Campaign 2016

Highlights from the 6th GOP Presidential Debate

By Elina Saxena
Friday, January 15, 2016, 4:51 PM

Last night, the Fox Business Network hosted the sixth GOP primary debate of the 2016 campaign season in North Charleston, SC.

The debate was moderated by Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo of Fox and featured GOP presidential candidates Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), Governor John Kasich (R-OH), businessman Donald Trump, former governor Jeb Bush (R-FL), and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The Washington Post shared the full transcript while CBS, USA Today, ABC, the New York Times provided additional highlights, commentary, and analysis. Included below are quotes organized by topic that might be particularly relevant to Lawfare readers.

Key topics mentioned include Iran, the use of military force, ISIS, gun control, Syria, Donald Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims and refugees, China, border security and terrorism, Silicon Valley, and closing remarks.

Iran

CRUZ: I want to start with something. Today, many of us picked up our newspapers, and we were horrified to see the sight of 10 American sailors on their knees, with their hands on their heads.

In that State of the Union, President Obama didn't so much as mention the 10 sailors that had been captured by Iran. President Obama's preparing to send $100 billion or more to the Ayatollah Khamenei. And I'll tell you, it was heartbreaking.

But the good news is the next commander-in-chief is standing on this stage.

And I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.

[…]

CAVUTO: Governor bush, for the third time in as many months, the Iranians have provoked us, detaining us, as we've been discussing, with these 10 Navy sailors Tehran had said strayed into their waters. The sailors were released, but only after shown on video apologizing for the incident. This occurring only weeks after Iran fired multiple rockets within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier and then continued to test medium range missiles.

Now you've claimed that such actions indicate Tehran has little to fear from a President Obama. I wonder, sir, what would change if they continued doing this sort of thing under a President Jeb Bush?

BUSH: Well, first of all, under President Jeb Bush, we would restore the strength of the military. Last week, Secretary Carter announced that the Navy's going to be cut again. It's now half the size of what it was prior to Operation Desert Storm.

The deployments are too high for the military personnel. We don't have procurement being done for refreshing the equipment. The B-52 is still operational as the long range bomber; it was inaugurated in the age of Harry Truman. The planes are older than the pilots. We're gutting our military, and so the Iranians and the Chinese and the Russians and many other countries look at the United States not as serious as we once were.

We have to eliminate the sequester, rebuild our military in a way that makes it clear that we're back in the game.

Secondly, as it relates to Iran, we need to confront their ambitions across the board. We should reimpose sanctions, they've already violated sanctions after this agreement was signed by testing medium-range missiles.

Thirdly, we need to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send a serious signal that we're back in the game with Israel --... and sign an agreement that makes sure that the world knows that they will have technological superiority.

We need to get back in the game as it relates to our Arab nations. The rest of the world is moving away from us towards other alliances because we are weak. This president and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all have made it harder for the next president to act, but he must act to confront the ambitions of Iran. We can get back in the game to restore order and security for our own country.

Use of military force

BARTIROMO: We know that recent global events have many people worried -- Iran detaining American sailors, forcing them to apologize; North Korea and its nuclear ambitions; an aggressive China; and a Middle East that continues to deteriorate, not to mention ISIS is getting stronger.

Governor Christie, sometimes it seems the world is on fire. Where and when should a president use military action to restore order?

CHRISTIE: Well, Maria, I'm glad to have heard from you in the summary of that question about what's going on in the world. Because Tuesday night, I watched story time with Barack Obama. And I've got to tell you, it sounded like everything in the world was going amazing, you know? The fact is, there's a number of things that the next president is going to have to do to clean up this mess. The first thing is we have to strengthen our alliances around the world. And the best way to do that is to start talking to our allies again and having them be able to count on our word. Lots of people will say lots of different things about me in this campaign and others, but the one thing they've never said about me is that I'm misunderstood. And so when we talk to our allies and we give them our word, in a Christie administration, they know we're going to keep it.

Next, we have to talk to our adversaries, and we have to make sure they understand the limits of our patience. And this president, given what Ted said right at the beginning, he's absolutely right. It's a -- it's absolutely disgraceful that Secretary Kerry and others said in their response to what's going on in Iran that this was a good thing; it showed how the relationship was getting better.

The president doesn't understand -- and by the way, neither does Secretary Clinton -- and here's my warning to everybody out in the audience tonight. If you're worried about the world being on fire, you're worried about how we're going to use our military, you're worried about strengthening our military and you're worried most of all about keeping your homes and your families safe and secure, you cannot give Hillary Clinton a third term of Barack Obama's leadership.

I will not do that. If I'm the nominee, she won't get within 10 miles of the White House.

BARTIROMO: Just to be clear Governor, where and when would you use military action?

CHRISTIE: Military action, Maria, would be used when it was absolutely necessary to protect American lives and protect American interests around the world. We are not the world's policeman, but we need to stand up and be ready.

And the problem, Maria, is that the military is not ready, either. We need to rebuild our military, and this president has let it diminish to a point where tinpot dictators like the mullahs in Iran are taking our Navy ships. It is disgraceful, and in a Christie administration, they would know much, much better than to do that.

CAVUTO: Governor Bush, the president just told the nation two nights ago that America is back and that the idea that our enemies are getting stronger or that this country is getting weaker, well, it's just rhetoric and hot air. Now other Democrats go even further, sir, saying Republicans even suggesting such comments actually embolden our enemies. I guess they would include you. What do you say?

BUSH: Well first of all, the idea that somehow we're better off today than the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated president of the United States is totally an alternative universe. The simple fact is that the world has been torn asunder.

Think about it. With grandiose language, the president talks about red lines and nothing to follow it up; talks about ISIS being the JV team, they form a caliphate the size of Indiana with 35 (thousand) to 40,000 battle-tested terrorists. He's missing the whole point, that America's leadership in the world is required for peace and stability.

In the crowd today is Major General James Livingston, who's the co-chairman of my campaign here in South Carolina, a Medal of Honor recipient.

I've learned from him that what we need to achieve is peace through strength, which means we need to rebuild the military. In this administration, every weapon system has been gutted, in this administration, the force levels are going down to a level where we can't even project force. Our friends no longer think we have their back and our enemies no longer fear us, and we're in a much difficult -- we're in a much different position than we should be.

And for the life of me, I have no understanding why the president thinks that everything is going well. Terrorism is on the run, China, Russia is advancing their agenda at warp speed, and we pull back.

As president of the United States, I will be a commander in chief that will have the back of the military. We will rebuild the military to make sure that it is a solid force, not to be the world's policeman, but to make sure that in a peaceful world, people know that the United States is there to take care of our own national interests and take care of our allies.

CAVUTO: So I take it from that you do not agree with the president.

BUSH: No. And worse -- worse yet, to be honest with you, Hillary Clinton would be a national security disaster.

Think about it. She wants to continue down the path of Iran, Benghazi, the Russian reset, Dodd-Frank, all the things that have -- that have gone wrong in this country, she would be a national security mess. And that is wrong.

And you know what? Here's the problem. If she gets elected, she's under investigation with the FBI right now. If she gets elected, her first 100 days, instead of setting an agenda, she might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse. We need to stop that. (LAUGHTER)

The Islamic State

CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, the president says that ISIS doesn't threaten our national existence like a Germany or a Japan back in World War II, that the terror group is nothing more than twisted souls plotting attacks in their garages.

But House Homeland Security Committee recently said that over 1,000 ongoing investigations of homegrown extremism in 50 states. So how do you define the threat? Germany then or dangerous nut cases now?

RUBIO: Yeah, I would go, first of all, one step further in this description of Hillary Clinton. She wouldn't just be a disaster, Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being commander in chief of the United States.

Someone who cannot handle intelligence information appropriately cannot be commander in chief and someone who lies to the families of those four victims in Benghazi can never be president of the United States. Ever.

On the issue of Barack Obama, Barack Obama does not believe that America is a great global power. Barack Obama believes that America is a arrogant global power that needs to be cut down to size. And that's how you get a foreign policy where we cut deals with our enemies like Iran and we betray our allies like Israel and we gut our military and we go around the world like he has done on 10 separate occasions and apologized for America.

He doesn't understand the threat in ISIS. He consistently underestimates it but I do not. There is a war against ISIS, not just against ISIS but against radical jihadists terrorists, and it is a war that they win or we win.

When I'm president of the United States, we are going to win this war on ISIS. The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where we are, the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them. And if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we are going to find out everything they know.

CAVUTO: Thank you, Senator.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, the president says he does not want to treat ISIS as a foreign army, but ISIS is neither a country nor a government. How do you attack a network that does not respect national borders?

CARSON: Well, I'm very happy to get a question this early on. I was going to ask you to wake me up when that time came.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, I find it really quite fascinating some of the president's proclamations. The fact of the matter is he doesn't realize that we now live in the 21st century, and that war is very different than it used to be before. Not armies massively marching on each other and air forces, but now we have dirty bombs and we have cyber attacks and we have people who will be attacking our electrical grid. And, you know, we have a whole variety of things that they can do and they can do these things simultaneously. And we have enemies who are obtaining nuclear weapons that they can explode in our exoatmosphere and destroy our electric grid.

I mean, just think about a scenario like that. They explode the bomb, we have an electromagnetic pulse. They hit us with a cyberattack simultaneously and dirty bombs. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue at that point? He needs to recognize that those kinds of things are in fact an existential threat to us.

But here's the real key. We have the world's best military, even though he's done everything he can to diminish it. And the fact of the matter is if we give them a mission and we don't tie their hands behind their back, they can get it accomplished.

CAVUTO: Mr. Trump, at the State of the Union, the president pointed to a guest who was a Syrian refugee you might recall whose wife and daughter and other family members were killed in an air attack. Now he fled that country seeking asylum here, ultimately ended up in Detroit where he's now trying to start a new life.

The president says that that doctor is the real face of these refugees and not the one that you and some of your colleagues on this stage are painting; that you prefer the face of fear and terror and that you would refuse to let in anyone into this country seeking legitimate asylum. How do you answer that?

TRUMP: It's not fear and terror, it's reality. You just have to look today at Indonesia, bombings all over.

You look at California, you look, frankly, at Paris where there's a -- the strictest no-gun policy of any city anywhere in the world, and you see what happens: 130 people dead with many to follow. They're very, very badly wounded. They will -- some will follow. And you look around, and you see what's happening, and this is not the case when he introduced the doctor -- very nice, everything perfect but that is not representative of what you have in that line of migration.

That could be the great Trojan Horse. It could be people that are going to do great, great destruction. When I look at the migration, I looked at the line, I said it actually on your show recently, where are the women? It looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men, young and people are looking at that and they're saying what's going on?

TRUMP: You look at the kind of damage that two people that two people that got married, they were radicalized -- they got married, they killed 15 people in actually 15 -- going to be probably 16 but you look at that and you take a look -- a good strong look and that's what we have. We are nineteen trillion dollars -- our country's a mess and we can't let all these people come into our country and break our borders. We can't do it.

[…]

BARTIROMO: Candidates, the man who made fighting ISIS the cornerstone of his campaign, South Carolina Senator, Lindsey Graham is out the race but he joins us tonight in the audience. He says, "the air-strike now in their 16th month have been ineffective.” […] Dr. Carson, do you think Senator Graham is right in wanting to send 20,000 troops -- ground troops to Iraq and Syria to take out ISIS?

CARSON: Well, there's no question that ISIS is a very serious problem, and I don't believe that this administration recognizes how serious it is.

I think we need to do a lot more than we're doing. Recognize that the caliphate is what gives them the legitimacy to go out on a jihadist mission, so we need to take that away from them.

The way to take that away from them is to talk to our military officials and ask them, "what do you need in order to accomplish this goal?"

Our decision is, then, do we give them what we need. I say, yes, not only do we give them what they need, but we don't tie their hands behind their backs so that they can go ahead and get the job done.

In addition to that, we go ahead and we take the oil from them, their source of revenue. You know, some of these -- these engagement rules that the administration has -- "we're not going to bomb a tanker that's coming out of there because there might be a person in it" -- give me a break.

Just tell them that, you put people in there, we're going to bomb them. So don't put people in there if you don't want them bombed. You know, that's so simple.

And then we need to shut down -- we need to shut down their mechanisms of funding and attack their command-and-control centers. Why should we let their people be sitting there smoking their cigars, sitting in their comfortable chairs in Raqqa?

We know (ph) to go ahead and shut off the supply routes, and send in our special ops at 2:00 a.m. and attack them everywhere they go. They should be running all the time, then they won't have time to plan attacks against us.

Gun control

BUSH: We don't need to add new rules, we need to make sure the FBI does its job. Because that person should not have gotten a gun, should not -- would not have passed a background check. The first impulse of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is to take rights away from law- abiding citizens.

That's what they do, whether it's the San Bernardino attack or if it's these tragedies that take place, I think we need to focus on what the bigger issue is. It isn't law-abiding gun owners.

Look, I have an A plus rating in the NRA and we also have a reduction in gun violence because in Florida, if you commit a crime with a gun, you're going away. You're going away for a long, long while.

And that's what we should focus on is the violence in our communities. Target the efforts for people that are committing crimes with guns, and if you do that, and get it right, you're going to be much better off than creating a political argument where there's a big divide.

The other issue is mental health. That's a serious issue that we could work on. Republicans and Democrats alike believe this.

BUSH: The president's first impulse is do this by executive order, power he doesn't have. Why not go to Congress and in a bipartisan way, begin to deal with the process of mental health issues so that people that are spiraling out of control because of mental health challenges don't have access to guns.

BARTIROMO: [...] Mr. Trump, are there any circumstances that you think we should be limiting gun sales of any kind in America?

TRUMP: No. I am a 2nd amendment person. If we had guns in California on the other side where the bullets went in the different direction, you wouldn't have 14 or 15 people dead right now.

If even in Paris, if they had guns on the other side, going in the opposite direction, you wouldn't have 130 people plus dead. So the answer is no and what Jeb said is absolutely correct.

We have a huge mental health problem in this country. We're closing hospitals, we're closing wards, we're closing so many because the states want to save money. We have to get back into looking at what's causing it. The guns don't pull the trigger. It's the people that pull the trigger and we have to find out what is going on.

TRUMP: We have to protect our 2nd amendment and you cannot do this and certainly what Barack Obama was doing with the executive order. He doesn't want to get people together, the old-fashioned way, where you get Congress. You get the Congress, you get the Senate, you get together, you do legislation. He just writes out an executive order. Not supposed to happen that way.

[…]

CAVUTO: Senator Rubio, you said that President Obama wants to take people's guns away. Yet under his presidency, gun sales have more than doubled. That doesn't sound like a White House unfriendly to gun owners.

RUBIO: That sounds like people are afraid the president's going to take their guns away. Look, the Second Amendment is not an option. It is not a suggestion. It is a constitutional right of every American to be able to protect themselves and their families. I am convinced that if this president could confiscate every gun in America, he would. I am convinced that this president, if he could get rid of the Second Amendment, he would. I am convinced because I see how he works with his attorney general, not to defend the Second Amendment, but to figure out ways to undermine it.

I have seen him appoint people to our courts not to defend the Second Amendment, but to figure out ways to undermine it.

Here's my second problem. None of these instances that the president points to as the reason why he's doing these things would have been preventive. You know why? Because criminals don't buy their guns from a gun show. They don't buy their guns from a collector. And they don't buy their guns from a gun store. They get -- they steal them. They get them on the black market.

And let me tell you, ISIS and terrorists do not get their guns from a gun show. These [...] his answer -- you name it. If there's an act of violence in America, his immediate answer before he even knows the facts is gun control. Here's a fact. We are in a war against ISIS. They are trying to attack us here in America. They attacked us in Philadelphia last week. They attacked us in San Bernardino two weeks ago. And the last line standing between them and our families might be us and a gun.

When I'm president of the United States, we are defending the Second Amendment, not undermining it the way Barack Obama does.

CAVUTO: But what fact can you point to, Senator -- what fact can you point to that the president would take away everyone's gun? You don't think that's (inaudible)?

RUBIO: About every two weeks, he holds a press conference talking about how he can't wait to restrict people's access to guns. He has never defended...

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: I'll give you a fact. Well, let me tell you this. Do you remember when he ran for president of the United States, and he was a candidate, and he went and said, "These Americans with traditional values, they are bitter people, and they cling to their guns and to their religion." That tells you right away where he was headed on all of this.

This president every chance he has ever gotten has tried to undermine the Second Amendment.

He doesn't meet -- here's the difference. When he meets with the attorney general in the White House, it's not "how can we protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans." It's "give me options on how I can make it harder for law-abiding people to buy guns." That will never happen when I am president of the United States.

CAVUTO: Governor Christie, you, too, have criticized the president's recent executive action on gun control, saying it's unconstitutional, another step to bypass Congress. But hasn't your own position on guns evolved, sir? The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that you signed several laws to regulate the possession of firearms, and that you argued back in August 2013, and I quote, "These common sense measures will strengthen New Jersey's already tough gun laws."

So isn't that kind of what the president wants to do now?

CHRISTIE: No, absolutely not. The president wants to do things without working with his Congress, without working with the legislature, and without getting the consent of the American people. And the fact is that that's not a democracy. That's a dictatorship. And we need to very, very concerned about that.

See, here's the thing. I don't think the founders put the Second Amendment as number two by accident. I don't think they dropped all the amendments into a hat and picked them out of a hat. I think they made the Second Amendment the second amendment because they thought it was just that important.

The fact is in New Jersey, what we have done is to make it easier now to get a conceal and carry permit. We have made it easier to do that, not harder. And the way we've done it properly through regulatory action, not buy signing unconstitutional executive orders. This guy is a petulant child. That's what he is. I mean, you know...

... the fact is, Neil, let's think about -- let's think about -- and I want to maybe -- I hope the president is watching tonight, because here's what I'd like to tell him.

Mr. President, we're not against you. We're against your policies. When you became president, you had a Democratic Congress and a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate. You had only 21 Republican governors in this country. And now after seven years of your policies, we have the biggest majority we've had since the 1920s in the House; a Republican majority in the Senate; and 31 out of 50 Republican governors.

The American people have rejected your agenda and now you're trying to go around it. That's not right. It's not constitutional. And we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.

BARTIROMO: So what is the answer, Senator Cruz, to stop mass shootings and violent crime, up in 30 cities across the country?

CRUZ: The answer is simple. Your prosecute criminals. You target the bad guys. You know, a minute ago, Neil asked: What has President Obama do -- done to illustrate that he wants to go after guns?

Well, he appointed Eric Holder as attorney general. Eric Holder said he viewed his mission as brainwashing the American people against guns. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, someone who has been a radical against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

He launched Fast and Furious, illegally selling guns to Mexican drug lords that were then used to shoot law enforcement officials. And I'll tell you what Hillary Clinton has said: Hillary Clinton says she agrees with the dissenters -- the Supreme Court dissenters in the Heller case.

There were four dissenters, and they said that they believe the Second Amendment protects no individual right to keep and bear arms whatsoever, which means, if their view prevailed and the next president's going to get one, two, three, maybe four Supreme Court justices, the court will rule that not a single person in this room has any right under the Second Amendment and the government could confiscate your guns.

And I'll note that California senator -- Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said, if she could say to Mr. America and Mrs. America, "give me your guns, I'm rounding them up," she would.

And let me make a final point on this. Listen, in any Republican primary, everyone is going to say they support the Second Amendment. Unless you are clinically insane...

(LAUGHTER)

... that's what you say in a primary. But the voters are savvier than that. They recognize that people's actions don't always match their words. I've got a proven record fighting to defend the Second Amendment.

There's a reason Gun Owners of America has endorsed me in this race. There's a reason the NRA gave me their Carter Knight Freedom Fund award...

(BELL RINGS) ... and there's a reason, when Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer came after our right to keep and bear arms, that I led the opposition, along with millions of Americans -- we defeated that gun control legislation.

And I would note the other individuals on this stage were nowhere to be found in that fight.

Syria

BARTIROMO: Senator Graham has also said that the U.S. will find Arab support for its coalition if it removes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And I quote, "The now king of Saudi Arabia told us, 'you can have our army, you just got to deal with Assad.'

"The emir of Qatar said, 'I'll pay for the operation, but they are not going to fight ISIS and let Damascus fall into the hands of the Iranians. Assad has to go.'"

Governor Christie, how important is it to remove Assad from power and how would you do it?

CHRISTIE: Maria, you look at what this president and his secretary of state, Secretary of State Clinton, has done to get us in this spot. You think about it -- this is the president who said, along with his secretary of state -- drew a red line in Syria, said, if Assad uses chemical weapons against his people, that we're going to attack.

He used chemical weapons, he's killed, now, over a quarter of a million of his own people, and this president has done nothing. In fact, he's done worse than nothing.

This president -- and, by the way, Secretary Clinton, who called Assad a reformer -- she called Assad a reformer. Now, the fact is, what this president has done is invited Russia to play an even bigger role, bring in Vladimir Putin to negotiate getting those chemical weapons back from Assad, yet what do we have today?

We have the Russians and the Iranians working together, not to fight ISIS, but to prop up Assad. The fact of the matter is we're not going to have peace -- we are not going to have peace in Syria. We're not going to be able to rebuild it unless we put a no-fly zone there, make it safe for those folks so we don't have to be talking about Syrian refugees anymore.

The Syrians should stay in Syria. They shouldn't be going to Europe. And here's the last piece...

... you're not going to have peace in Syria with Assad in charge. You're simply not. And so Senator Graham is right about this.

And if we want to try to rebuild the coalition, as Governor Kasich was saying before, then what we better do is to get to the Arab countries that believe that ISIS is a threat, not only to them, but to us and to world peace, and bring them together.

And believe me, Assad is not worth it. And if you're going to leave this to Hillary Clinton, the person who gave us this foreign policy, the architect of it, and you're going to give her another four years, that's why I'm speaking out as strongly as I am about that.

Hillary Clinton cannot be president. It will lead to even greater war in this world. And remember this, after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have had nearly 8 years, we have fewer democracies in the world than we had when they started.

That makes the world less peaceful, less safe. In my administration, we will help to make sure we bring people together in the Middle East, and we will fight ISIS and defeat them.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric, Refugees, and Muslims in America

Mr. Trump -- Mr. Trump, your comments about banning Muslims from entering the country created a firestorm. According to Facebook, it was the most-talked-about moment online of your entire campaign, with more than 10 million people talking about the issue.

Is there anything you've heard that makes you want to rethink this position?

TRUMP: No. Look, we have to stop with political correctness. We have to get down to creating a country that's not going to have the kind of problems that we've had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers, with the -- with the shootings in California, with all the problems all over the world.

TRUMP: I just left Indonesia -- bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb.

We have to find out what's going on. I said temporarily. I didn't say permanently. I said temporarily. And I have many great Muslim friends. And some of them, I will say, not all, have called me and said, "Donald, thank you very much; you're exposing an unbelievable problem and we have to get to the bottom of it."

And unlike President Obama, where he refuses even to use the term of what's going on, he can't use the term for whatever reason. And if you can't use the term, you're never going to solve the problem. My Muslim friends, some, said, "thank you very much; we'll get to the bottom of it."

But we have a serious problem. And we can't be the stupid country any more. We're laughed at all over the world.

BUSH: Donald, Donald -- can I -- I hope you reconsider this, because this policy is a policy that makes it impossible to build the coalition necessary to take out ISIS. The Kurds are our strongest allies. They're Muslim. You're not going to even allow them to come to our country?

The other Arab countries have a role to play in this. We cannot be the world's policeman. We can't do this unilaterally. We have to do this in unison with the Arab world. And sending that signal makes it impossible for us to be serious about taking out ISIS and restoring democracy in Syria.

So I hope you'll reconsider. I hope you'll reconsider. The better way of dealing with this -- the better way of dealing with this is recognizing that there are people in, you know, the -- Islamic terrorists inside, embedded in refugee populations.

What we ought to do is tighten up our efforts to deal with the entry visa program so that a citizen from Europe, it's harder if they've been traveling to Syria or traveling to these other places where there is Islamic terrorism, make it harder -- make the screening take place.

We don't have to have refugees come to our country, but all Muslims, seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace and security?

CAVUTO: But you said -- you said that he made those comments and they represented him being unhinged after he made them.

BUSH: Yeah, they are unhinged.

[…]

CAVUTO: Are you -- are you saying -- are you saying that all those people who agree with Mr. Trump are unhinged?

BUSH: No, not at all, absolutely not. I can see why people are angry and scared, because this president has created a condition where our national security has weakened dramatically. I totally get that. But we're running for the presidency of the United States here. This isn't -- this isn't, you know, a different kind of job. You have to lead. You cannot make rash statements and expect the rest of the world to respond as though, well, it's just politics.

Every time we send signals like this, we send a signal of weakness, not strength. And so it was (inaudible) his statement, which is why I'm asking him to consider changing his views.

TRUMP: I want security for this country. OK?

I want security. I'm tired of seeing what's going on, between the border where the people flow over; people come in; they live; they shoot. I want security for this country. We have a serious problem with, as you know, with radical Islam. We have a tremendous problem. It's not only a problem here. It's a problem all over the world.

I want to find out why those two young people -- those two horrible young people in California when they shot the 14 people, killed them -- people they knew, people that held the wedding reception for them. I want to find out -- many people saw pipe bombs and all sorts of things all over their apartment. Why weren't they vigilant? Why didn't they call? Why didn't they call the police?

And by the way, the police are the most mistreated people in this country. I will tell you that.

The most mistreated people. In fact, we need to -- wait a minute -- we need vigilance. We have to find out -- many people knew about what was going on. Why didn't they turn those two people in so that you wouldn't have had all the death?

There's something going on and it's bad. And I'm saying we have to get to the bottom of it. That's all I'm saying. We need security.

BARTIROMO: We -- we want to hear from all of you on this. According to Pew Research, the U.S. admits more than 100,000 Muslim immigrants every single year on a permanent lifetime basis. I want to ask the rest of you to comment on this. Do you agree that we should pause Muslim immigration until we get a better handle on our homeland security situation, as Mr. Trump has said?

Beginning with you, Governor Kasich.

KASICH: I -- I've been for pausing on admitting the Syrian refugees. And the reasons why I've done is I don't believe we have a good process of being able to vet them. But you know, we don't want to put everybody in the same category.

KASICH: And I'll go back to something that had been mentioned just a few minutes ago. If we're going to have a coalition, we're going to have to have a coalition not just of people in the western part of the world, our European allies, but we need the Saudis, we need the Egyptians, we need the Jordanians, we need the Gulf states. We need Jordan.

We need all of them to be part of exactly what the first George Bush put together in the first Gulf War.

It was a coalition made up of Arabs and Americans and westerners and we're going to need it again. And if we try to put everybody in the same -- call everybody the same thing, we can't do it. And that's just not acceptable.

But I think a pause on Syrian refugees has been exactly right for all the governors that have called for it, and also, of course, for me as the governor of Ohio.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir, we want to hear from the rest of you,

Governor Christie, your take.

CHRISTIE: Now Maria, listen. I said right from the beginning that we should take no Syrian refugees of any kind. And the reason I said that is because the FBI director told the American people, told Congress, that he could not guarantee he could vet them and it would be safe. That's the end of the conversation.

I can tell you, after spending seven years as a former federal prosecutor, right after 9/11, dealing with this issue. Here's the way you need to deal with it. You can't just ban all Muslims. You have to ban radical Islamic jihadists. You have to ban the people who are trying to hurt us.

The only way to figure that out is to go back to getting the intelligence community the funding and the tools that it needs to be able to keep America safe.

And this summer, we didn't do that. We took it away from the NSA, it was a bad decision by the president. Bad by those in the Senate who voted for it and if I'm president, we'll make our intelligence community strong, and won't have to keep everybody out, we're just going to keep the bad folk out and make sure they don't harm us.

BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio, where do you stand?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, let's understand why we are even having this debate and why Donald tapped in to some of that anger that's out there about this whole issue. Because this president has consistently underestimated the threat of ISIS.

If you listen to the State of the Union the other night, he described them as a bunch of guys with long beards on the back of a pickup truck. They are much more than that. This is a group of people that enslaves women and sells them, sells them as brides.

This is a group of people that burns people in cages, that is conducting genocide against Christians and Yazidis and others in the region. This is not some small scale group.

They are radicalizing people in the United States, they are conducting attacks around the world. So you know what needs to happen, it's a very simple equation, and it's going to happen when I'm president. If we do not know who you are, and we do not know why you are coming when I am president, you are not getting into the United States of America.

BARTIROMO: Senator Cruz, where do you stand? Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: You know I understand why Donald made the comments he did and I understand why Americans are feeling frustrated and scared and angry when we have a president who refuses to acknowledge the threat we face and even worse, who acts as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism.

I think what we need is a commander in chief who is focused like a laser on keeping this country safe and on defeating radical Islamic terrorism. What should we do? First, we should pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act, legislation I've introduced that says if an American goes and joins ISIS and wages jihad against America, that you forfeit your citizenship and you can not come in on a passport.

CRUZ: And secondly, we should pass the legislation that I've introduced... that suspends all refugees from nations that ISIS or Al Qaida controls significant territory. Just last week, we see saw two Iraqi refugees vetted using the same process the president says will work, that were arrested for being alleged ISIS terrorists.

If I'm elected president, we will not let in refugees from countries controlled by ISIS or Al Qaida. When it comes to ISIS, we will not weaken them, we will not degrade them, we will utterly and completely destroy ISIS

BARTIROMO: Dr. Carson, where do you stand? Do you agree with Mr. Trump?

CARSON: Well, first of all, recognize it is a substantial problem. But like all of our problems, there isn't a single one that can't be solved with common sense if you remove the ego and the politics. And clearly, what we need to do is get a group of experts together, including people from other countries, some of our friends from Israel, who have had experience screening these people and come up with new guidelines for immigration, and for visas, for people who are coming into this country.

That is the thing that obviously makes sense, we can do that. And as far as the Syrians are concerned, Al-Hasakah province, perfect place. They have infrastructure. All we need to do is protect them, they will be in their own country.

And that is what they told me when I was in Jordan in November. Let's listen to them and let's not listen to our politicians.

BARTIROMO: So, to be clear, the both of you do not agree with Mr. Trump?

BUSH: So, are we going to ban Muslims from India, from Indonesia, from countries that are strong allies -- that we need to build better relationships with? Of course not. What we need to do is destroy ISIS.

I laid out a plan at the Citadel to do just that and it starts with creating a "No Fly Zone" and "Safe Zones" to make sure refugees are there. We need to lead a force, a Sunni led force inside of Syria. We need to embed with -- with the Iraqi military. We need to arm the Kurds the directly. We need to re-establish the relationships with the Sunnis.

We need the lawyers(ph) off the back of the war fighters. That's how you solve the problem. You don't solve it by big talk where you're banning all Muslims and making it harder for us to build the kind of coalition for us to be successful.

China

TRUMP: No, I said, " I would use -- " they were asking me what to do about North Korea. China, they don't like to tell us but they have total control -- just about, of North Korea. They can solve the problem of North Korea if they wanted to but they taunt us.

They say, " well, we don't really have control." Without China, North Korea doesn't even eat. China is ripping us on trade. They're devaluing their currency and they're killing our companies. Thousands of thousands -- you look at the number of companies and the number in terms of manufacturing of plans that we've lost -- 50,000 because of China.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: So they've never said to put a tariff on their...

TRUMP: We've lost anywhere between four and seven million jobs because of China. What I said then was, "we have very unfair trade with China. We're going to have a trade deficit of 505 billion dollars this year with China." A lot of that is because they devalue their currency.

What I said to the New York Times, is that, "we have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount -- where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get." That we should get.

What I'm saying is this, I'm saying that we do it but if they don't start treating us fairly and stop devaluing and let their currency rise so that our companies can compete and we don't lose all of these millions of jobs that we're losing, I would certainly start taxing goods that come in from China. Who the hell has to lose 505 billion dollars a year?

CAVUTO: I'm sorry, you lost me.

TRUMP: It's not that complicated actually.

CAVUTO: Then I apologize. Then I want to understand, if you don't want a 45 percent tariff, say that wasn't the figure, would you be open -- are you open to slapping a higher tariff on Chinese goods of any sort to go back at them?

TRUMP: OK, just so you understand -- I know so much about trading about with China. Carl Icahn today as you know endorsed. Many businessmen want to endorse me.

CAVUTO: I know...

TRUMP: Carl said, "no, no -- " but he's somebody -- these are the kind of people that we should use to negotiate and not the China people that we have who are political hacks who don't know what they're doing and we have problems like this. If these are the kinds of people -- we should use our best and our finest.

Now, on that tariff -- here's what I'm saying, China -- they send their goods and we don't tax it -- they do whatever they want to do. They do whatever what they do, OK. When we do business with China, they tax us. You don't know it, they tax us.

I have many friends that deal with China. They can't -- when they order the product and when they finally get the product it is taxed. If you looking at what happened with Boeing and if you look at what happened with so many companies that deal -- so we don't have an equal playing field. I'm saying, absolutely, we don't have to continue to lose 505 billion dollars as a trade deficit for the privilege of dealing with China.

I'm a free trader. I believe in it but we have to be smart and we have to use smart people to negotiate. I have the largest bank in the world as a tenant of mine. I sell tens' of millions of (inaudible).

I love China. I love the Chinese people but they laugh themselves, they can't believe how stupid the American leadership is.

CAVUTO: So you're open to a tariff?

TRUMP: I'm totally open to a tariff. If they don't treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can't deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don't it. It's not fair trade.

KASICH: Neil, Neil -- can I say one thing about this. I'm a free trader. I support NAFTA. I believe in the PTT because it's important those countries in Asia are interfacing against China. And we do need China -- Donald's right about North Korea.

I mean the fact is, is that they need to put the pressure on and frankly we need to intercepts ships coming out of North Korea so they don't proliferate all these dangerous materials. But what he's touching -- talking about, I think has got merit. And I'll allow putting that tariff or whatever he's saying here...

TRUMP: I'm happy to have him tonight...

(LAUGHTER)

KASICH: For too long -- no, for too long, what happens is somebody dumps their product in our country and take our people's jobs, and then we go to an international court and it takes them like a year or two to figure out whether they were cheating us. And guess what? The worker's out of a job.

So when they -- be found against that country that's selling products in here lower than the cost of what it takes to produce them, then what do we tell the worker? Oh, well, you know, it just didn't work out for you.

I think we should be for free trade but I think fair trade. And when countries violate trade agreements or dump product in this country, we need -- we need to stand up against those countries that do that without making them into an enemy.

And I want to just suggest to you. How do I know this? Because so many people in my family worked in steel mills, and they didn't work with a white collar, they worked in a blue collar. And the fact is those jobs are critical, they're hard working members of the middle class and they need to be paid attention to because they're Americans and they carry the load. So let's demand open trade but fair trade in this country. That's what I think we need to do.

CAVUTO: All right.

RUBIO: But on this point, if I may add something on this point. We are all frustrated with what China is doing. I think we need to be very careful with tariffs, and here's why.

China doesn't pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff. If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States and an American goes to buy it at the store and there's a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to price to the consumer.

So I think the better approach, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves against China economically is to make our economy stronger, which means reversing course from all the damage Barack Obama is doing to this economy.

It begins with tax reform. Let's not have the most expensive business tax rate in the world. Let's allow companies to immediately expense.

It continues with regulatory reform. Regulations in this country are out of control, especially the Employment Prevention Agency, the EPA, and all of the rules they continue to impose on our economy and hurting us.

How about Obamacare, a certified job killer? It needs to be repealed and replaced. And we need to bring our debt under control, make our economy stronger. That is the way to deal with China at the end of the day.

TRUMP: Neil, the problem...

BARTIROMO: We're getting...

TRUMP: ... with what Marco is saying is that it takes too long, they're sucking us dry and it takes too long. It would just -- you absolutely have to get involved with China, they are taking so much of what we have in terms of jobs in terms of money. We just can't do it any longer.

CAVUTO: He is right. If you put a tariff on a good, it's Americans who pay.

BUSH: Absolutely.

TRUMP: You looking at me?

BUSH: Yeah.

BARTIROMO: Prices go higher for...

TRUMP: Can I tell you what? It will never happen because they'll let their currency go up. They're never going to let it happen.

Japan, the same thing. They are devaluing -- it's so impossible for -- you look at Caterpillar Tractor and what's happening with Caterpillar and Kamatsu (ph). Kamatsu (ph) is a tractor company in Japan. Friends of mine are ordering Kamatsu (ph) tractors now because they've de-valued the yen to such an extent that you can't buy a Caterpillar tractor. And we're letting them get away with it and we can't let them get away with it.

And that's why we have to use Carl (ph) and we have to use our great businesspeople and not political hacks to negotiate with these guys.

BUSH: Here's -- apart from the -- apart from the higher prices on consumers and people are living paycheck to paycheck, apart from that, there will be retaliation.

BARTIROMO: Yeah.

BUSH: So they soybean sales from Iowa, entire soybean production goes -- the equivalent of it goes to China. Or how about Boeing right here within a mile? Do you think that the Chinese, if they had a 45 percent tariff imposed on all their imports wouldn't retaliate and start buying Airbus? Of course, they would. This would be devastating for the economy. We need someone with a steady hand being president of the United States.

BARTIROMO: Real quick, Senator -- go ahead, Senator Cruz.

And then we have to get to tax reform.

TRUMP: And we don't need a weak person being president of the United State, OK? Because that's what we'd get if it were Jeb -- I tell you what, we don't need that.

AUDIENCE: Boo.

TRUMP: We don't need that. That's essentially what we have now, and we don't need that. And that's why we're in the trouble that we're in now. And by the way, Jeb you mentioned Boeing, take a look. They order planes, they make Boeing build their plant in China. They don't want them made here. They want those planes made in China.

BUSH: They're a mile away from here.

TRUMP: That's not the way the game is supposed to be played.

BARTIROMO: Thank you, Governor Bush. Thank you, Mr. Trump. Very briefly.

BUSH: My name was mentioned. My name was mentioned here. The simple fact is that the plane that's being build here is being sold to China. You can -- if you -- you flew in with your 767, didn't you? Right there, right next to the plant.

TRUMP: No, the new planes. I'm not talking about now, I'm talking about in the future they're building massive plants in China because China does not want Boeing building their planes here, they want them built in China, because China happens to be smart the way they do it, not the way we do it.

Border Security and Terrorism

CRUZ: radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago; 24 months ago, we had Al Qaida. We had Boko Haram. We had Hamas. We had Hezbollah. We had Iran putting operatives in South America and Central America. It's the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, because it was clear then, like it's clear now, that border security is national security.

CRUZ: It is also the case that that Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, one of the things it did is it expanded Barack Obama's power to let in Syrian refugees. It enabled him -- the president to certify them en masse without mandating meaningful background checks.

I think that's a mistake. That's why I've been leading the fight to stop it. And I would note the Senate just a few weeks ago voted to suspend refugees from Middle Eastern countries. I voted yes to suspend that. Marco voted on the other side. So you don't get to say we need to secure the borders, and at the same time try to give Barack Obama more authority to allow Middle Eastern refugees coming in, when the head of the FBI tells us they cannot vet them to determine if they are ISIS terrorists.

Silicon Valley

CAVUTO: Governor Bush, fears have gripped this country obviously, and you touched on it earlier since the San Bernardino attacks. Since our last debate, the national conversation has changed, according to Facebook data as well.

Now this first graphic shows the issues that were most talked about right before those attacks and now after: the issues of Islam, homeland security and ISIS now loom very large. The FBI says Islamic radicals are using social media to communicate and that it needs better access to communication. Now the CEO of Apple, Governor, Tim Cook said unless served with a warrant private communication is private, period. Do you agree, or would you try to convince him otherwise?

BUSH: I would try to convince him otherwise, but this last back and forth between two senators -- back bench senators, you know, explains why we have the mess in Washington, D.C. We need a president that will fix our immigration laws and stick with it, not bend with the wind.

The simple fact is one of the ways, Maria, to solve the problem you described is narrow the number of people coming by family petitioning to what every other country has so that we have the best and the brightest that come to our country. We need to control the border, we need to do all of this in a comprehensive way, not just going back and forth and talking about stuff --

CAVUTO: Would you answer this question?

BUSH: Oh, I'll talk about that, too. But you haven't asked me a question in a while, Neil, so I thought I'd get that off my chest if you don't mind.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Fair enough. So Tim Cook -- so Tim Cook says he's going to keep it private.

BUSH: I got that. And the problem today is there's no confidence in Washington, D.C. There needs to be more than one meeting, there needs to complete dialogue with the large technology companies. They understand that there's a national security risk. We ought to give them a little bit of a liability release so that they share data amongst themselves and share data with the federal government, they're not fearful of a lawsuit.

We need to make sure that we keep the country safe. This is the first priority. The cybersecurity challenges that we face, this administration failed us completely, completely. Not just the hacking of OPM, but that is -- that is just shameful. 23 million files in the hands of the Chinese? So it's not just the government -- the private sector companies, it's also our own government that needs to raise the level of our game.

We should put the NSA in charge of the civilian side of this as well. That expertise needs to spread all across the government and there needs to be much more cooperation with our private sector.

CAVUTO: But if Tim cook is telling you no, Mr. President.

BUSH: You've got to keep asking. You've got to keep asking because this is a hugely important issue. If you can encrypt messages, ISIS can, over these platforms, and we have no ability to have a cooperative relationship --

CAVUTO: Do you ask or do you order?

BUSH: Well, if the law would change, yeah. But I think there has to be recognition that if we -- if we are too punitive, then you'll go to other -- other technology companies outside the United States. And what we want to do is to control this.

We also want to dominate this from a commercial side. So there's a lot of balanced interests. But the president leads in this regard. That's what we need. We need leadership, someone who has a backbone and sticks with things, rather than just talks about them as though anything matters when you're talking about amendments that don't even actually are part of a bill that ever passed.

Closing statements

BUSH: Who can you count on to keep us safer, stronger and freer? Results count, and as governor, I pushed Florida up to the top in terms of jobs, income and small business growth.

Detailed plans count, and I believe that the plan I've laid out to destroy ISIS before the tragedies of San Bernardino and Paris are the right ones.

Credibility counts. There'll be people here that will talk about what they're going to do. I've done it. I ask for your support to build, together, a safer and stronger America.

[…]

CRUZ: "13 Hours" -- tomorrow morning, a new movie will debut about the incredible bravery of the men fighting for their lives in Benghazi and the politicians that abandoned them. I want to speak to all our fighting men and women.

I want to speak to all the moms and dads whose sons and daughters are fighting for this country, and the incredible sense of betrayal when you have a commander-in-chief who will not even speak the name of our enemy, radical Islamic terrorism, when you have a commander-in- chief who sends $150 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei, who's responsible for murdering hundreds of our servicemen and women.

I want to speak to all of those maddened by political correctness, where Hillary Clinton apologizes for saying all lives matter. This will end. It will end on January 2017.

And if I am elected president, to every soldier and sailor and airman and marine, and to every police officer and firefighter and first responder who risk their lives to keep us safe, I will have your back.

[…]

TRUMP: I stood yesterday with 75 construction workers. They're tough, they're strong, they're great people. Half of them had tears pouring down their face. They were watching the humiliation of our young ten sailors, sitting on the floor with their knees in a begging position, their hands up.

And Iranian wise guys having guns to their heads. It was a terrible sight. A terrible sight. And the only reason we got them back is because we owed them with a stupid deal, $150 billion. If I'm president, there won't be stupid deals anymore.

We will make America great again. We will win on everything we do. Thank you.

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