CBS News/NJ debate transcript, part 2

The following is a transcript of the last half-hour of the CBS News/National Journal debate held in Spartanburg, S.C., on national security and foreign policy.

CBS News/NJ debate transcript, part 1

Scott Pelley: Good evening from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This is the Republican Commander in Chief debate. I'm Scott Pelley with CBS News, along with Major Garrett of National Journal. This is the final half hour of this 90 minute Republican debate. The focus tonight: National security and foreign affairs.

And in this half hour, we'll include your questions. You may submit them on-line at CBSNews.com and NationalJournal.com. And we will have the questions of South Carolina senators Lindsey Graham and Jim Demint. So let's continue.

Major Garrett: Indeed, Scott. We have a question from Josh Cooper from Woodsboro, Massachusetts. Congresswoman Bachmann, he writes in as this debate was going on. Quote: "Almost half of the federal budget goes to military-related expenditures. Should we increase spending, especially in a debt crisis?

Michelle Bachmann: Well-- the military is also able to-- to have expenditures reduced, as well. And I think probably the best place is in the area of how we finance procurements. Today, we have a situation where we reward those who are designing and-- and-- and-- making our weaponry, based upon the length of time that they take it-- to produce it. We don't do that anywhere else.

So rather than having a cost plus fee, we need to have a fixed cost system. We'll save money. And also, tri-care (PH) could use reform, as well. Those are two areas where we'd yield significant savings. That-- but we cannot do is cut back on the efforts regarding our troops and making sure they're fully resourced.

Major Garrett: A quick follow-up, Congresswoman. Can you name a weapon system that you think should be ended for fiscal reasons? And when you talk about tri-care, that's the military medical system. What do you mean when you say, "Reform," does that mean cuts in benefits?

Michelle Bachmann: No. I think that we need to have modernization. That's what the biggest problem is right now with-- with Social Security, with Medicare, with Medicaid. We're continuing to abide by the models that we had when they were first originated. There's very few businesses that maintain their similar business practices 45 years after inception or 75 years after inception. We have to modernize.

But we also know what the future is in health care, don't we? It is Obama Care. And quite likely, Tri-care, Medicare, all of these will collapse under President Obama, and everyone will be put into Obama Care. No one want to be-- in Obama Care.

Scott Pelley: And that's time--

Michelle Bachmann: That's why it's Commander in Chief.

Scott Pelley: --Congresswoman.

Michelle Bachmann: I'll repeal Obama Care.

Scott Pelley: Thank you very much. Mr. Cain -- Mr. Cain, would you describe what you think is happening in the Arab Spring? And how, as president, can you affect that to make it work for the United States and not against us?

Herman Cain: What's happening in the Arab-- Spring, you have to look at Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and all of the revolutions that are going on, and how this administration has mishandled them. As a result, they have gotten totally out of hand. Our relationship with Egypt may not survive.

Because when this president backed the opposition, it turned out that opposition was more of the Muslim Brotherhood, which could end up with a majority of control of this new government. This president has already said that the president of Yemen should go. He is our friend. He has been helping us to fight al-Qaeda. This president has been on the wrong side in nearly every situation in the Arab world, which has basically done nothing except to put that entire thing at risk.

Scott Pelley: And that's time, sir, thank you.

Major Garrett: Mr. Speaker, at least 3,500 civilians have been slaughtered in Syria. Today, the Arab League voted to suspect Syria. If the opposition, and you were commander in chief, requested military assistance, covert smuggling, or a no-fly zone, would you authorize either or both?

Newt Gingrich: With first of all, I think that it's a good thing today that the Arab League suspended Syria. I think this administration should have been much more aggressive against Assad. It's ironic to me that Mubarrak, who had been our ally for years, who had done everything he could to help the United States, who had helped us in the Iraq campaigns, who had done literally we had requested of him, he was dumped overnight by this administration in a way that signaled everybody in the world, "Don't rely on the United States, because they'll abandon you in a heartbeat if they feel like it."

Assad, who is our enemy, and is an ally and-- of-- of-- of Iran, has had amazingly soft treatment by our State Department, as though they are afraid to make him feel bad. I would actively-- approve-- taking those steps would which-- defeat his regime, which would probably be mostly covert. I don't-- I don't think you need a no-fly zone. I think there are a number of steps you could take. And I think he would fall very rapidly.

If-- the-- if the United States and Europe communicated clearly that Assad was going to go, I think you would find Europe-- there's a very tiny faction. And I think you would find him likely to be replaced very rapidly.

Major Garrett: Congressman Paul, covert operations in Syria?

Ron Paul: I think--

Major Garrett: A green light for you?

Ron Paul: I think it would-- be a mistake. I think the Syrians oughta deal with their country. I think we should have dealt--

Major Garrett: But what about the-- what about the 3,500 dead?

Ron Paul: Well, there-- there's been a lot of people killed throughout the world in the last century. You know, the Soviets and the Chinese killed hundreds of millions. But we didn't feel compelled morally to try to stop it. No. It's a tragedy. And it would be nice if they would accept different views.

But for us to get in the middle of that and prop up the different dictatorships, this is why we get into this trouble. It's overthrowin' dictatorships that we have supported that causes so much of this problem. So to get further involved, you-- want to have self determination. We don't need to lose anymore troops. You get in there with covert operations. And you have troops involved. And--

Major Garrett: Thank you, Congressman.

Ron Paul: It's-- very costly.

Scott Pelley: Thank you, Congressman.

Ron Paul: It's not a good idea.

Scott Pelley: Governor Romney-- Governor Romney, if I may ask you a 30 second follow-up to that. Is it time for the Assad dictatorship to end? Would you use mili-- tel-- military force to do that?

Mitt Romney: Of course it's time for the Assad dictatorship to end. And we should use covert activity, as Speaker Gingrich has just indicated. Look-- the-- the reason I disagree with Ron Paul on this is-- that you have, in Syria, a nation which is an ally, the only Arab ally, of Iran. It is arming Hezbollah. It represents a-- an access-- of-- of great significance to Iran. And as a result, because of our concern about Iran, and their effort to become the Hageman in the Middle East, it is important for-- for us as a nation to stand up and to help those efforts to-- to replace A-- Assad. And that means helping Turkey and-- and-- Saudi Arabia, who are putting pressure on him, as well as covert activity of our own.

Scott Pelley: Governor, thank you very much. Now, as a unusual feature of this particular debate, we have with us tonight the two United States senators from South Carolina, who have questions for the Republican candidates. And they will ask the question, but the moderators will direct the question to the appropriate candidates. And we're going to start with the senior senator, Lindsay Graham. Senator Graham, thank you for being with us here tonight.

Senator Lindsay Graham: Thank you. A comment first. Thank you all for running for president. I'm proud of each and every one of you. Thank you very much. Three-part question. I hope I can remember all three parts. Within days of taking office, President Obama, by executive order, stopped the CIA from using classified enhanced interrogation techniques that are not water-boarding. There's a presumption that every person at Gitmo, under the Obama administration, should go into civilian court, not military commission. And the Obama administration recently said that any future captors in the war on terror would not go to Gitmo. Would you continue these policies? If you would change them, why?

Scott Pelley: And Mr. Cain, that first question will go to you.

Herman Cain: I absolutely would reverse all three of those policies. I'd keep Gitmo-- Gitmo open. I would definitely allow the military to use enhanced interrogation techniques, because they're terrorists. They are terrorists. Pampering terrorists isn't something that we ought to do. So I anybody would reverse all three of those things that you indicated.

Scott Pelley: Senator Santorum, you have one minute on the same question.

Rick Santorum: Oh, I would agree with-- with-- with-- with-- Herman Cain. The-- Gitmo is-- is essential to-- to leave open. We have to use enhanced interrogation techniques, all enhanced inger-- interrogation techniques. It has been proven to be successful in gathering information. It was critl-- critical for us-- in the-- in the war against terror. And we need to continue that-- that operation.

And using civilian courts-- is a-- is-- is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard. The-- civilian courts are given to people who have rights under our constitution. People who have attacked our country and are foreign combatants ha-- do not have those rights. Our country stands for freedom. Our country stands for all of those proper ideals.

But when-- and we-- and we stand with the Geneva Convention. But when people fight outside of those con-- there's a convention there for a reason. It's to get people to play by the rules. And when they don't play by the rules, they should not given-- be given the benefit of those that do. And that's why we have Gitmo and these techniques.

Scott Pelley: Congressman Paul, one minute to you, sir.

Ron Paul: I think that-- this is a mess. It's a mess because we have a bad foreign policy. We're pretending we're at war. We haven't declared the war, but we're at war against a tactic. And therefore-- there's no limits to it. So we create these monstrosities. And we do think outside the law. We come up with assassination, allowing the president to decide who's going to be assassinated?

And-- lo and behold, three Americans now have been on the list. They've been assassinated. But they don't talk about the second one, because the second one happened to be a 16 year old son of Awlaki. So what are we doing here to accept this idea that our president, and this lawlessness, to pursue? And that-- we some day will be subject to those same courts.

So no, you don't. You want to live within-- in the law and obey the law. Because-- otherwise, it's going to be very bad for all-- all of us. And-- this whole idea that-- now we can be assassinated by somebody that we don't even like to run our medical care, and giving this power to the president to be the prosecutor, the executor, the judge and the jury, we better look at that carefully before you automatically endorse something like that.

Scott Pelley: Congressman, thank you very much.

Michelle Bachmann: Could I-- could interject something?

Scott Pelley: Governor, I'm-- I'm--

Michelle Bachmann: Can I interject and say something?

Scott Pelley: I'm sorry, there-- there's a-- there's actually a system at work here with regard to the Senator's question. So if I may, Governor Perry, you have one minute for Senator Graham's question.

Rick Perry: Yeah. Let me just address Congressman Paul. And I-- Congressman, I-- I respect that you wore the uniform of our country. But-- in 1972, I volunteered to serve the United States Air Force. And the idea that we have our young men and women in combat today, Senator, where there are people who would kill them in a heartbeat, under any circumstance, use any technique that they can, for us not to have the ability to try to extract information from them, to save our young people's lives, is a travesty. This is war. That's what happens in war. And I am for using the techniques, not torture, but using those techniques that we know will extract the information to save young American lives. And I will be for it until I die.

Scott Pelley: Thank you, Governor. Representative Bach-- Bachmann, let me give you 30 seconds to pick up on that.

Michelle Bachmann: Thank you. Yeah, I-- I'd like to respond to Ron Paul and his comments. Because the people that the president of the United States gave orders to kill include Osama bin Laden. Now I think all of us can agree this is a good idea for the president of United States to make this decision. Ron Paul doesn't think so.

But this is a very good idea for the president. After all, Osama bin Laden had no problem ordering the destruction of the wor-- of the-- of the Twin Towers or of the Pentagon. That resulted in over 3,000 lives. As well-- Awlaki, who we also killed, he has been the chief recruiter of terrorists, including Major Hassan at Fort Hood, including the underwear bomber over Detroit, and including the Times Square bomber. These were very good decisions that were made to take them out.

Major Garrett: Congresswoman, thank you. I know, Ron Paul, you want to jump in.

Ron Paul: Yes.

Major Garrett: Please.

Ron Paul: I voted for the authority to go after bin Laden. I was upset because it took ten years because we-- we were diverted from-- going after him and doing the job. But that's a lot different than assassinating American citizens. I mean he-- he wasn't a citizen.

But I do wanna remind you that over 300 individuals were tried in civilian courts here that were charged with terrorism here. Most of 'em are in jail. And I don't think we should give up so easily on our rule of law.

Scott Pelley: Congressman Paul, thank you very much.

Major Garrett: It's time to call on Senator Jim Demint from South Carolina. Sir, you have a question, and I will direct it to the four who were not called on the first time. So Senator, please.

Jim Demint: Thank you. And thank you all for being in South Carolina tonight. Federal spending and debt are not only our greatest economic problems, they're our largest national security problem. Yet the president and the Congress continue to spend and borrow at record levels. Just adjusting the spending on existing federal programs will not solve the problem. What federal functions will you eliminate or return to the states in order to balance our budget?

Major Garrett: Governor Romney, to you, sir.

Mitt Romney: Absolutely. Right now, we're spending about 25 percent of the economy at the federal level. And that has to be brought down to a cap of 20 percent. I'll get that done within my first term, if I'm lucky enough to get elected. How do you do that?

One, it's eliminating programs. A lot of programs we like, but we simply can't afford. The first we will eliminate, however, we're happy to get rid of. That's Obama Care. And that'll save us $95 billion a year by my fourth year.

Other programs we like: the Endowment for the-- for Humanities, the National Endowment for-- for the Arts-- Public Broadcasting. These are wonderful-- features that we-- we have of the government. But we simply can't go out and borrow money from China to pay for them. They're not that essential.

In terms of returning programs to the states: Medicaid, a program for the poor, should be returned to the states. Let the states manage it. And if we grow it, at inflation plus one percent, we'll save $100 billion a year by returning that to the states. And finally, we have to make the federal government more productive. It is just way too over-- over-burdened with-- with excessive personnel. I'll reduce the personnel by at least ten percent, and link the pay of federal employees with the pay in the private sector. We should not pay government workers more than the people--

Major Garrett: Governor Romney, that's time.

Mitt Romney: --of America were paying for it.

Major Garrett: Governor Romney, that's time. Governor Huntsman, please-- address Senator Demint's question, if you would, sir.

Jon Huntsman: Thank you, Senator Demint. It's an honor to be with you in your state-- as-- as it is-- many other great leaders of South Carolina. I think it's absolutely appropriate that-- Admiral Mullen would say that our most significant national security threat is right here at home. And it's our debt. I completely buy into that.

And if we're gonna get this nation moving in the right direction, we need to recognize that debt, as 70 percent of our GDP and moving up, becomes a national security problem. You look where Japan is, well over 100 percent debt to GDP. Greece, 170 percent-- to GDP. Italy, 120 percent.

So you get a sense of where our tomorrow is if we don't tackle the debt and spending. My speech was a very short one on debt and spending. It's three words: The Ryan Plan. I think The Ryan Plan sets out a template that puts-- everything on the table. Medicaid-- like-- Governor Romney, I'd send back to the states. Education, I wanna move closer to the states. You move education closer to the decision makers, the school boards, the families, you're a whole lot better off.

And I think there are some economic development functions, as well, legitimately that you can move closer to the state. But we've got to get our spending closer to 19 percent-- of our GDP as opposed to this unsustainable 24, 25 percent.

Major Garrett: Governor Huntsman, thank you very much.

Jon Huntsman: But we shipwreck the next generation.

Major Garrett: Mr. Speaker, would you please direct Senator Demint's question?

Newt Gingrich: Sure. I think actually, Senator, that there are four interlocking national security problems. Debt and the deficit's one. Energy is a second one. Manufacturing is a third one. And science and technology's a fourth. And you need to have solutions that fit all four.

I mean the thing that most worries me about this super committee is that they-- they-- they fail to understand that innovation and growth have to be at the heart of what we're doing. Example: we should have a training requirement for all unemployment compensation so nobody gets money for doing nothing. Now, that saves money, but it simultaneously enhances the human capital of the United States and makes us more competitive in dealing with China.

We should be opening up offshore so that folks are able to-- deal directly with, for example, $29 billion of natural gas here. In that process, you take some of the royalties and modernizes the Charleston Port, which you need for jobs here. I'm just trying to walk you through a way of thinking.

I helped balance the budget for four consecutive years. I'm not very concerned, if we're serious, what you wanna do is fundamentally reform and overhaul the federal government, fundamentally. While, at the same time, accelerating economic growth to bring unemployment down to four percent. That combination gets you back to a balanced budget.

Major Garrett: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. Congresswoman Bachmann, please address Senator Demint's question, what programs would you cut, how would you bring it down, the debt?

Michelle Bachmann: I wanna thank you for as-- asking that question, because that really is the number one issue that's facing the country. We are in a terrible debt spiral, so much so that, just in the month of October, we just added another $203 billion in debt. And when you consider the last time that Republicans controlled the budget, it was nin-- 2007, and the debt was $160 billion for the year. This was $203 billion just for the month of October.

For every man, woman and child in the United States, that means each one of us just took on another $650 in debt just for the month of October. That's the velocity that we're growing this debt. So what would I cut? I think, really, what I would wanna do is be able to go back and take a look at Lyndon Baines Johnson's The Great Society.

The Great Society has not worked, and it's put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don't have food stamps. If you look at China, they're in a very different situ-- they save for their own retirement security. They don't have pay FDC. They don't have the modern welfare state. And China's growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with The Great Society, and they'd be gone.

Scott Pelley: Thank you, Congresswoman. Thank you very much. Mr. Cain-- U.S. forces are coming under attack daily now from the enemy crossing over the border from Pakistan. As president, as commander in chief, would you order U.S. forces into Pakistan to clear out those safe havens of the enemy?

Herman Cain: That is a decision that I would make after consulting with the commanders on the ground, our intelligence sources, after having discussions with Pakistan, discussions with Afghanistan. And here's why. We pointed out earlier that it is unclear as to where we stand with Pakistan. It is unclear where we stand with Afghanistan.

We have our young men and women dying over there. And for that president to say that they would side with Pakistan, that is a problem. This is why we have to tread lightly and get all the information. Because Pakistan is one of the nine nations that has a nuclear weapon. So before I say we would do that, there's a lot of information that would need to be gathered.

Scott Pelley: Well, we've been at war in Afghanistan for ten years, of course. And-- what is it about it that's unclear to you at this point? 30 seconds.

Herman Cain: Well, what's unclear is, when the president approved the surge, and then prematurely start pullin' troops back, that wasn't a good strategy. Victory is not clearly defined. As president, I will make sure that the mission is clear, and the definition of victory's clear. And that simply does not exist right now.

Scott Pelley: Governor Romney, would you send American troops across the border into Pakistan to clear out those save havens? American men and women are coming under fire from those locations every single day.

Mitt Romney: The right way to deal with-- Pakistan is to recognize that Pakistan is not a country like other countries, with a strong political center that you can go to and say, "Gee, can we come here? Will you take care of this problem?" This is, instead, a-- nation which is close to being a failed state. I hope it doesn't reach that point, but it's a very fragile nation.

It really has four centers of power: the ISI, which is their-- their intelligence services, the military, separate group. You have the political structure, and of course, the fundamentalists. And so we have to work with our friends in that country to get them to do some of the things we can't do ourselves.

Bringing our troops into Pakistan and announcing at a stage like this that, as president, we would throw American troops into Pakistan, could be highly incendiary in a setting like that. Right now, they're comfortable with our using drones to go after the people that are-- that are representing a gr-- the greatest threat.

Scott Pelley: We have time, governor. But are the Pakistanis--comfortable with our using drones?

Mitt Romney: We have agreement with the people that we need to have agreement with to be able to use drones to strike at the people that represent a threat. And one of the things we have to do with our foreign aid commitments, the ongoing foreign aid commitments, I agree with Governor Perry. You start everything at zero.

But one of the things we have to do is have understanding with the various power bases within the country that they're gonna have to allow us, or they themselves go after the Taliban and Haqqani net-- network to make sure they do not destabilize Afghanistan, particularly as we're pulling our troops out.

Major Garrett: Senator Santorum, this week, National Journal and The Atlantic magazine reported that, for various reasons, some related to paranoia in Pakistan about what United States might do, they are moving operational nuclear weapons in that country, unguarded, in trucks. If you were commander in chief, and intelligence came to you that one of those nuclear weapons was lost or possibly in the hands of terrorists, how would you respond?

Rick Santorum: Well, you'd have to respond with working with the Pakistani government and those who would fee they're-- as much threatened by that as-- as we are. And-- Mitt is absolutely right-- there are v-- various elements within the country-- that are very hard to-- to-- to deal with. You have a radical element.

I would hope-- that we're talking about a situation where the military is-- is-- is-- is somehow in control of that, and that we would have an element of the military that would be a problem. I would work with the military, I'd work with ISI, and get to-- where we could secure that weapons. Obviously would not-- you have to take some action. But it would depend on the circumstances. It's sort of a hypothetical. Without having the knowledge of how it happened, it would hard to be answer the question.

Major Garrett: That article also made clear that special operations forces are being trained for this very eventuality. Is that something you would consider as commander in chief, deploying special forces to isolated, find that nuclear weapon, and, if necessary, take it over?

Rick Santorum: I would be working with the intelligence community within Pakistan. Again, it's a compromised community. I understand there-- there are relationship with ISI, with the Haqqani Network. Again, depending on the circumstances that we're dealing with here-- it-- you would hope you would be able to work with the-- with the intelligence community and work, if necessary, in support-- in a support nature, whether it's-- with-- human intelligence or-- or-- other types of surveillance, and potentially with the special forces-- on the ground.

But again, this is clear. This is not one-- you don't cowboy this one. You don't fly in to Afghanistan-- I mean excuse me, to Pakistan and try to interdict a nuclear weapon. You've gotta work with the people in the-- in power in the government to-- to make sure that that accomplish--

Major Garrett: Speaker Gingrich, 30 seconds, your thoughts on this scenario?

Newt Gingrich: Well, look. This is a good example of the mess we've gotten ourselves into since the Church Committee so-called reforms in 1970s. We don't have a reliable intelligence service. We don't have independent intelligence in places like Pakistan. We rely on our supposed friends for intelligence. They may or may not be our friends. And the amount of information we might or might not have might or might not be reliable.

This is a very good example of scenarios people oughta look at seriously and say, "We had better overhaul everything from rules of engagement to how we run the intelligence community, because we-- are in a very dangerous world."

Scott Pelley: Governor Huntsman-- as we sit here, there is a crisis in Europe over debt, particularly in Italy and in Greece. And there is the threat of contagion onto Wall Street and U.S. banks. How do you prevent the Euro crisis from becoming a problem in the United States?

Jon Huntsman: The-- lemme just-- on Pakistan for one second. Because it's pretty clear. There's one man in charge in Pakistan. I've negotiated with the Pakistanis before, both in government and in business. They're a tough bunch. General Giani's (PH) in charge. He's head of the military, which is head of I-- ISI. It isn't President Zardari, make no mistake about that. And I'd say you don't have a choice.

Then I would pick up the phone and call Special Operations Command in Tampa and say, "I've got a job for SEAL-- SEAL team number six. Prepare to move." You don't have a choice. When you have a loose nuke, you have no choice. And we have to take charge. That's called leadership, and that's what I would do as president.

With-- with respect to Europe, we have two problems. One, Europe is our second largest export market. $240 billion we export to Europe every year, second only to Canada, $250 billion a year. As-- if Europe goes down, as a metastases spreads, they're gonna buy less. And we're gonna lose jobs unless we can find other markets-- as those exports begin to diminish. That's gonna be problem number one, and we need to prepare for that.

Number two, it's gonna spread throughout the banking system to the point where it's gonna hit us and the United States. And with banks that are too big to fail in this country, we're in deep trouble.

Scott Pelley: And-- and that--

Jon Huntsman: Deep trouble.

Scott Pelley: --is time. Thank you very much. We just have time for a quick follow-up on-- on that same question. Let me come to Governor Perry. How do you prevent the European crisis from become a problem on Wall Street?

Rick Perry: Well, the French and the Germans have the economic wherewithal to deal with this. They have the economy. You-- when you think about the Euro and when it was established, it was done to be a competitor to the American dollar. They knew what they were doing. And now they find themselves with their overspending and-- and-- the sovereign debt being built up. And--

Scott Pelley: Governor, I'm sorry, but it's the tyranny of the clock. We are all out of time. This is Scott Pelley with Major Garrett at the Republican--

Male Voice: We'll allow the French and the Germans--

Scott Pelley: --debates. Thank you for joining us. Great to be with you.

CBS News/NJ debate transcript, part 1