention South Carolina --

MR. GIBSON: Because there's a primary there. (Laughter.)

SEN. MCCAIN: -- and the attorney general of Iowa -- and I don't -- well, anyway --

MR. GIBSON (?): That's too late. (Laughter.)

SEN. MCCAIN: -- have sued -- have sued the pharmaceutical companies because of overcharging of millions of dollars of Medicaid costs to their patients. How should that -- how could that happen? How could pharmaceutical companies be able to cover up the cost to the point where nobody knows? Why shouldn't we be able to reimport drugs from Canada? It's because of the power of the pharmaceutical companies. And we should have people -- pharmaceutical companies competing to take care of our Medicare and Medicaid patients.

MR. : Okay, don't leave me.

MR. ROMNEY: Don't turn the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys. I --

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, they are.

MR. ROMNEY: No, actually they're trying to create products to make us well and make us better, and they're doing the work of the free market. And are there excesses? I'm sure there are, and we should go after excesses. But they're an important industry to this country.

But let me note something else, and that is, the market will work. And the reason health care isn't working like a market right now is you have 47 million people that are saying, "I'm not going to play. I'm just going to get free care paid for by everybody else." That doesn't work.

Number two, the buyer doesn't have information about what the cost or quality is of different choices they could have. If you take the government out of it to a much greater extent you'd get it to work like a market and we'll rein in costs.

MR. GIBSON: I've got to call a halt. We're going to take a commercial break. We'll come back. I'm going to be joined by Scott Spradling from WMUR, and we're going to go to some more direct questions.

Stay with us. The Republican debate continues from Manchester.


MR. GIBSON: For the second 45 minutes of this debate I'm going be joined by Scott Spradling, who is political director of our station, WMUR, here in Manchester, New Hampshire. And I would say during that three-minute break that all of the candidates headed for the wings, and I thought it might just be the two of us here for the last 45 minutes. (Laughter.) And I'm so relieved to say that they all came back: Senator McCain, Senator Thompson, Congressman Paul, Governor Romney and Governor Huckabee, Mayor Giuliani. It's good to have all of you with us.

We're going to do some more direct questions. We've got tally lights this time. We're going to limit you in the length of your answers, and if you want to respond in these first questions, you're certainly welcome to do so.

Why don't you start, Scott?

MR. SPRADLING: Senator McCain, good evening.

SEN. MCCAIN: Good evening, Scott.

MR. SPRADLING: I'm struck by the fact that we're on the Saint Anselm campus, and a few months ago you took some hits in a debate that you had here with your fellow Republicans on the issue of illegal immigration and yours views. Since that debate --

SEN. MCCAIN: I shouldn't have come back.

MR. SPRADLING: (Laughs, laughter.) Since that debate, sir, you've told voters I hear you; you've acknowledged some of these complaints. And there's more talk, I know, from you about stronger borders. That's a big focus in this debate. But fundamentally, I'm wondering, don't you still have the same plan for a path to citizenship that you fundamentally held months ago?

SEN. MCCAIN: Sure, but the fact is that the American people have lost trust and confidence in government, and we have to secure the borders first. I come from a border state. I'm very aware of the challenges we face and the impact of illegal immigration. So we will secure the borders first. As president, I will have the border state governors certify that those borders are secure. And of course, in the course of our debates and discussions and with Secretary Chertoff, he said that there's 2 million people who are in this country illegally who have committed crimes. Those people have to be deported immediately. And I do believe we need a temporary worker program, one with an employee -- employee employment -- electronic employment verification system and tamper-proof biometric documents so that the only document and that system can an employer legally hire somebody, and any employer who employs someone in any other way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Now, I want to say again, we -- this is a national security issue. We have to secure our borders. But I want to say again, these are God's children. We have to address it in as humane and compassionate an issue as possible. But we have to respect our nation's security requirements.

So I think that it's time Republican and Democrat sat down together and resolved this issue because if you got broken borders and if you have 12 million people here illegally, then obviously you have de facto amnesty. It is a federal responsibility. The federal government's -- government must act. I will act as president.

MR. GIBSON: We got the tally lights this time. Governor?

SEN. MCCAIN: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Charlie.

MR. GIBSON: That's all right.

MR. ROMNEY: I disagree fundamentally with the idea that the 12 million people who've come here illegally should all be allowed to remain in the United States permanently, potentially some of them applying for citizenship and becoming citizens, others just staying permanently. I think that is a form of amnesty and that is not appropriate. We're a nation of laws. Our liberty --

MR. : Do you want --

MR. ROMNEY: -- our liberty -- our liberty is based upon being a nation of laws. I would welcome those people to get in line with everybody else who wants to come here permanently. But there should be no special pathway to permanent residency or citizenship for those that have come here illegally.

I welcome legal immigration. Of course we need to secure the border, we need to -- need to have an employment verification system with a card to identify who's here legally and not legally. We need to have employers sanctioned that hire people that then don't have the legal card.

But with regards to those already here, it is simply not right, and unfair, to say they're going to all get to stay, where there are people around the world who've been waiting in line to come to this country. They should have the first chance, not those who came illegally.

SEN. MCCAIN: Scott, can I respond to that?

MR. SPRADLING: I have a question for both you and the mayor, and I'd like to give it to the mayor first.

Mayor Giuliani, a point of specificity here. Do you believe that the illegals that have been identified in the U.S. need to leave the United States and reapply for citizenship to come back into the country? And if so, for how long?

MR. GIULIANI: What I believe should happen is we should stop illegal immigration at the border, and we should begin doing it now. We should erect a fence. We should erect a technological fence. We should expand the border patrol. We should have a border (status system ?). We should have a rule that you cannot come into the United States without identifying yourselves, which, after all, is the rule in every other country, just about.

And then -- we should operate that for two, three, four years, change behavior, and then we should take that system, with a tamper- proof ID card which would be used for people coming into this country. And what we should do with the people that are here -- first of all, right now our priority should be, since you can't throw out all 12 million people, whether Governor Romney would like to do that or not, or anybody else would, you just can't do it. It's not physically possible to do. I would focus on the illegal immigrants that are here who have committed crimes. They should be given priority. That's a number we can deal with. That's a number we can throw out.

Then what I would do with the people that are here, when you had a good system place -- and I believe my plan is the best plan for doing that, and these are the kinds of things I achieved in the other jobs that I've had in my life, as mayor and associate attorney general -- I think what you would do then is you would say to the 12 million people that are here, come forward, get a tamper-proof ID card, get fingerprinted, get photographed. If they don't come forward, then you throw them out of the country.

The ones who do come forward would have to pay taxes. They'd have to pay fines. If you pay fines, it is not amnesty. They would not get ahead of anybody else.

They'd be at the back of the line. But then they could eventually become citizens so long as they could read English, write English and speak English.

MR. SPRADLING: Thank you.

SEN. MCCAIN: Let me just say I've never supported amnesty. A few nights ago, Joe Lieberman and I had a town hall meeting together. It was a rather unusual event. The issue came up. Joe Lieberman said John McCain has never supported amnesty, and anybody says he does is a liar, he's lying. Now, no better authority than Governor Romney believe that it's not amnesty, because two years ago, he was asked, and he said that my plan was, quote, "reasonable and was not amnesty." It's a matter of record.

MR. SPRADLING: Governor, you want to explain your ad?

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, absolutely, which is what he describes is technically true, which is his plan does not provide amnesty, because he charges people $5,000 to be able to stay. And that technically is --

SEN. MCCAIN: That's not true. That's not complete, the response to it, and Governor Romney, it was explained to you, and you said it was reasonable and not amnesty. That's just -- you can look it up.

MR. GIULIANI: You know, Ronald Reagan --

MR. ROMNEY: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Let me have a chance --

MR. SPRADLING: Go ahead.

MR. GIULIANI: One point --

MR. ROMNEY: Rudy, Rudy, let me have a chance to finish, okay? You'll get your chance.

I saw your plan along with Senator Cornyn's plan and the Bush plan. I said they were all reasonable. And I said I would study them and decide which one to endorse, and I endorsed none of them, as you know, Senator.

Number two, your plan, I said, is not technically amnesty, because it provides for a penalty for people to be able to stay --

SEN. MCCAIN: It provides for more than a penalty.

MR. ROMNEY: Okay, would you describe what else it has besides a penalty?

SEN. MCCAIN: Sure -- fine, learn English, back of the line behind everybody else. Pretty much what Rudy just described.

MR. ROMNEY: Okay, great. So it has --

SEN. MCCAIN: So that we can address the issue --

MR. ROMNEY: Fine, it lets -- you pay $5,000 --

SEN. MCCAIN: -- and the fact is it's it not amnesty. And for you to describe it as you do in the attack ads, my friend, you can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads, but it still won't be true.

MR. GIULIANI: May I make a --

MR. ROMNEY: No, no, no, no. I get a chance to respond to this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

I don't describe your plan as amnesty in my ad. I don't call it amnesty. What I say is -- and you just described what most people would say is a form of amnesty. Yeah, they pay $5,000, their background is checked, they have to learn English. But your view is everybody who's come here illegally, today, other than criminals, would be allowed when they speak English and get $5,000 payment and they get a background check, they're allowed to stay forever.

SEN. MCCAIN: Look --

MR. ROMNEY: That's your plan, and that plan, in my view, is not appropriate. Those people should be invited to get in line outside the country with everybody else who wants to come here. But they should not be given a special right to stay here --

SEN. MCCAIN: There is no special right associated with my plan. I said they should not be in any way rewarded for illegal behavior.

MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?

SEN. MCCAIN: They have to get in line --

MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?

SEN. MCCAIN: -- behind everybody else.

MR. ROMNEY: Are they sent home?

SEN. MCCAIN: Some of them are, some of them are not, depending on their situation.

MR. ROMNEY: The last bill you put forth --

SEN. MCCAIN: A woman has been here for eight years --

MR. ROMNEY: I'm sorry, the last bill --

SEN. MCCAIN: -- and has a son fighting in Iraq --

MR. ROMNEY: Senator, the last bill you put forward --

SEN. MCCAIN: -- I'm not interested in calling her up -- calling up her son and telling I'm deporting his grandmother.

MR. THOMPSON: Excuse me, didn't -- didn't you just -- didn't you say --

MR. : That's a very emotional --

MR. : Hold on --

MR. GIBSON: Senator Thompson.

MR. THOMPSON: Didn't you say Republicans were making a terrible mistake if they were separating themselves with President Bush on the illegal immigration issue?

MR. ROMNEY: No. That was quoted in AP, it happened to be wrong.

Let me -- (laughs).

MR. GIULIANI: Well, could I -- could I -- may I make my point --

MR. ROMNEY: That does happen from time to time. But let me --

SEN. MCCAIN: When you change positions on issues from time to time, you will get misquoted. (Laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: Senator, is there a way to have this about issues and not about personal attacks? I hope so, because I think we have some differences on issues.


MR. ROMNEY: And let me tell you, the issue that's at stake here is do the people who come here illegally, the 12 million, are they allowed to stay in this country the rest of their life? And the final bill you put forward in the United States Senate was they got a Z --

SEN. MCCAIN: The answer is that there was still negotiations and debating on that.

MR. ROMNEY: May I complete?

SEN. MCCAIN: The answer is we were still negotiating. We were debating. I'm saying that some people have to go back to the country

MR. ROMNEY: I'm sorry. There was a Z visa. The Z visa was given to everybody --

SEN. MCCAIN: And it was having -- that some people have to go back. First, as Rudy said, we have to round up the 2 million who have committed crimes and deport them immediately.

MR. ROMNEY: Let's not divert.

SEN. MCCAIN: And that is not amnesty for anyone.

MR. GIBSON: Well, I don't want to divert. Let me come back to your plan. Is it practical to take 12 million people and send them out of the country?

MR. ROMNEY: Is it practical? The answer is no. The answer is no. So here's why my plan works. One, it says to those 12 million people they do not have the right, as they would under the final Senate plan, to receive a Z visa which was renewable indefinitely. That meant these people could stay in the country forever. That was what the plan did, and that's why talk radio and the American people went nuts.

SEN. MCCAIN: That's not the plan.

MR. ROMNEY: Senator, you look up your Z visa. It is renewable indefinitely. Every illegal alien got to stay in the country forever, other than those that committed crimes.

MR. GIBSON: Go ahead.

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie, if Ronald Reagan were here, who we all invoke, he would grab the microphone, say it's my microphone, I paid for it. And Ronald Reagan did amnesty. He actually did amnesty.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, yeah.

MR. GIULIANI: I think he'd be in one of Mitt's negative commercials. (Laughter.)

And he is the hero of our party. None of us -- none of us -- has a perfect record on immigration, because this is a very complicated problem. The thing that we have to do is we have to decide who has the best plan among all of us for fixing illegal immigration. You've got to stop it at the border, you've got to stop it cold at the border, and then you have to have a rational system. It is not amnesty if you charge -- I did this more in my life than I did politics, meaning law enforcement.

If you charge fines, if you have impositions of conditions, it is not amnesty. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty saying they have to pay a fine, have to get on the back of the line, have a whole bunch of conditions --

MR. ROMNEY: I thought you said that wasn't amnesty.

MR. GIULIANI: That is not amnesty.

MR. ROMNEY: Okay. (Laughs.)

MR. GIULIANI: That is not amnesty. If you have a fine, if you have conditions, if you have a whole bunch of steps that people have to go through, it is not amnesty. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty, straight-out amnesty.

MR. THOMPSON: The question is: Are you rewarded for your illegal behavior in any way? If the answer is yes, it's amnesty.

MR. GIULIANI: But if you have to pay a penalty for it, it is not. For example --

MR. THOMPSON: So you get allowed to -- but you can still stay in the country.

MR. GIULIANI: Pay money, have to follow conditions --

MR. THOMPSON: But you can still stay in the country.

MR. GIULIANI: Well, but you have to pay penalties.

MR. THOMPSON: But you can still stay in the country.

MR. GIULIANI: There are all different kinds of penalties.

MR. SPRADLING: What would you do, Senator?

MR. GIULIANI: Someone gets amnesty from a crime --

MR./SEN. : What would you --

MR. THOMPSON: You can have -- you can have -- you can have enforcement by attrition if you obey the law and you enforce the law that's on the books today. If we started securing the border as we're supposed to do -- and we're all in agreement that it must be done now. I mean, we arrest thousands over the years of people from countries that are state sponsors of terrorism. I mean, it's essentially a national security issue as well as an issue of fairness, as well as a social issue with regard to what states and communities have to face nowadays and workers who are in competition with this.

If we enforce the borders so people couldn't go back and forth, if we assisted employers with a system that we now have on the books, that 20(,000)-30,000 employers now are using, a verification system -- so you could essentially punch a button, the Homeland Security folks will tell you whether or not this person is illegal on the front end -- and if we -- and if we stop sanctuary cities, where we're telling the local people that you can't cooperate with the federal authorities, so -- and stop inducing people to come here with employment and protection under sanctuary cities, as Mayor Giuliani did when he was mayor of New York, then we would have -- we would have attrition of these numbers and start reversing them.

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie?

REP. PAUL (?): Our clock system -- our clock system isn't working.

MR. GIBSON: The interest of limiting these answers has gone just to --

MR. : (Off mike) -- had a comment.

MR. GIULIANI: I have to answer that -- I have to answer that question. New York City was not a sanctuary city. New York City turned in the names of every single person who committed a crime or who was suspected of a crime.

MR. THOMPSON: What about just being illegal?

MR. GIULIANI: Well, New York City turned in the names of all people that were illegal with only three exceptions. One exception was for children that were going to school. We had 70,000 children of illegals. I was not going to leave them on the street. I am proud that I continued that policy. It would have been inhumane to do anything else.

Second --

MR. THOMPSON: We passed a bill in 1996 --

MR. GIULIANI: Let me -- let me finish. Let me finish.

Second, we said if you come into a hospital and you need treatment for an emergency, you'll be treated. It would have been inhumane to do anything else.

And we said if you report crimes, we will take those reports. And we wanted those reports of crimes because they helped us to reduce crime.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, go back and -- go back and look in the record. In 1996, Congress -- the United States Congress, when I was there, when I was in the Senate, we passed a bill outlawing illegal amnesty in cities. Rudy went to court and sued to overturn what we passed in legislation. We weren't trying to throw children out on the street either. I think if you --

MR. GIULIANI: Those were the three narrow categories that I was objecting to.

They all had to do with humane conditions. It was a policy that --

MR. THOMPSON: We were not for inhumane conditions. We were not --

MR. GIULIANI: It would have been totally inhumane.

MR. GIBSON: Governor Huckabee sat there with a great smile just thinking: "Okay, let them fight. I'm going stay out of this." (Laughter.) So I want to bring you in quickly and then Congressman Paul and then we'll go -- we'll move on.

MR. HUCKABEE: As Abraham Lincoln said, if it weren't for the honor of it, I'd just soon pass, when he was run out of town on the rail. But let me join in on this. (Laughter.)

The fact is Americans are upset about this issue because they feel like that we've violated the rule of law. Every one of us, I think, agree that you have to secure the border, and until that's done, nothing makes sense. That ought to be done. It ought to be done with American workers, with American products, and it ought to be done immediately. Eighteen months ought to be the outside length of time. If the Empire State Building can be built in 14 months, if some of the great works of this country can be built in a record period of time, I'm convinced we can secure our borders. And I agree with Senator Thompson; it's an issue of national security more than it is anything else. But it's a matter of sealing the borders of our nation in a responsible way.

I think we ought to have a period of time in which people then return to their home country and get in the back of the line. Now, the reason I've come to that conclusion is for a variety of focus, but here's part of it. When people live in the United States, they ought to have their head up. They ought not to live in fear. Every time they see a police car, they shouldn't run and hide. Nobody ought to live like that in this country. And the only way we're going to fix that is that people do it right. And in order to do it right, they're going to have to go back and get in the back of the line. It's not an inhumane way. I think it's the only way that makes sense.

And I want make one final point that I think ought to happen. When we say, well, we can't round these people up and take them home -- we don't have to, Charlie. You give them the option. If you don't do it the right way and then we catch you, you would be subject to deportation. But if you do it the right way, then you're going be able to live with your head up and live free in this country properly.

And it won't be that we have this huge problem and the resentment that goes with it.

And the final reason that's important -- I know you're wanting me to finish and I'm doing it -- the reason that we've got to do that is that when people say we can't get them -- we don't have to for this simple principle: The government didn't escort them over the border in the first place, so the government doesn't have to take them back. They got here on their own, and people can go back and start the process legally for their benefit and for everyone else's benefit.

MR. GIBSON: Congressman Paul?

REP. PAUL: I think there's two points I'd like to make: One, I get a little bit worried when we talk about the tamper-proof ID for illegals or immigrants because how do you do that? Anybody that is an immigrant or looks like an immigrant would have to have an ID, and then you can't discriminate, so everyone's going to have the ID. I think it's opening the door for the national ID, and we should be very, very careful about that.

But one thing that we haven't talked about here is about the economics of illegal immigration. You can't solve this problem as long as you have the runaway welfare state and the excessive spending and the wiping out of the middle class through inflation because that's what directs the hostility is people are hurting. And then when we have all these mandates on the hospitals and on our schools, and no wonder -- the incentives are there.

There's an incentive for a lot of our people not to work because they can get welfare, and there's a lot of incentive because they know they're going to get amnesty. We gave it to the illegals in the '80s, and then we put mandates on the states to compel them to have medical care, and you say, "Well, that's compassionate." But what happens if the hospital closes and then the people here in this country don't get medical care?

So you can't divorce it from the economics. You've got to get rid of the incentives -- no amnesty and no forced benefits -- because obviously they'll bring their families. And it just won't work if you try to see this in a vacuum, and you have to deal with it as a whole -- as an economic issue as well.

MR. ROMNEY: Charlie, can we just underscore -- we're talking about illegal immigration.


MR. ROMNEY: And I think every person on this stage wants the community to understand that legal immigration, we value. It's great for the country. We welcome legal immigration -- every single one of us. No difference on that. We get twisted on this outside.

MR. GIBSON: So noted. So noted. So noted.

MR. ROMNEY: We are very much in favor of legal immigration. It's a great source of vitality for our country.

MR. SPRADLING: Governor Romney, I'm going to stay with you. In Charlie's health care dialogue in the first half you mentioned "Hillary care." This group has aimed a lot of partisan firepower at Hillary Clinton, but I'd like, if you don't mind, to adjust the outcome for a minute and walk down this road with me. Let's say that Barack Obama is the nominee. He won the Iowa caucus. We have a WMUR poll out just tonight that shows it's tied here in New Hampshire, 33 (percent) to 33 (percent). And I'd like to know from you why, against you as the nominee down the line, why not vote for Barack Obama? And not just because he's a Democrat -- you're not allowed to say that. (Laughs.)

MR. ROMNEY: (Laughs.)

MR. SPRADLING: I'd like to hear some specifics on why not him.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, we have very different views on a whole series of issues, and I could take you through one by one. One would be health care, for instance. He wants the government to take over health care, spend hundreds of billions of dollars of new money for health insurance for everyone. That will be -- that will break the bank. If you think -- as the comedian said -- P.J. O'Rourke -- "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait 'til it's free." (Laughter.) All right? So that's not the right direction.

But there -- so we could talk about issues, but the biggest difference I think -- and it's going to be true for me and others who talk about it -- is that this is a time when America wants change. Washington is broken. That was the message coming out of Iowa. I've heard it across the country. Washington is broken. Not just the White House, not just Congress -- Washington can't get the job done on immigration, on lowering taxes, on fixing schools, on getting health care, on overcoming radical jihad. They want change.

Barack Obama looked at several senators steeped in long history in the Senate and completely blew them away in the Iowa caucus. It's a message of change.

And when we sit down and talk about change -- Barack Obama and myself, in that final debate, as you're positing -- I can say, "Not only can I talk change with you, I've lived it. In the private sector for 25 years, I brought change to company after company. In the Olympics -- it was in trouble -- I brought change. In Massachusetts I brought change. I have done it."

MR. GIBSON: I'm --

MR. ROMNEY: "I have changed things, and that experience is what America is looking for."

MR. GIBSON: I'm just going to try to keep us on time.

MR. ROMNEY: You look at that debate with Barack Obama -- I'm looking forward to head-to-head.

MR. GIBSON: I'm going to keep us on time.

Go ahead.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator Thompson, I'd like to get your take on that. You versus Senator Barack Obama: Why not him?

MR. THOMPSON: Well, Senator Obama is -- has adopted the position of every liberal interest group in this country, as best I can tell -- all the major ones: the NEA and everyone who's stepped forth with a position paper on these issues. His positions are very liberal positions. His first alternative to all problems, as best I can see, is not only the government but the federal government. He's talking in generalities right now. As the time goes on, the process goes on, I think he'll have to be more definitive, but it's clear from what he's said so far that he's taking that position.

And as far as change is concerned, the change we need is to go to constitutional principles, the first principles that this country was founded upon -- respect for the rule of law, market economies, free people doing free things in a country that doesn't tax and spend its people to death and doesn't regulate the lifeblood out of them, doesn't spend money that it doesn't have -- and that's not the direction they want to go in. They want to take us down the road of the welfare state, essentially, and the road that I think would lead us to a weaker position in terms of national security.

MR. SPRADLING: Move off topic in a moment, but Senator, you served with Mr. Obama --

SEN. MCCAIN: I just wanted to say to Governor Romney, we disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree, you are the candidate of change. (Laughs, laughter.)

Look, the difference I would have with Senator Obama has got do with national security. I know Senator Obama, and I've worked with him many times and I respect him, as I respect Senator Clinton. Senator Obama does not have the national security experience and background to lead this nation. We are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century, and that is radical Islamic extremism. In his recent statements on various foreign national security issues I've strongly disagreed, but I am -- can make it perfectly clear that it requires a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience and a lot of background to have the judgment to address the challenges that our nation faces in the 21st century.

MR. ROMNEY: May I make a comment?


MR. ROMNEY: One -- one, the continued personal barbs are interesting, but unnecessary.

But number three -- or number two, Hillary Clinton -- Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson and Senator Dodd and Senator Biden all made that same argument in Iowa, and Barack Obama blew them away. And if you think making that argument as a Republican -- that you have more experience and you've been around longer in the Senate -- that that's somehow going to -- and that you know the cloakroom, the Senate cloakroom, better than he does -- that's not going to work.

MR. THOMPSON: It was an Iowa Democratic primary -- (inaudible).

MR. ROMNEY: You're going to have -- you're going to have -- you're going to have to -- you're going to have to have -- you're going to have to have a person -- (laughter) --

SEN. MCCAIN (?): Yeah, this --

MR. ROMNEY: You're going to have --

SEN. MCCAIN (?): This was an Iowa Democrat primary we're talking about.

MR. SPRADLING (?): Yeah, go ahead.

MR. ROMNEY: America wants change.

MR. THOMPSON (?): A lot of independents.


MR. GIULIANI: I think the problem Barack Obama would have is, first of all, he's never run a city, never run a state, never run a business. I don't think, at a time when America's at war, with the major problems that we face, we're going to want someone to get on- the-job experience as the chief executive, never having had that kind of experience.

I do think he's embraced change, but change is a concept. Is it change for good or change for bad? Changing and having higher taxes, in my view, would be very bad for our economy. Changing and moving towards socialized medicine would be very bad for our health care system. Changing by a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq without considering the consequences; he voted for giving the enemy a timetable of our retreat in Iraq, unheard of in a time of war.

So I would say that virtually the same issues that exist between me and, let's say, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, John Edwards, they are really issues between Republicans and Democrats. And in the case of Senator Obama, he really doesn't have the experience either from the national security point of view or even from just the executive point of view.

MR. GIBSON: Governor Huckabee?

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I think there would be substantial differences on the Second Amendment, on the sanctity of life, on the role of government, on the idea of local versus federal government -- I'm still a 10th Amendment guy, I believe that most of these decisions ought to be left to the states. I think there would also be fundamental differences on taxes, whether they ought to go up or down. I think there would be differences on national defense. I think we ought to have the strongest possible military that nobody else on Earth wants to ever even think about engaging in battle. There would be a number of issues that would be fundamentally different -- probably on same-sex marriage there would be a difference of opinion between Senator Obama and me. I mean, I could go through a whole litany of things. It would be dramatically different. I think, in fact, it would be fair to say that any one of us would have a very different litany of issues.

But in fairness -- since I still have just a little bit of yellow light left -- I think we also ought to recognize that what Senator Obama has done is to touch at the core of something Americans want. They are so tired of everything being horizontal -- left, right, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican. They're looking for vertical leadership that leads up, not down. He has excited a lot of voters in this country. Let's pay respect for that. He's a likable person who has excited people about wanting to vote who have not voted in the past.

And we'd better be careful as a party because if we don't give people something to be for and only something to be against, we're going to lose that next election, and there are some fundamental issues that we lose with it.

MR. GIBSON: Congressman Paul.

REP. PAUL: You know, it's interesting that you asked this question because we have a lot of similarities. As a matter of fact, Barack Obama and myself, because our campaign is made up of young people. And frequently we will have young people joining us that came from the Barack Obama's campaign, and we're very pleased. But Barack spoke out against the war before it started, and he respects civil liberties, and I respect him for that. But the question is, is why would it be? I assume it's because of the similarity in the age of us two candidates that young people are attracted to us. (Laughter.) But it is -- it's the youthfulness of the ideas that bring the young people to us, but there is a difference between what Barack Obama's talking about because he does give hope to young people.

And that's what happens in our campaign, but I talk a lot more about different kind of economic policies. I talk about personal liberty and the right to people's personal life and getting -- stopping these wars and coming home and having a sensible monetary policy, and young people like this. But Barack Obama is not going to talk about the goal of getting rid of the income tax and dealing with monetary policy.

I mean, he -- he is too much into the welfare state issue, not quite understanding how free market economics is the truly compassionate system. If we care about the poor and want to help the poor, you have to have free markets. You can't have a welfare state in order to try to take care of people.

MR. GIBSON: Let me move on.

People in this state, and everywhere, are worried about gas prices. When 2007 began, oil was $61 a barrel. It was 100 (dollars) last week. We haven't even begun to see the demand that India and China is going to put on the world's oil market. Don't you have to, in the end, level with people that gas prices are at this level to stay and, if anything, they're going to go higher? And isn't not to do so intellectual dishonesty?

Anybody? (Laughter.) Go ahead.

REP. PAUL: I'll be glad to answer that question because it's something I talk about all the time and it's a very important question. The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a very good chart that explains this. If you look at the price of oil in the last 10 years, if you look at it in terms of dollars, it went up 350 percent. If you look at it in Euros, it went up about 200 percent. If you look at it in the price of gold, it stayed flat. It's the inflation, it's the printing of money, it's the destruction of the value of the dollar.

Added onto this, the notion that we go to protect our oil -- oil was $27 when we went over there to get the oil and protect the oil and take the oil from Iraq. There's less than -- there's less than about half the production now in Iraq right now and we're threatening Iran, and that pushes prices up. It pushes up the concept of supply and demand.

But you can't deal with the price of oil without dealing with the supply and demand of dollars. When you devalue the dollar -- and the dollar is going down every day, and the further the dollar goes down, the higher the prices of oil going up. We have to understand that.

MR. GIBSON: Senator?

SEN. MCCAIN: At that price of oil we're going to send $400 billion a year overseas to oil producing countries. Some of that money will end up in the hands of terrorist organizations. It will certainly end up in the hands of dictators who do not have our interests or our values and sometimes want to harm America. We have to reduce the dependence on foreign oil, and we have to eliminate -- we have to address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. I think it's a nexus of two critical issues facing this country. Alternate energy, nuclear power, wind, solar, tide, hybrids -- we have to unleash the technology of America, and we must reduce and eventually eliminate this dependency on foreign oil because it has become a national security issue. And we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because I believe there's enough evidence that we are going to damage this planet beyond repair unless we begin to address that issue.

MR. SPRADLING: Senator Thompson, Americans are also watching the profits of companies here in America that are making a lot of money as these prices per barrel are skyrocketing. They're bothered by it. People in New Hampshire are bothered by this. Aren't you?

MR. THOMPSON: Bothered by the high profits --

MR. SPRADLING: High profits, yes.


MR. SPRADLING: Should something not be done?

MR. THOMPSON: Well, I take note of those profits, and I take note of the losses when they've had them.

MR. SPRADLING: But you wouldn't step in to do anything to change the --

MR. THOMPSON: Such as what?

MR. SPRADLING: -- excess profits tax?

MR. THOMPSON: Windfall profits tax? No. No. You know, the oil price basically is a function -- or a result of supply and demand. We can throw rocks at each other and we can demagogue the issue and all that, and of course, there's plenty of it.

But getting back to your original question, Charlie, I mean, nobody knows what the price of oil is going to be in the future, but I think you can make a good case that it's going to be -- it's going to be very high. Because it's not just us. The Chinese are demanding more oil, going around the world and making all kinds of deals with dictators and causing all kinds of other problems because of it. India. There are a lot of growing economies out there. And that's the world we live in for the immediate future. We're not going to be energy independent in a few years.

Now, we have to be more diversified. We're getting too much oil from trouble spots in the world. Everybody knows about the Middle East. Everybody knows about Chavez in Venezuela. And we're just too dependent on the wrong kinds of people. And we need to do all the things that John mentioned -- as I recall the things he mentioned, plus cleaner coal technology plus using the oil reserves that we have here in this country, and nuclear, more nuclear.

But -- but, you know, we are not -- you know, we're not a nation that regulates the profits or the losses of -- of our economy. We want people refining that oil and we want people -- and there hasn't been a refinery built here in a long time in this country. And we want -- we want the oil to flow. We need for it to flow right now, while we work our way into a more diversified situation.

MR. GIBSON: Any of you buy the idea of an extra profits --

MR. GIULIANI: Charlie, we really have to take the idea of energy independence and turn it into a program for energy independence. We've been talking about it since Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. Never done it. And it has to be done on the scale of putting a man on the moon. All of the things that they've all talked about.

We've talked about it a long time; we just haven't done it. We've got to expand nuclear; we've got to do clean coal, we've got to expand the use of hybrid vehicles, wind, solar, hydroelectric, liquid natural gas, natural gas, domestic oil, more refineries. Senator Thompson is absolutely right; we haven't built a refinery, I think, in 30 years. We haven't licensed a nuclear power plant in 30 years. France is 80 percent nuclear; we're 20 percent nuclear. China is building 40 nuclear power plants. We're having trouble getting one licensed for the last 30 years.

If we don't -- if we don't make this a major program led by the president of the United States the way Eisenhower started the program to put a man on the moon and then Kennedy followed and then Johnson followed and Nixon got it done -- two Republicans, two Democrats. It should be an American achievement.

MR. GIBSON: Nuclear is a very interesting issue here in the state of New Hampshire. Governor Huckabee?

MR. HUCKABEE: Well, I think it's -- it is possible to get energy-independent, and do it within a decade. We're the same country that built the atomic --

MR. ROMNEY: In 10 years?

MR. HUCKABEE: I believe we can, if we want to. If we un-tax the possibilities of the innovations and technologies. If we also look at the fact that if -- put an incentive out there that's just truly something dramatic -- a billion-dollar bonus for the first person who can produce a car that can get 100 miles per gallon.

In addition to that, look at the alternative forms of energy that we can use. Everybody's talked about --

MR. THOMPSON: Complete without a windfalls profits tax? (Laughter.) There'd be no windfalls profits tax on that?

MR. HUCKABEE: There wouldn't be. And I don't believe --

MR. THOMPSON: I agree. (Laughs.)

MR. HUCKABEE: -- there should be, Fred, because I think we ought to un-tax innovation, un-tax income. Anything -- any time you penalize productivity, it's counterintuitive to an economy. And one of the reasons that we're dependent is because we have allowed the oil companies to dictate not just prices, but policy. And it's time to say that we're not going to allow dictators, whether it's the Middle East or from Venezuela, to continue to, in essence, enslave the American people, which is exactly what we've done.

Senator McCain is right. We have an issue now where we're paying for both sides of the war on terror. We pay for it with our tax dollars to fund the military, but every time we swipe our credit card in the gas pump, we might as well be sending a check over to the madrassas that are training the terrorists that eventually are going to come back to us. And that's why it's got to be an urgent matter of utmost priority.

MR. GIBSON: We are just about out of time, but Governor Romney, you're going to have the final word.

MR. ROMNEY: We're going to have to deal with this in an honest way with the American people, and that is this is not something that's going to get solved in 10 years. We can't become energy-independent in 10 years, but we can get ourselves on a track to do that, with all the ways that Senator McCain and Mayor Giuliani and Fred Thompson have described. We can get there. It's going to require a far more substantial investment by our nation in energy technology.

Right now we spend about $4 billion a year on new sources of energy and energy efficiency. We're going to have to increase that dramatically. And American corporations -- last year they spent more money defending tort lawsuits than they spent on research and development. We're upside-down.

The future of a great nation like ours depends on leading the world in technology and innovation, in energy in particular. This has to be our highest domestic, economic priority. Get ourselves on a track to become energy-secure and energy-independent. We can do that. It's within our grasp, but it's going to take real -- the reality, rather than just the political rhetoric we've seen over the last 25 years.

MR. GIBSON: And with that, gentlemen, we conclude the Republican debate. And I thank you and I think you are due a round of applause. (Applause.)

[end transmission, Voice of Blogistan]