TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

George Stephanopoulos moderates Republican debate on "This Week".

ByABC News
August 23, 2007, 12:19 PM

Aug. 5, 2007— -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Our goal today is to get a real debate goingamong all of you, to find out where you stand on the issues, but alsoto figure out the real differences that separate you.

And in that spirit, here in Iowa you've already been going ateach other, somewhat beneath the radar screen, on the issue ofabortion.

Senator Brownback, your campaign has been making phone calls toIowa voters about Mitt Romney, and I want to show it for our viewers.It's called an urgent action alert.


ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney is telling Iowans that he is firmly pro-life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As late as 2005, Mitt Romney pledged to support and uphold pro-abortion policies and pass taxpayer funding of abortions inMassachusetts.

His wife, Ann, has contributed money to Planned Parenthood.

Mitt told the National Abortion Rights Action League that, "Youneed someone like me in Washington."


STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Brownback, do you stand by that attack?

BROWNBACK: I certainly do. There's one word that describes thatad, and it's "truthful." That's a truthful ad.

And that's what campaigns are about, too, George, is for as faras getting the truth out, expressing the differences betweencandidates.

These are good people that are up on this stage.

That's a truthful ad. I am pro-life. I think this is a core issue for our party. I think it's a bigissue for our country. I'm pro-life and I'm whole life. I think thatall life at all stages is sacred and it's beautiful. I think it'ssomething we ought to fight for, it's what this party has stood for,it's what we should stand for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, everything in that ad true?

ROMNEY: Virtually nothing in that ad is true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's wrong with it?

ROMNEY: The single word I'd use would be "desperate" or perhaps"negative."


STEPHANOPOULOS: But before we move on, you said it's not true.We have it up on the screen. What is untrue?

ROMNEY: I am pro-life. That's the truth. And several yearsago, when we faced the issue of cloning of embryos in our state, Iwrote an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe and said I'm pro-life.

ROMNEY: And every action I've taken as governor of Massachusettshas been pro-life.

This is a very difficult decision. We're involved in the livesof two people: a mom and an unborn child. And yet I've come down onthe side of saying I'm in favor of life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But are any of the specific -- any of thespecific charges there untrue?

ROMNEY: The Massachusetts Citizens for Life just several monthsago brought me in and gave me an award for my public leadership on thebasis of being pro-life.

So the best way you can learn about someone is not by askingtheir opponent, but ask them, "What do you believe, and what's yourview?"

And I am pro-life. And virtually every part of that ad isinaccurate. I'm pro-life. My positions are pro-life. The idea that,for instance, I've been in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion;that's wrong. I oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

In our state we passed a medical plan that reduces the number ofpeople who received state funding for abortion.

So the ad is just completely wrong.

BROWNBACK: George, if I could, there's -- you can go up onYouTube and see the governor himself and speaking himself...

ROMNEY: Ah, that's the -- consider the source.

BROWNBACK: ... about where he is on this position, and in 1994say, "I'm governor..."


ROMNEY: Look, look. I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. And I'mtired of a...

BROWNBACK: And it is a truthful position. Every piece of thatis truthful. You can got to YouTube and look for the governor, whathe says himself.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney -- Governor Romney... ROMNEY: You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectivelypro-choice. I've said that time and time again.

I changed my position. When I was governor and when I faced anissue of a life or death, when the first time a bill came to my deskthat related to the life of an unborn child, I came down on the sideof life.

ROMNEY: And I put that in The Boston Globe and explained why.And I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they'vebeen pro-life longer than I have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, you've also been drawing...

ROMNEY: But I'm proud of the fact.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You have also been drawing contrasts with MayorGiuliani during this campaign. I want to show our viewers somethingyou said about Mayor Giuliani on the Christian Broadcasting Networkthis spring.


ROMNEY: He is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage and anti-gun, andthat's a tough combination in a Republican primary.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you stand by that? And what is it that youfear a President Giuliani would do on those issues?

ROMNEY: I think Rudy Giuliani is a terrific American and awonderful mayor. That was very early in the process. I think I'vegot a better view...


ROMNEY: Yes, it was in March. He wasn't a candidate yet.

I think I have a better perspective on his views now -- notentirely, but a pretty good view on his positions. And I'd rather lethim speak for him, his own positions, than me speak for them. AndI've done by best to let other candidates speak about their ownpositions.

So I'm not going to try and elaborate on his positions.

I can tell you that I am pro-life and that I'm opposed to same-sex marriage, and I support the Second Amendment. Those are my views.

Why don't we let each of us describe our own views, as opposed totaking time to describe those of our colleagues? STEPHANOPOULOS: Was that accurate what Governor Romney said?

GIULIANI: Somehow, I knew you were going to ask me the questionabout this.


The reality is that I support the Second Amendment, as GovernorRomney says.

I clearly believe that marriage should be between a man and awoman, although I did support domestic partnerships and still do, acontractual relationship.

And I believe the best way we can have common ground in thisdebate that you're hearing is if we put our emphasis on reducingabortions and increasing the number of adoptions, which is somethingthat I did as mayor of New York City.

GIULIANI: But I think ultimately that decision that has to bemade is one that government shouldn't make. Ultimately, a womanshould make that with her conscience and ultimately with her doctor.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Thompson, let me bring you in here,because Michael Gerson, President Bush's former speechwriter, now acolumnist for The Washington Post, wrote a column about Mayor Giuliania few weeks ago, where he said one of the consequences -- because ofthe mayor's pro-life position -- of a Giuliani victory would be toplace the Republican nominee in direct conflict with the RomanCatholic Church.

How big a problem is that?

THOMPSON: I think it's a problem. I think it's a problem notonly for the Roman Catholic Church, but it's a problem with theConstitution and the platform of the Republican Party.

Every year the Republican Party, both at the state level in Iowa,nationally, are parties that come out very avidly and passionately onbeing pro-life. And I think any candidate that's pro-choice is goingto have a difficulty with the party faithful and those individualsthat have come to this district and the state and national meetingsand have avowed time and time again that this party, the RepublicanParty, is a party of pro-life.

So anybody that's not pro-life is going to have difficulties.That's the question.

Beyond that, however, I think you've got to look beyond just oneissue. And the issue that really concerns me, of course, is thehealth issues of America.

And we get tied up in one particular issue and we really don't goto some of the major issues that are affecting America -- not thatpro-life isn't -- but we have to get down -- and this debate should beabout the major issues affecting the voters of Iowa and nationally,instead of trying to choose one person against another on thiscampaign.

THOMPSON: Every single one of us up here have got issues,positions, and every single one of us believe very strongly of those.And I think that speaks highly of the Republican Party.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You bring up an important point, and let mebring this to Senator McCain. Because some people have made theargument...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... some people have made the argument that inthis election especially, that Mayor Giuliani would be absolutely thestrongest candidate, in part because of his pro-choice positions, buteven more than that, in the general election, the most important issueis going to be national security, and an issue like abortion should bede-emphasized.

Do you agree with that?

MCCAIN: I think the respect and commitment to the rights of theunborn is something I've fought for, and it has a lot to do withnational security. Because it depends on -- it says very much whatkind of a country we are and our respect for human life, whether it behere in the United States or whether it be in China or Bangladesh orthe Congo or anyplace else in the world. So I think it is connected.

But I also firmly believe that the challenge of the 21st centuryis the struggle against radical Islamic extremism. It is atranscendent issue. It is hydra-headed. It will be with us for therest of the century.

I have served my nation and my country and the people of thiscountry for all of my adult life. I am the most prepared. I havebeen involved in these issues. I have served this nation in themilitary and in the Congress, and I'm the best prepared and equippedand need no on-the-job training to meet that challenge.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have also addressed the issue of Iraq,probably more -- as much as, if not more than any other candidate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to turn to that as well. Because wedid a poll of Iowa voters, as you saw. And we asked the voters therefor questions.

We got more questions on Iraq and the war than any other singlesubject. Here was one of them.


QUESTION: Hi. I'm Jill Husker (ph) from Grinnell, Iowa. Myquestion is, if you were president, what would be your strategy forending the war in Iraq?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, what would it be?

PAUL: Just come home. We just marched in. We can just comeback.


We went in there illegally. We did not declare war. It'slasting way too long. We didn't declare war in Korea or Vietnam. Thewars were never really ended. We lose those wars. We're losing thisone. We shouldn't be there. We ought to just come home.


The number one reason it's in our national self-interest and forour national security, think of our defenses now, how rundown theyare. What is the morale of our military today when they're sent overthere for 12 months and then they're kept for another three months?

They come home and, with less than a year's rest, they're sentback again. Congress is currently trying to change the rules so wegive these men an adequate rest.

This war is not going well because the foreign policy isdefective.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hunter?


HUNTER: Yes, George, I've been here before. I was here when westood up to the Russians in Central Europe when they were ringing ourallies with SS-20 missiles. We stood up them and we finally broughtthat wall down.

I was here when we did Central America, when the liberals wereraging that we had to get out of Salvador. Today, Salvadoran troopsare standing side-by-side with Americans in Iraq.

And let me tell you something I'm tired of. I watched theDemocrat debate. I watched them say, as my colleague has said, "Justbring them home. Come home." And it was a race to see who couldstampede for the exit the quickest.

And you know something? The Marines in Anbar province, which isalmost half of Iraq, have turned that situation around. They broughtthe communities there on our side, fighting back against Al Qaida.Not a single Democrat...


Not a single Democrat candidate paused in their rush for the exitto say to our Marines, "Good job. You guys are fighting andachieving, with blood, sweat and tears, what this country needs."

We've got our best military leadership in Iraq right now. We arestanding up the Iraq military, the 129 battalions. When they arestood up, when they're reliable, battle-ready, they rotate onto thebattlefield, they displace American heavy combat forces. That's theright way to leave, not a stampede for the exit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hunter, thank you.

So we've got the poles of this debate Governor Huckabee...


I'll come back to you in a second.

We've got the poles of this debate. Congressman Paul says, "Comehome." Congressman Hunter says, "We've got to stay." Is there amiddle ground in this debate? HUCKABEE: Certainly there's a middle ground, George. And themiddle ground is that we win this war and we do it with honor. Wedon't just stay indefinitely. We put some pressure -- just like wehave been the last week, with Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates -- onthe Saudis.

HUCKABEE: Look, we've made them rich. Every time somebody inthis room goes to the gas pump, you've helped make the Saudi royalfamily a little wealthier. And the money that has been used againstus in terrorism has largely come from the Middle East.

There's two things we've got to do.

Number one, we've got to insist that the people in thatneighborhood take a far greater role militarily and financially insolving the problem. It's their neighborhood.

But the second thing we'd do, for our own national security, isend our dependence on foreign oil. And let's not play around and say"30 years," let's get it done. Let's get it done now. And let's makesure that we don't have to depend upon their oil for our future energyneeds.

BROWNBACK (?): George? George?

HUCKABEE: If we can feed ourselves, if we can fuel ourselves, ifwe can manufacture the weapons to fight for ourselves, we're a freepeople. If we can't do those three things, we're not free.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm going to bring everyone in on this.

Senator Brownback, go ahead.

BROWNBACK: There's another piece to this as well. And that is,is that you've got the military performing, I think, very well, doingan outstanding job, but the political situation continues todeteriorate on the ground in Iraq. You've got the Iraqi politiciansnot even meeting now. You've got a weak leadership that's takingplace there.

I think the key missing element here is political resolve on theground. We need a political surge, like Thomas Friedman has writtenabout. We need to put a three-state solution in place, like was inIraq prior to World War I, where you have a north that's Kurdish,which is right now; a west that's Sunni, which is right now; and aShia south, with Baghdad as the federal city.

A weak, soft partition: that's the piece missing...

(CROSSTALK) STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is -- that is your plan.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Senator McCain in on this.

Senator Brownback -- Senator McCain, Senator Brownback talkedabout the lack of political progress.

It's actually written into the law right now benchmarks that theIraqi government has to meet. It is also very, very clear that theyare not going to meet those benchmarks by the time General Petraeusreports in September.

If they fail to meet these benchmarks which are written into thelaw, will you still continue to support the surge?

MCCAIN: Of course. They are making progress, and we are winningon the ground. And there are political solutions being arrived at allover Iraq today, not at the national level.

I'm disappointed, of course, that the Maliki government has notdone what they need to do. But I'll tell you, it's not only in thenational interest of the Iraqis, it's an American national interest.We are winning.

We must win. If we lose, there'll be catastrophic consequencesand genocide, and we will be back. This is a seminal moment inAmerican history. We must succeed.

There will be a big debate coming up in September on the floor ofthe Senate. We will win that debate because the American peopleunderstand the consequences of failure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Giuliani...

MCCAIN: Morale is good. Morale is good amongst our military. Ican tell you that.

A three-state solution -- we just saw it when the Iraqi peoplejoined together with Iraqi flags celebrating a victory in a soccermatch.

We are winning. We must win. And we will not set a date forsurrender, as the Democrats want us to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Giuliani, is there any difference...


Is there any difference between you and Senator McCain on thisissue? Would you also continue to...

GIULIANI: I just noticed the question before, Senator McCainsaid something -- in four Democratic debates, not a single Democraticcandidate said the word "Islamic terrorism." Now, that is takingpolitical correctness to extremes.

GIULIANI: It really is.


The reality is that you do not achieve peace through weakness andappeasement. Weakness and appeasement should not be a policy of theAmerican government. We should seek a victory in Iraq and in Baghdad,and we should define the victory.

And I thought the piece by O'Hanlon and Pollack last week in theNew York Times, which, I have to frankly tell you, when I read it inthe morning, I read it twice, and I checked -- New York Times? But itwas the New York Times. It was.


And it said, "We just might win in Iraq."

Now, why we would want to retreat in the face of at least someempirical evidence that General Petraeus and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's military -- that's military progress.No political progress.

You'd continue to support the surge even if there's no politicalprogress.

GIULIANI: The reality is that if we can bring stability to Iraq,and we can give them a chance to develop stability, that's what weshould be trying to accomplish.

This is part of an overall terrorist war against the UnitedStates. And that's why I noted Senator McCain's statement aboutIslamic extreme terrorism. This is part of an overall war against usby the terrorists. It's a battle in that war.

America should win that battle. And winning that battle is tohave an Iraq that helps us against the Islamic terrorists.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, are you, Mayor Giuliani andSenator McCain all in the same place right now on Iraq?

ROMNEY: I think we're pretty much in the same place. It iscritical for us to win this conflict. It is essential, and that's whywe're going to continue to pursue this effort. And we're going to geta report from General Petraeus on the success. And I agree the Brookings Institution report over the weekend wasa very encouraging indication that we're making progress. That'sgreat news.

At the same time, you look at that Democratic debate, I had tolaugh at what I saw Barack Obama do. I mean, in one week he went fromsaying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies,but then he's going to bomb our allies.

I mean, he's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to get to that. We're going to getto that in a little bit.


ROMNEY: Let me continue. Hold on. I had more time, let mecontinue.

I want to make one other point.

ROMNEY: And that is, while we are waking up here in the UnitedStates and thinking about our barbecue in the afternoon and what's onTV, what baseball game is on, there are lot of families in thiscountry, hundreds of thousands of people, who are waking up wonderingwhether their loved one is still alive.

We have families who made a huge surge of sacrifice to supportthis surge. And it's time, in my view, for the people of America toshow a surge of support, including our leaders in Washington, forthese families and for the troops. Let's get behind them and givethem everything we have: our prayers, our encouragement, our funds,anything to make sure this surge is successful because it counts forAmerica.



STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm looking at you right now. Do you differ atall from Mayor Giuliani, Governor Romney or Senator McCain? ThenSenator Thompson and Ron Paul get the last word on this round.

Go ahead, Congressman Tancredo.

TANCREDO: There are a number of things, of course, with regardto Iraq that I think we have found some common ground on, but thereality is this: that it is absolutely true I think that we are in awar with radical Islam. That is the war. A battle is being fought inIraq.

Now, can we win the military battle on the ground? Yes, we can.Our guys are the best in the world, and the people that are servingthere cannot be faulted in any way.

One of the things, however, that I must say I am concerned aboutare the rules of engagement, that apparently are restricting theability of our people to do their job and to protect themselves. Noone should ever go into harm's way, no president should ever sendanyone in this military into harm's way and keep one arm tied behindthem. These rules of engagement have got to be reviewed, and nopresident should ever pursue them in this wan, or let people go intobattle and be actually at risk.