TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

And not only that, but let's do something about the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in this country that are taking a large part of our health-care dollars.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Gentlemen, I want to give this back to David Yepsen in a second, but I just want to clear something up first.

Congressman Tancredo, I know you voted against the expansion of the children's health insurance this week.

TANCREDO: You bet I did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is just yes or no, Governor Thompson: Are you for the expansion or with President Bush on the veto?

THOMPSON: I am for expanding SCHIP, but not the way Congress has done it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, so that's a no.

And the same thing for you, Governor Huckabee. HUCKABEE: The problem with it, it actually would bring cuts to the Medicare alternative, which is the worst thing we could do, because it then takes money away from seniors.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, I also...

HUCKABEE: So, again, it's just not a good solution...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, again, I also know that, Congressman Paul and Congressman Hunter and Senator Brownback and Senator McCain, you all voted against expansion, as well. So the only two gentlemen left here are Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani.

Are either one of you for the expansion of children's health insurance, as outlined by Senator Grassley?

ROMNEY: Look, it's critical to insure more people in this country. It doesn't make sense to have 45 million people without insurance. It's not good for them because they don't get good preventative care and disease management, just as these folks have spoken about.

But it's not good for the rest of the citizens either, because if people aren't insured, they go to the emergency room for their care when they get very sick. That's expensive. They don't have any insurance to cover it.

ROMNEY: So guess who pays? Everybody else.

So it's not good for the people that aren't insured. It's not good for everybody else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're against...

ROMNEY: We have to -- no, no, let me finish. Green light's on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: We have to get -- no, they just turned it off. Leave it on.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I control it.

ROMNEY: We have to have our citizens insured, and we're not going to do that by tax exemptions, because the people that don't have insurance aren't paying taxes. What you have to do is what we did in Massachusetts.

Is it perfect? No. But we say, let's rely on personal responsibility, help people buy their own private insurance, get our citizens insured, not with a government takeover, not with new taxes needed, but instead with a free-market based system that gets all of our citizens in the system. No more free rides.

It works.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But a no on the Grassley bill.

Mayor Giuliani, go ahead.

GIULIANI: The bill had two very unfortunate parts to it.

One, it would reduce Medicaid Advantage, which is a very, very successful program that actually does bring about some form of a free- market solution.

And second, it would have the really odd effect of moving children who presently have private insurance to becoming wards of the state, basically having them move in the direction of -- and I know the Democrats get all upset when you say this, but they're taking us toward socialized medicine.

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