The GOP debate took place Tuesday night and it was, as expected, frustrating. There was more talk about banning people based on religion, killing children because it’s the merciful thing to do, and fear-mongering. There was more complaining and there were several middle-school style jabs, although they were mostly perpetuated by one or two candidates (your guess as to who they were). If you missed the debate, you can catch up by reading my notes below. Keep in mind that these are my notes. That means I skipped a few questions, lumped a few similar questions together, and have a mix of direct quotes and paraphrasing. That said, you should, of course, read the full transcript on your own.
Religion and Security
Is the best way to make America great again to isolate it from much of the rest of the world?
- Trump: This is about security, not religion and I’ll build a wall. If Obama brought illegals in, they are gone.
- Bush: (on Trump being unhinged) We need to destroy ISIS there and if we ban Muslims, how will we build a coalition? On Trump: “He’s a chaos candidate and would be a chaos president.”
- Trump response: He only called me that because his campaign is suffering.
Why do you believe Republicans who support Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the U.S. are wrong?
- Rubio: There are homegrown terrorists. Obama is doing nothing.
Why do you disagree with Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States?
- Cruz: This isn’t a war on faith, it’s about ideology. He doesn’t have an issue with Muslims in non-ISIS countries.
Is this what you want the party to stand for?
- Fiorina: We need solutions.
What steps would you take as President to ensure fear does not paralyze Americans?
- Christie: This is the new normal. We need to restore surveillance and law enforcement capabilities (cited PATRIOT Act).
How would you find a radicalized person in order to stop another attack like the one in San Bernardino?
- Kasich: ISIS needs to be destroyed. We had a climate conference but should have been talking about ISIS. We need law enforcement to be able to listen in.
Surveillance, Privacy, and Terrorism
Why does Paul believe calls for an increase in surveillance are “hogwash”?
- Paul: We’re less safe, not more safe, with bulk collection. Rubio is strong on defense but is weak on immigration and he can’t have it both ways.
- Rubio: This new bill makes it harder to get access and the San Bernardino shooter was an American – we wish we had access to their records.
- Paul: Rubio doesn’t understand my immigration bill. Our attacks are always a result of legal immigration and Rubio wants to expand that, I don’t.
What’s wrong with protecting Americans’ privacy even in times of grave danger?
- Christie: No one cares about the debate that just happened (during the last question). We need a president who can handle the threats and I can do it.
What do you consider anti-American in mosques and schools he proposes monitoring?
- Carson: If people are engaging in radicalized activities, we should look at them. ISIS takes advantage of our PC attitude.
Are your brother’s words that Muslims are Peace still relevant?
- Bush: We can’t do this one our own and need cooperation. We need a strategy and to actually do the job – I had a plan before Paris and we need that.
Should we force Silicon Valley companies to help FBI crack encrypted communications by ISIS?
- Fiorina: The private sector would be helpful because the government doesn’t have the technology – they don’t need to be forced, they need to be asked.
Would Trump close portions of the internet as China and North Korea do?
- Trump: I am open to closing areas where we are at war with someone. They can’t use our Internet.
- Kasich: That’s not a good idea.
How will each of you fight this war and win it?
- Cruz: We will level them with air strikes and get them where they are. The Obama administration problem isn’t about competence, it’s about political correctness and it’s killing people. When you join ISIS, you sign your own death warrant.
- Rubio: ISIS is a radical group who can’t just be defeated by air forces – we need ground forces. We need forces on the ground and they will need American help, which we can’t do with the budget cuts. We also need to win the information war – ISIS is winning the propaganda war. Cruz supports budget cuts.
- Cruz: Yes, I voted against the National Defense Reauthorization Act and honored a campaign commitment. “ISIS and radical Islam will face no more determined foe than I will be.”
- Rubio: If you sign up with ISIS, there are no Miranda rights – you are an enemy. We can’t outsource foreign policy.
Trump urged killing families of ISIS members; how would that set the U.S. apart from ISIS?
- Trump: We need to be tougher.
- Bush: This is troubling and Trump’s proposal is “crazy.”
- Trump: We’re not respected and we can’t get weaker. Jeb interrupted and Trump got mad – Jeb jabbed “a little of your own medicine.”
- Bush: “You’re not going to be able to insult your way into the presidency…. Leadership is about creating a serious strategy to deal with the threat of our time.”
- Trump: We’ll never be great again with that attitude.
Could you order airstrikes that could kill innocent children?
- Carson: “It’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job rather than death by a thousand pricks.” (Lots of boos).
Do you really think Republicans have fueled the rise of ISIS?
- Paul: Those who want regime change made a mistake. Brings up Is Donald Trump a serious candidate? When it comes to closing the Internet, that’s a First Amendment issue. If we kill terrorist families, we have to contend with the Geneva Convention. Asked his supporters: Do you believe in the constitution?
- Trump: “So, they can kill us but we can’t kill them?” – We only need to close down some of the Internet (addresses the boos).
- Paul: (question reiterated) Believing in regime change is wrong.
- Kasich: We need a coalition and it’s not going to get done if we only involve a few. We need to destroy like we did during the Gulf War.
What makes you think Arab nations will commit to ground forces against ISIS?
- Rubio: They need this, too.
- Fiorina: We need a president who has made tough decisions and stood up – not a senator with no executive decision-making experience. We need to bring back tough generals.
- Christie: Everyone up here is why the American people are frustrated. Everyone up here was part of this and they act like they weren’t.
- Carson: If our military says we need boots on the ground, we need to do that.
Do you regret supporting intervention in Libya? Let’s talk about dictators – are we safer with them running the Middle East?
- Rubio: We may not work with perfect governments, but we need to work with them. But dictators are different.
- Cruz: We need to focus on American interests.
- Kasich: Assad has to go. We should be supporting moderates in Syria.
- Trump: We’ve done a disservice without victory. We should have spent that money here.
- Fiorina: That’s what Obama said! Hillary Clinton gets everything wrong.
- Trump: Take the oil, take the oil.
- Carson: “No one is better off with dictators” but we need to focus on ourselves first.
Do you still think getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good idea given what happened in Iraq?
- Bush: Yes. What we’ve learned is we need an entry and exit strategy. Obama leads from behind.
- Paul: There’s a spectrum – not liking one thing doesn’t mean you do like the other thing.
- Cruz: (interrupting out of turn – shut down and booed)
You’re okay with Assad staying in power. If they are winning, how can we?
- Trump: Assad is a bad guy but we don’t know who it is that we’re backing. We can’t fight both and need to address ISIS first.
- (skipped Christie and Paul)
- Kasich: We shouldn’t be involved in civil wars. We should punch the Russians in the nose.
Facebook question: Do you think it’s feasible not to communicate with Putin and is that a sign of weakness?
- Fiorina: We can talk to him, but now’s not the time.
If the US had a no-fly zone and a Russian plane entered it, will you shoot it down and potentially go to war?
- Christie: Yes. I’m not the same “feckless weakling” we have in the office right now.
- Paul: “If you’re in favor of World War 3, you have your candidate.” Russia’s already flying there because Iraq and Syria invited them. Brought up Bridgegate.
- Christie: Allowing Russia in Ukraine is reckless.
- Bush: (on Trump not being qualified) “I know what I don’t know.” I won’t divide, I’ll lead.
- Trump: Complained that Bush’s questions were about him. – Bush said that if the debates are too tough then how will he handle Putin? Trump responded with his ranking in the polls. Kasich jumped in to say that this fighting is not productive.
How has being a neurosurgeon prepared you to be president?
- Carson: I’m good at organizing things. I’m a doer, not a talker.
Do you still support a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants?
- Rubio: We need to prove that illegal immigration is “under control” because no one trusts the feds. But yes, when we do that, I’m open to it.
- Cruz: (on if his plan is similar) We will build a wall and get Trump to build it.
- Rubio: Cruz supported these things. Lots of fighting back and forth and Fiorina has to jump in and be told to be quiet.
- Trump: I want a wall – talk to Israel.
- Bush: This is an important issue but no, this isn’t helpful for bringing Hispanics into the GOP. We do need more border control, though.
Are refugee camps a long-term solution for Syrian refugees?
- Carson: Their desire is to be settled at home.
Would you send the already-accepted Syrian refugees back?
- Paul: We should help others but the U.S. shouldn’t just take care of the world’s refugees.
Facebook question: If the Bible clearly states that we need to embrace those in need, then how can we not help?
- Christie: The president’s job is to protect your security, not theirs and I still support keeping them out, including children and widows.
- Kasich: Safety is important.
North Korea and China
What will you do about North Korea?
- Fiorina: We need China to help isolate them.
- Carson: We need to get our military right.
Would you respond to a cyber attack by China against the U.S.?
- Christie: “We’re not hiding things from the American people.”
- Bush: I believe with Chris. Brings up the Hillary emails and tech weaknesses.