MANCHESTER, N.H. (WWLP) – Seven Republican candidates are meeting face-to-face in the final debate before Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primary. 22News is following the debate in real time, tracking the candidate’s responses to the moderators’ questions.
Before the candidates could even begin talking, there were issues with candidate introductions. Dr. Ben Carson did not exit when called, and remained in the hallway as other candidates were called in. Eventually, Donald Trump began standing next to him as other candidates were called up, until finally everyone went on stage.
Q: For Donald Trump- do you have temperament to be commander in chief?
Trump: I have the perfect temperament, I have amazing experience as a business owner. I have taken the lead on immigration and on the issue of Muslims coming into the country. I was also right on Iraq by opposing the war. I will build up the military.
Cruz: Temperament is vitally important in this election. President Obama has failed to keep our country safe, and refuses to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” All GOP candidates would make a better commander-in-chief than Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders. Voters will ultimately judge who would be best commander in chief. We need a president who will keep country safe in face of Iran and radical Islamic terrorism.
Trump: I respect Ted Cruz, but he did not answer the question. America doesn’t win anymore- “We’re going to win with Trump. People back down with Trump.”
Q: For Ben Carson- What should Sen. Cruz do about deceptive calls in Iowa saying you have dropped out?
Carson: I will follow Pres. Reagan’s 11th Commandment of not criticizing another Republican, but disappointed that members of Sen. Cruz’s team would think so little of Dr. Carson that he would just give up his campaign before the caucus, after all that his volunteers have sacrifices. Shows a certain amount of “Washington Ethics” which means “If it’s legal, you do what you need to do to win.
Cruz: Ben Carson is an honorable man with an inspiring story. I have apologized to Ben after it happened, and I will do it again now. Here’s what happened: CNN reported that Ben Carson was taking a break from campaigning- CNN said it was “highly unusual, and highly significant.” Message of what was reported on CNN was relayed to volunteers. CNN did not retract report. Agreed with Ben Carson make apology in public.
Carson: Joked that he wants everyone to mention him when they say something. Says CNN did clarify that he was not dropping out of the race. People can make their own judgements.
Q: For Marco Rubio- What are your Senate accomplishments for being ready for president?
Rubio: I’m proud of my record. If we’re really serious about having someone with a long track record, then Joe Biden should be president- but that’s not something that we want. President Obama has tried to systematically change America, but if I become president, I will restore our country to greatness.
Christie: Every morning when a senator wakes up, they think about speeches they are going to make and what bills they’re going to file. Marco Rubio hasn’t been involved in having to make a judgement- America cannot make the same mistake we made eight years ago. I like Marco Rubio, but he doesn’t have the experience to be president of the United States. People of New Hampshire: Do not make the same mistake again!
Rubio: Under Christie, N.J. has had credit rating downgraded several times. Let’s dispel the fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing, he knows exactly what he’s doing- trying to make us more like the rest of the world.
Christie: That’s what Washington D.C. does- “drive by” slams. When you’re governor of a state, your speech about how great America is does not help people who need to have their streets plowed, or need to recover from a disaster
Rubio: Chris, your constituents had to shame you into coming back during a major snowtstorm. Barack Obama knows what he’s doing.
Christie: Again, the memorized 25-second speech. You’ve never been responsible for responding to a disaster.
Bush: I have 12 medal of honor recipients endorsing me, I took on powerful interest when I was governor. I responded to numerous disasters, and I led with a steady hand. Marco Rubio is a gifted politician, and he may have the skills to be president, but Barack Obama had soaring rhetoric, but that has been a disaster.
Q: For Ted Cruz – How would you respond to the launch of a North Korean nuclear weapon?
Cruz: This all goes back to the first Clinton Administration- Failed North Korean sanctions deal emboldened North Korea. We need to expand our missile defense capacity. North Korea wants to launch a satellite with a nuclear weapon, and set it off over the U.S. Electromagnetic pulse would cause failure of power grid of entire eastern seaboard. Will not speculate on whether to preemptively strike if North Korea had a missile on a launch pad. Your hands are tied once a country has nuclear weapons, which is why the Iran deal is a disaster, and we do not want to be dealing with an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Rubio: There is a process in place to intercept any missile strike if it is going airborne.
Kasich: We must intercept both their ships and their aircraft. Worry the most about the proliferation of North Korean weapons to terrorists and other non-state actors. If Japan wants to take action against North Korea, the United States will support them.
Bush: Obama Administration comes up with great “marketing terms,” but doesn’t follow through with them. If U.S. needs to take pre-emptive strike, we should do it.
Trump: I respectfully disagree with Marco Rubio about President Obama, he has no idea what he’s doing, and our country is going to hell. China has sucked from our country. They have tremendous control over North Korea. “They have total, absolute control over North Korea, practically.” We will put pressure on China to deal with North Korea.
Rubio: Obama views America as arrogant global power that needs to be cut down. He believes we need to separate from Israel to improve our relations in Middle East. Obama should be leveraging our relationship with the Chinese to pressure North Korea.
Q: For Jeb Bush- What would you do to bring an American student back from North Korea?
Bush: We saw shameful treatment of U.S. sailors in Iran. We need to have the word of the United States matter, and we must use all our resources to get these students back. We need to re-establish sanctions.
Christie: I learned as a federal prosecutor that you never pay ransom to the criminals. They (criminals) only understand toughness and strength. Obama and Clinton are in favor of paying ransom to hostages, and that encourages those who would do us harm. Obama is weak, Clinton would be even weaker.
Q: For John Kasich – Are you “not where the voters are” when it comes to being against mass deportations?
Kasich: We need to work on our border, just as homeowners lock their doors, we should lock our borders. We should have a guest worker program, and we should have path to legalization for immigrants who have followed the law since they arrived. Not citizenship, but legalization.
Cruz: I have laid out detailed 11-page plan for deporting illegal immigrants. We will build wall, triple border patrol- I have someone in mind to do it *points to Trump*. We need better surveillance at the border, we need e-Verify, and we need biometric ID system, cut off funding to sanctuary cities, and we will cut off welfare benefits to those here illegally. Obama has ordered Border Patrol not to enforce the law.
Rubio: American people will not support immigration efforts until we secure the border, and the people have the confidence the government will enforce our laws. We need to hire 20,000 new border agents, put new e-verify in place.
Christie: Marco Rubio didn’t fight for his legislation. I have fought, I was successful in fighting teachers’ union on tenure reform, turned back Democratic legislature on tax hike.
Rubio: I want to make progress on this issue. We have been taking about it for 30 years and nothing has ever happened. We need to prove illegal immigration is under control.
Q: For Donald Trump – Are you closer to Bernie Sanders’ approach to healthcare than Hillary Clinton’s?
Trump: I am closer to common sense. We are going to get rid of Obamacare and replace them with something so much better. Insurance companies are getting rich on Obamacare. We will have a free-enterprise system of competition in healthcare. Health savings plans are excellent. We are going to take care of people who are dying on the street.
Cruz: Socialized medicine is a disaster that does not work. You eventually end up with rationing. We are already 90,000 doctors short in the United States, socialized medicine would further hurt the people of this country. I will repeal every word of Obamacare. We will expand health savings account, delink health insurance from employment so that unemployed won’t lose coverage. Won’t let government get between us and our doctors.
Carson: Was hoping to talk about North Korea, I wasn’t called on about that. I want everyone to have a “health empowerment account” which they would have from the day they were born. Each family would basically become its own insurance company without a middleman. Would have separate system for taking care of indigent.
Q: For Donald Trump – You have said that you love eminent domain, would it be appropriate for Northern Pass power line project through New Hampshire?
Trump: Eminent domain is a necessity because you wouldn’t have infrastructure without it. Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t go 10 feet without eminent domain. Person who has their property taken gets at least fair market value, if not more if they are smart about it. It is a necessity for our country.
Bush: It’s one thing for using eminent domain for infrastructure. Donald Trump used it to take an elderly woman’s property in Atlantic City. Taking a woman’s house for a limousine parking lot is not public use.
Trump: He (Bush) wants to be a touch guy and it isn’t working very well. *Boos* The reason the crowd is not loving me is because they are donors, and special interests. Keystone XL is a private use.
Q: For John Kasich – How would you change conservatism?
Kasich: New York Times noted I’m certainly not a moderate. I have cut taxes substantially, and I was an architect of the balanced budget in the ’90s. We need economic growth, and help the people living in the shadows, such as drug addicts and developmentally disabled. We also need to provide opportunity to communities of color.
Q: For Donald Trump – Are you a true conservative?
Trump: Absolutely, we want to conserve our wealth, we want to conserve our country, to save our country.
Rubio: Conservatism is about three things- constitutionally limited government- free enterprise – strong national defense.
Q: For Donald Trump – How many jobs would you create in your first term, and how?
Trump: I will bring jobs back from China, Japan, and Mexico. Trans Pacific Partnership will be a disaster. We are currently the highest-taxed country in the world. We need to cut taxes for middle class, and for corporations, all of that money will come back, and companies that are leaving won’t be lost anymore.
Q: For Chris Christie – Is John Kasich’s record on state finance and jobs better than yours?
Christie: John has been very good on jobs, but he’s using old statistics on New Jersey. New Jersey has grown in recent years. I don’t think Barack Obama knows what he’s doing, and anyone who thinks he knows what he’s doing does not know how to govern himself. As governor, you have to take responsibility as an executive, something Marco Rubio hasn’t had to do. John Kasich has been a good governor.
Kasich: We have grown private-sector jobs while cutting the number of state employees. You need common sense regulations, low taxes, and fiscal plan to balance the budget.
Rubio: Those who say Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is wrong. Obamacare wasn’t an accident, undermining of our positioning in the world is not an accident. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to double-down on that.
Q: For Marco Rubio – Should taxes be increased for those who make more than $1M per year?
Rubio: We have one of the highest tax rates on businesses in the industrialized world. $2 trillion of American corporate money is stranded overseas. We need to reduce taxes on individuals and companies to encourage jobs.
Bush: We need more millionaires, we need more people making money and being prosperous. We need to be on the side of working people, who are having a harder time rising up due to taxes and regulations. People need to be rewarded for work, rather than being incentivized not to work.
Christie: If you want a millionaire’s tax, you’re wrong. We lost $70B in wealth after my predecessor passed a millionaire’s tax. It’s class warfare, and it failed in New Jersey. It would hurt the American economy.
Q: For Ted Cruz – How would carpet bombing work against ISIS hiding amongst the population?
Cruz: We need to set objective to destroy ISIS, which Obama has not done. U.S. has ability to have massive air power. We would not target indiscriminately, we would target their infrastructure and oil wealth. There is a “Jihadist University,” why are we allowing that to stand? I would bomb it during freshman orientation. I have spoken with servicemen and servicewomen, they are fighting with a hand tied behind their back, and it’s unjust.
Rubio: ISIS is apocalyptic and demands a showdown with the West. We need to engage Sunni Muslims to fight them. We need to take away their safe spaces. Sunni fighters only can liberate Sunni villages and hold them, in order to avoid the kind of sectarian violence we have seen in the past. The Sunni forces in the region do not trust the Obama Administration, particularly since the Iran deal, they also see current U.S. air commitment against ISIS and they know we’re not giving it our all right now.
Trump: Four years ago, I said bomb the oil and take the oil. I’m saying the same thing. We’re not attacking oil fields because we don’t want to “hurt the atmosphere,” which is absurd. We will also need to dry them up through the banking system.
Q: For Jeb Bush – What would you do about Libya?
Bush: U.S. needs to be strong and lead- Europe alone can not deal with threats to Libya from ISIS.
Carson: Would support possibility of new air strikes if Joint Chiefs recommend it. None of us on this stage are military experts.
Q: For Ted Cruz – Is waterboarding torture?
Cruz: Under definition of torture, waterboarding is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation. I would not bring it back under any sort of widespread use as president. Bad things happen when enhanced interrogation is employed at lower levels. But if it was necessary to prevent an imminent attack, I would do what it takes to keep our country safe.
Trump: In Middle East, you have people chopping heads off Christians and members of other groups. I would bring back waterboarding and things that are worse.
Bush: I would not bring back waterboarding, but we are approaching intelligence the wrong way. Closing Guantanamo would be a disaster, this administration is not “fully-engaged.”
Rubio: This is not law enforcement, this is anti-terrorism. We should not be talking about the tactics we are using. We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not letting them out like Pres. Obama is doing.
Q: For Ted Cruz – What would you change first when you become president?
Cruz: Pres. Obama has abused his constitutional authority, but everything done with executive power can be undone with executive power. So I will undo all of Obama’s executive orders- on gun control, on immigration, on Common Core. Foreign policy changes are needed. We also need a flat tax and to abolish the IRS.
Trump: A good dealmaker will make great deals- Ronald Reagan worked well with Tip O’Neill. You can’t leave White House, go to Hawaii three months, and get things done.
Kasich: There is no leadership in Washington. You have to have a leader who can inspire. We need to remind people we are Americans before we are Republicans and Democrats. Pres. Obama thinks he can impose everything he wants because he’s given up on working with Congress.
Bush: We need to become a 10th Amendment country again. Transportation, education, environmental funding needs to go back to the states. We would have a more efficient government that way.
Kasich: You need agenda ready to go for the first 100 days. I would reduce taxes right away, get border protected, work to fix social security. If I become president- head out and buy a seat belt, because we’re going to move America forward.
Bush: I don’t trust federal government, but rather the states to be the engine of reform.
Q: For Ted Cruz – How would you deal with heroin addiction issue?
Cruz: My half sister struggled greatly with addiction. I remember going with my parents to get her out of a crack house, where she ended up. She was very angry. About 5-6 years ago, she died of an overdose. This is an absolute epidemic, and we need leadership to solve it. It needs to be solved at a local level, but it also needs to be solved at the borders. Mexican cartels have been shipping vast quantity over our border.
Christie: Would engage in cross-border enforcement without help of Mexican government if necessary. In New Jersey, we put together reform package that has allowed nonviolent first offenders to receive treatment instead of prison time. Crime has gone down as a result, overdose deaths also down in New Jersey. This is not a moral failing, this is a disease. I am pro-life, not just in the womb, but also for those who are living and dealing with terrible issues such as addiction.
Q: For Donald Trump – How would you deal with prospect of potentially running against first female presidential candidate?
Trump: I am the last person Hillary Clinton wants to run against. We have created a movement and galvanized the people. I’m not even sure she will be able to because of this e-mail issue. If she is the candidate, I will win by a lot.
Rubio: People starting to understand that this election is a turning point- it’s a referendum on our identity as a people. Hillary Clinton is unqualified to be president of the United States.
Carson: Hillary Clinton has been a “deceitful individual.” I would make it a referendum on deceit vs. integrity.
Q: For Donald Trump – How do you bridge divide between police and communities of color?
Trump: Police are mistreated in this country. If police make a mistake, they end up all over the news. Police are afraid for their jobs, and afraid for the treatment they get. Those who see excessive force sue. “The police in this country are absolutely amazing people.”
Kasich: I have formed a collaborative between the community and law enforcement. We are bringing community and police together so we have a win-win. We love the police, but we have to be responsive to people in the community.
Q: For Marco Rubio – Would you visit a mosque as president?
Rubio: Obama promoting false narrative that Muslims are being systematically oppressed. Many Muslims have served proudly in our military. We do face threats, however, and we do need to partner with mosques, in order to root-out extremists. Some Christians in this country are being made to be felt discriminated against because of government policy.
Q: For Chris Christie – Would you quarantine people traveling back from Brazil to prevent spread of Zika virus?
Christie: Absolutely. We will make decisions based on medicine and the law. On mosque issue, I have visited mosques across my state and working with Muslim community to root-out extremists. We cannot confuse extremists with law-abiding mainstream American Muslims. They do not need broadside attacks for what religion they practice.
Carson: Zika issue is not simple. It would not work just to quarantine people coming back from Brazil. But we do need rapid response for Zika, Ebola, and other diseases.
Q: For Marco Rubio – Should women be required to sign up for the draft?
Rubio: I have no problem with people of either gender serving in combat. I do believe selective service should be opened up to both men and women. Military is under threat right now, our Air Force is at risk of being at its smallest size ever. Navy and Army also going back to pre-World War II levels.
Bush: Women should be required to sign up for selective service. If women can meet requirements for combat service, they should have the right to do it. We also need to eliminate sequester devastating our military. If we don’t have a strong military, no one fears us. Readiness must be our military’s first priority, and morale needs to be high.
Christie: I am the father of two daughters. Women should not be discriminated against by not being allowed to register for the selective service.
Carson: 14% decrease in number of people signing up for voluntary military service, and that has a lot to do with the way we treat veterans. Veteran suicides are much too high. We should follow-up with our veterans and take care of them.
Q: For Jeb Bush – What would you do to ensure veterans are cared-for?
Bush: We need civil service reform in order to fire people who have shown incompetence.
Kasich: We want to make sure people use the skills they learned in the military to get them new jobs once they return from service. Veterans are leaders, and there should be no unemployment among veterans.
Rubio: My brother is a veteran, and we are very proud of him. He lost two teeth during Green Beret training, and has had to file claims, and he knows what it’s like to have to deal with the V.A. When I am president, veterans will be able to take their V.A. benefits to any doctor or hospital that they choose.
Q: For Ted Cruz – Should families be allowed to raise money for ransom for their kidnapped loved ones?
Cruz: Recognize that it is such a heart-wrenching thing, but allowing people to pay ransoms is wrong. President Obama has shameful record of paying ransom through deals with captors, such as during the Bergdahl deal.
Trump: You can not negotiate with terrorists the way we are now, otherwise, you will have more James Foleys. During the last debate, I will raise $6M for the vets. I deal with veterans groups in New Hampshire very well. There is tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse in the V.A. and I will make that disappear quickly.
Q: For Marco Rubio – How do you communicate with young people on social issues that may be hurting GOP?
Rubio: Opposing same-sex marriage doesn’t make you a bigot or a hater. it is outrageous that media hasn’t been asking Democrats about abortion, why doesn’t media ask why Hillary Clinton believes partial-birth abortion is okay.
Bush: I’m the most pro-life person, because I acted on it in Florida. Passed parental notification laws, “Choose Life” license plate, put money toward crisis pregnancy centers, banned partial-birth abortion. But there should be exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is threatened. I respect other views, but many are concerned about those who oppose abortion without exception.
Rubio: Support allowing abortion if the life of the mother is at stake, but I would rather lose an election than be on the wrong side on abortion.
Christie: I have defunded Planned Parenthood in New Jersey, saved $50 million. Planned Parenthood cashes-in on the sale of body parts after murdering children in the womb. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are extremists. However, in the case of a woman who has been raped or was the victim of incest, she should be able to have an abortion.
Q: Who wins the Super Bowl?
Bush: Peyton Manning is supporting me, so Denver
Rubio: Now, I want Carolina
Carson: With 100% certainty, either denver or Carolina
Kasich: We need a positive, conservative message to bring forward.
Christie: My heart is to help solve the problems of our nation
Bush: Celebrate Ronald Reagan’s birthday, would have been 105 years old. We need someone with a proven record who will take our party to victory in November.
Carson: Pundits, media, and political class have tried to dismiss me. I am not going anywhere, though. There is a place for faith, integrity, and common sense in America. American people need to be put at pinnacle, with government there to serve them.
Rubio: We are deciding what kind of country our children will have. If you elect me, we will unite GOP and our country, and leave America a better place.
Cruz: Everyone claims to have stood up to Washington, but I have. I opposed ethanol mandate, which was said to be political suicide in Iowa, and yet I won in Iowa. “We can turn this country around if we get back to the Constitution.”
Trump: Cruz won because he got Ben Carson’s votes. America doesn’t win anymore. We’re losing on jobs, trade, health care, heroin epidemic- “If I’m elected president, we will win, and we will win, and we will win.”