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Rush Limbaugh. 1951-2021.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Grading the Tuesday GOP Prez Debate

If you missed it, you're forgiven. it was on MSNBC and hardly anyone watches that channel.

Tuesday afternoon was the latest in GOP presidential candidate debates. This one, held in Dearborn Michigan was the first to include Senator Fred Thompson. The overall theme of the debate was the economy. Along those lines, Taxes, spending, trade and energy independence were featured.

Fred Thompson: B

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAfter leaving us all hanging for so many months, Fred Thompson gets points just for showing up. His performance was a tad lackluster but he did manage to get the swing of things towards the end.

His overall impression of the economy was summed up at the beginning: "We're enjoying low inflation. We're enjoying low unemployment. The stock market seems to be doing pretty well.I see no reason to believe we're headed for an economic downturn...But we are spending money we do not have. We are on a mandatory spending lockdown that is pushing us in a direction that is unsustainable. We're spending the money of future generations, and those yet to be born. That has to do with our mandatory spending problem.Everyone knows that we have to address that. And it's the fundamental and foremost challenge, I think, facing our country economically."

Competing in the World Economy:

"Manufacturers cannot do much about that, but they get hit with costs, domestically. We can do a lot about their costs, in terms of taxes and regulation.We have the second highest corporate tax penalty in the world. We need to do better than that. We need to open up foreign markets. A lot of them are closing their markets to our people. Our people are not afraid to compete, if the markets are open and the currency's not devalued. "

On the Alternative Minimum Tax:

"The alternative minimum tax was designed for the -- to target the rich guy.And when the Democrats start targeting the rich guy if you're a middle class guy, you ought to run to the other side of the house because you're going to get hit. They're not going to be on target. And this is another one of those cases. As you point out, we're going from about 4 million people covered now to over 20 million people.What we're going to have to do, though, is look at this as a part of a total picture. Generally speaking, lower taxes and lower tax rates grow the economy. It's been proven in the '20s, it was proven during the Kennedy administration, proven during the Reagan administration, and again during this administration.I would apply that same principle to the AMT. It ought to be phased out. It think the responsible thing to do, though, until we get a handle on our mandatory spending side of the ledger is to index it for inflation and fix it for another year while we look at the budget in total."

On Islamofascism

"I think we've got to come to terms with the nature of the threat that our country faces. It is a global war; Islamic fascism has declared it upon us. They look at it as something that's been going on for a long, long time. They're perfectly willing for it to go on for a long time more, killing millions of innocent people in the process.They play by no rules and they are intent on bringing down Western civilization and the United States of America. So we have to understand what's necessary -- and the determination that we need to show to friend and foe alike that we'll do what's necessary to fight on any front that we have to fight on.This is a front in a much broader war, and I think the young people that I talked to coming back from understand that. In fact, sometimes it's strange to me to think that the average 20-year-old serving us in Iraq knows more about what it takes for our national security than the average 20-year veteran on Capitol Hill."

War Powers- Should A President Get Permission from Congress First?

"I would add that under the War Powers Act, there's always a conflict between the Congress and the president as to the exact applicability of that when an engagement lasts for a particular period of time and when they must come before Congress.I don't think anybody running for president should diminish the power of the office before he gets there and take side in a hypothetical dispute. But I would say that in any close call, you should go to Congress, whether it's legally required or not. Because you're going to need the American people and Congress will help you if they're voting for it or if they support it, or leaders, especially in the opposite party, are convinced and looking at the evidence that this is the right thing to do, that will help you with the American people. And we have learned that, over the long term in any conflict, we've got to have the strong support of the American people over a protracted period of time."

On Labor Unions:

"I do not believe a person ought to have to be a member of the union to work. I do not believe that union bosses ought to use union dues for political purposes that their members don't necessarily agree with. And I do not agree with them denying union members a secret ballot."

John McCain: C

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McCain had some good moments. But he often had trouble hearing the question, which gave a somewhat negative impression.

On Taxes:

"Should we -- because the bulk of the taxes are paid by wealthy people. Should we reform our tax code, which is completely broken, which no one understands, no living American understands? Absolutely, we should fix our tax code. And we should fix it immediately. And we should have Congress either vote up or down on a freer, fairer, simpler tax code."

Job Retraining:

"We need to have job retraining programs. We need to go to the community colleges. We even need, if you're a senior laid-off worker, who gets another job, to make up in compensation for the amount of money that's the difference between the job that they lost." [editor: anyone thought of how much that would cost?]

For Free Trade:

"I'm a student of history. Every time the United States has become projectionist and listened to this siren song that you're hearing partially this stage tonight, we could pay at a very heavy price.The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Acts in the 1930s were direct contributors to World War II. It sounds like a lot of fun to bash Chinese and others, but free trade has been the engine of our economy in the last half of this year; it will continue to be."

On Iraq:

"I advocated the strategy that's succeeding, and thank God the American people are giving us a little window so we can let this thing succeed and not have happen, as the president of Iran recently said, the United States will leave Iraq and there will be vacuum and Iran will fill it. That's what's at stake here. "

On Presidential War Powers:

"If it's a long series of build-ups, where the threat becomes greater and greater, of course you want to go to Congress; of course you want to get approval, if this is an imminent threat to the security of the United States of America.So it obviously depends on the scenario.But I would, at minimum -- I would, at minimum, consult with the leaders of Congress because there may come a time when you need the approval of Congress. And I believe that this is a possibility that is, maybe, closer to reality than we are discussing tonight."

Energy Independence:

"I wouldn't drill off the coast of Florida unless the people of Florida wanted to. And I wouldn't drill off the coast of California unless the people of California wanted to. And I wouldn't drill in the Grand Canyon unless the people in Arizona wanted to."

"We have now a confluence of two national security requirements. One is to address the issue of climate change, and nuclear power is a very big part of that. And it's also a requirement to not allow Chavez in Venezuela, Putin in Russia and the president of Iran to dictate world events, bully their neighbors and use oil as a weapon which would probably further terrorism and endanger this nation's national security."

Finding Bin Laden:

"I would establish an organization, not unlike the OSS in World War II. People who are smart, people who are tough, people who are used to operating independently and the smartest and most talented people I know -- and I would let them loose and I'd say, "Find this guy and do what ever is necessary to get him."

Support Eventual GOP Nominee?

"By the way, supporting the nominated party, of course I would support me."

Mitt Romney: B

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It was mostly a good night for Mitt Romney. And he would have gotten an A for his debate performance except for the unfortunate statement about needing to consult lawyers before he (as President) would initiate military action against another country.

Mitt had a strong exchange with Rudy over taxes and spending and generally seemed comfortable in the debate format, joking with his fellow candidates: "I've come to know these people now over these debates. Is this our sixth debate, I think...this is a lot like "Law & Order," it has a huge cast, the series seems to go on forever ... and Fred Thompson shows up at the end."

Free and Fair Trade:

"If, for instance, we agree to sit down with China, I understand that if we don't get real careful and protect patents and designs and technology, that what we tend to sell the most of, those kinds of things -- intellectual property -- is going to get stolen by the Chinese or by others; that we have to recognize agreements have to be in our benefit, not just in their benefit."

"We need to make sure that the American workers don't have to carry the burden of extra taxes as we sell our products around the world. The come here without that tax embedded."

"We have to make sure that as we enter into agreements with other nations we make sure that those agreements are in our benefit as well as theirs. Usually that's the case, but not always. And in some cases it's not. We're going to make sure that our goods and services are sold around the world, that they're not held up, that our technology is not stolen. And we're going to make sure that America gets the best shake in these agreements."

On Presidential War Powers:

"If you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities? You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat.

Experience in Business a Key Qualification:

"And vis-a-vis meeting with most likely Hillary Clinton, I can't wait to talk about the fact that I spent my life in the economy. I understand how jobs come and why they go. I know how to get a health care plan not just talked about, but actually implemented. I know how to make sure that we keep our taxes down and our spending down. I know how to help American companies do business around the world and stop those foreign companies from coming in here unfairly. That's what I've done throughout my career.I can't wait to debate with her, because I've done it. She's just talked about it. "

"Is this country the hope of the world? Absolutely. "

Support for eventual GOP nominee:

"And would I support the Republican nominee? Of course. I want that nominee, however, to come out of the same mold as Ronald Reagan. And that's somebody who is strong for our military, strong for our economy and strong for our family values.

Ron Paul: D

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOne good thing about having Ron Paul is that he adds a comedic touch. But he talks using the most wonkish language made more unintelligible by his whining speech pattern that reminds me of the character "Nole" from the Fraser television show. You'd think he just came from a Star Trek convention.

Rambling, Whining Gibberish:

"We were told -- it was about oil and jobs when it first started in 1990, and this is just a continuation of that war.Indeed, this war is a mistake; was a mistake to go in.PAUL: It's very costly. And it has a lot of economic ramifications.We're going broke. We have this huge deficit. We're spending nearly $1 trillion with maintaining our empire overseas. And that's a cost.Right now, we owe foreigners $2.7 trillion. No wonder they have money to come back in here and buy stuff up, and then we object.But that has to do with our monetary system, as well as our foreign policy. So if we want prosperity, we have to change our foreign policy. We have to live within our means. But we can't maintain a reserve currency where all -- our greatest export today are paper dollars. We create money out of thin air and they still accept it as if it was backed by gold.And that is the reason all this money goes overseas. And at the same time, we finance all this military activity overseas, it's bankrupting this country.And not only that; it's a threat to our personal liberties here and it's going to be a threat to our economy, because we are beginning to live beneath our means.

Does the President Need Congressional Authority to attack Iran?

"Absolutely. This idea of going and talking to attorneys totally baffles me. Why don't we just open up the Constitution and read it? You're not allowed to go to war without a declaration of war. Now, as far as fleeting enemies go, yes. If there's an imminent attack on us. We've never had that happen in 220 years. The thought that the Iranians could pose an imminent attack on the United States is preposterous."

MATTHEWS: Congressman Paul, do you promise to support the nominee of the Republican Party next year?

"Not right now I don't. Not unless they're willing to end the war and bring our troops home."

Rudy Giuliani A-


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRudy has performed well in all of the debates thus far and didn't disappoint this time around. He rejected the negative scenarios that the MSNBC reporters tried to portray regarding the economy and always directed viewers to look for the positive opportunity which is the entrepreneurial secret of success.

He had a lively exchange with Mitt Romney over taxes and spending as well as using Ron Paul's idiocy as a convenient foil to demonstrate resolve.

Salesman in Chief and Free Trade 100%:

"We're a country that depends on exports. And we're also an entrepreneurial country. We're a country that should think about all these people that are coming out of poverty in China and India and elsewhere -- we should think of them as new customers.We should be thinking about, what can we sell to them: energy independence, health care? There's so much we can sell to them.Let's get back our entrepreneurial spirit, rather than having our head down.

"What are China and India trying to do? China and India are trying to develop themselves to be like us, which is why we got a heck of a lot we can sell to them if we just put on our entrepreneurial hats and act like confident Americans."

"How about division of a robust, strong America, an America that looks at energy independence from the point of view of, not only are you we going to develop it for ourselves, but this is exactly what we could be selling to China and to India. They need energy independence more than we do. How about an America that fixes its health care system in the right way, so we can actually sell that abroad?

"So, yes or no: Should a Dubai company be able to own 20 percent of NASDAQ? Sure, if they are -- if they are considered to be safe. If they pass safety and security clearances.

American Exceptionalism:

"This country is the leader in the world. When Congressman Tancredo talks about the immigration problem, how about look at it this way: What country do millions of people want to come to? United States of America. What country -- I don't care if they bash us all over the world -- what country do they most want to come to? What country do they most want to copy?"

"Get your head up. Let's stop all this stuff with our head down. London going to replace New York [as world financial capital]? Give me a break. Of course London's not going to replace New York."

On Iran:

Now, you asked me about Hillary Clinton. At the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton was asked by Tim Russert whether she agreed with my position on Iran. ... what she said was, she was asked would you take a strong position that Iran will not be allowed to become nuclear and that we would use a military option, if we had to. And she didn't answer the question. Well, you've got to answer the question. The answer is: Yes, we would. Iran is a greater danger than Iraq. Iraq cannot be seen in a vacuum. And we have to be willing to use a military option to stop Iran from become nuclear.

Energy Independence:

REPORTER: "But where do you draw the line? Do you support drilling off the coasts of Florida, California?"GIULIANI: "You don't draw the line anywhere. What you do is, you work with people to try to advance all of these technologies.You can't do everything. You can't do long-term damage to our environment. That would be a mistake. That would be an overreaction. You have to make sound judgments, and you have to advance these new technologies.Why the heck haven't we licensed a nuclear power plant in 30 years?GIULIANI: France is 80 percent nuclear. The United States is 20 percent nuclear, and we're going down to 15 percent. It comes because of inaction. It comes because we're not willing to stand up. And we're not willing to stand up sometimes to irrational fears and irrational special interests."

Taking on Hillary:

America -- the possibilities for America in this global economy are endless, if we don't put a lid on ourselves. Hillary Clinton, the governor mentioned, wants to put a lid on us. She wants to put a lid on our growth. We want to give people freedom. I'll give you an example. Hillary, the other day -- remember the Hillary bond program? She's going to give out -- she's going to give $5,000 to every child born in America, with her picture on it. I think, right, right? OK, OK, OK. (LAUGHTER)I challenged her on it. I challenged her. She has backed off that. She has a new one today. This one is, she's going to give out $1,000 to everybody, to set up a 401(k).The problem is, this one costs $5 billion more than the last one. So, I don't know -- Hillary is filled with endless ways to spend...

Third Party Candidacy?

"We've had third-party options. I think our two-party system has served us well. I think that generally is the way our democracy operates."

See more with Rudy in a visit to Mike's America this past July.

Mike Huckabee: B+

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You may have heard that Dan Bartlett, President Bush's former Counselor for Communications gave a speech to the Chamber of Commerce where he reviewed the field of GOP candidates. He described Mike Huckabee as the "best candidate" but doubted that people would take anyone with such a homespun last name seriously.

You have to hand it to Huckabee though. His performances in all these debates and the interviews he has given have made him a rising star with the potential to break into the top tier.

Fair Tax:

"The fair tax does something that is absolutely phenomenal for the economy: It untaxes productivity. It untaxes those things which we export. It means that for the first time in a long time in this country, instead of exporting our jobs, we'll actually be exporting products that we make in America, and we'll be able to make sure that there's a level playing field. It ends the underground economy that right now makes it so that folks like us end up paying taxes, but drug dealers don't; illegals don't; prostitutes and pimps, they don't. But we do.

Fair Trade:

"Our real problem continues to be that an American company is having to pay an extraordinarily high tax on everything they produce, but the countries who are importing to us don't have the same border adjustability that we do."

Go to Congress for War Approval?

"A president has to whatever is necessary to protect the American people. If we think Iran is building nuclear capacity that could be used against us in any way, including selling some of the nuclear capacity to some other terrorist group, then, yes, we have a right...MATTHEWS: Without going to Congress? HUCKABEE: And I would do it in a heartbeat. MATTHEWS: Without going to Congress? HUCKABEE: Well, if it's necessary to get it done because it's actionable right now, yes. If you have the time and the luxury of going to Congress, that's always better. But, Chris, the most important single thing is to make sure. MATTHEWS: And if Congress say no, what do you do? MATTHEWS: If Congress says no, what do you do, Governor? HUCKABEE: You do what's best for the American people and you suffer the consequences. But what you don't do is what you never do, is let the American people one day get hit with a nuclear device because you had politics going on in Washington, instead of the protection of the American people first."

Energy Indpendence:

"I think ethanol and all biofuels are going to be an important part of the future energy needs of the country. But the accelerated pace at which we get there is critical for national security, as well as for our own economic interest. The fact is, we keep talking about 15-, 20-, 30-year plans; that's nonsense.If we don't start saying we'll do this within a decade, we're never, ever going to get there. And we need to approach it the same way that a car does at the Nascar pit-stop -- you rush in, you get it done because you have to. So it's critical that for our own interest, economically and from a point of national security, that we become energy independent and commit to doing it within a decade.

Duncan Hunter C+

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I've liked Duncan Hunter long before I met him and interviewed him briefly back in March. He's a solid conservative strong on defense, immigration, trade and social issues.

However, he just doesn't have the same spark that one gets when meeting Rudy or another more charismatic candidate.

Fair Tax and Fair Trade:

"I'm a sponsor of the fair tax. But let me tell you, Chris, what is missing from this economy: 1.8 million jobs that have moved to communist China from the United States, including over 54,000 jobs from Michigan."

"And I would say to my colleagues and Senator Thompson and the other senators, you all voted for "most favored nation" trading status for Communist China. That set the groundwork for 1.8 million high-paying manufacturing jobs moving offshore, going offshore, some of them never to return."

"We've made the only business deal in the world with 132 other competitors where they get to have a rebate on their taxes and then put a block up of 15 to 20 percent tariff against our goods and we don't get to do the same thing.That's why we have a trade deficit with countries that have higher labor rates than the United States. So we're short on good businessmen, and I would junk those bad trade deals, bring them back to the table. And I'd practice mirror trade. If a country wants to put a 15 percent tariff against the United States, they're going to see that reflected back at them. If they want to take it down to 1 percent, we'll take it down to 1. But there's not going to be a one-way street any longer."

NASDAQ sale to Dubai?

"No, because I don't trust them. And I don't trust them because a few years ago Dubai while an American Customs agent was trying to stop them, set for delivery a set of nuclear triggers to an anonymous recipient in Islamabad, probably for the A.Q. Khan network. That went directly against American interests so I would not do that."

President's War Powers:

MATTHEWS: I guess I want to get to the basic constitutional view here of you gentlemen. I want to start with Congressman Hunter. The same question. If we get -- I'd like to get a number -- response. This couldn't be more important. Do you believe that Congress has to authorize a strategic attack, not an attack on -- during hot pursuit, but a strategic attack on weaponry in Iran -- do you need congressional approval as commander and chief?

HUNTER: "Answer, Chris, it depends on one thing. First, I think the president does not need that if the target is fleeting. We live in this age of terrorists with high technology. And, if you have a very narrow window to hit a target, the president's going to have to take that on his shoulders. He's going to have to do it. He has right to do that under the Constitution, as the commander in chief of the military forces. If he has time, then certainly you want to go to Congress, as we did in Iraq, and get the approval of Congress. So it's a matter of whether or not the target is fleeting.And with respect to Iran, Iran is walking down the path to build a nuclear device. They've got now about a thousand centrifuges. They claim they've got 3,000. At some point, we may have to preempt that target. If we do, it should be done, hopefully, with allies, but perhaps by the U.S. alone."

Support for Eventual Nominee:

"Yes, I would support the nominee of the party, but also work with whoever that nominee is to make sure that they understand that the Republican Party was built on a respect for human beings. I think if we lose that respect and that protection for unborn human beings, then the party that Abraham Lincoln founded will be no more."

Sam Brownback: C+

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Again, a solid conservative who is getting more attention as the campaign rolls on. But thus far he's still stuck in the second tier and far behind Mike Huckabee, the leader of that group.

Pledge: No Tax Increase, Optional Flat Tax

"I put forward a proposal of an optional flat tax. And putting that on the table, saying, "OK, you can pick this -- if you want to stay in the code, go ahead, God bless you. But here's an optional flat tax."16 countries around the world have gone to the flat tax. Nobody has gone back away from it, because it creates growth, it creates growth in the economy, and it increases revenue for the government.

Controlling Spending:

"We have to get spending under control. Here you've got to change the system. And I've been around it long enough to see that Republicans or Democrats in control, the system is built to spend. Our constituents come in all the time to my office and they say, "I'm a conservative, but could we have this bridge? How about this hospital?" They never say, "We've got too much federal money. Would you please cut it?" Nobody has ever told me that. So I think we need to take that BRAC military process for base-closing, apply it to the rest of government."

Free Trade:

"I think of the people on this stage, I'm the only one that's worked in the trade field. I was in the trade field as White House fellow in the first Bush administration.If this party walks away from free trade, we're going the wrong way as a party. And I think, to Congressman Hunter, who's a wonderful man, the United States is a low-trade -- low-tariff country. I think our average tariff, on anything that we have a tariff on, and most things we don't, is at 4 percent.So the negotiations we do are always with countries that have higher tariffs. And it's -- so the objective that we have is to get those down, and we've had a decent record."

On Iraq:

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that, Senator Brownback, that we wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq if we weren't so dependent on Middle East oil? BROWNBACK: I don't believe that in the least. We went to Iraq -- on the war in Iraq -- what I voted for was the war on terrorism. And Afghanistan was where the Taliban was -- where Al Qaida was located. It was run by the Taliban. And we saw, in Iraq, what we thought was the mixture of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. And it was in 2003. This was in close proximity to 2001 when we had the 9/11 crisis. And I wasn't about to trust that Saddam Hussein wasn't going to mix terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.Now, we haven't found the weapons of mass destruction. But that doesn't mean we leave.And I think the Bush administration has generally done well militarily. And I think the military has done a fabulous job.

"This Friday Joe Biden and I are getting together in Des Moines and we're going to be talking about the political side, a three-state solution in Iraq. This is what ultimately is going to happen. You're going to have a Kurdish north, a Sunni west, a Shia south, within one country, federalism with a weak federal government, the federalgovernment headquartered in Baghdad."

Energy Independence:

BARTIROMO: Senator Brownback, same question. Where do you draw the line? Do you support drilling exploration off the coasts of Florida?BROWNBACK: I think that you go in every place that you can to find resources. I put forward a proposal for us to be energy secure, not independent, energy secure in 15 years. I don't think it's realistic for us to say that we can be independent of every country around the world on oil supplies or energy supplies in the near future given our dependence and given the nature of what the global economy is like.But I think one of the key answers is right here in Detroit. We've got to get more electricity involved in our car fleet. There's a Chevy Malibu parked out front here that's a hybrid flex fuel. They've got hybrid cars; they've got flex fuel cars. I think that's a big part of the answer. I'd like to see us move forward with getting those first 20 to 30 miles off of electricity that you plug into at night. That's technology. We're putting forward tax credits and incentives to try to move that forward."

BARTIROMO: But on the issue of exploration, you said yes to the coast of Florida. And do you say yes to ANWR?BROWNBACK: I voted yes for ANWR. And I would support those, in other places, environmentally sound. We have to do it in an environmentally sound fashion.

Support Party Nominee?

"Yes, I will support the nominee of this party. I think it's a big party that has a lot of different people and a lot of different philosophies. And I believe that the person's that's going to lead the party will be somebody that is pro growth and pro life. I think these are two pivotal, key foundation issues that this country needs to stand for. MATTHEWS: But if not, if they are not, would you still support them? BROWNBACK: It's going to be. And I'm going to support the nominee of the party."

Tom Trancedo C-

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Tom Tancredo is a strong advocate of immigration control and border security. He's also strong on the issues of spending control, energy independence and taxes.

But he fails to pass the sniff test when asked about supporting the eventual nominee of the party. And in my view, that disqualifies him for more serious consideration. He remains at the bottom of the second tier but still above Ron Paul.

BARTIROMO: Congressman Tancredo, same question: Are you prepared to say, categorically, that, under your administration, there will be no tax increase...

TANCREDO: Absolutely. I'll take the oath.

"The fact is this, that when we talk about spending cuts, which everybody, I think, on this stage adheres to and certainly pays lip service to, we have to think about what exactly it is that pushes spending at the federal level. If you want to control federal spending you must look at Social Security and Medicare. And it's a dicey game. I know the president tried. I give him credit for at least getting out there, touching that third rail, getting burned by it. He did. Jumped back immediately.But the reality is this: If you don't do it, forget about all this talk about reducing federal spending, it's not going to happen. You better address Social Security. You better come up with a way to allow for private Social Security accounts, structurally [] fix both of those things, or forget the idea of ending deficit spending."


"For every single illegal immigrant family in this country, it costs $20,000 -- it costs us $20,000, $20,000 in infrastructural costs. They pay about $10,000 in taxes. You really want to do something to restore the people's faith in government, do something about illegal immigration, don't just talk about it."

Fair Trade and NO to Dubai Buying NASDAQ

"I'll tell you, if Dubai wanted to buy Wal-Mart, I might think about it.(LAUGHTER)But if they wanted to buy something else that would have, in this case, certainly, more of an impact on our national security interests, I'd say, no, we'd have to think about that in a totally different way.It is exactly the same with regard to China. There are things that we should have thought of in the first place, when we passed the PNTR, which I voted against, along with Duncan Hunter. And I absolutely agree that trade is a great idea in many respects. But when you trade with people who are your potential enemy, and they have shown a willingness to use that economic opportunity to actually increase their threats to the United States, I'm not for trading with them at all."

Energy Independence:

"You bet I would agree to exploration off the coasts. I mean, it's -- how fair is it, today, that, Louisiana is producing all the oil that California and other countries are consuming, and they refuse to allow the exploration of oil off the coasts?I'd say, you know, if you won't allow it, you can't use it, the stuff that we're getting from Louisiana.(APPLAUSE)Now, the other thing is this. When we talk about deficits, our trade deficits, by the way, it's not importing, you know, toys from China that causes it.The biggest chunk of our trade deficit is due to one thing and one thing oil -- only. It's oil. That's where all the dollars flow. And where do they flow? To countries that want to kill us.So, yes, you better drill every place you can here, and you better figure out every way to reduce your dependency on foreign oil.

Support Party Nominee?

"You know, I've said, I don't know how many times, that I am absolutely tired and sick and tired of being forced to go to the polls and say I'm going to make this choice between the lesser of two evils. I really don't intend to do that again. I am hoping, of course, that whoever we nominate will be the principled flag carrier for the Republican Party. But if that is not the case, no, then I will not support them."

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