BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.
Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now — raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.
Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.The FOX News moderators, Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace wanted an informative Ashley Parker described in a New York Times piece the day before the debate, they chose to be very hard hitting.
TRUMP: I fully understand.
debate and, of course, good television. As
But Fox News journalists, including the three moderators, are known for their hard-hitting questions, often putting Republicans on the spot and on the defensive. Each of the moderators can point to moments — whether in an interview with a Republican candidate or during a previous debate — when they earned plaudits for their tough questions and revealing answers.And although the questions went after each of the candidates, perceived controversies and weaknesses, such as Carson’s inexperience; Bush’s relationship to his family and immigration views; Walker’s failure to deliver on jobs, promises, etc.; it was Trump, as the frontrunner and mostly unquestioned candidate at that point in the campaign, that faced the full brunt of the very aggressive question strategy the FOX News journalists took.
Obviously, the first question on party loyalty was a Trump question, but hits kept rolling with the misogynist question, bankruptcy, single-payer (flip-flop) and others.
Kelly and Misogyny
KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Only Rosie O’Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn’t.
Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Thank you.
KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I’m sure it was.
KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.
I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody.And it got better after that exchange.
And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.
Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”
I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.
Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?
TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.
TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.Single-Payer
BAIER: Gentlemen, the next series of questions deals with ObamaCare and the role of the federal government.
Mr. Trump, ObamaCare is one of the things you call a disaster.
TRUMP: A complete disaster, yes.
BAIER: Saying it needs to be repealed and replaced.
BAIER: Now, 15 years ago, uncalled yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system.
Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?
TRUMP: First of all, I’d like to just go back to one. In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I’m the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that’s exactly what happened.
BAIER: But on ObamaCare…
TRUMP: And the Middle East became totally destabilized. So I just want to say.
As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.
What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.
You know why?
Because the insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians, of course, with the exception of the politicians on this stage.
But they have total control of the politicians. They’re making a fortune.Bankruptcy
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, you talk a lot about how you are the person on this stage to grow the economy. I want to ask you about your business record. Trump corporations — Trump corporations, casinos and hotels, have declared bankruptcy four times over the last quarter-century.
In 2011, you told Forbes Magazine this: “I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage.” But at the same time, financial experts involved in those bankruptcies say that lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars.
Question sir, with that record, why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?
TRUMP: Because I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera.
I have never gone bankrupt, by the way. I have never.Bankruptcy Follow-up
WALLACE: Well sir, let’s just talk about the latest example…
… which is Trump Entertainment Resorts, which went bankrupt in 2009. In that case alone, lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than 1,100 people were laid off.
TRUMP: Well, I…
WALLACE: Is that the way that you’d run the country?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you about the lenders. First of all, these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers. These are not the nice, sweet little people that you think, OK?
You know, I mean you’re living in a world of the make-believe, Chris, you want to know the truth.
And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City, which by the way, Caesars just went bankrupt. Every company, Chris can tell you, every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt.
And let me just tell you. I had the good sense, and I’ve gotten a lot of credit in the financial pages, seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it.
TRUMP: And by the way, this country right now owes $19 trillion. And they need somebody like me to straighten out that mess.Pro-Choice
KELLY: Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, “very pro- choice.” Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like clowns and puppets. When did you actually become a Republican?
TRUMP: I don’t think they like me very much. I’ll tell you what. I’ve evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? Is Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues.
And I am pro-life. And if you look at the question, I was in business. They asked me a question as to pro-life or choice. And I said if you let it run, that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I’ve very much evolved.
And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances.
And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.And Then the End
BAIER: Mr. Trump, closing statement, sir.
TRUMP: Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore.
We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade.
We can’t do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that.
BAIER: Gentlemen, thank you.
KELLY: It’s over!
BAIER: That’s it.The debate was a success with record viewership (24 million), and a major increase in public awareness of candidates’ backgrounds and their performance abilities, if providing a more modest amount of information on policy. But, it was also highly controversial and probably helped Trump the most.
What approach will Jake Tapper take as he moderates the September 16 debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley?
Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Republican Debate