TRANSCRIPT: ABC News/Facebook/WMUR Republicans Debate

Six Republican contenders meet in New Hampshire.

ByABC News
January 5, 2008, 7:13 PM

Jan. 5, 2008— -- The following is a full transcript of the Republican presidential debate sponsored by ABC News, Facebook, and ABC affiliate WMUR. The debate took place on January 5, 2008, at St. Anslem College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

GIBSON: Good evening. I am Charlie Gibson from ABC News. Andalong with our partners in tonight's debate, our station here in NewHampshire, WMUR, and the popular Facebook Web site, I welcome you towhat is a unique occasion. This is going to be a chance to hear fromall the leading presidential candidates in both parties in one night.

We have two debates -- the Republican debate, then the Democraticdebate -- coming within moments of one another. And tonight we haveone mission. That is to give voters a better idea of the candidates,their principles, their characters, their positions on the issues.

Now, we set some criteria for these debates which we felt werehighly inclusive. The top four finishers in Iowa, plus any candidatewith 5 percent support in an established New Hampshire or nationalpoll. They only had to have 5 percent support in any one of eightpolls.

Now, that resulted in invitations being issued yesterday to sixRepublicans -- Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul,Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson -- as well as four Democrats -- HillaryClinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson -- all of whomwill join us tonight.

GIBSON: Now, the candidates have debated often, and they havetaken an awful lot of questions. So we have tried to fashion a formatin which they will talk more to one another.

We're going to take the first 45 minutes of each debate, and for15 minutes each, I will put three topics on the table and then, to theextent possible, sort of stay out of the way.

There are no lights that will limit the length the candidates canspeak for that portion of the debate, but I will keep them move on,interrupting, I hope not impolitely.

It is my hope -- and I've expressed this to the candidates' camps-- that their discussion will be lively, informative, will point outthe differences they have on the issues being discussed, and that theywill talk to one another.

For the second half of each debate, I'll be joined by ScottSpradling. He's political director of WMUR, and we will havequestions in a more traditional format.

GIBSON: We have an audience here at St. Anselm of about 500people. And I've asked them to refrain from applause to keep thediscussions going without interruption.

So with that, we will spend a few minutes getting ready for thefirst debate.

And I will turn things over, for the moment, to my colleaguesDiane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.

SAWYER: And good evening to you, Charlie.

It is so exciting just to see the high stakes arena where thecandidates are about to appear. They're waiting off-stage. They'llbe getting their microphones checked.

And George Stephanopoulos and I were talking about the humanendurance that it takes to come to this pivotal moment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Diane, these guys must be running on fumes rightnow. They have been going for 10, 15 days straight, on three, fourhours of sleep a night.

Yet, because this debate is so important, only three days beforeNew Hampshire, they have to be at the top of their game tonight.

SAWYER: And most of them had nine, 10 appearances already today.

But we have some news for you tonight. Some real caucus votes --more caucus votes -- coming in from Wyoming.


On the Republican side, Mitt Romney has had a big win today.There was a caucus on Wyoming. He won more than 70 percent of thevotes, almost all of the delegate stake; a good moral victory for himafter that loss in Iowa.

SAWYER: And we also have a brand new poll out tonight from ourNew Hampshire affiliate, WMUR, cosponsors of tonight's debate. Sohere's how it looks for these candidates as they poll tonight, as theygather.

For the Democrats, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are in adead heat, tied at 33 percent each; John Edwards gaining a bit with 20percent; and Bill Richardson in fourth with 4 percent.

Senator Obama, of course, gained some ground, moved up about 3percent at this point in the story.


And on the Republican side, John McCain is moving up as well.He's now at 33 percent, leading by 6 points over Mitt Romney at 27percent. Rudy Giuliani holding onto third place at 14 percent, aheadof Mike Huckabee at 11 percent, who, of course, won those caucuses inIowa just this Thursday night.

SAWYER: And we want everybody out there to know that throughoutthe night we'll be checking in with our pros at ABC News standing byin the spin room, so named because the candidates' teams flood theroom, trying to shape tomorrow's headlines.

And we also have the instant views of all Americans on Facebook,the popular Web site with more than 60 million active users. AndCharlie's going to be using questions from the site tonight as well.

ABC's Bianna Golodryga at our Facebook command center.


GOLODRYGA: Good evening, Diane.

Already, more than 1 million people have activated the U.S.politics application on Facebook right now. We already know thatthere are hundreds of thousands of people taking part in debates.They're answering questions that we've thrown at them, real-timequestions for them to answer.

And it's so easy. We invite all of you to participate throughoutthe evening as well.

Here's what you do. You go to, and you click onpolitics. Then click on the Facebook button, and you join the debate.

And while the presidential candidates debate on television,Americans can join the debate online and get real-time, behind-the-scenes updates from our reporters who are tracking all of thecandidates live.

Diane, we will be updating this throughout the night, checking inwith all of our debaters and getting back to you.

SAWYER: All right. A giant conversation taking place tonight.

And you should know, by the way, that we will not be usingFacebook to declare winners or losers tonight. You and the voters ofNew Hampshire are going to do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We did want to get a sense of what the voters ofNew Hampshire are thinking, so went out in the streets and the snowyhills and got a sense of it.


(UNKNOWN): National security is the issue that I'm mostconcerned about. That's going to affect my family and my children.Yes, I mean, security is everything to me.

(UNKNOWN): The rising cost of health care. I want to make surethat everyone is covered, but I want to come up with a good plan thatworks for everyone.

(UNKNOWN): I have no problem with the legal immigrants, but theillegals, I would just like to see the candidates expand more on itand be firm on it.

(UNKNOWN): Being a fisherman, I think that the fuel prices for alot of working people is one of the major things that I'm concernedabout.

(UNKNOWN): My son is in the military. He's done almost his fouryears in the Marines. I'd like to have somebody say a good plan onhow to get us out of there, instead of just promises on what theycould do or they should do.

(UNKNOWN): What are you going to do?


SAWYER: And a reminder that tonight's debates are not just aboutpolicy, but the real lives of Americans.

So coming into the debates, what about Iowa? Let's review whathappened there.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee ruled the day with 34 percent; adecisive win over Mitt Romney, who took 25 percent. Fred Thompson,John McCain tied for third with 13 percent each. And that was it forthe Republicans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that shows, I mean, it gives us a good senseof what they have on the line tonight -- what the candidates have onthe line tonight, Diane.

And I think because Mitt Romney came in second in Iowa, he's gotthe most on the line tonight. His whole strategy was predicated onwinning in Iowa, winning here in New Hampshire.

And he's got one job to do tonight. That is, to stop JohnMcCain, who has the momentum right now. He's going to try to paintMcCain as a creature of Washington.

For McCain, he's got to remind people what they loved about himeight years ago. Remember...

SAWYER: He was the maverick, won big: 19 percentage points?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Won big. He beat George Bush big here eightyears ago. Lost his mojo last year but it's coming back right now.He's going to emphasize national security.

For the winner in Iowa, Mike Huckabee, this is not a home fieldfor him. Not a lot of social conservatives, evangelicals here, sohe's just got to make no mistakes.

Rudy Giuliani has to get back in the game. He tried in NewHampshire but he fell back in November. He's got to do something bigto make sure that Mike Huckabee doesn't pass him.

SAWYER: All right, George, thanks to you.

Well, it is time for the great debate to begin. Let's go toCharlie Gibson at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.


GIBSON: Thanks very much, Diane.

And we have been joined on the stage by the six leadingRepublican candidates for the Republican nomination for president.And I want to introduce them to you from left to right.

The positions in which they sit were drawn by lot, and so let meintroduce them from left to right: Senator John McCain from the stateof Arizona, former Senator Fred Thompson from Tennessee, CongressmanRon Paul from Texas, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts,former Governor Mike Huckabee from Arkansas, and former Mayor RudyGiuliani from the city of New York.

And, gentlemen, just at the risk of being repetitive, I hope youwill take the questions posed in these first 45 minutes and I hope, tothe extent we can, discuss them among yourselves.

GIBSON: This is not about me asking questions, as I told thenational audience a few moments ago, but about you talking to oneanother, pointing up the differences between yourselves.

I hope you will think of this as sort of a semi-circular diningroom table. We were a little chintzy on the food, but I hope you willlook at it that way.


I thank you all for being here and I genuinely look forward tothis, so let us begin. And I'll start the stop-watch.

President Bush said in his end-of-the-year news conference,"During the primaries and during the general election I suspect myname may come up a lot." So let's bring it up.

I want to start with foreign policy. Just to set some context,we've got a little background here from ABC's Jonathan Karl.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC CORRESPONDENT: When he was on the debatestage eight years ago...

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH, R-TX: If we're an arrogant nation, they'llresent us. If we're a humble nation...

KARL: ... candidate George Bush promised a humble foreignpolicy.

After September 11, a new Bush doctrine: the United States wouldhit its enemies before they hit us.

KARL: Hence, the Iraq war.

On terrorism, President Bush told the world you're either with usor you're against us. With the second term, an even bolder vision.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: With the ultimate goal of endingtyranny in our world.


KARL: Sounding like Woodrow Wilson, the president vowed to pushfor democracy everywhere.

There are exceptions. Support for Musharraf in Pakistan, forexample, and the nuclear deal offered to North Korea.

From the axis of evil to nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan,the Bush policy has been bold but not exactly humble.


GIBSON: So, let me start with a general question: If you arethe nominee, will you run on the Bush foreign policy record, or willyou run away from it?

And, Governor Huckabee, let me start with you, because it was youwho wrote that the Bush foreign policy reflects an arrogant bunkermentality.

HUCKABEE: And when I made those statements, I was speaking tothe fact that there were times when we gave the world the impressionthat we were going to ignore what they thought or what they felt, andwe were going to do whatever it is we wanted to do.

And the fact is, we're going to do what is best for the Americanpeople. And as president, I will always act in the best interest ofour country.

But I'll always try to make sure that we're the strongest nationon Earth, the most powerful, the most prepared, but also the one thatuses that strength in a very, very understanding way of making surethat when we use the strength we use it with full understanding of theimplications of it.

Let me just finish the thought, Charlie, if I may.

There were times when the arrogance was reflected, for example,in the former defense secretary who, despite getting advice from theDefense Department that we would need 400,000 troops to be able tosuccessfully bring stability to Iraq, insisted that we would only use180,000 troops and we would go in with a light footprint.

HUCKABEE: And there was one particular statement that he madethat I found especially troubling. He said, "We don't go to war withthe army that we want; we go to war with the army that we have."

I felt that the proper way for us to approach this is we don't goto war with the army we have, we go to war with the army that we need,and we make sure that we have what we need before we go to war,including a clear definition of what we're going to do, irresistibleforce when we do it, and once we do it, we don't let the politiciansinterfere or interrupt the battlefield decisions of the commanderswith blood on their boots and medals on their chest.

GIBSON: Senator Thompson?

THOMPSON: Well, I think that maybe the governor has rethoughthis comments that he made about an arrogant foreign policy, because itseems now what he's saying is that we were arrogant because we didn'tgo in with enough troops.

THOMPSON: I think that's kind of a different impression than theone that he originally sought to leave.

I don't think our foreign policy has been arrogant. Presidentsare not perfect; policies are not perfect.

But the bottom line is, we are in a global war with radicalIslam. They declared on us -- war on us a long, long time ago. Wetook note, really, for the first time on September 11 of 2001.

We must do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves.

We weren't considered to be arrogant in Afghanistan when we wentin there and won that conflict.

I agree that we made a mistake in terms of going into Iraq as faras the number of troops are concerned. And I think a flawed strategyalso. I think that's been rectified now. And I think we're on the --on the way to prevailing there.

And because we are prevailing there, I think it's going to be fora safer United States of America.

GIBSON: Mayor Giuliani, would you run on the president's foreignpolicy record or away from it?

GIULIANI: I think you run on your foreign policy ideas, theoriesand policies, which I've laid out in articles.

And I think the president got the big decision of his presidencyright: the big decision that he made on September 20th, 2001, when heput us on offense against Islamic terrorism. And I give him greatcredit for that. Because we had been dealing with Islamic terrorismincorrectly up until then. We had been on defense. We had beenresponding.

The president set a whole different mindset. It was: Let'santicipate, let's see if we can prevent another attack.

That led to Afghanistan, it led to Iraq, it's led to the PatriotAct, it's led to electronic surveillance, it's led to changing ourintelligence services. All that is very, very good.

Mistakes have also been made. Mistakes were made particularly inthe period of time after the capture of Saddam Hussein and, now, ayear ago, when we got to the surge policy.

GIBSON: Well, let me bring up...


GIBSON: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

GIULIANI: ... if I may add, I think one of the things that wouldhelp answer some of the issues that have come up is, we shouldincrease the size of our military.

Bill Clinton cut the military drastically. It was called thepeace dividend, one of those nice-sounding phrases: very devastating.It was a 25, 30 percent cut in the military.

President Bush has never made up for that. Our Army had been at725,000; it's down to 500,000. We need at least 10 more combatbrigades. We need our Marines at 200,000. We need a 300-ship Navy.

This president should do it now. If I'm president, I'll do itimmediately.

GIBSON: Let me just ratchet up the question slightly and ask youif you believe in the Bush doctrine.

Because in September 2002 -- up for years, our foreign policy hasbeen based on the idea that we form alliances, internationalconsensus. We attack -- retaliate if we're attacked.

But in 2002, the president said we have a right to a pre-emptiveattack, that we can attack if this country feels threatened.

GIBSON: And on that basis, WMD, we went into Iraq. We've citedthe threat of a nuclear Iran to leave the military option on thetable.

Do you agree with the doctrine, Senator McCain, if you werepresident, or would you change it?

MCCAIN: I agree with the doctrine.

And I'd also like to give President Bush a little credit, as wehave this discussion.

Right after 9/11, every expert in the world said there would beanother attack on the United States of America. There hasn't been.

Now, maybe that's all by accident. But if there had been, Ithink it's very clear where the responsibility would have been placed.So I think we ought to give him credit for that.

We went through the greatest reorganization of government sincethe creation of the Defense Department and the creation of the Defense-- Department of Homeland Security.

And America is safer. America is not safe; America is safer.

MCCAIN: I'd like to give the president some credit for that.

Now, I strongly disagreed with the strategy employed by SecretaryRumsfeld.

And by the way, I'm the only one here that disagreed at the time,and I'm the only one at the time that said we've got to employ a newstrategy and outlined what it was, which is the Petraeus strategy.

I said at the time I had no confidence in the then-secretary ofdefense.

But we are succeeding now in Iraq. And the fact is as we blamethe president for the failed strategy, we should give him credit forchanging the strategy and changing the leadership so that we now haveI think one of the finest military leaders in American history inDavid Petraeus.

So, look, I think we've got enormous challenges ahead of us. Ithink the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radicalIslamic extremists.

And the way, I'd like to give my friend the mayor for the greatjob that he did after 9/11 and the way that he and the presidentrallied this nation.

MCCAIN: But I know how to lead, I've been involved in theseissues, and I know how to solve them.

GIBSON: Congressman Paul, let me ask you, do you agree with theBush doctrine, or would you change it?

PAUL: Well, I certainly agreed with his foreign policy that heran on and that we, as Republicans, won in year 2000. You know, thehumble foreign policy, no nation building, don't be the policeman ofthe world.

And we were strongly critical of the policy of the Clintonadministration that did the opposite and we fell short. Of course,the excuse is that 9/11 changed everything.

But the Bush doctrine of preemptive war is not a minor change;this is huge. This is the first time we, as a nation, accept as ourpolicy that we start the wars. I don't understand this.

And that all options are on the table to go after Iran?

This is not necessary. These are Third World nations. They'renot capable.

But I think it's the misunderstanding or the disagreements thatwe've had in this debate along the campaign trail is the nature of thethreat.

PAUL: I'm as concerned about the nature of the threat ofterrorism as anybody, if not more so. But they don't attack usbecause we're free and prosperous.

And there all radicals in all elements, in all religions thatwill resort to violence. But if we don't understand that the reactionis, is because we invade their countries and occupy their countries,we have bases in their country -- and we haven't done it just since9/11, but we have done that a long time.

I mean, it was the Air Force base in Saudi Arabia before 9/11that was given as the excuse.

If we don't understand that, we can't win this war againstterrorism.

GIBSON: You can break in here, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: Well, unfortunately, Ron, you need a thoroughunderstanding of what radical jihad is, what the movement is, what itsintent is, where it flows from. And the fact is that it's trying tobring down not just us, but it's trying to bring down all moderateIslamic governments, Western governments around the world, as we justsaw in Pakistan.

ROMNEY: But let's step back with regards to the president.

The president is not arrogant. The president does not subject --or is not subject to a bunker mentality. The president has acted outof his desire to keep America safe.

And we owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping this country safeover the last six years.


ROMNEY: Let me continue with my own thoughts on the issue of dowe follow his policy or create a new one.

He did the right thing in responding and reacting to the factthat we got attacked. And people now recognize: You attack Americaand there is a response.

But we're going to have to move our strategy from simply being arespond to military threat with military action to an effort that sayswe're going to use our military and nonmilitary resources --nonmilitary resources -- combined with other nations who are ourfriends to help move the world of Islam toward modernity andmoderation.

It's something that former Prime Minister Aznar of Spain spokeabout. The new mission for NATO and for other nations is to helpprovide the rule of law, education that's not through madrassas,agricultural and economic policies that can be instilled in variousIslamic countries, so the Muslims are able to reject the extreme andthe terrorists.

ROMNEY: We can help them. Our military's going to be needed.

We do need -- I agree with what the mayor said -- we need to addto our military by at least 100,000 troops. But the answer is to movenow to a second phase, a phase of helping Muslims become so strongthey can reject the extreme.

THOMPSON: Charlie, is this subject still open?


THOMPSON: Can we comment on that?

I served on the Intelligence Committee in the Senate. I was thefloor manager for the Republicans on the homeland security bill, so Ihave a bit of a different vantage point than some of my colleagues onthis.

The question had to do with preemption.

Preemption didn't just appear one day as a good idea. After theCold War, we had one big enemy and one big weapon against us. Whenwe, kind of, took a holiday from history in the 1990s and let ourmilitary slide and our intelligence capability slide, the world waschanging. We now have multiple enemies. We now have terrorists andterrorist groups, Al Qaida, rogue nations in different stages ofdeveloping nuclear weapons.

THOMPSON: We must be prepared for the different kind of weaponrythat we're facing. We could be attacked with a biological weapon andnot even know it for a long period of time. This is a differentworld.

So, instead of mutual assured destruction, which we lived underfor a long time, it's now a world where preemption has got to be anoption under the right circumstances.

GIBSON: So you would keep the Bush policy?

THOMPSON: Things that happen on the other side of the worldsometimes can affect us, such as perhaps Pakistan.

We should only go in where we should and where we're able to.

GIBSON: Let me...

GIULIANI: Charlie?

GIBSON: Yeah, go ahead.

GIULIANI: Just make one point.

Ron's analysis is really seriously flawed. The idea that theattack took place because of American foreign policy is precisely thereason I handed back a $10 million check to a Saudi prince who gave methe money at ground zero for the twin towers fund and then put out apress release saying America should change its foreign policy.

GIULIANI: It seems to me, if you don't face this squarely --there's an Islamic, terrorism threat against us. It's an existentialthreat. It has nothing to do with our foreign policy. It has to dowith their ideas, their theories, the things that they have done andthe way they've perverted their religion into a hatred of us.

And what's at stake are the things that are best about us: ourfreedom of religion, our freedom for women, our right to vote, ourfree economic system.

Our foreign policy is irrelevant -- totally irrelevant. If youread what they write, if you bother to listen to what they say, thiscomes out of their own perverted thinking.

PAUL: Charlie?

GIBSON: Go ahead.

PAUL: Let me try to explain so you can understand this better.

Try to visualize how we would react if they did that to us, if acountry, say China, came that great distance across the ocean, andthey say, "We want you to live like us. We want you to have oureconomic system. We want bases on your land. We want to protect ouroil."

Even if we do that with good intentions -- even if the Chinesedid that with good intentions, we would all be together and we'd befurious.


ROMNEY: Ron, you're reading their propaganda. You're readingtheir propaganda.

PAUL: What would you do if the Chinese...


ROMNEY: I'd read their writings.

PAUL: What would you do?

ROMNEY: I'd read what they write to one another. And that's whywhen someone like Sayyid Qutb lays out the philosophy of radicaljihadism and says, "We want to kill..."

PAUL: And what you're saying...

ROMNEY: Let me complete.

Wants to kill Anwar Sadat, when there's the assassination ofAnwar Sadat, it has nothing to do with us.

The reason -- why did they kill Madam Bhutto? It has nothing todo with us. This has to do with a battle that is going on within theworld of Islam, of radical, violent jihadists trying to bring down allmoderate Islamic people and nations and replace them with a religiouscaliphate.


ROMNEY: And we are doing our very best to help support thevoices of moderation.

They tried it in the Philippines.

THOMPSON: Who have we invaded before 9/11?

PAUL: We were occupying...

THOMPSON: Occupying?

PAUL: We had an air base in Saudi Arabia.


PAUL: We have propped up -- how many governments have we proppedup?

GIBSON: Just before we -- before we stop, Governor, I owe you afew seconds. Because you -- somebody said, no, Senator Thompson saidwe're not arrogant, we're not bunker mentality.


HUCKABEE: Well, and those words -- first of all, GovernorRomney, you, yourself on "60 Minutes" said that we had left Iraq in amess. You've also said that you weren't going to have this "my way orno way" philosophy.

And I've been attacked for using the words: a policy that had anarrogance and bunker mentality. I didn't say the president was. Isupported the president in the war before you did. I supported thesurge when you didn't.

I'm not a person who is out there taking cheap shots at thepresident. I worked really hard to get him elected.

But I'm not running for George Bush's third term. I want to bepresident of the United States on my own terms.

And I think it's important for us to recognize...

ROMNEY: Charlie, I get to respond to that.

HUCKABEE: Let me finish this. When Congressman...


PAUL: ... I get a chance to respond.


HUCKABEE: The fact is when there is a serious threat to thiscountry, it is not a threat because we happen to be peace-lovingpeople. It's a threat because in the heart of the radical Islamicfaith -- not all Islam, and that's what's very important.

This isn't an Islamic problem. This is a jihadist problem. Thisis an Islamo-fascism problem.

And if you read the writings of those who most influenced -- andGovernor Romney mentioned Sayyid Qutb, executed in Egypt in 1966. Heis one of the major philosophers behind this.

And the fact is, there is nothing about our attacking them thatprompts this. They are prompted by the fact they believe that theymust establish a worldwide caliphate that has nothing to do with usother than we live and breathe and their intention is to destroy us.

GIBSON: Very quickly. You after Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: A number of things.

I disagree with the governor writing in Foreign Affairs magazinethat the president's administration suffers from an arrogant bunkermentality.

HUCKABEE: Did you read the article before you commented on it?

ROMNEY: I did read the article, the whole article. I read theentire article and I thought it was -- well, I won't make any furthercomments. It was not...


HUCKABEE: Before you commented on it?

ROMNEY: Before -- I got a copy of the article and read thearticle. And in the headline of the article, it said, "The Bush..."

MCCAIN: Did you read mine?



ROMNEY: No, no, hold on.

John, no, I didn't. Sorry. But I read his.


ROMNEY: And number two...

(UNKNOWN): What about mine?

ROMNEY: Number two -- number two, I did support the surge. Itwas Senator McCain, of all of us, who was out fighting for the surge.He right on that.

On the same day the president announced the surge, I also, havingspoken that day with Fred Kagan, who's one of the brilliant theoristsin this regard, I laid out my plan that I thought made sense --actually even before the president's speech -- calling for additionaltroops. I called for a different number.

So I also supported the surge from the very beginning.

ROMNEY: But, look, you know, Governor, don't try andcharacterize my position. Of course, this war...

HUCKABEE: Which one?


ROMNEY: You know, we're wise to talk about policies and not tomake personal attacks.

HUCKABEE: Well, it's not a personal attack, Mitt, because youalso supported a timed withdrawal. And Senator Pryor from my state...