New Hampshire: Britt Hume, Wendell Goler, and Chris Wallace serving up the questions. Carl Cameron is in the diner talking with ordinary folks.
Left to Right: Tancredo, Paul, Huckabee, Giuliani, Romney, McCain, Brownback, Hunter.
[Though I try to be accurate, all quotes in quote marks should be treated as inexact representations and not the real thing.]
First they talk about Fred Thompson. He has already appeared in his commercial. But he isn’t here. Huckabee makes a joke about George Jones. Paul says he’s glad to see another pro-war Republican because it dilutes the field of his opponents. McCain has advice for Thompson to get out there and meet people. Romney says “why not take a few more months off?” Then “no seriously, welcome to the campaign, Fred.” Giuliani says, “Fred has done a good job playing my part on Law and Order.”
Now the real topics.
Romney was challenged on the immigration weakness in Massachussetts. He blamed the mayors in MA who wanted to have sanctuary cities. Proposes pulling federal funds from localities that don’t enforce immigration law.
Giuliani was challenged with his invitation to illegals to come to NYC and work there, and they would be welcomed. He replies that the law enforcement problem in NYC was extreme, and he had to encourage illegals to report crimes without fearing deportation, and that was one of the ways he made the city safer.
McCain said secure borders first.
Huckabee was asked about his statement that “some of it is driven by pure racism” about closed borders people. He mentions that every UPS and Fedex package is tracked by computers, but nobody is tracking illegal aliens. And he says he won’t be mean to them, cuz he’s a nice guy.
Tancredo is asked if he thinks anybody else on the stage is serious about the problem. “This isn’t about disliking anybody. It is about the rule of law!”
Hunter is asked what do you say about the fence’s impact on property rights of ranchers on the border. He says his fence is not the little scraggly one that people are climbing on CNN. If you can hop this fence they sign you up for the Olympics.
Man in the Diner Reaction
He’s a police officer. He says that the crimes are getting worse, and the criminals don’t speak English. When he calls ICE they don’t come. What can he do?
Giuliani says we need to have a technological barrier and ways of tracking legal immigrants. We want legal immigration, but no more illegal immigration.
McCain talks about the McCain immigration bill.
Romney mentions the bad Z visa, and says it was an amnesty proposal. The magnets that pull illegal immigration in are sanctuary cities and employers that hire them. The magnets must be shut down.
On Craig and the Family Values Question
Brownback says that Craig already decided to resign and should stick with it. Plus family values are critical to the future.
Hunter says that Craig ought to stick with his commitment to resign. He compares Republicans who get rid of their problem children, while Democrat problem children get made committee (cough Kennedy) chairmen.
Romney asked about abortion. How can you leave it legal in some parts of the country and illegal in others? Romney says he’d like to overturn Roe vs. Wade so that the states can decide on their pro-life or pro-abortion stance.
Huckabee mentions the Human Life Amendment in Arkansas. “Value and respect, elevate and celebrate every human life.”
Giuliani is challenged with Fred Thompson’s statement that he never felt safe in NYC because of the anti-gun laws. Giuliani says he took the crime capital of America and made it safer than just about any city in the US. With regards to the Virginia Tech question (would armed students have prevented the massacre?) he said states can decide gun laws.
Paul is asked whether the 9/11 hijackers might have hesitated if the passengers were armed. Paul responds the problem was that the Feds were responsible and the private airlines disclaimed responsibility. He says that private companies do a lot better job of protecting people and things than the Feds do.
Woman in the Diner: Should people be able to marry the people they love? Even if they are gay people marrying each other
Brownback says we have to protect marriage. He points to parts of Europe where gay marriage is legal and 80% of all babies are born out of wedlock. He emphasizes that this is about the children.
I like this kind of doing it for the children better than Meathead’s compassionate fascism supposedly for children.
McCain is asked to say something bad about Giuliani on the National Security front. He declines and talks about his military background. He mentions he was the leader of a large battalion (division?).
Giuliani is asked to respond to McCain, then if he is going to go to Iraq. He says he hopes to get to Iraq this year. He says if he weren’t running he’d probably be supporting McCain. He underlines his executive experience.
Romney is asked about long-term plans for Iraq. He says he’s not planning on doing anything unusual that nobody else would do, but emphasizes a future role of supporting the successful country of Iraq, “if the surge is working.” He won’t give a timetable other than as soon as possible.
McCain says “The Surge is working.” No buts about it. “We have to bring the troops home after winning. Otherwise we face genocide and catastrophe in the region.”
Paul is asked about the war. He plays the isolationist card. Would pull all troops out immediately and let the Iraqis fall. Chris Wallace asks, “should we take marching orders from Al Qaeda and leave when they want us to leave?” He replies that “we” never declared war and haven’t waged it right anyway.
Brownback talks about partition. Ho hum. Challenged how you can have a stable country when the Kurds are fighting with Turkey, the Shiites are buddy buddy with Iran, and the Sunnis have no oil. He says you have to occupy Iraq for a long time.
Huckabee is asked about the surge. He says if you break it you buy it. So we have to fix it before we leave. National honor and respect is at stake. We cannot leave until we can leave with honor.
Paul responds that the American people didn’t choose to go in. It is a neocon war.
Huckabee says we are one nation under God, not a divided nation. If our nation is at war, we are all at war.
Paul responds that the obligation of the people is to correct mistakes, not to continue them. He says the only way to win the election is by leaving Iraq. He says staying is saving face but that is not important. Bring ’em home.
Well, that was lively.
Hunter says the way to leave Iraq is after victory. He is challenged about “no matter how long it takes.” He responds that the US Marines and Army are a lot tougher and more creative than anybody in the media gives them credit for.
Tancredo says that we have to recognize we are at war with “Radical Islam.” Iraq is a battle in that war. We have to disengage as a police force in Iraq, but … that thought kind of went nowhere.
Soldier’s Dad in the Diner
How would Romney end the war? And what about your five sons who aren’t in the military?
Romney says that nothing compares to the honor and respect we should hold for American soldiers who risk their lives for us all. He then repeats that the war is against Global Jihad, and Iraq is a battlefield that we finally appear to be winning. He says that he is waiting on Petraeus to report before he draws his conclusions.
Presidential Power in the War on Terror
Romney says that you use legal means of surveillance to prevent attacks before they happen. Emergency response is important but not enough. Wiretaps in mosques or churches or whatever it takes are fair game. He says the most important civil liberty he expects from his government is the right to stay alive.
Tancredo is asked about torture. He says “what is torture?” He uses the ticking time bomb scenario and says the President’s ultimate, prime responsibility is to keep the people of the US safe and that he would use all tools in his tool chest.
McCain says that torture is bad. It dishonors us. Plus if we torture we get tortured.
Let’s pass that to Al Qaeda and let them know they shouldn’t torture us.
Giuliani is asked about Gitmo. He says that we can’t close Gitmo because nobody will take the people who are there, because the people who are left are too dangerous to be set free, EVER! He then goes on to talk about the idiocy of timetables that give the terrorists a framework for defeating us.
Hunter is asked about Gitmo. He says that we will hold terrorists indefinitely. He points out that some of the “harmless” prisoners that were released have showed back up on the battlefield and killed more Americans. That all prisoners get great healthcare, can pray five times a day, have gained weight, eat honey glazed chicken and rice pilaf every friday, and that none of them have ever been murdered unlike any US prison in any Democrat’s state.
Brownback says that tracking immigrants and listening to foreign phone calls is an important and legitimate presidential power.
Taxes and Spending
Why haven’t McCain and Giuliani refused to sign a no taxes pledge?
McCain says he has always been against new taxes. He says the missing piece of the Republican pie has been spending control. He would veto every pork barrel bill and also keep taxes low. He is challenged on his vote against the tax cuts. He stands his ground.
Brownback says we work until May to pay our taxes, and only after that do we get to keep what we produce. If we could lower taxes then maybe some dual worker families could become single worker families and still get by.
Giuliani says he made supply side economics work in NYC. But he won’t sign the pledge because his only pledge will be to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Romney is asked about fee increases in Mass. He says he was able to cut taxes, but had to institute fees to pay for the Democrat deficit he inherited.
Huckabee is asked about the Fair Tax. Wooo hooo! 23% sales tax. He says the Bush panel that looked at a 34% sales tax did not look at the real Fair Tax. He says that the IRS is the biggest problem that the Fair Tax would solve. It would also end the underground economy. And it would get rid of corruption in the government because it would get rid of lobbyists to change tax laws.
Paul is asked how he would get intelligence information if he really got rid of the CIA, FBI, DHS, and so on. He says, the CIA has done a lousy job so far, why depend on them in the future. Then he gets nutsy with habeas corpus secret spying nsa wiretaps blah blah blah.
Poli Sci Major in the Diner
You have to lead by example in Family Values. What does Giuliani say about that?
Ooooh, that’s pointed.
Giuliani says that private life shows the way one would conduct public life. He says that he came into public office with a bad deal and turned it around. He said his private life hasn’t been perfect. “Any issues in my private life do not affect my public performance.”
[break. Great commercial with a double-amputee soldier from Freedom’s Watch.]
Scenario: Iran on the verge of producing Nuclear weapons, kicks IAEA out, IRGC is attacking Iraq, UN is feckless, what do you do?
Paul says we don’t have to resort to war. Plus the President can’t declare war. That is Congress’s job to declare war.
Tancredo says the scenario is difficult. Look for help inside Iran, from the Iranian people. We can’t back away, nor should we charge into it. “Political correctness will get us all killed. It is absolutely the thing we must fear.” He won’t send soldiers into combat with ROE that bind their hands behind their backs and force them to die.
Hunter calls out the technological solutions, including bunker busters. And he says that 95% pure uranium can be passed to other bad guys and be used to produce a weapon elsewhere. He paints a picture of a large coalition, strikes, and ground forces following up with an on-the-ground post-strike assessment.
Huckabee says as President he would follow the Constitution and his own character. He would take the best advice he could get, would pray, and would make the best decision he could.
Brownback says this scenario isn’t speculative. It’s too close to reality. He says that the President would need to take the situation to Congress and ask them to declare War.
Giuliani says that the problem is that Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism. He says the danger is they will supply their house terrorists with nuclear weapons. As soon as they have a nuke they can be expected to send a HizbAllah terrorist out with a nuke to blow up a Western city.
Romney says that “you’re dealing with a nation that talks about genocide, and that calls Israel a one-bomb-state.” And letting them have a nuke is unacceptable.
McCain says “at the end of the day, we cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.” He proposes pressure from a League of Democracies. Compares it to the UN, which is useless. Goes through the problems with Iran and how it is already at war with us and our allies. When Reagan was elected, the same day he was sworn into office the Iranians released the hostages. He would do the same things Reagan did.
[and now on to Hannity and Colmes for reaction]