JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, and the first Republican presidential debate in this first-in-the-nation primary state. Behind me on this stage, the Republican candidates for president appearing together on the same stage for the first time tonight.
And tonight's debate will be different than any presidential debate you've ever seen. Over the course of the next two hours, in addition to questions from myself and journalists from our partners, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader, the candidates will take questions directly from voters right here in Manchester, as well as from voters at town meetings taking place tonight all across New Hampshire.
So let's get right to it and meet the candidates. Now, we've asked for no opening statements. However, we will continue a tradition from our past New Hampshire debates, to ask each candidate in one short sentence -- hopefully, five, maybe six or seven seconds -- to introduce themselves to the voters of New Hampshire and the United States of America.
Let me begin with an example. I'm John King with CNN. I am honored to be your moderator tonight, and I am thrilled to be back in Red Sox nation.
Now, let's start at the edge of the stage with Senator Rick Santorum.
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Hello, New Hampshire. I'm Rick Santorum. I served 12 years representing Pennsylvania in the United States Senate, but I also have substantial executive experience making the tough decisions and balancing budgets and cutting spending. Karen and I are the parents of seven children.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Hi, my name is Michelle Bachmann. I'm a former federal tax litigation attorney. I'm a businesswoman. We started our own successful company. I'm also a member of the United States Congress. I'm a wife of 33 years. I've had five children, and we are the proud foster parents of 23 great children. And it's a thrill to be here tonight in the "Live Free or Die" state. Thank you.
KING: Mr. Speaker?
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I'm Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House. And when 14 million Americans are out of work, we need a new president to end the Obama depression.
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I'm Mitt Romney, and it's an honor to be back at Saint Anselm. Hopefully I'll get it right this year. And appreciate the chance to be with you and to welcome my wife. And I have five sons, as you know, five daughters-in law, 16 grandkids. The most important thing in my life is to make sure their future is bright and that America is always known as the hope of the Earth. Thank you.
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: I am Congressman Ron Paul. I've been elected to the Congress 12 times from Texas. Before I went into the Congress, I delivered babies for a living and delivered 4,000 babies. Now I would like to be known and defend the title that I am the champion of liberty and I defend the Constitution. Thank you.
FORMER GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: Good evening, I'm Tim Pawlenty. I'm a husband. My wife, Mary, and I have been married for 23 years. I'm the father of two beautiful daughters, Anna and Mara. I'm a neighbor. And I'm running for president of the United States because I love America, but like you, I'm concerned about its future. I've got the experience and the leadership and the results to lead it to a better place.
KING: Mr. Cain?
HERMAN CAIN, GODFATHER PIZZA CEO: Hello, I'm Herman Cain. I am not a politician. I am a problem-solver with over 40 years of business and executive experience, father of two, grandfather of three, and I'm here tonight because it's not about us. It's about those grandkids. Happy to be here in New Hampshire.
KING: All right.
Our thanks to the candidates. You'll get to know them better as the night goes on. Our rules are pretty straightforward. Each candidate will be given one minute to answer our leadoff questions. At my discretion, I may ask other candidates to weigh in on each topic. Now, candidates would get about 30 seconds to answer those follow-up questions. I say about 30 seconds, because we're on the honor system tonight, no bells, no whistles. You won't see any flashing lights up here.
If they're running over time, I'll try to gently remind them it's time to move on. And we're hoping some of the answers will be as short -- maybe a sentence, maybe even just one word. We can hope, right?
We've also asked the candidates to answer the questions that they're asked, rather than the question they might have wished to be asked.
That's enough -- uh-huh -- that's enough for me tonight. Let's get straight to the people of New Hampshire. Now, our first question comes from a voter up in Plymouth. Also there is the New Hampshire Union Leader's Tom Fahey. Tom?
JOHN FAHEY, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER: Thank you, John.
I'm here with Mr. Marquez-Sterling. He is a retired professor from Plymouth State University, and he's got a question about jobs.
QUESTION: Yes. Mr. Gingrich said that 14 million people are unemployed. My question is this. The Democrats say that the Republicans don't have any plans to create jobs, and jobs -- and jobs in the private sector, not in the government jobs. I'd like to know, what are those plans?
KING: Mr. Cain, let me start with you tonight. And be as specific as you can. I hope I don't have to repeat this throughout the night. How would you -- what would you do as president of the United States to create jobs?
CAIN: The thing we need to do is to get this economy boosted. This economy is stalled. It's like a train on the tracks with no engine. And the administration has simply been putting all of this money in the caboose.
We need an engine called the private sector. That means lower taxes, lower the capital gains tax rate to zero, suspend taxes on repatriated profits, then make them permanent. Uncertainty is killing this economy. This is the only way we're going to get this economy moving, and that's to put the right fuel in the engine, which is the private sector.
KING: All right, let me come down to this. And, Senator Santorum, you mentioned -- you said you have executive experience, as well as your Senate experience. Governor Pawlenty laid out an economic plan. A lot of tax cuts in that plan. Some economists said he had some unrealistic expectations, and he said you could grow the economy 5 percent a year, then 5 percent a year, then 5 percent a year. Do you believe that is a possible? Or is that too optimistic to the American people, who want help but don't want to be misled?
SANTORUM: Yeah, I think we need a president who's optimistic, who has a pro-growth agenda. I'm not going to comment on 5 percent or 4 percent. What we need is a -- is an economy that's unshackled.
And what's happened in this administration is that they have passed oppressive policy and oppressive regulation after -- Obamacare being first and foremost. The oppressiveness of that bill on businesses -- anybody that wants to invest to get any kind of return, when you see the regulations that are going to be put on business, when you see the taxation.
Throw on top of that what this president's done on energy. The reason we're seeing this second dip is because of energy prices, and this president has put a stop sign again -- against oil drilling, against any kind of exploration offshore or in Alaska, and that is depressing. We need to drill. We need to create energy jobs, just like we're doing, by the way, in Pennsylvania, where we're drilling 3,000 wells this year for gas, and gas prices are down -- natural gas prices are down as a result.
KING: OK, I'm going to try to ask all of you to keep the follow- ups to 30 seconds as we -- so we can get more in.
Governor Pawlenty, answer the critics -- and as you do so -- who say 5 percent every year is just unrealistic. And as you do so, where's the proof -- where's the proof that just cutting taxes will create jobs? If that were true, why during the Bush years, after the big tax cut, where were the jobs?
PAWLENTY: Well, John, my plan involves a whole plan, not just cutting taxes. We're proposing to cut taxes, reduce regulation, speed up this pace of government, and to make sure that we have a pro-growth agenda.
This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world. We're not the same as Portugal; we're not the same as Argentina. And this idea that we can't have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash. It's a defeatist attitude. If China can have 5 percent growth and Brazil can have 5 percent growth, then the United States of America can have 5 percent growth.
And I don't accept this notion that we're going to be average or anemic. So my proposal has a 5 percent growth target. It cuts taxes, but it also dramatically cuts spending. We need to fix regulation. We need to have a pro-American energy policy. We need to fix health care policy. And if you do those things, as I've proposed, including cut spending, you'll get this economy moving and growing the private economy by shrinking government.
KING: I don't want to do much of this, but I'm going to have to interrupt if people go a little bit long so we can get more done.
Governor Romney, I want you to come in on that point. Is 5 percent overly optimistic? And is it fair to compare the United States' economy, a fully developed economy, to the Chinese economy, which is still in many ways developing?
ROMNEY: Look, Tim has the right instincts, which is he recognizes that what this president has done has slowed the economy. He didn't create the recession, but he made it worse and longer. And now we have more chronic long-term employment than this country has ever seen before, 20 million people out of work, stopped looking for work, or in part-time jobs that need full-time jobs. We've got housing prices continuing to decline, and we have foreclosures at record levels.
This president has failed. And he's failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing. And instead of doing that, he delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and then he did what he wanted to do: card-check, cap-and-trade, Obamacare, reregulation.
I spent my life in the private sector, 25 years.
KING: All right.
ROMNEY: And as I went around the world -- this is an important topic -- I went around the world...
KING: We'll have a lot of time on the topic. We just -- we won't get through this...
ROMNEY: You can tell how -- how to get jobs going in this country, and President Obama has done it wrong. And the ideas Tim described, those are in the right wheelhouse.
KING: Mr. Speaker, if you look at a poll in the Boston Globe just the other day, 54 percent of Republican voters in this state say they're willing to have higher taxes on the wealthy to help bring down the deficit. Are they wrong?
GINGRICH: Well, the question is, would it, in fact, increase jobs or kill jobs? The Reagan recovery, which I participated in passing, in seven years created for this current economy the equivalent of 25 million new jobs, raised federal revenue by $800 billion a year in terms of the current economy, and clearly it worked. It's a historic fact.
The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti- American energy destructive force. And we shouldn't talk about what we do in 2013. The Congress this year, this next week ought to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill, they ought to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, they ought to start creating jobs right now, because for those 14 million Americans, this is a depression now.
KING: The speaker just said, Congresswoman, repeal Dodd-Frank. Answer the American out there who says maybe I don't like all of the details, but after what happened in 2007 and 2008, I don't want Wall Street to not have somebody looking at them, watching what they're doing. BACHMANN: Well, I'm looking forward to answering that question, because I introduced the repeal bill to repeal Dodd-Frank, because it's an over-the-top bill that will actually lead to more job loss, rather than job creation.
But before I fully answer that, I just want to make an announcement here for you, John, on CNN tonight. I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today. And I'll very soon be making my formal announcement.
So I wanted you to be the first to know.
KING: I appreciate that. Well, welcome. If you're out there and you don't get the distinction coming into the night, Congresswoman Bachmann was exploring. She hadn't taken that last step. The other candidates had taken it. I'm sure they welcome you to the fray.
Let's continue the conversation. I want to come to Congressman Paul. You're all here saying the president of the United States is making the economy worse. Has he done one thing -- has he done one thing right when it comes to the economy in this country?
PAUL: Boy, that's a tough question.
No, no, I can't think of anything, but may I answer the question that you alluded to before about whether or not 5 percent is too optimistic? No, there's nothing wrong without -- without setting a goal of 5 percent or 10 percent or 15 percent, if you have a free- market economy.
We're trying to unwind a Keynesian bubble that's been going on for 70 years, and you're not going to touch this problem until you liquidate the bad debt and the mal-investment, go back to work. But you have to have sound money, and you have to recognize how we got in the trouble.
We got in the trouble because we had a financial bubble, and it's caused by the Federal Reserve. If you don't look at monetary policy, we will continue the trend of the last decade. We haven't even -- we haven't developed any new jobs in the last decade. Matter of fact, we've had 30 million new people and no new jobs, and it's because they don't -- the people don't understand monetary policy and central economic planning things.
Free markets will give you 10 percent or 15 percent growth or whatever (ph) and you will not have to turn it off because you think it's going to cause inflation. It doesn't work that way.
KING: All right, I'm going to jump -- I'm going to jump in here. I'm going to ask one more time politely. We want to get as many voters as we can involved, so please try to shorten the follow-up answers just a bit if you can. Let's go back to Tom in Plymouth. He has another voter with a question.
FAHEY: Yes, thank you, John. I'm here with Sylvia Smith. She's from Littleton. And she is a freelance journalist who's written about the health care industry. She has a question about health care.
QUESTION: Yes. As a journalist who's written frequently about health care and medicine for both newspapers and for corporate publications, I'm very concerned about the overreach of the massive health care legislation that was passed last year. My question is, what would each candidate do? What three steps would they take to de- fund Obamacare and repeal it as soon as possible? Thank you.
KING: Congresswoman Bachmann, let's start with you on that.
BACHMANN: Thank you, John. Sylvia, thank you for that great question. I was the very first member of Congress to introduce the full-scale repeal of Obamacare. And I want to make a promise to everyone watching tonight: As president of the United States, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare. It's a promise. Take it to the bank, cash the check. I'll make sure that that happens.
This is the symbol and the signature issue of President Obama during his entire tenure. And this is a job-killer, Sylvia. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office has said that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs. What could the president be thinking by passing a bill like this, knowing full well it will kill 800,000 jobs?
Senior citizens get this more than any other segment of our population, because they know in Obamacare, the president of the United States took away $500 billion, a half-trillion dollars out of Medicare, shifted it to Obamacare to pay for younger people, and it's senior citizens who have the most to lose in Obamacare.
KING: Governor Romney, just yesterday, Governor Pawlenty, who is to your left on the stage tonight, called your Massachusetts plan, which you know has become a focal point of the criticism in this campaign from your friends here, Obamneycare, Obamneycare. Is that a fair comparison?
ROMNEY: You know, let me say a couple things. First, if I'm elected president, I will repeal Obamacare, just as Michelle indicated. And also, on my first day in office, if I'm lucky enough to have that office, I will grant a waiver to all 50 states from Obamacare.
Now, there's some similarities and there are some big differences. Obamacare spends a trillion dollars. If it were perfect -- and it's not perfect, it's terrible -- we can't afford more federal spending.
Secondly, it raises $500 billion in taxes. We didn't raise taxes in Massachusetts.
Third, Obamacare takes $500 billion out of Medicare and funds Obamacare. We, of course, didn't do that.
And, finally, ours was a state plan, a state solution, and if people don't like it in our state, they can change it. That's the nature of why states are the right place for this type of responsibility. And that's why I introduced a plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a state-centric program.
KING: Governor, you just heard the governor rebut your characterization, Obamneycare. Why?
PAWLENTY: Well, let me first say to Sylvia, she has put her finger on one of the most important issues facing the country, which is President Obama stood before the nation in 2008 and said he promised to do health care reform focused on cost containment, along with Republicans, he'd do it on a bipartisan basis...
KING: The question -- the question, Governor, was, why Obamneycare?
PAWLENTY: That's right. Well, I'm going to get to that, John.
KING: You have 30 seconds, Governor.
PAWLENTY: Yeah, so we -- this is another example of him breaking his promise, and he has to be held accountable. And in order to prosecute the case against President Obama, you have to be able to show that you've got a better plan and a different plan. We took a different approach in Minnesota. We didn't use top-down government mandates and individual requirements from government. We created market alternatives and empowered consumers. I think that's the way to fix health care in the United States of America.
KING: And you don't want to address why you called Governor Romney's Obamneycare?
PAWLENTY: Well, the issue that was raised in a question from a reporter was, what are the similarities between the two? And I just cited President Obama's own words that he looked to Massachusetts as a blueprint or a guide when he designed Obamacare.
KING: But you chose -- you say you were asked a question, which is fair enough, but you chose those words. And so one of my questions is, why would you chose those -- choose those words maybe in the comfort of a Sunday show studio? Your rival is standing right there. If it was Obamneycare on "Fox News Sunday," why isn't it not Obamneycare standing here with the governor right there?
PAWLENTY: It -- President Obama is -- is the person who I quoted in saying he looked to Massachusetts for designing his program. He's the one who said it's a blueprint and that he merged the two programs. And so using the term "Obamneycare" was a reflection of the president's comments that he designed Obamacare on the Massachusetts health care plan.
KING: All right.
Governor, you want to respond to that at all?
ROMNEY: No, just -- just to say this, which is my guess is the president is going to eat those words and wish he hasn't -- hadn't put them out there. And I can't wait to debate him and say, Mr. President, if, in fact, you did look at what we did in Massachusetts, why didn't you give me a call and ask what worked and what didn't? And I would have told you, Mr. President, that what you're doing will not work.
It's a huge power grab by the federal government. It's going to be massively expensive, raising taxes, cutting Medicare. It's wrong for America. And that's why there's an outpouring across the nation to say no to Obamacare. And I'm delighted to be able to debate him on that.
KING: OK. Mr. Speaker...
KING: ... you have a -- I'll let you -- Mr. Speaker, you have at times said, you know, maybe you do have a consider a mandate. You've been very open to the individual mandate. It has become, it seems, at least at the moment, a litmus test in this Republican primary. Should it be?
GINGRICH: Yes, it should be. If you -- if you explore the mandate, which even the Heritage Foundation at one time looked at, the fact is, when you get into an mandate, it ultimately ends up with unconstitutional powers. It allows the government to define virtually everything. And if you can do it for health care, you can do it for everything in your life, and, therefore, we should not have a mandate.
But I want to answer Sylvia at a different level. This campaign cannot be only about the presidency. We need to pick up at least 12 seats in the U.S. Senate and 30 or 40 more seats in the House, because if you are serious about repealing Obamacare, you have to be serious about building a big enough majority in the legislative branch that you could actually in the first 90 days pass the legislation.
So I just think it's very important to understand, it's not about what one person in America does. It's about what the American people do. And that requires a senatorial majority, as well as a presidency.
KING: All right. We'll have more time to discuss the health care issue. Let's get down to the floor.
Jennifer Vaughn from WMUR has a question from a voter.
VAUGHN: Hi, John. Thank you very much. I'd like you to meet Terry Pfaff tonight. Tell me I said that last name correctly, Terry. Granite Stater born and bred?
TERRY PFAFF, FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes, ma'am.
VAUGHN: Thank you for being here. And what's your question for the candidates tonight?
PFAFF: Well, my question is that I am a New Hampshire native and I've been an active Republican for years from a town committee chairman, Republican chairman, Merrimack County, vice chairman, all the way up to 2004 delegate for President Bush.
My question is, how will you convince myself? I'm not a libertarian Republican, I'm not a Tea Party Republican. I'm just a mainstream Republican. And we need both -- the independents and mainstream Republicans to win in November.
How can you convince me and assure me that you'll bring a balance and you won't be torn to one side or the other for many factions within the party? You have to have a balanced approach to governing to solve our serious problems.
KING: Senator Santorum, let me go to you first on that one.
SANTORUM: Well, if you look at my record, I'm someone who's actually accomplished a lot on big issues. Take for example welfare reform. I was in the United States Senate and actually at the direction of Newt Gingrich I was on the Ways and Means Committee and I drafted the Contract with America Welfare Reform Bill.
It was considered this extreme measure. Well, that extreme measure we ended up winning an election and getting those seats. And that was now the starting point. And I managed that bill in the United States Senate because I cared about the dignity of every person.
I didn't believe that poverty was the ultimate disability. I believed that people could work and they could succeed. And we brought people together. I got 70 votes to end a federal entitlement -- to end a federal entitlement which was what Paul Ryan's proposed for Medicaid, he's proposed for food stamps, he's proposed for other welfare programs.
We did it. We set the template, and I led and got bipartisan support to do it.
KING: Can I ask you quickly now? That wasn't -- addressed part of the question. But are you concerned at all about the influence of the Tea Party?
SANTORUM: Not at all. I think the Tea Party is a great backstop for America. I love it when people hold up this Constitution and say we have to live by what our founders laid out for this country. It is absolutely essential that we have that backbone to the Republican Party going into this election.
KING: I know you agree, Congresswoman. So help the gentleman. Address his concerns that the Tea Party somehow -- the influence of the Tea Party somehow pushes him out?
BACHMANN: Terry, what I've seen in the Tea Party -- I'm the chairman of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. And what I've seen is unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who've never been political a day in their life.
People who are libertarians, Republicans. It's a wide swath of America coming together. I think that's why the left fears it so much. Because they're people who simply want to take the country back. They want the country to work again.
And I think there's no question, Terry, this election will be about economics. It will be about how will we create jobs, how will we turn the economy around, how will we have a pro-growth economy.
That's a great story for Republicans to tell. President Obama can't tell that story. His report card right now has a big failing grade on it, but Republicans have an awesome story to tell.
We need every one of us in a three-legged stool. We need the peace through strength of Republicans, we need the fiscal conservatives, we need the social conservatives. We need everybody to come together because we're going to win. Just make no mistake about it.
I want to announce tonight. President Obama is a one-term president.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BACHMANN: You'll win.
KING: I'm being polite so far. But I want to remind everybody about the time.
Mr. Cain, as somebody who has no elective no experience.
KING: To this gentleman's question. If you were to become the nominee of this party.
KING: And you associate yourself with the Tea Party, politics is about math. It's about coalition building. And a candidate who loses a mainstream Republican as he describes himself might not win this state in November. Might not win a big state like Senator Santorum's Pennsylvania in November.
Address the concern of the gentleman who seems to think that at least some people in the Tea Party maybe in their dissatisfaction, their anger of the president are too negative, too critical.
CAIN: They're not too negative and they're not too critical. As a businessman, one of the first things that you do, which has allowed me to be successful throughout my career is make sure you're working on the right problem. If we make sure we're working on the right problem, I will surround myself with the right people and then we will put together the right plans that I'm going to take it to the people. I will be a president to do what's right, not what's politically right.
And so if the other party disagrees but the American people embrace those common sense solutions, that's how we get things done. So those experiences in the business world, managing large organizations with a very diverse constituency are the same skills that can help get the people involved and not exclude the people like this administration has done.
KING: I want to remind the candidates, though, this as I remind people in the audience. CNN is hosting a Tea Party debate September 12th. So watch how this plays out. The Tea Party was a vocal in 2010. We'll see how much the influence is in 2012.
Let's continue our conversation here with the voters of New Hampshire.
Jean Mackin of WMUR is in Hancock with a voter and a question -- Jean.
JEAN MACKIN, WMUR: Thanks very much, John. And welcome to the Hancock Inn. I'm standing here with Mike Patinsky. He is a small business owner from Harris Field, New Hampshire.
And Mike, what question do you have tonight?
MIKE PATINSKY, DIRECTOR OF TRANSPORTATION, FRANKLIN PIERCE COLLEGE: Well, for the candidates I'd like to know how they plan on returning manufacturing jobs to the United States.
KING: Congressman Paul, why don't you start with that one?
PAUL: Pretty important because everything we've done in the last 20 or 30 years we've exported our jobs. And when you have a reserve currency of the world and you abuse it, you export money. That becomes the main export so it goes with the money.
You have to invite capital. The way you get capital into a country, you have to have a strong currency, not a weak currency. Today it's a deliberate job of the Federal Reserve to weaken the currency. We should invite capital back.
First thing is, we have trillions of dollars, at least over a trillion dollars of U.S. money made overseas, but it stays over there because if you bring it home, they get taxed. If you want to, we need to get the Fed to quit printing the money and if you want capital, you have to entice those individuals to repatriate their money and take the taxes office, set up a financial system, deregulate and de-tax to invite people to go back to work again.
But as long as we run a program of deliberately weakening our currency, our jobs will go overseas, and that is what's happened for a good many years, especially in the last decade. KING: Governor Pawlenty, does the congressman have it right?
PAWLENTY: There's a number of things we need to do. Restore manufacturing in this country. And I grew up if in a meat packing town. I grew up in a manufacturing town. I was in a union for six or seven years.
I understand what it's like to see the blue-collar communities and the struggles that they've had when manufacturing leaves. So I've seen that firsthand. But number one, we've got to have fair trade, and what's going on right now is not fair.
I'm for a fair and open trade but I'm not for being stupid and I'm not for being a chump. And we have individuals and organizations and countries around this world who are not following the rules when it comes to fair trade. We need a stronger president and somebody who's going to take on those issues.
Number two, we need to make the costs and burdens of manufacturing in this country lower. We're asking them to climb the mountain with a big backsack full of rocks on their back. We have to take the rocks out.
One of them is Obamacare. I mean somebody in Arizona the other day. He's moving his whole company out of the country just because of Obamacare. The taxes are too high. The regulations are too heavy, the permitting is too slow, and the message everywhere around this country, from business leaders large and small, including manufacturing, is get the government off my back. As president I will.
KING: How about to help workers, Congressman, get ready for the new jobs in manufacturing? Should the United States government, the federal government we say help in community colleges with their vocational training programs and things like that?
BACHMANN: Well, the United States federal government and the states have done numerous job training programs over the year with mixed results. This is what we need to do to turn job creation around and bring manufacturing back to the United States.
What we need to do is today the United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. I'm a former federal tax lawyer. I've seen the devastation. We've got to bring that tax rate down substantially so that we're among the lowest in the industrialized world.
Here's the other thing. Every time the liberals get into office, they pass an omnibus bill of big spending projects. What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it's the repeal bill that will get a job killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.
KING: OK. OK. I'll get to you in one second. I just want to show people. We're asking people watching at home also to tell us on Facebook, in Twitter what concerns them.
If you watch up here and take a look. Just look what's happened. Three most important issues this election season regardless of party, jobs, the jobless, and whether you want a job.
Senator Santorum, your state of Pennsylvania, a big industrial state that has struggled in recent years.
SANTORUM: I always am from Pennsylvania. We still make things there, and I represented the Steel Valley of Pittsburgh when I was in the Congress. And what I learned from growing up in Butler, Pennsylvania, steel town is that the broad middle of America was a broad middle of America when we had lots of manufacturing here because that's how the wealth from those who create the jobs get down.
And we've been outsourcing those jobs. So what we need to do is a lot of what was said here. I would add another thing that I'm specifically proposing. We need to cut the capital gains tax in half which others have proposed but for manufacturers we need to give a five-year window where we cut it to zero.
We want to encourage people to set up jobs here in America. Take that R&D credit, make it permanent, take that innovation and then invest that money here to create that broad middle of America and have that wealth really trickle down.
KING: Let's stay on jobs and the economy. We'll get to everybody. Just want to bring in Josh McElveen from WMUR who's down there on the floor. He has a question related to this.
JOSH MCELVEEN, WMUR POLITICAL REPORTER: Thank you, John. Good evening, candidates.
Governor Pawlenty, the possibility exists that New Hampshire could soon become the 23rd state to pass right to work legislation. Unions don't like it because they feel it making membership volunteer. We can organize labor, you know, you've seen the protest in your home state of Minnesota.
My question is, where do you fall on right to work and would you support a federal right-to-work law?
PAWLENTY: We live in the United States of America and people shouldn't be forced to belong or be a member in any organization. And the government has no business telling you what group to be a member of or not. I support strongly right-to-work legislation.
PAWLENTY: Like I said, for much of his life my dad was a teamster truck driver. My brothers and sisters, many of them are in unions, I was in a union. We grew up in a blue-collar town. I understand these issues.
My family were Reagan-Democrats, now most of them listen to Rush Limbaugh actually. But the point is, I understand these issues, but we don't have a government tell us what organizations or associations we should be in. We tell the government what to do.
KING: Mr. Speaker, I assume you agree. And as you come into the conversation, one of the criticisms -- you tell me whether it's fair or not. One of the criticisms has been, as you watch some of these governors deal with this issue across the country, that some people say there's a tone about it. That they seem to be trying to demonize public employees or union workers.
GINGRICH: Well, that's a totally different question. The question that's asked was right to work. And one of the things the Congress should do immediately is defund the National Labor Relations Board which has gone into South Carolina to punish Boeing, which wants to put 8,000 American jobs in South Carolina by fundamentally eliminating right-to-work at the National Labor Relations Board.
That's a real, immediate threat from the Obama administration to eliminate right to work. And I think that it is fundamentally the wrong direction. I hope that New Hampshire does adopt right-to-work. I frankly keep it at the state level because as each new state becomes right to work, they send a signal to the remaining states, don't be stupid.
Why you want to be at California's unemployment level when you can be Texas's employment level? Or North Dakota's?
And I think, Kevin (ph), that if you believe in the 10th Amendment, we ought to -- let the states learn from each other. And the right-to-work states are creating a lot more jobs today that they heavily unionized states. The public employee union question is a totally different issue.
KING: All right. Maybe we'll come back to that.
Mr. Cain, I will let you in quickly on this one. As a businessman who says your strength in this campaign is someone who's created jobs, the question of right-to-work?
CAIN: Yes. I do believe that the states should have the right. I believe in right-to-work, and I hope that New Hampshire is able to get it passed. And I agree with the speaker and the others who believe that if the federal government continues to do the kinds of thing that this administration is trying to do through the back door, through the National Labor Relations Board, that's killing our free market system, and the free market system is what made this economy great. And we have to keep the free market system strong.
KING: A lot more ground to cover with our candidates. We're about to take our first break of the evening. We will have several. A lot more ground to cover. A lot more domestic policy, a lot of foreign policy. We want to see who you might want as your next commander in chief should you choose to make President Obama a one- term president.
One of the other things we want to do, though, is to learn a little bit more about these candidates and their personalities. So I'm going to borrow something from my sports fan experience. Every time we go to break or come back from break, I'm going to ask the candidates one at a time a question I'll call this or that. I give them a choice. These are not serious political issues. It's just to show a little bit of the personal sides of our candidate.
Senator Santorum, I want to start with you.
SANTORUM: Thank you.
KING: Of course.
KING: Leno or Conan?
SANTORUM: Probably Leno. But I don't watch either. Sorry.
KING: All right. That's all right. That's the answer -- the answer is the answer.
And for those of you watching at home, remember, the Facebook, Twitter, send us questions, send us your analysis. A little bit later we'll also give you a chance for some exclusive content. Get your smartphone ready. I'll explain that a little bit ahead. We'll be right back at Saint Anselm College in just a moment.
KING: Welcome back to our Republican debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
One of the things we are very eager to do throughout the campaign is to involve you at home and to use technology and innovation. So if you have a smartphone, look at your screen right now.
If you've used it before, you'll know. You'll see an electronic code on your screen. You can snap a picture of that code, you'll get some exclusive access about the debate. Some behind-the-scenes video, some analysis and content. We'll do this throughout the debate and we'll do it throughout the campaign.
Now we're going to get back to questioning our seven Republican candidates for president.
Right before the break we did this thing called "This or That." Just to learn a little bit about the personality of the candidates.
Senator Santorum doesn't stay up very late. He's a parent. I understand that. He said if he had to he would pick Leno over Conan.
Congresswoman Bachmann, to you, Elvis or Johnny Cash?
BACHMANN: That's really tough. That's really -- both, both.
BACHMANN: I've "Christmas with Elvis" on my iPod.
KING: All right. Now we know what's on the congresswoman's iPod.
Let's get to John Distaso of the "Union Leader." He's down here in the audience and he has a question.
JOHN DISTASO, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER SR. POLITICAL REPORTER: Thank you, John.
To federal -- Congressman Paul, this is for you. The federal government now assists many industries, green jobs, the auto industry, research and development, all get subsidies. Given the current state of the economy, what standards do you have, if any, for government assistance to private enterprise?
PAUL: There shouldn't be any government assistance to private enterprise. It's not morally correct, it's legal, it's bad economics. It's not part of the constitution. If you allow an economy to thrive, they'll decide how R&D works or where they invest their monies.
But when the politicians get in and direct things, you get the malinvestment. They do the dumb things. They might build too many houses. And they might not direct their research to the right places. So no, it's a fallacy to think that government and politicians and bureaucrats are smart enough to manage the economy, so it shouldn't happen.
KING: All right. These are the Republicans, the conservative candidates. Every time you applaud, I know you're happy with the answer. You take your time away, though.
We would expect to get an answer of less government is better. One of the questions we want to explore tonight is when -- when do you reach that extraordinary moment where the government might want to do something.
Mr. Cain, I want to ask you because you're a businessman who initially at least supported the TARP program. The former senator Judd Gregg of this great state of New Hampshire was one of the architects of that program during the late hours of the Bush administration. Then you said, quote, "We needed to do something drastic because we were facing a very drastic situation."
CAIN: I studied the financial meltdown and concluded on my own that we needed to do something drastic, yes. When the concept of TARP was first presented to the public, I was willing to go along with it. But then when the administration started to implement it on a discretionary basis, picking winners and losers and also directing funds to General Motors and others that had nothing to do with the financial system, that's where I totally disagreed.
We should -- the government should not be selecting winners and losers, and I don't believe in this concept of too big to fail. If they fail, the free market will figure out who's going to pick the up the pieces.
KING: Well, let's stay on this topic. Let's bring Tom Fahey back into the conversation. He has a question -- Tom.
FAHEY: Yes, thank you, John. I wanted to ask Governor Romney about the auto industry. General Motors and Chrysler have rebounded since the Obama administration bailed them up. Bankruptcy is no longer a threat.
Would you say the bailout program was a success?
ROMNEY: The bailout program was not a success because the bailout program wasted a lot of money. About $17 billion was used unnecessarily.
When the CEOs of the auto companies went to Washington asking for money from Washington, I wrote an op-ed, and I said, look, the right process for these companies is not a bailout, not a big check from Washington, but instead letting these enterprises go through bankruptcy, re-emerge, getting rid of the unnecessary costs that they had, the excessive debt, re-emerge, and that would be the preferred way for them to be able to get on their feet again.
Instead, the Bush administration and the Obama administration wrote checks to the auto industry. Ultimately, they went through the very bankruptcy process that I suggested from the beginning.
But the big difference was $17 billion was wasted. And then President Obama, given that money, was able to put his hands on the scales of justice and give the company to the UAW.
There is a perception in this country that government knows better than the private sector, that Washington and President Obama have a better view for how an industry ought to be run. Well, they're wrong. The right way for America to create jobs is to -- is to keep government in its place and to allow the private sector and the -- and the energy and passion of the American people create a brighter future for our kids and for ourselves.
KING: Let me read you, Governor, just a little bit of an op-ed piece you wrote back in November 2008.
"If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." From a profit standpoint, they're doing pretty well right now. On that point, "kiss goodbye," I understand you disagree with the policy. Kiss the industry goodbye, were you wrong?
ROMNEY: No, I wasn't wrong, because if you read the rest of the op-ed piece, it says what they need to do is go through a bankruptcy process to shed unnecessary costs. If they just get paid checks after checks from the federal government, they're going to be locked in with high UAW costs, legacy costs. They'll never be able to get on their feet. They have to go through bankruptcy.
And it turned out that that's finally what they did. And the head of the UAW, he wrote an op-ed piece saying, Romney's wrong, the government has to step in and give them a check.
That's the wrong way to go. Use the process of law. Use the process of American ingenuity. Don't have government try and guide this economy.
KING: Anyone -- is there anyone here who, given that prospect, and President Bush started the program, given that prospect, anyone here who would have stepped in and said, "I don't want to do this, but this is the backbone of American manufacturing, I'll do something"?
SANTORUM: No, absolutely not. We should -- we should not have had a TARP. We should not have had the auto bailout. Governor Romney's right. They could have gone through a structured bankruptcy without the federal government.
All the federal government did was basically tip to the cronies, tip to the unions, gave the unions the company. If they'd have gone through the orderly bankruptcy process, gone through a structured bankruptcy, they'd have come out in the same place, only we would have kept the integrity of the bankruptcy process without the government putting its fingers into it.
KING: Quickly, please.
BACHMANN: John, I was in the middle of this debate. I was behind closed doors with Secretary Paulson when he came and made the extraordinary, never-before-made request to Congress: Give us a $700 billion blank check with no strings attached.
And I fought behind closed doors against my own party on TARP. It was a wrong vote then. It's continued to be a wrong vote since then. Sometimes that's what you have to do. You have to take principle over your party.
KING: All right, let's continue the conversation, but we'll come back to this if we have to. Let's go to Jean Mackin in Hancock. She has a question.
MACKIN: Thanks, John. This question goes out to Speaker Gingrich. Next month, the space shuttle program is scheduled to retire after 30 years, and last year, President Obama effectively killed government-run space flight to the International Space Station and wants to turn it over to private companies. In the meantime, U.S. astronauts would ride Russian spacecraft at a cost of $50 million to $63 million a seat. What role should the government play in future space exploration?
GINGRICH: Well, sadly -- and I say this, sadly, because I'm a big fan of going into space and I actually worked to get the shuttle program to survive at one point -- NASA has become an absolute case study in why bureaucracy can't innovate.
If you take all the money we've spent at NASA since we landed on the moon and you had applied that money for incentives to the private sector, we would today probably have a permanent station on the moon, three or four permanent stations in space, a new generation of lift vehicles. And instead, what we've had is bureaucracy after bureaucracy after bureaucracy and failure after failure.
I think it's a tragedy, because younger Americans ought to have the excitement of thinking that they, too, could be part of reaching out to a new frontier.
You know, you'd asked earlier, John, about this idea of limits because we're a developed country. We're not a developed country. The scientific future is going to open up, and we're at the beginning of a whole new cycle of extraordinary opportunities. And, unfortunately, NASA is standing in the way of it, when NASA ought to be getting out of the way and encouraging the private sector.
KING: Is there any candidate who would step in and say, no, this is vital to America's identity, this is vital to America's innovation, I want the government to stay in the lead here when it comes to manned space flight? Nobody?
PAWLENTY: Yeah, I think the space program has played a vital role for the United States of America. I think in the context...
KING: But can we afford it going forward?
PAWLENTY: In the context of our budget challenges, it can be refocused and reprioritized, but I don't think we should be eliminating the space program. We can partner with private providers to get more economies of scale and scale it back, but I don't think we should eliminate the space program.
KING: In a sentence -- in a sentence or two?
GINGRICH: John, you mischaracterized me. I didn't say end the space program. We built the transcontinental railroads without a national department of railroads. I said you could get into space faster, better, more effectively, more creatively if you decentralized it, got it out of Washington, and cut out the bureaucracy. It's not about getting rid of the space program; it's about getting to a real space program that works.
ROMNEY: I think fundamentally there are some people -- and most of them are Democrats, but not all -- who really believe that the government knows how to do things better than the private sector.
KING: All right, let's go down to the...
ROMNEY: And they happen to be wrong. And... (CROSSTALK)
KING: All right, the role of government -- we'll continue on the role of government. I'm sorry -- Josh, please.
MCELVEEN: Thanks very much, John. And, Governor Pawlenty, I'd like to go back to you. Let's talk about housing. Roughly right now, there are about a million -- a million homes in the -- in the hands of banks and lenders, millions of more homeowners are upside-down, meaning they owe more than their home is worth. What would you or your administration do to try to right the housing ship?
PAWLENTY: Well, the first thing we need to do is get the government out of crony capitalism. We have this alliance between big government, big unions, and certain big bailout businesses. And as Congressman Paul said a few minutes ago, we had politicians in Congress trying to micromanage the housing market, and they created a bubble and they created the mess. And now we have all these innocent bystanders, the good people of the United States of America, many middle-income and modest-income people, who've been devastated by this.
And so the market is going to have to adjust. The programs that President Obama has put forward haven't really worked. They've been a failure. They've been slow. They haven't really solved the problem.
But the best thing that we can do is get the economy moving again. And it's not going to happen by growing government. His way failed. We've got to get the private sector going. We have to have people starting businesses, growing businesses, building things, starting places of employment. This is how we're going to get money back in people's pockets and get them financially stable.
KING: So, Congressman, come into the conversation. As you do, don't make it just about foreclosures. This is -- this is an interesting topic of discussion, especially -- especially when money is scarce and you've got to start cutting. It's a question of priorities. What should the government be doing? And maybe what should the government be doing in a better economy that it can't do now that has to go?
So talk about foreclosures a bit, but then tell me something, if you were president and you were dealing with it in your first few weeks, and you said, "I might like to do this, but I can't afford to do this," be as specific as you can, what goes?
PAUL: Well, I -- I would want to do much less, much sooner. The government shouldn't be involved. You take the bankruptcies, we've been doing a whole lot. We've been propping them up. We've had the Federal Reserve buy all the illiquid assets, which were worthless, stick it with the taxpayers. The people who've made the money when the bubble was being blown up, they're the ones who got bailed out.
But you want the correction. Corrections are good. The mal- investment in the bubbles are caused by the Federal Reserve and the government, and we keep propping it up. And that's why this is going -- it was predictable it would come. It's predictable it's lasted three years. And it's predictable, as long as we do what we're doing in Washington, it's going to last another 10 years.
We're doing what we did in the depression. We're doing what the Japanese have done. You need to get the prices of houses down to clear the market, but they're trying to keep the prices up. They actually have programs in Washington which stimulating housing. You need to clear the -- clear the market and then we can all go back to work. But what we're doing now is absolutely wrong.
KING: Well, let me give you another topic that people say the government is too involved in. That's food safety. You worked in the business.
KING: You see the E. coli scare that's going on in Europe right now. You're trying to cut money. The FDA, other agencies that get involved in that are in front of you. What do you do?
CAIN: You look inside the FDA and determine whether or not it needs to be streamlined, and maybe it does.
KING: But should the federal government be doing food safety inspections?
CAIN: The federal government should be doing food safety, yes. But I want to go back to this point about what we need to do to help the housing market.
We don't just have one problem; we have a crisis of the three E's. We've got the economy, entitlement spending, and energy. We've got to simultaneously work on all of those so we can put 13 million to 14 million people back to work. That's what we've got to do. So it's not just a single issue. It is the multiplicity and the compounding effect of those three critical problems.
KING: What else, Governor Romney? You've been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I've been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it's the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.
Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut -- we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot...
KING: Including disaster relief, though?
ROMNEY: We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all.
KING: All right, we need to work in another break. I know all the candidates want to get in on these issues and other issues. We will get back to them, I promise you that.
As we go to break, remember at home, if you have a question on Facebook, send it to us. If you have a question on Twitter, send it to us. You also can use your smartphone to get some exclusive information.
We're playing a little bit of an exercise called "This or That" to learn more about our candidates. It was Conan or Leno. It was Elvis or Johnny Cash.
Mr. Speaker, "Dancing with the Stars" or "American Idol"?
GINGRICH: "American Idol."
KING: "American Idol" it is.
Our candidates continue their debate in just a moment. Stay with us.
KING: Welcome back to our Republican debate here in the first- in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire. Seven candidates up on stage as they try to impress the voters of New Hampshire and the voters of the country tonight. We've become, we are told, a trending topic on Twitter.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to look up there just a bit, and we'll get to some of these questions, because they're good questions, privatization there, improving relationships with the Middle East, what industries do you think can reinvent America. All good suggestions from concerned citizens across the country watching this debate unfold.
Before we go and out of every break, we're doing an exercise called "This or That" to learn more about our candidates. The speaker had no hesitation at all: "American Idol" over "Dancing with the Stars.
Congressman Paul, BlackBerry or iPhone?
PAUL: BlackBerry. KING: BlackBerry it is.
All right. We're going to continue our conversation now. We want to bring up a very important issue I know all of you will want to weigh in on, and that is the debate about entitlements -- Mr. Cain mentioned those -- and specifically -- specifically Medicare. Right now, I want to go down to our audience. We've got Josh McElveen with a question.
MCELVEEN: Thanks very much, John. And I have Dr. Paul Collins who -- you've been running a family practice in Manchester for how long?
QUESTION: Twenty-seven years.
MCELVEEN: Nice work. So not surprising your question is related to health care. What's your question, sir?
QUESTION: Yes, sir. As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I've been contributing to Medicare through payroll taxes for over 30 years. How do you propose to keep Medicare financially solvent for the next 50 years and beyond?
KING: Let's start with Dr. Paul on this one.
PAUL: Well, under these conditions, it's not solvent and won't be solvent. You know, if you're -- if you're an average couple and you paid your entire amount into -- into Medicare, you would have put $140,000 into it. And in your lifetime, you will take out more than three times that much.
So a little bit of arithmetic tells you it's not solvent, so we're up against the wall on that, so it can't be made solvent. It has to change. We have to have more competition in medicine.
And I would think that if we don't want to cut any of the medical benefits for children or the elderly, because we have drawn so many in and got them so dependent on the government, if you want to work a transition, you have to cut a lot of money.
And that's why I argue the case that this money ought to be cut out of foreign welfare, and foreign militarism, and corporate welfare, and the military industrial complex. Then we might have enough money to tide people over.
But some revamping has to occur. What we need is competition. We need to get a chance for the people to opt out of the system. Just -- you talk about opting out of Obamacare? Why can't we opt out of the whole system and take care of ourselves?
KING: All right, let's -- let's continue the conversation. Governor Pawlenty, Congressman Paul says opt out. Congressman Ryan says squeeze a lot of savings across the federal budget, including a lot out of Medicare to turn it into a -- he doesn't like this word -- but it turns essentially into a voucher program. Instead of having the federal program, the government would give you some money and you'd go out in the marketplace and shop for it. Is that the right way to do it?
PAWLENTY: Let me first address the doctor. Doctor, you said in your question that you've paid in your whole life, and we respect that. People have made plans, particularly people who are on the program now or close to eligibility. We should keep our word to people that we've made promises to.
So under my proposal, if you're on the program or near the program, we'll keep our word. But we also have to recognize what Congressman Paul just said. There was a recent report out that the premiums for Medicare and the payroll withholdings are only paying about half the program. So it is not financially solvent. We have to fix it; we have to reform it.
I'm going to have my own plan, John, that will feature some differences from Congressman Ryan's plan. It will feature performance pay rather than just volume pay to hospitals and clinics and providers. It will allow Medicare to continue as an option, but it'll be priced against various other options that we're going to offer people, as well, and some other things.
And I also said, if it was a choice between Barack Obama's plan and doing nothing (ph), we have a president of the United States got one of the worst crises financially in the history of the country, and you can't find him on these issues. He's missing. I'll lead on this issue.
KING: All right, Governor.
Mr. Speaker, I want to bring you into this conversation, because I'm looking down -- I want to get the words just right -- your initial reaction to the Ryan plan? It's radical right-wing social engineering. Then you backtracked. Why?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, it was a very narrow question, which said, should Republicans impose an unpopular bill on the American people? Now, I supported the Ryan budget as a general proposal. I actually wrote a newsletter supporting the Ryan budget. And those words were taken totally out of context.
I'm happy to repeat them. If you're dealing with something as big as Medicare and you can't have a conversation with the country where the country thinks what you're doing is the right thing, you better slow down.
Remember, we all got mad at Obama because he ran over us when we said don't do it. Well, the Republicans ought to follow the same ground rule. If you can't convince the American people it's a good idea, maybe it's not a good idea. So let me start there.
Second, there are certain things I would do different than Paul Ryan on Medicare. I agree strongly with him on Medicaid, and I think it could be done. But let me just say two quick things. KING: Quickly.
GINGRICH: Congressman Tom Price has a very good bill in that would allow private contracting so those people who want to voluntarily could contract with their doctor or their hospital in addition to Medicare, and it would be outside the current system and it would relieve the pricing pressure on the current system. We did a study called "Stop Paying the Crooks." We think you can save $70 billion to