- Date: 28th September 2023
- Location: Reagan Presidential Library, Los Angeles, California
- Host: Fox Business
- Moderators: Stuart Varney, Dana Perino and Ilia Calderón
- Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota
- Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey
- Ron DeSanris, Governor of Florida
- Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina
- Mike Pence, former Vice President
- Vivek Ramaswamy, Businessman
- Tim Scott, Senator for South Carolina
Would you fire thousands of striking workers?
Scott: Had previously praised Ronald Reagan for firing Air Traffic Controllers during the PATCO strike. Scott says that presidents can’t fire private workers, but look at pensions for union workers- out of control. They’re getting too much for too little work. Do not overpromise and underdeliver. He should be at the border, not at the picket line. Discusses the fentanyl crisis- every county is now a border county. Illegal crossings have reached over 6 million.
Do you agree with Scott?
Ramaswamy: Doesn’t have a lot of time for union leadership but sympathises with the workers. Understands the hardships but says victimhood is a choice. Says to picket in front of White House as it’s the government’s fault. Drill. Frack. Burn coal. Use nuclear energy. Rescind regulations that are hampering the economy. Embrace exceptionalism.
Do you side with workers or bosses?
Pence: Thanks everyone for being there. Joe Biden belongs on the emolument line, not the picket line. Brought factories back as Governor of Indiana and VP. Bidenomics has failed- problems all over the country. Repeal the Green New Deal. Stand with workers and right to work.
Scott: Rebuttal about the American Dream, wondering if it would work for him as a child of a single mother in the inner city.
Haley: Blames Biden’s spending. Comes out with her economic plan- focus on tax relief and gas, talks about red states giving money to blue states.
Burgum: Jumps in to talk about how we’re subsidising electric cars and that it’s wrong. Biden is interfering in the free market. Talks about China controlling the batteries.
If the government shuts down, should we blame populist Republicans?
Christie: Blame everyone in D.C. Trump admin added $7tn onto the national debt, Pence added $5tn. Keep kicking the can down the road. Biden is hiding and not answering. Trump hides behind the golf clubs and won’t join the debates. It’s to the blame of everyone in Washington.
There’s a bit of arguing and interrupting here. DeSantis is given the floor.
DeSantis: Blaming the government for overspending. Please spare me the crocodile tears. Biden is missing in action, hiding away. Donald Trump is missing in action- he should be on the stage. Talks about adding $7.8tn in the Trump administration. Touts his record as Florida Governor.
Scott: Talks about the Head Start programmes around the country. Cost of daycare has gone over $15,000 per child. We must cut taxes and give Americans their money back. We managed to get single moms 70% off of their taxes, 60% off dual income families. We must allow Americans to keep their money.
Ramaswamy: Is nice to the other Republicans, blame’s division between those who love and hate America.
Once again, there’s a lot of interruption and talking over one another. Doug Burgum begs to talk, but is quickly slapped down by the moderator.
*Shows clip of Reagan talking about amnesty*
Question to Christie- why did you flip your position? Formerly in favour of amnesty, now not.
Christie: Nobody did anything back then so now we must take action. Biden is letting them go and not doing anything about the border. Christie will sign an executive order to send the National Guard to assist border forces. Doesn’t mind legal migration and welcomes it, but wants to deport illegals. Attacks Trump for not building the wall.
Are we wasting our money?
Haley: Blames Biden for waving the green flag. Talks about how fentanyl has killed more people than major wars. Look at Philadelphia (problems with drugs on the street). Only aid should secure the border. Right now, Americans aren’t safe. Our money should be about keeping America safe. No pay for Congress not working.
China gave money to Latin America, including pacts with seven countries. Are you comfortable with this?
DeSantis: Surrender over strength is national policy. We need a totally new approach to China and we need to be economically independent. Go after their cultural power. Ban the CCP from buying land all over the country like he did in Florida. Get them out of universities.
Universal deportation- including kids who came over?
Ramaswamy: Agrees with other Republicans. Wants to end birthright citizenship for those whose parents were illegal immigrants. It’s how we go the distance and restore the rule of law.
Do you agree?
Scott: Talks about how the 14th amendment was written for slavery, not for immigration. Goes for Ramaswamy for being in business with the CCP.
Ramaswamy: Says they’re good people corrupted by a broken system. Agrees with DeSantis on China. Got his business out of China.
Lots of arguments here, especially between Ramaswamy and Scott.
You cancelled DACA. Would you support a permanent solution for Dreamers?
Pence: Good job Ramaswamy pulled out of China in 2018, probably the time that he started to vote in elections. I negotiated the Remain in Mexico policy with the Mexican government. We built thousands of miles of wall. We reduced illegal immigration and asylum abuse by 90%. A nation without borders is not a nation. I served in Congress for 12 years- but I’ve actually managed reform. No time for on the job training and I’ll be ready.
Time for a break, thank God.
What would you do to end the revolving door of criminality?
Christie: I’m the only one who’s done it- I ran the fifth largest department for seven years. We are going to tell the Attorney General to put all of their resources into it. We went after crime affecting people’s lives. Bring cities back into control. They will be stretched but that’s what they take the job for. Law and order back everywhere. Attacks Trump for not coming back on stage- we’ll call him Donald Duck.
What are the root causes of crime?
DeSantis: It’s a sign of the decay of America- we met three people who have been mugged in SoCal. In Florida, we back the blue. We have a 50 year crime low. Removed progressive prosecutors. Mentioned they were Soros backed.
What’s your plan to get more police on the street?
Haley: We did that in South Carolina. We take care of people who take care of us. We need to follow up on crimes, as people are just let go. Jumps back to China. We have to see what the American government is doing to hurt us by working with China.
What is your specific plan to curb gun violence?
Burgum: Left just wants to prosecute gun owners and take away the 2nd Amendment but all the cities mentioned have super strict laws. We must help with things like mental health. North Dakota is very pro military and police. Police have become the bad guys. Why would anyone want to be a police officer when you are not respected?
How would you stop fentanyl coming in, especially with Americans doing it?
Ramaswamy: We must secure the border. We must also look at the demand side of it- mentions a teenage boy who died after taking a fentanyl laced pill from Snapchat. Let’s help mental health services and bring back faith based approaches. Called Biden a hollowed out husk. Attacks social media addiction.
DeSantis: Let’s use the military at the border. Talks about a child who ingested fentanyl accidentally and died. Mexican drug cartels should be treated like terrorists.
Why should Americans trust you to fix Obamacare?
Pence: Justice delayed is justice denied. Sick and tired of mass shootings happening- if I’m president, I’ll go to Congress and expedite the death penalty for those who do the mass shootings. Back to healthcare. Make the federal government smaller by sending everything back to the states, so their decision will be king. Revive federalism.
Can Americans trust you on healthcare?
DeSantis: Everything is more expensive. Health insurance is more expensive. Groceries are more expensive. We must look at the underlying problems of Bidenomics. Healthcare is putting patients at the back of the bus. More power for the doctor-patient relationship. Population boom and lower welfare in Florida has made more people not have health insurance there. Touts unemployment.
How will you protect Americans who get sick from lack of insurance?
Haley: How can we be the best country in the world when we have the most expensive insurance? Make it more transparent and that’s how we’ll realise. Bring competition back to healthcare. Put the patient in the driver’s seat. Let’s decide our healthcare plan. Open up the industry.
Burgum: Federal government got involved by subsiding software. Everytime the feds are involved, things get more expensive and less productive.
What would you do right now for school choice?
Haley: School choice isn’t the only answer. We tried. We must acknowledge the problems with lack of proficiency in our children. Catch our kids back up. We must make sure that they can read. Complete transparency. School choice so that there’s competition. Must go to the state level and education their choice. Bring back vocational classes in school. Quit spending time on CRT.
Would you address minorities first?
Christie: We must address all students. We introduced more choice and charter schools in New Jersey. We’ve increased proficiency by 40%. Public school system is run by the teachers unions, not the public. Attacks Randi Weingarten, head of American Federation of Teachers.
DeSantis: Our country’s education system is obsessed with indoctrination and denying parents’ rights. We enacted school rights and banned CRT. Florida is showing how it’s done.
Scott: America has suffered because of slavery and we’ve overcome it. We’ve faced our demons in the mirror. Black families are survivors. It was hard to survive Johnson’s Great Society as it removed black fathers from households. We’ve got to restore the family. I have been discriminated against but America is not a racist country.
Would you pass a bill to protect parental rights?
Ramaswamy: Transgendermisn in children is a mental health issue. Parents have a right to know. It is not compassionate to affirm a kid’s confusion- it’s cruelty not compassion. Allow kids to have hysterectomies. States have to follow parental rights to know.
Burgum: We’re not talking about education etc being a problem in North Dakota because it has a business leader. As a business leader, you treat the public like a customer. We worked with the teaching unions as President. Talks about education in North Dakota.
How would you protect LGBT people from hate crime?
Pence: I’ll protect everyone but I want to go back to the previous question. My wife isn’t a member of the teachers’ union but I’ve been sleeping with a teacher for the past 30 years. Federal ban on trans surgery etc for children across the country. We must protect our kids and empower children.
Doesn’t going after social media and tech companies help China?
DeSantis: They’re denying free speech and gaining too much power. The China issue is a very important one. We must decouple our industries from there. We must beat them on the economy,
Would you retrain workers who have lost jobs to AI and in what?
Christie: We have shown incredible innovation in this country. We should retain people who have lost jobs and we need more training across the board. We can’t be afraid of innovation. America has been a great innovator. I’ll make sure every innovator has the government off its back and out of its pocket.
Should the commander-in-chief be so easily influenced by influencers? (In response to Ramaswamy joining TikTok after a meeting with Jake Paul)
Ramaswamy: I have an idea to encourage young people. Under 16s should not be using addictive social media at all. Democrats are doing it better. I’m the only candidate reaching out to young voters. I want to be challenged and for people to disagree with me.
Haley: TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we have. Everytime she hears Ramaswamy speak, she feels a little bit dumber. China can get everything off of TikTok and there’s no privacy. He wants kids to get on that app and is in business with the Chinese. Says we can’t trust Ramaswamy.
Ramaswamy: We should follow Reagan’s 11th Commandment (thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican). Let’s have a legitimate discussion.
Is it in our best interests to degrade Russia’s military?
DeSantis: We must end this war. No blank cheque or American soldiers. Europe must step up. Our own country is being invaded and that should be the focus. They don’t care about our country. I will defend this country’s interests.
Scott: 90% of what we send Ukraine is a loan. It’s paid by NATO allies. Our national interest is in degrading the Russian military and it keeps us safer by doing this. Article 5 of NATO- attack against one is an attack against all. An attack on NATO territory would bring us in.
Ramaswamy: Ukraine is not a good guy, even if Putin is a bad person. China is the real enemy and we’re driving Russia into their arms.
Are we focused too much on China?
Christie: It’s all connected- Russia and China and Iran are all involved. All the presidents have wanted to talk to Putin and were all wrong. We need to say that the Chinese-Russian alliance is something that we have to fight against. We can’t cuddle up with Putin. He’s evil. It won’t stop there. He won’t be stopped with Ukraine. Only America can stop him.
How would we protect farmers from China?
Burgum: We’re in a Cold War with China and an economic war. Biden policy is appeasement. They’ve traded money for kidnapping victims and prisoners- it’ll get worse. We’ll end up giving Taiwan to China at this rate. Energy policy is a problem.
What would sending the military into Mexico look like?
Haley: Mexico’s not being a good partner because they’re letting cartels get away with it. We’ll send special ops. We’re also going after China because they’re sending fentanyl, we’ll stop normal trade with them until it stops. Trump did not do enough. We need to start focusing on what keeps America safe.
How would you be prepared for a major man made crisis?
Scott: I’ve served on committees in the Senate. We’ve talked about fentanyl and I’ve helped by pushing legislation that will freeze accounts. We must have the right intelligence partners.
Pence: I think this country’s in a lot of trouble. Biden has weakened this country home and abroad. I have a commitment to a strong defense just like Reagan and the conservatives did. Siren song of populism.
How would you bring down prices without immediate drilling?
Ramaswamy: We have to run through the courts to make sure we’re using the resources we have at home. Put people back to work- helps the economy. Put the Federal Reserve back in its place. Reduce the federal government and regulations.
Pence: Joe Biden declared a war on energy- no surprise because he wants to end fossil fuels. We’re going to open up federal lands. Unleash American energy. All of the above policy. We lost our position as the leading energy provider. That’ll grow the economy.
Haley: Energy security is national security. We have to partner with our producers and have their back. DeSantis is against fracking and drilling. Day 2, DeSantis banned those things. He took green subsidies he didn’t have to take.
DeSantis: We’re gonna lower your prices as it’s one of the best ways to bring down inflation.
Talking over one another, once again.
Student Loan Forgiveness
How do your plans do anything about college costs?
DeSantis: Gender studies etc are not providing students with good outcomes. Refers back to 9/11, as it encouraged him to sign up. I’ll be the first President since 1988 to have served abroad.
- National Debt
If this were a business, you’d all be fired. Why should you be President over Haley?
Scott: Look at our $30tn national debt. We should pass a balanced budget bill. We must create jobs to grow our economy. Use the energy sector to do this. We’re the richest country if we combine our energy resources. We’ve lost factories but I have a Made in America plan. We’ve worked.
Haley: Appreciates Scott. He hasn’t done anything in 12 years in office- increased national debt and voted for increased spending. We’ve waited and nothing has happened.
DeSantis: I’m the only one who’s fought the big fights in Florida. Florida is successful. We’ve won the big fights and made it into a Republican state.
Ramaswamy: Start with zero as the baseline for the budget then see what’s necessary. Nobody does it but businesses do it, such as mine.
Burgum: We’re already doing it in North Dakota. We’re leading the charge on energy. We won in federal court.
Size of Government
Why would you be any different?
Burgum: We would free up jobs in North Dakota and encourage people to work. I’ve worked in technology and would apply these principles as President.
How are you going to win over independent, pro-choice voters in Arizona?
DeSantis: We did it in Florida and got places like Miami-Dade. Attacks Trump on his abortion comments. Not the fault of pro-lifers during the midterms. Trump has a lot of explaining to do. Hold Dems accountable for their extremism for supporting abortion up until full term.
Christie: I did it in New Jersey. No leaders in those states. I am in a blue state, the only one on stage, so I know how to target them. I cut Planned Parenthood spending but also believe in states rights. You have to be pro-life not just for nine months, but for the entire life. Talks about drug and fentanyl treatment. It worked for me.
How will you attract Latino voters?
Pence: Talks about the economy and how he’s done it. He needs to be a champion of the American dream for everyone, all people and ethnic groups. I’ll be a champion for Hispanics and all people.
Scott: If you leave by example, it’s the best way to get the job done. My chief of state is the only female Hispanic CoS in the Senate, but I did it because she was the best person. Attacks Haley for 10 cent gas tax increases.
Haley: Fights against what Scott says, said that she fought it. Gets into a fight about curtains of all things with Scott.
Dana Perino asks who on stage should be voted off the island. Asks them to use their markers to write a name on their boards. They all immediately refuse.
What is your mathematical path to beat the leader Trump?
DeSantis: Polls don’t elect presidents, people do. This is our time for choosing- quotes Reagan. Republicans have lost three elections straight in a row. We’ve delivered that red wave in Florida.
Christie: Trump has divided people, friends and families. He needs to go.
Ramaswamy: Trump was an excellent candidate, but America First doesn’t belong to one man. We hungered for the unapologetic pursuit of excellence.
Bergum: He had to shout to be heard, which isn’t a good thing in a debate. Tended to tout his record more than go on the attack, but it still didn’t help him too much. He shouldn’t be on the next debate stage.
Christie: We seemed to hear a lot from Christie on this debate. Whilst he’s good at talking and acting tough, I didn’t feel as though he necessarily proved himself. He also happily attacked Trump throughout the debate- the Donald Duck quip was good.
DeSantis: A surprisingly reserved performance from DeSantis. Seemed to go for Trump a lot more than usual, perhaps in hopes of catching up the polls. Was happy to talk about his record in Florida.
Haley: Haley was really on the offensive tonight. Her dislike of Ramaswamy was extremely clear and she also sparred with fellow South Carolinian Scott. She tended to be overshadowed by others but did provide some strong views on China and Ukraine.
Pence: Tried to crack some jokes but he’s not charismatic or funny enough to pull them off. Had a tendency to avoid the question which was quite annoying. Had to defend Trump as part of his own record.
Ramaswamy: The target of the other candidates once again. Tried too hard to portray himself as different and appealing to young people, which didn’t land. Happy to be controversial.
Scott: We heard more of him in this debate and he was a tough talker, but it once again fell flat. Is better at sounding compassionate than the others but that’s the furthest he got.