The Top Issues Being Tackled in Tonight's GOP Debate

ABC News talks to Fusion's Alicia Menendez about tonight's hot button issues.
3:00 | 12/16/15

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Transcript for The Top Issues Being Tackled in Tonight's GOP Debate
Hey everyone I'm on the net here art it is that they might once again in America I am joined here by ABC news political director. Rick Klein thanks for being with us. Great to be an exciting night the fifth Republican debate maybe the highest stakes on the last one of the year this is the time this is showtime for these candidates the breakthrough. It is getting really late early around here in this debate season. It's the home stretch can't wait to see what the candidates are getting two before we even get to that means they may and a check and with a colleague of these imminent as from huge and who's got her own debate coverage going on tonight at least the F thanks so much for joining us. On the Harry Eck. Now over the last didn't think you guys have been convening a panel of Republican and likely Republican voters and though you guys have a different kind of focus group that together tell us about that. Soon enough how. So they've been doing as we've been looking at different groups of young voters we've been watching the Republican debate with young Republicans we've been watching the democratic debate with young Democrats. We didn't even watch some of the day debates with young independents wondering what they're thinking about it. Tonight we're moving away from the focus group and just talking to a few young Muslim Americans. To get their take on what's happening on that to be staging a one of the most interesting places to meet. Is a young man who says he's very conservative that he identifies with the Republican Party and a number of social issues including gay marriage in part because of his connection to Islam but but the rhetoric keys hearing from the party is making it increasingly difficult for him to go to that go to his polling place vote for Republicans who was. The reaction leasing is what happened over the last week it seems like there's been a sharp turn. Let my dolls all the comments he made just a week ago yesterday she Monday that it changed the tenor. All of this to be they disappointed are they angry are they frustrated here it's a far. You know what I think is sort of important to point out is that wreck on the use all of us are political nerds and so we are thinking of this and contacts of the 26 election but this is about real people with real lives these. Communities are having conversations about whether or not they want to hold their children out of public school went off their saint bearing the education they deserve. People talking about moving out of there communities. And what that means and you actually have more isolation and knew how before so I think it's important to remember that we're hearing this little contact. Comments so often we think of them only in the context of the election. And really they have real world locations. Now I think it is something ranking when I was talking about earlier too that you know these are issues that look from Americans have been dealing with. Extensively for years and years certainly and a very intense way scrutiny after 9/11 and the attacks and in New York Washington and elsewhere but. Recent numbers that we had here from ABC news show just how divisive this issue has the congress tells them about that we'll. I one of these I was. Very surprised by frankly is is you have dolls uncle others say something that no one else has this ban on all Muslims answering United States. 59% of Republicans agree with that more than a third of voters overall it maybe they hadn't thought about it before. But it seems like they have tapped into something these candidates have very powerful and I wonder releasing at this is something that they that that the folks you're talking to tonight. Agree with or feel a sense of they've been dealing this for a long time it isn't new to them to separate presidential candidate. Talking. You know one of our guest tonight has a great story has fat Thursday an eight seller of American flags. And when President Bush got on air after September 11 and said every American needs to go out there and buy a flag. His dad sold a lot of flags was heralded as a hero in their small town and the same day that that was happening that he was with all these cameras taking his pictures. He and his mom walked through a parking lot and she was wearing a he job and someone yelled at her go back to your country. So it is a common experience from Muslim Americans one that they live every day and Rick when you look at those polling numbers I think what makes it. Different is that you're looking at the intersection. Of a number of hot button issues right we're no longer looking at this simply through the lens of terrorism were also looking at it through villains of immigration. You think about the way that this get a start it's often talk about immigration in the context of our southern border. Now we're talking about whether or not we want to accept refugees. From countries other than Mexico already the contours of that debate too hot to handle. You combine that with this conversation about terrorism and it doesn't surprise me that you have that many people responding to Donald Trump's remarks. Now Lisa if the undercard debate is any indication of what we're going to be seeing in the main stage debate. Over the lot of conversation about national security and terrorism but also just about that they eat it south. About how people understand Islam and what they believe it to represent the people that you're talking to tonight at that part of their concern that. Their own faith is just misunderstood. By their fellow Americans. Absolutely and I think there's also sort of then this complicated question and is an incumbent upon every Muslim Americans and NBA representative. Of their face and do they need to go on seminar was just need to continent with PR campaign to take their feet back. And so yes that is very much on their minds and again goes back to this question of whether they culturally isolate. Or whether they go out there and make sure that their neighbors know who they are and had a real face to put to the space. Fascinating topic we have to wait to see what the candidates are gonna say later tonight and how they address a lot of those very very important topic at a weekend you'll be checking in the U. To see how the focus group you put together we'll react to their comments as well that's used in the police Yemen and that thank you so much for joining us here tonight. Thank you on I think you wreck. And for now we're gonna take you to ABC's Charlie James who I believe it actually on sites act. The site for tonight's debate in Las Vegas Carly joins us live. From this end around Charlie. We have. Less than fifty days I believe to go before we start voting in Iowa this is as Rick mentioned. The home stretch for a lot of these candidates what's the energy and feeling like in that room tonight. Answer me today night on and I am standing on the red carpet this didn't around. There's not that much going on right this second yeah. CE but once that under current eight and the candidates that took part in and it will be coming over here I'm sorry gets. Excuse. Spinning their performance. And talk about how they did and hopefully by any means participants in the undercard today it'll help us. Before. We see the votes start in just about that need it tonight. Charlie. Talk to us about the three debates in an opening Carson made his way through the rumba what are people talking about the stakes. What is going unique creature what are the stakes tonight that people causing an arm around. That's right document person was the only candidate they keep in here but. We'll work. The debate started and he's honest we're as well he's in California. He also. Forehand he likes to take a look around his thinner room even he's got to work with her later. I'm but right now here in the media center and they idling around. Mean. There's obviously a lot of talk about Donald Trump about it through the mother see them as. But there's also a lot of talk about the set up here I'm and it takes you in the media filing center later it's huge. Or has the Donald let's say you. Actually every journalist has their aunt who. Unseat makes it never happened according easily as you know record lot of loans each other and they're. There is equipment everywhere but the setup here at the Venetian is quite. Place Martin's. And there's hundreds and hundreds the for journalists and I must say that the snacks are excellent Greg you're going to be god that you meant that fund. Oh Robin and Charlie does does does this is it right when you start talking about as. So far beyond that beyond the creature popped. This is obviously. It is a lot at stake in this in this to be. Is there a sense that fall is always the center of the action regardless in this kind of Bill Boynton this means that he's going to be status they didn't anyone everyone's talking about regardless of what happens. Well you mountain. It's not always seems to take so much of the oxygen in the room and but I think people are really looking forward to. Had good news will be next to him the first time I was Donald Trump's rally hearing Megan in the last game hotel. Yesterday exactly my first time I ain't trumped rally and and parents. For example the Marco Rubio rally that I was asked earlier in the day it there is something just. Really energetic. And the way that he pumps up the crowd. He's a performer and bring back to June his political performances as well. I think people are it's been like six weeks there's thousands last debate I think people are looking forward to seeing what he's in the TO. And the last debated it here. Italian island there's also mention. Edmonton the Venetian is owned by billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Alberts and so. I'm sure that is. Bringing another element to the debate for the candidates here if he had not put his chips. I'm not done all in on any candidate. Although many it's not most of Batman him. Sound that is potentially another element to consider here is well contaminants. It is not your first time in one of these areas and you've spent a lot of time in these kinds of places that had passed today. So let me get a sense of how the message is different at this stage in the game. Is there and it needs and friends are people kind of speaking with more intensity on more specific talking points how is. This experience tonight difference in terms of the national conversations. Like trying to dictate. Personal tax debate and. I think reporters here in this manner monopoly media filing center is that would beat man. Talk about what we expect and we can't make predictions but you never really know and hill. The debate is actually happening. How it's going to be an out who's gonna go after do. Lives. It looks like fun and stunting that under current debate is fitness because there's journalists starting to. They gather in here and it looks like the candidates are going to be coming through that. Norway and certain Alley here. And journalists are starting to. Congregate around him right. I think I can't hear it here I'm thinking that the undercard and it probably end and we kidnap her. A lot more people in. Yeah a lot more people in here and I think something easy in that. That are here to get some action might have spotted. Jordan. One of and that. Jordan that you you Don. And you don't cover any candidate coming out there and have you volunteered six. I'm out here I haven't particularly program at ten that night after night as you've seen. Under cart under our feet treatment groups very strongly backed it hasn't really broken out and it means that need to be staying south. Well I'll accept him hearing. And TV content to implement. Thanks don't eat that night what happened the candidates come out it looks like they're gonna come out every year and I'm like yeah. Pick three is as McDonald's truck that we can't eat everybody. You know he actually can't arts times and violence. Horse and us spreading anthrax. I have seen from heat might not an hiking and I'm glad I believe letting California got content elements from team together of this is a real radical and all work out that problem. If they sit out and CEO and hurricane expert and natural disaster in its ear we'll determine months or six. So hopefully even of these candidates come out soon and we can follow the action. And have gone into Jordan and I think. And our other event that aren't. Oh waiting. To Canada. That's right we can get in here though. When when you come back I will probably have some Spinner action to show you and I'll take you into the media filing center as well into the next. Again that's in the snack and perhaps more I'm you can dial eight accidentally. That is ABC it is turning games joining us live from Las Vegas the site at tonight's. Republican presidential debate we're gonna take you live to our other colleagues that is definitely Herman from fusion joins us live. From Puget headquartered in Florida. And thanks so much for joining us tonight. Hey thanks for having me. Now we think you've been doing some reporting on the ground there in some of the Muslim American communities of course. We've been talking tonight on the undercard debate we'll probably see in the main stage did they later tonight the issue of some Americans their place in society. How the fate itself is regarded has been a massive. Issue an interest to American voter and to these candidates so what is even hearing from the people you've been talking to. But we spent the weekend with some Muslim Americans in the Tampa area down here in Florida. Trying to understand how they're reacting sell all the Islamic phobia that we've been seeing. After the recent attacks. And what they're what they're feeling is that. They're in danger. You know for the first time even worsen after September 11. They're feeling like there's a threat towards dams we wanted to find out how the reacting and how they're protecting themselves I mean we've seen that. There's been a spike in people going out to get guns in response to these attacks exercising their Second Amendment Rights. We wanted to find out about Muslim Americans and what they're doing as US citizens and whether they are exercising their Second Amendment right so. We spent time with some family is around the Tampa area. Some are thinking about getting guns for the very first time. And others who've had guns for years. Are scared about the perception the change in perception. To be a Muslim American gun owner. So is a very interesting few days. And even while agree there. We heard about more threats being made towards some of these Muslim Americans in the community there. And across the country so it's really scary. There are nervous right now I'm in debating. How to react. Two a lot of the rhetoric. And Dan is it your sense that. That folks feel like this is something new or is it something that you did that trump is creating or is it something that's they're just being reflected that we're talking about more than ever. Well it's definitely something new here that they're that that is if that they're feeling. And they actually it was quite insisting they do blame trump. They credit him for creating a much more dangerous environment for them I mean there are there is have been a huge spike. In threats towards mosques. Voicemails left machines we've seen mosques. Burned. And so it's really a scary situation for them. And that's when he sixteen election cycle. Is not helping them in this regard especially when it comes to trump. They you know and we we hear this tonight. That Muslims are hoping to hear from the Republican candidates. About this issue trip to try to really bring down the rhetoric. If it it's just really a lot of nasty. Anti Muslim rhetoric that they that is driving this is fueling it. Well Dan it you know -- gives you an hour watching undercard debater earlier we we noted that it was heavily dominated with national security issues a lot of those related to Islam as a faith in the place of Muslim Americans the role of Muslim Americans and fighting terrorism. And I'm wondering what these folks are looking for it tonight specifically. From the candidates whose message isn't going to be terribly different from many of their Republican colleague. They wanna hear about an inclusive America they wanna hear that he that they want to keep the candidates to remind voters that hate Muslims are Americans they can be Americans. And and and we need to remember that and so that's what they're hoping to hear tonight from the candidates especially from Donald Trump. They really do believe that the trump. Candidacy is really driving this I mean they be seen that. After San Bernardino after this the terrorist attacks there's been an increase in threats made towards them. We've we've seen I've I spoke with Muslims they were actually. Stopped on the road stopped in the parking lot at mosques. Because they were being threatened that something that's gonna happen here tonight that you better watch out you know voicemails that say your ice is here if you're Muslim you rice's. We even spoke with one woman who says you there's no such thing as a Muslim Americans so what they wanna hear from the candidates tonight is that that's not the case and and in their hoping. That the candidates can send that message to voters out there who are responding. So negatively towards the Muslim community. I think you know something powerful there and if you listen to the weighted Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are framing this basic trump is just like the others. There is an opportunity here and it seems like this is something you're hearing from folks to. For separation and it wouldn't expect anyone to to totally disavow Republican Party views on these sort of things but at least a strike at different tone. A different note when it comes to the relationship of Muslim our that's outlets of giving up on. Absolutely and in really what was shocking to me is that for Muslim Americans it you know they are feeling like this is the worst time. Ever even worse than the days after September 11. To be a Muslim American and that was really shocking here. And in what was so interest seeing is this issue of gun ownership. You know there are people we spoke to a gun shops that he did say in a Muslim shouldn't have guns and in so. This perception issue. That Muslims especially for the women. Who are wearing a jobs who were out in public. That is the threat that there that there that there are feeling now more than ever more than after September 11. And and you may have noticed we had the recent numbers come out from here at ABC news Rick we are talking about this earlier. How can it any the candidates. Afford to get away from the message that's so deeply does resonate within their own base I think with the vast majority of Republicans are likely Republican voters. Actually supported. The proposal for a ban on Muslims entering the country that's what we're. Funny refining and other polls is well on and it's it is an interesting. Dilemma for Republican candidate right now because you realize what the rhetoric is and how it's been out there but. It isn't necessarily something was about but in some ways it surprising to Donald Trump's the only one is talking about a Muslim mad because you look at this broad support. Trump was there before maybe the American voters were not everyone recognizing this. That's something that the public was ready to accept but there is this frustrations and anxious times a jittery time and you see that reflected in the polls to see that reflected in the rhetoric right now. Yeah absolutely and you know that some Muslim League or saying that they they would move to Canada. If Donald Trump were elected and their surprise they're shocked they're disappointed. To see that they hateful comments they did that that the ban against Muslims as proposal do that. Is actually resonating with voters in that his poll numbers or are going up in response to that so. They're very discouraged by that. And you know they're they're feeling more alienated and they and they really do say that they believe the Donald Trump is actually just beating vices that that this that this kind of alienation. Of Muslims and America. Is only doing harm as a Muslim community is actually. Helping ice. That is infusions Dan Lieberman joining us live from Eugene and headquartered in Florida and we're going to be looking up from more of your reporting on this very important issue thank you so much for joining us here tonight. And my thanks also to ABC news's political director Rick Klein thank you so much great to be here and here in the room with me only the best welcome back it is great to be here ready ready to go to an exciting night thank you I'm sorry we didn't have more better snacks for you and your debate as a part of your abatement to the not just sort. I'll be fine next.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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