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Part II: CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate transcript

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Editor's note: This is part two of the transcript for the CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate. To see the transcript of part one, click here.

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) -- Giuliani: I think there are parts of the Bible that are interpretive. I think there are parts of the Bible that are allegorical. I think there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be interpreted in a modern context.

So, yes, I believe it. I think it's the great book ever written. I read it frequently. I read it very frequently when I've gone through the bigger crises in my life, and I find great wisdom in it, and it does define to a very large extent my faith. But I don't believe every single thing in the literal sense of Jonah being in the belly of the whale, or, you know, there are some things in it that I think were put there as allegorical.

Cooper: Governor Romney?

Romney: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. And I try...

(Applause)

... I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it's a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible.

Cooper: Does that mean you believe every word?

Romney: You know -- yes, I believe it's the word of God, the Bible is the word of God.

The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don't disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it.

Cooper: Governor Huckabee?

Huckabee: Sure. I believe the Bible is exactly what it is. It's the word of revelation to us from God himself.

(Applause)

And the fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you either believe it or you don't believe it. But in the greater sense, I think what the question tried to make us feel like was that, well, if you believe the part that says "Go and pluck out your eye," well, none of us believe that we ought to go pluck out our eye. That obviously is allegorical.

But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse and really not left up to interpretation. "Love your neighbor as yourself."

And as much as you've done it to the least of these brethren, you've done it unto me. Until we get those simple, real easy things right, I'm not sure we ought to spend a whole lot of time fighting over the other parts that are a little bit complicated.

And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don't fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite god, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small.

Cooper: We've got a lot more coming up. We're going to take a short break, and as we go to the break, we'll watch a video, this time from the campaign of Governor Romney.

(Begin videotape)

Announcer: It's an election like no other. An enemy lurks, waiting to strike. Our Main Street economy is competing with mainland China. Legal versus illegal doesn't seem to matter. Basic values like marriage are suddenly open to debate.

For these challenges, ordinary isn't good enough. We need the leader who gets the big stuff done. Take charge, demand results, no excuses. Mitt Romney, the right experience, the right values, the right time.

Romney: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this message.

(End videotape)

(Commercial break)

(Begin videotape)

Announcer: As mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani faced unheard of challenges: runaway taxes, out of control crime, and, of course, the city's nemesis, King Kong.

Yet, Rudy prevailed. Crime down by half, taxes cut, and annual snowfall dramatically reduced.

Time called Rudy person of the year. Newsweek -- the new mayor of America. And when asked, Hillary Clinton called him -- but she probably planted the question.

(End videotape)

(Laughter)

(Applause)

Cooper: That was the campaign commercial by the Giuliani campaign. Obviously, we are playing these commercials all throughout this two-hour debate.

Let's go to our next topic, which is foreign policy.

Our first question:

Yasmin: Good evening, gentlemen. My name is Yasmin and I hail from Huntsville, Alabama.

My question has to do with the current crisis in Iraq, as well as the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

After living abroad, personally, in the Middle East for a year, I realized just how much damage the Iraq war and the perception of invasion has done to the image of America. What would you do as president to repair the image of America in the eyes of the Muslim world?

Cooper: Mayor Giuliani, 90 seconds?

Giuliani: Well, the most important thing to do is to make certain we remain on offense against Islamic terrorism.

(Applause)

And then make it clear that what that means is this is a small group of people, Islamic terrorists, who have defiled a great religion, that the vast majority of people who are Islamic, the vast majority of people who are Arabs, the vast majority of people living in these countries are good people. We should be trading with them. We should have contact with them. We should expand our contacts with them. We should have cultural exchanges with them.

The night of September 11th, 2001, when we were beginning to recover -- or, not really recover, but maybe just first catch our breath after the attack of September 11th, you'll see one of the first things I said was I said to the people of my city and then probably to the people of America that we should not engage in group blame.

We shouldn't do the thing that we're being attacked for. We shouldn't blame an entire group of people for the horrible acts of a few people who have distorted a great religion. They have turned it into an ideology of hatred and an ideology of violence.

By the same token, we can't do what the Democrats do. We can't put our head in the sand. You've got a Democratic debate and not a single one of those Democratic candidates used the word "Islamic terrorism." I don't know who they think they're offending. The people they're offending are the people we want to offend -- the Islamic terrorists ...

(Applause)

... and not decent people like Yasmin. We are intelligent enough and good enough as Americans to make this distinction.

Cooper: Senator McCain?

McCain: Well, I would do a lot of things, but the first and most important and vital element is to continue this surge which is succeeding and we are winning the war in Iraq.

(Applause)

That's the first thing I would do. I would make sure that we do what we can to help reconstruct the country, to help the Maliki government move forward as rapidly as possible to train the police.

But I'll tell you one other thing we're -- I'm going to do, is we're going to fight back the Democrats' efforts to set a date for withdrawal which is a date for surrender.

(Applause)

Now, my friends, I'm the only one on this stage -- I'm the only one on this stage -- that said that the Rumsfeld strategy was failing and was doomed to failure. I'm the only one on this stage that said we've got to have a new strategy, and that's the strategy we're employing now.

And I got a lot of heat when I said that that strategy was failing and it had to be changed, because I've had the experience and the background and the knowledge of every national security issue we've faced in the last 20 years.

And I'm telling you, that if we continue this strategy, we can succeed. And if we had done what the Democrats said to do six months ago, Al Qaida would be telling the word they beat America.

Cooper: Time.

McCain: There's a lot at stake here, my friends, and thank God for the young men and women who are sending the message I repeat to you again, after having been there over Thanksgiving weekend, let me win, let us win.

(Applause)

Cooper: Thirty seconds, Congressman Hunter. The question is, how do you repair the image of America in the Muslim world?

Hunter: Cooper, Cooper, very simply, to the critics of America I would say this. When you were faced with disease and starvation, the Americans brought food and medicine. When you had earthquakes and tsunamis and floods, the Americans came and helped you. And when you were threatened from outside, the Americans left the safety of their own homes to come and defend you.

I will never apologize for the United States of America.

(Applause)

Cooper: Our next question -- our next question comes from Seattle, Washington.

Andrew Jones: Hello, gentlemen. I'm Andrew, and I'm a college student from Seattle, Washington.

Recently, Senator McCain has come out strongly against using waterboarding as an instrument of interrogation.

My question for the rest of you is, considering that Mr. McCain is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject, how can those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position?

Cooper: Governor Romney?

Romney: Well, he certainly is an expert and I certainly would want to get his counsel on a matter of this nature, but I do not believe that as a presidential candidate, it is wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating people.

I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way, shape or form.

Cooper: Is waterboarding torture?

Romney: And as I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don't think it's wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use.

And that is something which I would want to receive the counsel not only of Senator McCain, but of a lot of other people.

And there are people who, for many, many years get the information we need to make sure that we protect our country.

And, by the way, I want to make sure these folks are kept at Guantanamo. I don't want the people that are carrying out attacks on this country to be brought into our jail system and be given legal representation in this country. I want to make sure that what happened ...

(Applause)

... to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed happens to other people who are terrorists. He was captured. He was the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy. And he turned to his captors and he said, "I'll see you in New York with my lawyers." I presume ACLU lawyers.

(Laughter)

Well, that's not what happened. He went to Guantanamo and he met G.I.s and CIA interrogators. And that's just exactly how it ought to be.

(Applause)

Cooper: Senator McCain?

(Crosstalk)

(Unknown): There were reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded.

McCain: Well, governor, I'm astonished that you haven't found out what waterboarding is.

Romney: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.

McCain: Then I am astonished that you would think such a -- such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in violation of existing law...

(Applause)

And, governor, let me tell you, if we're going to get the high ground in this world and we're going to be the America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years. We're not going to torture people.

We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going to do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others, and how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me.

Cooper: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.

(Applause)

Romney: Senator McCain, I appreciate your strong response, and you have the credentials upon which to make that response. I did not say and I do not say that I'm in favor of torture.

I am not. I'm not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years.

I get that advice by talking to former generals in our military...

Cooper: Time.

Romney: ... and I don't believe it's appropriate for me, as a presidential candidate, to lay out all the issues one by one...

Cooper: Time.

Romney: ... get questioned one by one: Is this torture, is that torture?

Cooper: Senator McCain...

Romney: And so, that's something which I'm going to take your and other people's counsel on.

Cooper: Senator McCain, 30 seconds to respond.

McCain: Well, then you would have to advocate that we withdraw from the Geneva Conventions, which were for the treatment of people who were held prisoners, whether they be illegal combatants or regular prisoners of war. Because it's clear the definition of torture. It's in violation of laws we have passed.

And again, I would hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not "24" and Jack Bauer.

Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective. And I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The Army general there said that techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn't think they need to do anything else.

My friends, this is what America is all about. This is a defining issue and, clearly, we should be able, if we want to be commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, to take a definite and positive position on, and that is, we will never allow torture to take place in the United States of America.

(Applause)

Cooper: Staying on this issue, let's watch.

Buzz Brockway: Hello. My name is Buzz Brockway from Lawrenceville, Georgia. All the talk about the war in Iraq centers around how quickly we can get out. I think that's the wrong question. We need to make a permanent or long-term military commitment to the region.

By staying in Iraq, we provide long-term stability to the region, we provide support for our allies, and we act as a deterrent to the trouble-makers in the region. Which presidential candidate will make a permanent of long-term military commitment to the people of Iraq?

Thank you.

Cooper: Senator Thompson?

Thompson: We shouldn't be in there longer than necessary, and we don't know how long that will be. But we should be there absolutely as long as it takes to complete our mission there. It will make for a safer United States of America.

We're all focused, understandably, on Iraq and Afghanistan right now, but it is part of a much bigger picture. Islamic terrorism has declared war on us and Western civilization. They would like nothing better than to kill millions of people as they bring us down. They would like to be able to advertise to young radicals around the world that, "You, too, could help bring down the United States of America."

Iran is waiting there to fill that vacuum. You think $90, $100 a barrel is high for oil now, wait until that happens.

But more importantly, it would make for a less secure United States of America. We have to do what's necessary. We have to take the opportunity that we have now.

John's absolutely right. What's going on there is progress; it's called progress.

Too many people in this country are vested in a scenario of defeat. I'm vested in a scenario of victory and I see it happening there in Iraq today.

(Applause)

Cooper: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.

Paul: The best commitment we can make to the Iraqi people is to give them their country back. That's the most important thing that we can do.

(Applause)

Already, part of their country has been taken back. In the south, they claim the surge has worked, but the surge really hasn't worked. There's less violence, but al-Sadr has essentially won in the south.

The British are leaving. The brigade of Al Sadr now is in charge, so they are getting their country back. They're in charge up north -- the Shia -- the people in the north are in charge, as well, and there's no violence up there or nearly as much.

So, let the people have their country back again. Just think of the cleaning up of the mess after we left Vietnam. Vietnam now is a friend of ours -- we trade with them, the president comes here.

What we achieved in peace was unachievable in 20 years of the French and the Americans being in Vietnam.

So it's time for us to take care of America first.

(Applause)

Cooper: Senator McCain?

McCain: Well, let me remind you, Congressman, we never lost a battle in Vietnam. It was American public opinion that forced us to lose that conflict.

(Applause)

I think it's important for all Americans to understand the fundamental difference. After we left Vietnam, they didn't want to follow us home. They wanted to build their own workers' paradise. If you read Zarqawi, if you read bin Laden, if you read Zawahiri, read what they say. They want to follow us home. They want Iraq to be a base for Al Qaeda to launch attacks against the United States. Their ultimate destination is not Iraq.

Their ultimate destination is New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona. This is a transcendent challenge of our time.

(Audience booing)

McCain: I believe that we can meet it and we will defeat it.

(Applause)

Cooper: Congressman Paul, I know -- we'll get everyone in on this. Congressman Paul, just wanted to allow you to respond.

Paul: Shortly after the Vietnam War ended, Colonel Tu and Colonel Summers met, and they were talking about this. And our -- and the American colonel said, "You know, we never lost one battle." And Colonel Tu, the Vietnamese says, "Yes, but that's irrelevant."

And it is irrelevant. But we have to realize why they want to come here. Wolfowitz even admitted that one of the major reasons that the Al Qaida was organized and energized was because of our military base in Saudi Arabia.

He says, "Oh, now, we can take the base away." He understood why they came here. They come here because we're occupying their country, just as we would object if they occupied our country.

(Audience booing)

Cooper: Well, it's Congressman Tancredo. And we're running short on time. So, please, let's try to get to these.

You have 30 seconds.

Tancredo: I wish that we lived in the world that Ron is describing -- I wish that we lived in a world where we did not have to worry. By simply removing our forces, we would be safe.

Unfortunately, Ron, honest to God, I don't believe that that is the case. We are living in a world where we are threatened. It is radical Islam.

(Applause)

It is -- the ideology, the political and religious ideology of radical Islam is a threat to America, and it would be a threat to America if we never had a single person serving anywhere outside this country.

Cooper: We've got another question for Mayor Giuliani.

Sam Garcia: Hi. My name is Sam Garcia.

I'm from Colorado Springs, Colorado. The following question is for Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani, a while back, a friend and I were having a discussion about you and some of the other Republican candidates.

He blatantly made this statement somewhere along the line: Rudy Giuliani is using September 11, 2001, to propel himself into the White House. My question to you is: How do you respond to this accusation and other accusations similar to it?

Cooper: Ninety seconds.

Giuliani: Sam, what I say is, I would like people to look at my whole record. Long before September 11, 2001, I was the third-ranking official in the Reagan justice department.

During that period of time, I actually did something about illegal immigration. I played a large part in stopping the Haitian illegal immigration into south Florida. I negotiated the agreement with the Haitian government that allowed us to put a Coast Guard cutter in the waters outside Port-au-Prince, as well as the legal agreements that were necessary to do the examinations there.

And this terrible problem that was going on that was also leading to the loss of life was ended, or at least ameliorated tremendously.

I was United States attorney in the Southern District of New York. I prosecuted thousands of organized crimes figures. I prosecuted Sicilian Mafia members, never done before in an American court.

I was mayor of a city that was described as one of the greatest turnarounds of any city in the history of America. George Will said I ran the most conservative government in this country, most successful conservative government in this country in the last 50 or 60 years. This is all before September 11th, 2001. I reduced taxes. I reduced spending. I reduced welfare. I reduced abortions, increased adoptions.

These are all things that I did before September 11, 2001. And the reason that I believe I'm qualified to be president of the United States is not because of September 11th, 2001. It's because I've been tested. I've been tested in a way in which I ran the third-largest government in this country, the 17th-largest economy in the world, and I got very, very remarkable results.

And that is the evaluation of other people, not me.

Cooper: All right. We've got a question ...

(Applause)

Definitely a reminder this is a YouTube/CNN debate. Let's watch.

Nick Anderson as Dick Cheney cartoon character: Yes. Will you grant your vice president as much power and influence as I've had?

And remember, before you answer, I'm watching you.

(Laughter)

Cooper: Funny video, serious question.

Senator Thompson, would you have a vice president ...

Thompson: First of all, I'm greatly relieved. For a second there, I thought that was me.

(LAUGHTER)

Cooper: The power of the vice president.

Thompson: I think that the vice president, of course, has a dual role. He has a place in the executive branch of government. He also presides over the Senate, so he has a place in the legislative branch also.

But a vice president ought to be chosen, basically, on his ability to serve as president of the United States, if that situation were called for.

Therefore, he needs to be brought into the administration. I think that a vice president ought to have substantial authority; I think especially on national security areas. Expertise in that area is especially beneficial to a president who is having to deal with all the issues a president has to deal with, but certainly some expertise either in the domestic area or the national security area.

Some legal training also might be helpful. I think one of the most important things that we're going to be facing for this next president is the selection of United States judges to the Supreme Court. So I think that all those are things that you have to take into consideration in deciding what kind of authority the vice president should have.

Basically, he should have the authority that the president gives him, and he should adhere to that authority.

Cooper: Senator McCain, has this president given too much authority to the vice president?

McCain: Look, I am going to give you some straight talk. This president came to office in a time of peace, and then we found ourselves in 2001.

And he did not have as much national security experience as I do. So he had to rely more on the vice president of the United States, and that's obvious. I wouldn't have to do that. I might have to rely on a vice president that I select on some other issues. He may have more expertise in telecommunications, on information technology, which is the future of this nation's economy. He may have more expertise in a lot of areas.

But I would rely on a vice president of the United States -- but was Fred said, the primary responsibility is to select one who will immediately take your place is necessary. But the vice president of the United States is a key and important issue, and must add in carrying out the responsibilities of the president of the United States.

Cooper: We've got a short break, our last break of the debate. We'll watch a video, this one from the Hunter campaign, as we go to break.

(Begin videotape)

Gen. Chuck Yeager (USAF, Ret.): Yes, I'm General Chuck Yeager, retired Air Force, and I support Duncan Hunter for president of the United States.

Announcer: Duncan Hunter -- he built the border fence between California and Mexico. As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, he kept our military strong and kept defense jobs in America. And when liberal judges tried to take down the Veterans' Memorial, Duncan Hunter's bill saved it.

For a real conservative for president, join our team now. Gohunter08.com.

Hunter: I'm Duncan Hunter, and I approved this message.

(End video clip)

(Commercial break)

(Begin videotape)

Huckabee: Faith doesn't just influence me. It really defines me. I don't have to wake up every day wondering what do I need to believe?

Let us never sacrifice our principles for anybody's politics. Not now, not ever.

I believe life begins at conception.

We believe in some things. We stand by those things. We live or die by those things.

I'm Mike Huckabee, and I approve this message.

(End video clip)

Cooper: A campaign commercial from the Huckabee campaign. 11:00 tonight eastern time on CNN Campbell Brown has a one-hour special, a "Broken Government" special called "Campaign Special."

It's about attack ads. It's an interesting show starting at 11:00 East Coast time tonight.

All right, let's get back to the debate. Another question from a YouTube viewer. Let's watch.

Brigadier Gen. Keith Kerr (Ret.): My name's Keith Kerr, from Santa Rosa, California. I'm a retired brigadier general with 43 years of service. And I'm a graduate of the Special Forces Officer Course, the Commanding General Staff Course and the Army War College. And I'm an openly gay man.

I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.

Cooper: I want to point out that Brigadier General Keith Kerr is here with us tonight. I'm glad you're here.

(Applause)

Again, the question to Congressman Hunter.

Hunter: General, thanks for your service, but I believe in what Colin Powell said when he said that having openly homosexual people serving in the ranks would be bad for unit cohesion.

The reason for that, even though people point to the Israelis and point to the Brits and point to other people as having homosexuals serve, is that most Americans, most kids who leave that breakfast table and go out and serve in the military and make that corporate decision with their family, most of them are conservatives.

They have conservative values, and they have Judeo-Christian values. To force those people to work in a small tight unit with somebody who is openly homosexual goes against what they believe to be their principles, and it is their principles, is I think a disservice to them. I agree with Colin Powell that it would be bad for unit cohesion.

Cooper: I want to direct this to Governor Huckabee.

Thirty seconds.

Huckabee: The Uniform Code of Military Justice is probably the best rule, and it has to do with conduct. People have a right to have whatever feelings, whatever attitudes they wish, but when their conduct could put at risk the morale, or put at risk even the cohesion that Duncan Hunter spoke of, I think that's what is at issue. And that's why our policy is what it is.

Cooper: Governor Romney, you said in 1994 that you looked forward to the day when gays and lesbians could serve, and I quote, "openly and honestly in our nation's military." Do you stand by that?

Romney: This isn't that time. This is not that time. We're in the middle of a war. The people who have...

Cooper: Do you look forward to that time, though, one day?

Romney: I'm going to listen to the people who run the military to see what the circumstances are like. And my view is that, at this stage, this is not the time for us to make that kind of...

Cooper: Is that a change in your position...

Romney: Yes, I didn't think it would work. I didn't think "don't ask/don't tell" would work. That was my -- I didn't think that would work. I thought that was a policy, when I heard about it, I laughed. I said that doesn't make any sense to me.

And you know what? It's been there now for, what, 15 years? It seems to have worked.

Cooper: So, just so I'm clear, at this point, do you still look forward to a day when gays can serve openly in the military or no longer?

Romney: I look forward to hearing from the military exactly what they believe is the right way to have the right kind of cohesion and support in our troops and I listen to what they have to say.

(Audience booing)

Cooper: All right. General Kerr is -- as I said -- is here.

Please stand up, General. Thank you very much for being with us.

Did you feel you got an answer to your question?

Kerr: With all due respect, I did not get an answer from the candidates.

(Applause)

Cooper: What do you feel you did not...

Kerr: American men and women in the military are professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.

For 42 years, I wore the army uniform on active duty, in the Reserve, and also for the state of California. I revealed I was a gay man after I retired.

Today, "don't ask/don't tell" is destructive to our military policy.

Every day, the Department of Defense discharges two people, not for misconduct, not for the unit cohesion...

Cooper: Wait, the mike is -- you've lost me. Is the microphone not working? Please, just finish your -- what is your question?

Kerr: Not for the unit cohesion that Congressman Hunter is talking about, but simply because they happen to be gay.

Cooper: OK. Senator McCain ...

KERR: And we're talking about doctors, nurses, pilots, and the surgeon who sews somebody up when they're taken from the battlefield.

Cooper: I appreciate your comments.

Senator McCain, I want to give you 30 seconds. You served in the military.

McCain: General, I thank you for your service to our nation. I respect it. All the time, I talk to our military leaders, beginning with our joint chiefs of staff and the leaders in the field, such as General Petraeus and General Odierno and others who are designated leaders with the responsibility of the safety of the men and women under their command and their security and protect them as best they can.

Almost unanimously, they tell me that this present policy is working, that we have the best military in history, that we have the bravest, most professional, best prepared, and that this policy ought to be continued because it's working.

Cooper: All right. We've got another question. Let's listen.

David Cercone: Hi, my name is David Cercone. I'd like to ask all the candidates if they accept the support of the Log Cabin Republicans, and why should the Log Cabin Republicans support their candidacy?

Cooper: Governor Huckabee, would you support -- would you allow support from the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republicans?

Huckabee: You know, in my position in this entire election, I need the support of anybody and everybody I can get.

(Applause)

(Crosstalk)

Huckabee: Sure, they should. I disagree with them, strongly disagree with them on the idea of same-sex marriage, but in a democracy we can have disagreements over some policies and still agree on the greater things that make us Republicans.

So would I accept their support? Of course. Would I change my position on same-sex marriage? No, I wouldn't. But if they're willing to support me, I'll be their president. I'll be anybody's president, but I'll be true to my convictions, and I think that's what Americans look for -- not someone they're going to agree with on everything, but somebody who at least has some convictions, sticks with them, can explain them, and can at least have respect for people who have different ones.

(Applause)

Cooper: Another question about the local economy.

Adam Florzak: This is Adam Florzak of Illinois. The national debt is now growing so quickly it will have increased by over half- million dollars in just the time it takes to ask this question. Over the years, politicians have borrowed just under $2 trillion from the Social Security trust fund to cover these massive budget deficits, and now the retirements of our generation are at risk. What will you do as president to help repay this money and restore the trust?

Cooper: Senator Thompson, a lot of retirees here in Florida. Ninety seconds.

Thompson: One of the things I would do for his generation is protect him from our generation.

(Applause)

He's absolutely right, we're spending his money, we're spending his children's money, and we're spending the money of kids yet to be born.

In 2017, Social Security will be in the red. Pretty soon it'll be out of money, it'll go bankrupt. In fact, our entitlement programs put together will take over the entire budget by about 2040.

So that's why I get back to the point I made earlier. All these programs that we talk about in the news every day are a thimbleful in ocean compared to the entitlement tsunami that's coming to hit us.

Now, we can do some things now, as I've proposed about Social Security, without having to really hurt anybody, and give people to invest for their future while they're still working. Or we can wait and let our grandkids or children, depending on how old they are, solve this problem that we have left them. It's not only a fiscal issue; it's a moral issue, as far as I'm concerned.

Cooper: Governor McCain?

(Applause)

I'm sorry -- Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

Romney: Thank you.

That's one of the problems we face, and a big one, which is the over-spending in Washington and the debt and the obligations we have.

We also face tough new competition coming from Asia. We face global jihad, which we just talked about very briefly. We face a whole series of extraordinary problems -- over-use of oil, entitlement is out of control.

It's time for us to recognize we're going to have to take a new course in this country -- not follow Hillary Clinton off to the left; instead, to follow the pathway Ronald Reagan blazed, which is to say we're going to have a stronger America with a stronger economy and have somebody who understands how jobs come and go, who understands what propels our economy, will strengthen our economy, strengthen our military and strengthen our families.

Cooper: I want to get as many of the YouTube questions in as possible.

Let's get another one here from another viewer.

Steve Nielson: My name is Steve Nielson. And this question comes to you from Denver, Colorado.

JFK's vision put a man on the moon from a nonexistent space program in about seven years. The new vision for space exploration has provided about 15 years for that same feat.

Meanwhile, Congress is pulling funding for human-to-Mars research altogether.

Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of Mars by 2020? If not, what is your vision for human space exploration?

Cooper: Governor Huckabee?

NASA pumps some -- let's see, how many -- $5 billion into Florida's economy.

Huckabee: Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.

(Laughter)

Some of you were late because you didn't have one, by the way. Or whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it's the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration.

Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.

(Laughter)

Cooper: Congressman Tancredo, 30 seconds, please.

Tancredo: The question is a serious one and it deserves a serious answer, and that is this: Look, we've been -- how many times up here, how many questions have dealt with the issue of deficit spending, the debt out of control? And yet, we have somebody saying, "But would you spend more money on going to Mars?"

And the suggestion that we need to spend more money on space exploration. This is it, folks. That's why we have such incredible problems with our debt, because everybody's trying to be everything to all people.

We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them.

Cooper: All right. Let's move on. Another question here from Los Angeles.

Actually, let's show -- all right.

David McMillan: Hi, my name is David McMillan, and I'm from Los Angeles, California. On a variety of specific issues -- gay marriage, taxes, the death penalty, immigration, faith-based initiatives, school vouchers, school prayer -- many African Americans hold fairly conservative views.

And yet, we overwhelmingly vote Democrat in most elections. So my question to any of the Republican candidates here is, why don't we vote for you?

(Laughter)

Cooper: Mayor Giuliani?

GIULIANI: We probably haven't done a good enough job as a party in pointing out that our solutions, our philosophy, is really the philosophy that would be the most attractive to the overwhelming majority of people in the African American and Hispanic community.

Whether they are upper middle class, rich, middle class or poor, the -- good education is something that everyone in all these communities and all communities want. The idea of choice in education is something that would totally turn around education in this country. It's something that large percentages of African American and Hispanic parents support. They would like to be able to choose a private school, a parochial school, a charter school, home-schooling for their children.

Instead, they have the government telling them that their child has to go to an inadequate school.

So there are many, many issues on which we can reach out. I found that one of the best was moving people off welfare. I moved 640,000 people off welfare, most of them to jobs. I change the welfare agency into a job agency, and all of a sudden I had people that had a future, people that had great hope in life.

I think the reason that crime not only declined in New York more than anyplace else, but continues to decline, is that many of those people who were hopeless 10, 12 years ago, now have hope. They have a future. They have gotten the genius of the American way of life. We haven't made it available to all people, and we have to do that.

We will be a very popular party in those communities.

Cooper: Time. Governor Huckabee, 30 seconds.

(Applause)

Huckabee: Well, according to your network's exit polls, some 48 percent of the African-Americans in my state did, in fact, vote for me, which is unusually high for African-Americans voting for a Republican. Here's the reason why: because I asked for their vote, and I didn't wait until October of the election year to do it.

And, while I was governor, I tried to make sure that we included people not only in appointments and employment, but also in the programs that would truly make a difference, like putting disproportionate amounts of help for health problems specifically targeted to African-Americans like hypertension and AIDS and diabetes. So there's a reason. And I just want to express that our party had better reach out not just to African-Americans, but to Hispanics and to all people of this country.

I don't want to be a part of a Republican party that is a tiny, minute and ever decreasing party, but one that touches every American from top to bottom, regardless of race.

Cooper: Our next question -- let's watch:

(Applause)

Leroy Brooks: Hello, my name is Leroy Brooks. I am from Houston, Texas and my question is for all the candidates.

Whether this flag right here represents the symbol of racism, a symbol of political ideology, a symbol of Southern heritage -- or, is it something completely different?

Cooper: He's talking about the stars and bars.

Governor Romney?

Romney: Right now, with the kinds of issues we got in this country, I'm not going to get involved with a flag like that. That's not a flag that I recognize so that I would hold up in my room.

The people of our country have decided not to fly that flag. I think that's the right thing.

(Applause)

My own view is that this country can go beyond that kind of stuff, and that instead we can do as a party what we need to do, which is to reach out to all Americans.

Every time I listen to someone like John Edwards get on TV and say there are two Americans, I just want to -- I just want to throw something at the TV, because there are not two Americas. There's one America.

We are a nation united. We face extraordinary challenges right now. And Democrats dividing us and tearing down this country are doing exactly the wrong thing.

We're succeeding in Iraq. We've got tough challenges. We can overcome them. But we do not need to have that kind of divisive talk. And that flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn't be shown.

Cooper: Governor Thompson? Excuse me, Senator Thompson? Maybe one day.

Thompson: I know that everybody who hangs the flag up in their room like that is not racist. I also know that for a great many Americans it's a symbol of racism.

So, therefore, as a public place -- he's free to do whatever he wants to in his home. As far as a public place is concerned, I am glad that people have made the decision not to display it as a prominent flag, symbolic of something, at a state capitol. As a part of a group of flags or something of that nature, you know, honoring various servicepeople at different times in different parts of the country, I think that's different.

But, as a nation, we don't need to go out of our way to be bringing up things that to certain people in our country that's bad for them.

Cooper: We're running short on time. I want to get Ron Paul's video in. Let's watch.

(Begin videotape)

Paul: The people are sick and tired of what they're getting, and they want some real changes.

I don't want to run your life. We need less taxation, less regulations, a better economic system.

We were not meant to be an empire; we were meant to be a republic, protecting liberty here at home.

It's up to you to spread this message around this country. This is an American cause, it's a cause of freedom. There's something going on in this country, and it's big. It's really big.

(End videotape)

Cooper: That's part of the Paul campaign.

Let's get to another YouTube -- YouTube question.

Dr. Hank Campbell: Good evening. My name is Dr. Hank Campbell. I'm in Lake Worth, Florida. My question is our infrastructure. It's been estimated that to fix the bridges, the tunnels, the power grids, the water delivery systems in this country will be in excess of $2 trillion -- that is "t" for "trillion" -- and it is plural.

Who among the candidates here is willing to step forward and begin to articulate the very difficult sacrifices which we need to make in order to start repairing America? Thank you.

Cooper: Mayor Giuliani?

Giuliani: Well, I faced a situation like this, a microcosm of it in New York City. New York City hadn't invested in infrastructure for a very, long time. I had kind of gotten through its fiscal crisis that way. We started a long-term capital investment program on the infrastructure. My predecessor started it. I continued it. I turned it over to my successor and it really has done I think remarkable work in rebuilding the infrastructure of New York. That's what America needs.

It can't be done by one president. This is something where you're going to need a succession of presidents to have a sustained program. Probably we should have budgeting that allows for -- we can't really have a capital budget under federal budgeting, but we could have a separate accounting.

So that kind of budgeting is long-term, because this is going to help America over a 20- or a 30-year period. Most of the time when we're spending money, as Senator Thompson said, we're spending the next generation's money and we shouldn't be doing that. Fiscal conservatism is about preventing that.

But when we're rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges, building new bridges, rebuilding our infrastructure, that's actually going to benefit the next generation and the generation after. And there are ways to spread that out over a long period of time.

But it needs a sustained program, and it cannot be done just by the federal government. It needs to be done as a partnership with state and local governments. And I believe I'd be in a good position to lead that.

Campbell: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.

Paul: The infrastructure problem in this country is very, very serious. We as Americans are taxed to blow up the bridges overseas. We're taxed to go over and rebuild the bridges overseas while our bridges are falling down in this country.

This country is going bankrupt, and we can't afford this. We need to take care of ourselves. We do not need to sacrifice one thing more. We just need to take care of ourselves and get the government out of our lives and off our back and out of our wallets.

(Applause)

Cooper: Senator McCain, 30 seconds.

McCain: First thing I'll do, my friends, is take out my veto pen and veto every single pork-barrel project that comes across my desk, and there will be no more bridges to nowhere under my administration, I promise you that. And we'll give the president of the United States the line-item veto which Rudy Giuliani opposed so that he could protect his $250 million worth of pork.

My friends, we will take the money and give it back to the states and we'll let them make these decisions, but we'll never have another pork barrel project as long as I'm capable of wielding a veto pen.

Cooper: Time. We've got another question.

Giuliani: Anderson, may I please respond...

Cooper: Go ahead, 30 seconds.

Giuliani: ... to the little side shot?

Cooper: Thirty seconds.

Giuliani: The reality is that the line-item veto is unconstitutional.

Cooper: Quiet.

Giuliani: The line-item veto is unconstitutional.

McCain: The line-item veto is constitutional.

Giuliani: If you are a strict -- the line-item veto is unconstitutional determined not by John McCain, but by the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court found that the line-item veto is unconstitutional.

If I hadn't challenged that, I would not have been carrying out my fiduciary duties for the people of New York City. That was money that was illegally deprived to the people of my city. I fought for them and beat Bill Clinton. Not bad to have a Republican who can beat Bill Clinton.

(Applause)

Cooper: Let's go to the next question -- it's for Ron Paul.

Mark Strauss: Mark Strauss, Davenport, Iowa.

This question is for Ron Paul.

Mr. Paul, I think we both know that the Republican party is never going to give you the nomination. But I'm hoping that you're crazy like a fox like that and you're using this exposure to propel yourself into an independent run.

My question is for Ron Paul: Mr. Paul, are you going to let America down by not running as an independent?

Thank you.

Paul: Now that's what I call a tough question, because I have no intention of doing this.

I am a Republican. I have won 10 times as a Republican and we're doing quite well. We had 5,000 people show up at a rally in front of the Independence Hall with blacks and Hispanics and a cross-section of this country.

You know that we raised $4.3 million in one day?

(Applause)

Without spending one cent. We didn't even pay an individual to go out and they weren't professional fund-raisers. It came in here -- it was automatic.

We're struggling to figure out how to spend the money. This is country is in a revolution. They're sick and tired of what they're getting. And I happen to be lucky enough to be part of it.

Cooper: I'll take that as a no.

(Applause)

We -- unfortunately, this is our last question of the night.

Chris Krul: Giuliani, can you explain why you being a lifelong Yankees fan, that this year, after the Yankees lost everything, you rooted for the Red Sox in the postseason? Can you explain that position for me?

(Applause)

Cooper: Mayor Giuliani?

Giuliani: Hey, Krul. Hey, Krul. I'm Giuliani. He's Krul. So I'll explain it to him like in Brooklyn.

I'm an American -- I'm an American League fan. I root for the American League team when they get into the World Series. I've done it for 50 years. I actually rooted for the Red Sox...

(Audience member booing)

Giuliani: Can't help it. I'm an American League fan. I rooted for the White Sox, the Tigers, the Red Sox.

As soon as the World Series are over, I rooted for the Yankees again. We're gonna beat you next year.

(Applause)

I unfortunately have lost a bet already, to John McCain, with the Arizona Diamondbacks, so I don't have a 100 record. But I do point out that when I was mayor of New York City, the Yankees won four world championships.

(Applause)

And -- wait, wait, wait.

I wanted to put this -- I wanted to put this in our reel, but they cut it out, so I'm going to get it in -- and since I've left being mayor of New York City, the Yankees have won none.

(Laughter)

Cooper: Governor Romney, very quickly, your chance.

Romney: Eighty-seven long years. We waited 87 long years. And true suffering Red Sox fans that my family and I are, we could not have been more happy than to see the Red Sox win the World Series, except by being able to beat the Yankees when they were ahead three games to none.

And so, I have to tell you that like most Americans, we love our sports teams and we hate the Yankees.

Cooper: I want to thank you all for participating tonight. I want to thank all those viewers who submitted the questions, 5,000 questions. I want to thank everyone in the audience, the Republican Party of Florida for hosting us.

Thank you very much. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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