Transcript Of Republican Presidential Debate In Simi Valley

And we've got to stop spending. We've got to stop -- one place where Ron Paul and I are in total agreement, spending is out of control. And I'm tired of borrowing money from China.

COOPER: Let's pick up on that with Janet Hook from the Los Angeles Times.

Janet?

HOOK: Senator McCain, you're talking about making the tax cuts permanent. And as Governor Romney pointed out before, you opposed the Bush tax cuts the first time around.

Now, more recently you've been saying that the reason why you opposed the tax cuts at first was because they weren't offset by spending cuts. But back when you actually voted against the tax cuts in Congress, you said you opposed them because they favored the wealthy too much.

So which is it? And if they were too skewed to the wealthy at first, are they still too skewed to the wealthy?

MCCAIN: Actually, I think lower and middle income Americans need more help. Obviously, I think that's the case today. That's one reason why we're giving them rebates.

I was part of the Reagan revolution. I was there with Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm and Warren Rudman and all these other fighters that wanted to change a terrible economic situation in America with 10 percent unemployment and 20 percent interest rates. I was proud to be a foot soldier, support those tax cuts, and they had spending restraints associated with it.

I made it very clear when I ran in 2000 that I had a package of tax cuts which were very important and very impactful, but I also had restraints in spending. And I disagreed when spending got out of control. And I disagreed when we had tax cuts without spending restraint.

And guess what? Spending got out of control. Republicans lost the 2006 election not over the war in Iraq, over spending. Our base became disenchanted.

If we had done what I wanted to do, we would not only have had the spending restraint, but we'd be talking about additional tax cuts today. I'm proud of my record. I'm proud of my record as a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution, and now I'm prepared to lead in restraining spending.

COOPER: Governor Romney, what do you think of Senator McCain's response?

ROMNEY: I appreciate his response and appreciate the fact he was part of the Reagan revolution. I think that the Bush revolution and the downturn that we faced when he came in office suggested that we needed a tax cut.

There's no question in my mind that Ronald Reagan would have said sign it and vote for it. And Senator McCain was one of two that did not. And again, the justification at the time was because it represents a tax cut for the rich.

I believe in getting rates down. I think that builds our economy.

When we talk about spending, however, I hope people in the country understand that most people in Washington, most politicians, generally want to talk about the $2 and $3 and $4 relative items. And they want to talk about the big one.

Right now, federal spending is about 60 percent for entitlements -- Social security, Medicare and Medicaid. And that's growing like crazy. It will be 70 percent entitlements, plus interest, by the time of the next president's second term.

And then the military is about 20 percent today. No one is talking about cutting the military, we ought to grow it.

So people talk about the 20 percent and how we have to go after that 20 percent. There's not enough in the 20 percent to go after if we don't go after the entitlement problem.

And you listen to all the folks running for president, no one wants to talk about it. But we have to talk about it.

We have to put together a plan that says we're going to rein in the excessive growth in those areas, promising to meet the obligations we made to seniors. We're not going to change the deal on seniors, but we're going to have to change the deal for 20 and 30 and 40-year- olds, or we're going to bankrupt our country.

COOPER: Let's talk about another issue which a lot of Americans watching tonight, immigration.

And Jim VandeHei has a question.

VANDEHEI: Obviously, we're here in California, where one-third of the population is Hispanic, Latino. Immigration has been a huge issue in this campaign from the beginning.

Governor Huckabee, Brian Berry (ph) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wants to know, "In order to curb illegal immigration, do you support making changes in the law that would give citizenship only to children who are born to parents who are legally in this country at the time the child is born?"

HUCKABEE: I think the Supreme Court has already ruled on that. The real issue is, that doesn't fix the problem.

HUCKABEE: What we've got to do is to have a secure border fence, something I have proposed that we do within 18 months of taking office.

If we don't have a secure fence and have just this open door that people can come in and out at will, we're never going to deal with this issue effectively and responsibly.

And today, many Americans are angry not that people want to come here -- and I've repeatedly said and I'm going to say it again -- people in this country I think are grateful to God they're in a land that people are trying to break into and not one they're trying to break out of.

So it's not that we're building a fence so we can keep our people in or keep people out, but that people who do come here would have to come legally.

And touching the issue of those born here is not the challenge. It's two things. It's first making sure that that fence is built, I think within 18 months. And the second thing is that we have a process where the people who are here would have to go to the back of the line and start over.

And it's not to be cruel. I want to make sure you understand. It's to make that everybody who is living in our boundaries has their head up and lives in the light, not the darkness, and doesn't run and hide every time they see a police car.

We owe it not just to the people who have waited in line a long time. We owe it to the people who do want to live here and work here, but create a system that is legal, that makes sense, and that actually protects our borders but protects the dignity and worth of every person.

VANDEHEI: Governor Romney, I interviewed you in New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago and we talked a little bit about illegal immigration. You've taken a very hard stance against illegal immigration. You said at the time that you felt that there's, for a lot of illegal immigrants who are here, under your plan, we could deport many of them within 90 days. How could that happen? How could we do it that quickly?

ROMNEY: I think you may be confusing me with somebody else, but perhaps not. Let me tell you what my plan is. VANDEHEI: At the time -- I can just give you the quote if you like. You said that "many of those could be deported immediately," but that would allow slower deportation process for those with families and deeper roots. And we asked how quickly, you said you thought as quickly as 90 days.


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Source : http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-na-transcript-cnn-story.html

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