On Oct. 18, 2011, the Western Republican Leadership Conference was held in the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seven candidates participated in this debate, including U.S. Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, business executive and chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Herman Cain, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Texas Representative Ron Paul, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. CNN News Anchor Anderson Cooper moderated the debate.
Topics discussed during the debate included the replacement of federal income tax, economic plans, health care, Latinos, immigration, nuclear waste, real estate and foreclosure, defense spending, and foreign aid.
During a discussion focusing on immigration, Romney and Perry engaged in a heated crossfire of rebuttals.
Perry strongly voiced his opinion on illegal immigration when saying, “We have a huge number of illegals that are coming in to this country. The magnet is called jobs, and those people who hire illegals ought to be penalized and Mitt, you hired illegals in your home. The idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is on its faith’s the height of hypocrisy.”
Romney responded to this accusation by claiming he fired the immigrants he hired upon learning of their illegal status and will crack down on those who enter the U.S. illegally, with an e-verify system.
Later, Cain suggested building an “electrified fence” to keep immigrants out and enforce citizenship laws. Cain insists on having a secure border, and plans on protecting the border and American citizens.
During the discussion of the Latino American vote and community, Santorum discussed his viewpoint on the basic family unit. He explained that the Latino community understands the importance of faith and marriage, which builds a solid foundation.
Additionally, Gingrich stated, “They (Latinos) want a job that has take home pay; they want access to health insurance that they can afford. They want to be able to know that their family will grow up in safety. We want to make America work again and you’ll know it’s working because you’ll have a job and you’ll have a chance to take care of your family.”
When focusing on real estate and foreclosure, Santorum accused Romney, Cain, and Perry of supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which he believes initiated the issues of real estate and foreclosure. Santorum said, “The government injected itself in trying to fix the market. What happened was people who did things that were wrong invested in things, took risks, and were bailed out, and the folks that were acting responsibly are now getting hurt because their houses have gone down in value. We need to let the market work and that’s what’s hasn’t been happening so far.”
Cain defended himself by saying he did support TARP, then changed his stance when “it started doing things people didn’t like.” He plans on reforming regulations, in order to have the market take care of real estate and foreclosure.
Regarding the topic of defense spending and budget cuts, Bachmann argued Iran’s disrespect towards Americans, and Obama engaged in a fourth conflict in Africa, causing troops in Iraq to not have immunity, in terms of money or safety.
Bachmann states, “We saw the President of the United States engage American troops in a fourth conflict, in a foreign land. He has taken his eyes off the number one issue in the world; that’s in Iran, obtaining a nuclear weapon. The president of Iran is a genocidal maniac. Now with the president, he put us in Libya; he is now putting us in Africa. We were already stretched too thin and he put our special operations forces in Africa.”
As a logical man, Paul mentioned we’re already broke, yet we still pay for troops in Korea and Iraq. He plans on cutting several departments, such as commerce and education, energy, interior housing and urban development, and believes it will save a trillion dollars in one year.
To learn more about the candidates or the issues discussed during the Republican debate, visit www.CNN.com to watch a rerun of the entire event.