TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

TANCREDO: The fact is that -- but the most important reason, the most important reason to move from an income tax to something like a fair tax -- to specifically a fair tax, is because an income tax is designed to manipulate behavior.

BROWNBACK (?): George?

TANCREDO: It gives the government the power to manipulate your behavior. "I reward you for the things I want you to do by giving you a tax cut. I penalize you for the things I don't want you to do by raising your taxes."

That is too much power for the federal government. It is always going to be an overreach of power.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I've got to move on.

Senator Brownback, you get 30 seconds on this, and then we move on.

BROWNBACK: I think we need to move toward an optional flat tax. I think we need to go to flat taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

And let me just say why here.

We've got a problem with the current tax code and we've tried to take it out. And every time you try to take it out, everybody comes to defend it that has something in it.

You can put an optional flat tax in the tax code and let people choose. And it will create economic growth. That's why 16 countries have already gone to a flat tax: It creates growth. Growth is the key for us in this economy for us to get things moving forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, but you're against the fair tax.

I want to -- I've got to move on now. Sorry, Governor, I've got to move on right now.

We've got an e-mail question coming in. I'm going to ask every one of you to come in on this for 30 seconds. It comes from Adam Waldren (ph) from Pocatello, Idaho, and it starts like this: "I have made several mistakes that have been defining moments in my life because of what I learned or was forced to realize. What is the defining mistake of your life and why?"

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hunter?

HUNTER: Because of what I learned and was forced to realize. Think of a major mistake. Contemplating running as a Democrat in my very first...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul?

PAUL: The only mistake I made and continue to make is I don't speak forcefully enough for the cause of liberty and the cause of the Constitution. I'm working on it all the time.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Huckabee?

HUCKABEE: I think probably the greatest mistake I made was not taking good care of my own personal health for the first half of my life. And that's been one of the most transformational things I've done, and I just wish I'd started much earlier.

ROMNEY: Probably from a political standpoint and a personal standpoint, the greatest mistake was when I first ran for office, being deeply opposed to abortion but saying, "I support the current law," which was pro-choice and effectively a pro-choice position. That was just wrong.

And when I became a governor and faced a life-and-death decision as a governor, I came down on the side of life. That was a mistake before that.

GIULIANI: To have a description of my mistakes in 30 seconds?

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Defining mistake, Mayor. Just one defining mistake.

GIULIANI: Your father is a priest. I'm going to explain it to your father, not to you, OK?

(LAUGHTER) STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. I guess that's a pass.

Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: You want my list? It's right here.

(LAUGHTER)

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