Las Vegas Republican Debate, October 18, 2011, from the CNN Transcript
October 19, 2011, 02:51 PM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF

Here are some excerpts from the Las Vegas Republican Debate, October 18, 2011, from the CNN Transcript—Rick Perry is talking about the immigration situation in response to a question about the number of uninsured children in Texas. A large number of the Texas uninsured are, of course, illegals:

 

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor Perry, in the last debate, Governor Romney pointed out that Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, over one million kids. You did not get an opportunity to respond to that. What do you say? How do you explain that?

RICK PERRY: Well, we've got one of the finest health care systems in the world in Texas. As a matter of fact, the Houston, Texas, Medical Center, there's more doctors and nurses that go to work there every morning than any other place in America. But the idea that you can't have access to health care, some of the finest health care in the world—but we have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, and the fact is we have a huge number of illegals that are coming into this country.

And they're coming into this country because the federal government has failed to secure that border. But they're coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized.

And Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor Romney?

MITT ROMNEY: Rick, I don't think I've ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I'm afraid—I'm looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn't —

RICK PERRY: Well, I'll tell you what the facts are.

MITT ROMNEY: Rick, again—Rick, I'm speaking.

RICK PERRY: You had the—your newspaper—the newspaper —

MITT ROMNEY: I'm speaking. I'm speaking. I'm speaking.

(CROSSTALK)

MITT ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds. This is the way the rules work here, is that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 second to respond. Right?

Anderson?

RICK PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals working at your —

MITT ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking?

RICK PERRY: Yes, sir.

MITT ROMNEY: Would you let me finish with what I have to say?

(BOOING)

MITT ROMNEY: Look, Rick —

ANDERSON COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules.

MITT ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you're going to get testy.

(APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY: But let's let—I'll tell you what, let me take my time, and then you can take your time. All right?

RICK PERRY: Great. Have at it.

MITT ROMNEY: All right.

My time is this, which is I have in my state—when I was governor, I took the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws. When you were governor, you said, I don't want to build a fence. You put in place a magnet.

You talked about magnets. You put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which was giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country, and then you have states—the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years, they've had no increase in illegal immigration.

Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants in Texas. If there's someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn't stand up to muster, it's you, not me.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.

RICK PERRY: You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property. And the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention, and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you.

The idea that you can sit here and talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me. I've got a strong policy. I've always been against amnesty. You, on the other hand, were for amnesty.

ANDERSON COOPER: I've got 30 seconds, then we've got move on to another immigration question.

MITT ROMNEY: OK.

You wrote an op-ed in the newspaper saying you were open to amnesty. That's number one.

Number two, we hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go. And we went to them and said —

RICK PERRY: A year later?

MITT ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you have got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak.

(APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY: So we went to the company and we said, look, you can't have any illegals working on our property. I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals. It turns out that once question, they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had documents, and therefore we fired them. And let me tell you, it is hard in this country as an individual homeowner to know if people who are contractors working at your home, if they have hired people that are illegal. If I'm president, we'll put in an E-Verify system, which you have opposed —

ANDERSON COOPER: Out of time.

MITT ROMNEY:—to make sure that we can find out who's here illegally and not, and crack down on people who come here illegally.

ANDERSON COOPER: All right. We're going to stay on the topic of immigration.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER: We're going to stay on the topic of immigration. Everyone is going to get a chance to weigh in.

This is a question that was left at CNNPolitics.com. "As president, will you order completion of the physical border fence along the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico?" That's from Marilyn L.

Herman Cain, let me start with you. Obviously, over the weekend, you got a lot of headlines by saying you would have an electrified fence. You then later said it was—you then later said it was a joke. And then last night, you said, "It might be electrified. I'm not walking away from that. I just don't want to offend anyone."

(LAUGHTER)

So...

(APPLAUSE)

So would you build an entire fence along the entire border, and would you have it be electrified?

(LAUGHTER)

HERMAN CAIN: Allow me to give a serious answer. Yes, I believe we should secure the border for real, and it would be a combination of a fence, technology, as well as possibly boots on the ground for some of the more dangerous areas. I don't apologize at all for wanting to protect the American citizens and to protect our agents on the border, no.

(APPLAUSE)

Secondly, the second thing that I would do—see, I believe in let's solve the whole problem. We must shut the back door so people can come in the front door. Secondly, promote the existing path to citizenship by cleaning up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

Thirdly, enforce the laws—the immigration laws that are already on the books. (APPLAUSE)

And here's another one of these bold ideas by the non-politician up here. Empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing in terms of enforcing those laws.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor Perry, you have—you have the—your state has the longest border with Mexico. Is it possible—to the question—is it possible to build a fence, an—across the entire border?

RICK PERRY: Sure. You can—you can build a fence, but it takes anywhere between 10 and 15 years and $30 billion. There's a better way, and that's to build a virtual defense zone, if you will, along that border, which—not unlike what Herman's talking about, and you can do it with strategic fencing in the obvious places where it matters.

But the way you really stop the activities along that border that are illegal, whether it's the drug cartels or whether it's bringing in illegal weapons or whether it's illegal immigrants that are coming in, is to put boots on the ground.

I will tell you, Herman, you put a lot of boots on the ground. You use Predator drones that are being trained right up here at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to use that real-time information to give those boots on the ground that information, and they can instantly move to those areas. And that is the way to shut that border down, to secure that border, and really make America safe from individuals, like those Iranians that are using the drug cartels to penetrate this country.

ANDERSON COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you agree with Governor Perry?

(APPLAUSE)

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in the country is President Obama. It's his uncle and his aunt who are illegal aliens...

(APPLAUSE)

... who've been allowed to stay in this country, despite the fact that they're illegal.

This last Saturday, I was the very first candidate that signed a pledge that said that, by a date certain, I will build a double-walled fence with—with an area of security neutrality in between. I will build that, because this is what we know. This is an economics issue and a jobs issue. Every year...

ANDERSON COOPER: You're saying you would build a fence along the entire border? MICHELE BACHMANN: I will build it on the entire border, and I'll tell you why. Every year, it costs this country $113 billion in the costs that we put out to pay for illegal aliens. It costs the state and local government of that amount $82 billion. For every household of an American citizen, it costs us $1,000 a year. We are robbing the household of Americans who can't afford that.

I will build the fence. I will enforce English as the official language of the United States government.

(APPLAUSE)

And every—every person who comes into this country will have to agree that they will not receive taxpayer-subsidized benefits of any American citizen...

ANDERSON COOPER: Time.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Thank you.

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor Perry, does that—can you actually—does that make sense? She says she can build the—the fence along the entire border.

RICK PERRY: As I said, you can build that fence, but by the time that fence gets built...

ANDERSON COOPER: She's also talking about your taxpayer-subsidized benefits.

RICK PERRY: But my—my point is that, by the time that fence gets built, there is a lot better way than to stand here and to—to play to some group of people somewhere and say, "We're going to build a fence," and then wipe our hands of it.

I've been dealing with this border for 10 years as the governor. And the reason that we have this issue is because the federal government has failed miserably to defend and secure that border.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Which is why we build...

(CROSSTALK)

RICK PERRY: You know, for someone that's been in the United States Congress to—to lecture me on the issues that are going on, on that border is not right. Let me tell you, we've had to deal with that issue in the state of Texas. We've had to deal with the impact on our state. And I put $400 million on that border of Texas, taxpayers' money, Texas Ranger recon teams there.

We know how to secure the border. I shared with you earlier how to do it. You put the boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air, and you secure that border.

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor...

MICHELE BACHMANN: Anderson, can I respond?

ANDERSON COOPER: He wasn't talking about you directly.

MICHELE BACHMANN: No, he did respond.

MITT ROMNEY: Let's step back. I think it's important for us as Republicans on this stage to say something which hasn't been said. And that is I think every single person here loves legal immigration. We respect people who come here legally.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MITT ROMNEY: And the reason we're so animated about stopping illegal immigration is there are 4.5 million people who want to come here who are in line legally, we want that to happen in an orderly and legal process.

And in terms of how to secure the border, it's really not that hard. You have a fence, you have enough Border Patrol agents to oversee the fence, and you turn off the magnets. And that's employers that hire people who they know are here illegally.

That's why you have an E-Verify system so they can know that. And, number two, you turn off the magnets like tuition breaks or other breaks that draw people into this country illegally. It is not that hard. We have to have the political will to get the job done.

And, Governor Perry, you say you have got the experience. It's a bit like saying that, you know, the college coach that has lost 40 games in a row has the experience to go to the NFL.

But the truth is, California—I'll say it again, California and Florida have both had no increase in illegal immigration and yours is up 60 percent...

ANDERSON COOPER: Time.

MITT ROMNEY: ... over the last 10 years.

ANDERSON COOPER: Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond.

RICK PERRY: Well, the bottom line is that we have a federal government that has failed. There is a clear problem here. And he hit the nail on the head a while ago. He said there was a magnet of people that will hire illegals. And you are number one on that list, sir.

And people need to understand that. You're one of the problems, Mitt.

ANDERSON COOPER: I think we've been down that road.

MITT ROMNEY: Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

MITT ROMNEY: We've been down that road sufficiently. It sounds like the audience agrees with me.

ANDERSON COOPER: We are continuing on immigration. We have a question in the audience.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROBERT ZAVALA, LAS VEGAS RESIDENT: Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to ask my question. We have 50 million Latinos and not all of us are illegal. What is the message from you guys to our Latino community?

ANDERSON COOPER: Speaker Gingrich? President Obama got I think 67 percent of the Latino vote last time around.

NEWT GINGRICH: Look, I think that there's a very clear message to Americans of all backgrounds. Latinos, Korean-Americans, Vietnamese- Americans, there are hundreds of different groups who come to America.

As Governor Romney said, I think anybody who understands America has to be proud of our record as the country which has been the most open in history to legal immigration.

But the truth is most Latinos in the United States aren't immigrants. Most Latinos in the United States now have been born in the United States. And the fact is they want virtually exactly what everyone else wants.

They want an economy that is growing. They want a job that has take home pay. They want access to health insurance that they can afford. They want a chance to get educated that is actually useful and worthwhile. They want to be able to know that their family is going to grow up in safety. And they want to have a chance that their country is going to work to give their children and their grandchildren a better future.

I think we have to have the same message for every American of every ethnic background that we want to make America work again. And you'll know it's working because you will have a job and you'll have a chance to take care of your family.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER: Congressman Paul, there's some Latino voters who believe that some of these strong anti-immigration laws—anti-illegal immigration laws are actually anti-Latino laws. What do you say to them?

RON PAUL: Well, I think some people do believe that. I think a fence is symbolic of that. And I can understand why somebody might look at that. But when we approach this immigration problem, we should look at the incentives and that—or the mandates from the federal government saying that you must educate, you must give them free education.

You have to remove these incentives. But I don't think the answer is a fence whatsoever. But in order to attract Latino votes, I think, you know, too long this country has always put people in groups. They penalize people because they're in groups, and then they reward people because they're in groups.

But following up on what Newt was saying, we need a healthy economy, we wouldn't be talking about this. We need to se everybody as an individual. And to me, seeing everybody as an individual means their liberties are protected as individuals and they're treated that way and they're never penalized that way.

So if you have a free and prosperous society, all of a sudden this group mentality melts away. As long as there's no abuse—one place where there's still a lot of discrimination in this country is in our court systems. And I think the minorities come up with a short hand in our court system.

ANDERSON COOPER: Herman Cain, the 14th Amendment allows that anybody born in the United States is an American citizen. Should that change?

HERMAN CAIN: I want to go back and answer this question first, OK? And that is, my message to Latinos, blacks, whites, and all Americans is that we must first start with significantly boosting this economy, which is on life support.

This is why I have put forth a very bold plan, and I'm not afraid to try and sell it to the American people. I'm not afraid to fight for it when I become president of the United States of America. So that's my message.

If we have this economy growing, people will be able to take care of their families and go after their American dream. And until we boost this economy, all of us are going to suffer for a long time.

ANDERSON COOPER: Then let me ask the question of Governor Perry.

Governor Perry, the 14th Amendment allows anybody. A child of illegal immigrants who is born here is automatically an American citizen. Should that change?

RICK PERRY: Well, let me address Herman's issue that he just talked about.

ANDERSON COOPER: Actually, I'd rather you answer that question.

RICK PERRY: I understand that. You get to ask the questions, I get to answer like I want to. And Herman talked about —

ANDERSON COOPER: That's actually a response, that's not an answer, but go ahead.

RICK PERRY:—the issue of how we get this country back working. And truly, the plan that I laid out last week, where we talk about the energy industry and this treasure trove that we have under this country, and we need to recognize that the administration that we have today is blocking mining that could be going on in the state of Nevada. I talked to Brian Sandoval before I came in here today. You have an administration that is killing jobs because they want to move us to a green energy. You have a secretary of energy who has basically said he wants to see gas prices up close to the European model. The president himself said electricity rates are necessarily going to skyrocket.

That's what we've got to stop. That's the reason we got to have a president of the United States that understands that if you get Americans working, and it addresses these issues that we have in this country, then the fastest way to do it is open up these federal —

ANDERSON COOPER: Time.

RICK PERRY:—plants, to pull back those regulations, and get America working again.

ANDERSON COOPER: Time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER: To the question on the 14th Amendment, do you support repealing the 14th Amendment?

RICK PERRY: No.

ANDERSON COOPER: No, you do not?

RICK PERRY: I do not.

ANDERSON COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you support it?

MICHELE BACHMANN: I think there's a very real issue with magnets in this country. And I think the issue that you're referring to is the issue of anchor babies. And that's an issue that—I was just in Arizona this last weekend, and the state is very concerned, because when someone comes illegally across the border, specifically for the purpose of utilizing American resources for having a baby here, then all of the welfare benefits then attach to that baby.

This is an issue that we don't have to deal with the Constitution. This is an issue that we can deal with legislatively. And there are a lot of Americans that would like us to deal with this issue of anchor babies legislatively.

(APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER: Senator Santorum?

RICK SANTORUM: I'd like to address the issue that the gentleman brought up, which is, what are we going to say to the Latino community? And not one person mentioned the issue of family, faith, marriage.

This is a community that is a faith-filled community, that family is at the center of that community. I disagree in some respects with Congressman Paul, who says the country is founded on the individual.

The basic building block of a society is not an individual. It's the family. That's the basic unit of society.

(APPLAUSE)

RICK SANTORUM: And the Latino community understands that. They understand the importance of faith and marriage. They understand that bond that builds that solid foundation, and that inculcation of faith and religious freedom. And I think the Latino community knows that's at stake in this country.

There's a lot going on right now that's eroding our religious freedom, that's eroding the traditional values of marriage and family. And there's one candidate up here who consistently sounds that theme.

Look, I'm for jobs, too. I have got an economic plan, and I agree with everything that's been said. But we keep running roughshod over the fact that family in America and faith in America is being crushed by the courts and our government, and someone has stand up and fight for those institutions (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

ANDERSON COOPER: Time.

Congressman Paul, you were referenced directly. Thirty seconds.

RON PAUL: Well, I would like to explain that rights don't come in bunches. Rights come as individuals, they come from a God, and they come as each individual has a right to life and liberty.

But I might add about the border control and the Latino vote, is we lack resources there. I think we should have more border guards on it, a more orderly transition, and run it much better. But where are our resources?

You know, we worry more about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to bring the guard units home and the units back here so we can have more personnel on our border.

(APPLAUSE)