MODERATOR: Senator Thompson, in a recent survey from Pew Hispanic Center, published this past week, only 23 percent of Hispanics favor the Republican Party.
MODERATOR: What are you going to do -- what can you offer to recover the lost ground among Hispanics?
THOMPSON: Well, I think that we do share a lot in this country, whether we're Hispanic or whether we are not Hispanic. I think we have some of the basic values. I think Republicans got away from those values.
You talked about Congress a minute ago. Congress' record rating with the American people is at an all-time low. It's not just in the Hispanic community. It's in the other communities that traditionally supported us. We were too often affiliated with matters of corruption in the United States Congress. We are spending the next generation's money, those yet to be born. We are spending their money, with no restraint.
We need to stand up for the values that we are supposed to believe in. We need to stand up for a strong national defense. We need to stand up for judges who will obey the law and follow the law, instead of making it up as it goes along, and we need to stand strong for issues of pro-life, and support traditional values that are important to our families. This is very important to Hispanics as well as non-Hispanics.
Senator Thompson, we were preparing this forum, and we found a survey from Los Angeles Times that said that 60 percent of the voters in the United States think that -- they are in favor of granting legal status to undocumented aliens if they meet certain criteria.
Why, if the majority supports that, why not support that idea?
THOMPSON: Because we have to enforce our borders, and we have to uphold the law. There are millions of people who have stood in line in embassies around the world, United States embassies, waiting to become American citizens, waiting to become legal residents of the United States of America.
Some places, such as Hong Kong, I read it takes an average of 13 years to go through that process.
The legal process needs to be reformed, indeed.
But when they finally come here, and when they are joined by those people in Latin America who have often fought tyranny, who have fought against the Castro regime, who have come here and risked their lives to become United States citizens, when all those people come here, they become a part of us; they become a part of our family.
THOMPSON: It would disrespect them if we said other people who had not obeyed the law and had not gone through the process, to set them above them and to give them special status above those who have obeyed the law and fought so hard to become good American citizens and legal residents.
MODERATOR: Senator Thompson, there are still millions of children that were born here in the United States that at least have one undocumented parent. The (inaudible) have separated them from the parents, and they are American citizens.
Do these children have the right not to be separated from their parents?
THOMPSON: Well, congratulations. That's the first question that's got applause tonight, so it must be a very good one.
The -- our courts have ruled that such children, such babies born here are United States citizens. That's part of the 14th Amendment as has been interpreted by the courts, as I understand it.
THOMPSON: That's for starters.
I believe that the concentration should not be on the concern of waiting until that child grows up and serves as an anchor baby, as we hear so much talk about. I believe the concern should be chain migration. Right now, we have a situation where people can bring in spouses, children, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and so forth. I think that people should be able to serve as a basis for the bringing in of their spouses and of their children, but I do not think there should be endless chain migration.
So I think that is the issue to focus on, and not innocent children who are born here not of their own accord and who our courts have said our United States citizens.
MODERATOR: When talking about Cuba, Cuban dictatorship has survived nine U.S. presidents. What would you do differently, that has not been done so far, to bring democracy to Cuba? We're going to start with Senator Thompson.
THOMPSON: I'm going to make sure that he didn't survive 10 U.S. presidents.
Castro is unique in many respects.
THOMPSON: He represents the only non-democratic, at least, elected government in the hemisphere. He is uniquely brutal. He is still tyrannizing his own people.
He lures the vulnerable and the naive Americans down there and puts on shows for them and they come back and do his propaganda. There are not many people who can pull that sort of thing off.
He's obviously in bad health. That situation, probably, is in God's hands. He will probably be succeeded by someone who's no better than him, and that is Raul.
And we should treat Raul with the same contempt that we show Castro, including keeping the embargo on Cuba.
MODERATOR: For how long [would we need to leave our troops in Iraq]?
THOMPSON: The central point needs to be made, and all my colleagues are I think implying it, but I think it needs to be set out in a straightforward manner.
THOMPSON: We have yet to fully come to terms with the fact that Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a global conflict, a war by Islamic fascism that's been declared upon us, of which Iraq and Afghanistan are current fronts.
They are intent on bringing down Western civilization, and we're the number one target. It's just that simple.
If we leave Iraq with our tail between our legs, we are going to enhance their ability to recruit young people who, they too, can help bring down parts of America and maybe America itself.
We will leave an opening for Iran, as it, I still believe, continues to pursue a nuclear capability.
And it will provide a sanctuary for terrorists that does not exist anywhere in the world today.
All of this would make for a much more dangerous United States of America. That's why we must prevail.
And I agree with my colleagues. I believe that we are.
MODERATOR: Senator Thompson, what to do with the 15 million Hispanics who don't have insurance?
THOMPSON: The lower health care costs are, the more people will be insured. There's really two basic ways to lower health care costs: bigger government or more efficient markets.
Government could come in and say what it's going to cost everybody. And then we'd have long lines and waiting, wondering why we can't get radiation for a family member that has cancer and have to wait for months for it, and that sort of thing.
We totally, I think, all reject that.
I say, let's make our markets more efficient. We made a mistake in our tax code many years ago. We need to reverse that mistake so people are not so tied to their employment for their insurance.
They need, through the tax code, need to have the benefit of buying their own insurance through an open market with more sources, more people offering insurance, lifting regulations to make that happen.
THOMPSON: It would be portable so people could take their insurance with them from job to job.
As we know, people through a lifetime nowadays, have more jobs than they used to. I think that the markets have worked so often for us in so many different ways in this society. Free people competing with each other in free and open markets bring down costs. That's the way to get there.
MODERATOR: We'll continue live in Univision with this presidential forum. And we're going to talk about something else. We're going to talk about education.
A recent survey done for La Raza National Council show that nine out of 10 Hispanic voters think that improved public education should be a priority for the next president of the United States.
Let's start with Senator Thompson. What should we do to improve the public schools so our children will be educated in this country from coast to coast?
THOMPSON: First of all, I think we need to recognize where the responsibility lies. It would be easy enough for someone running for president to say: I have a several-point plan to fix our education problem. It's not going to happen. And it shouldn't happen from the Oval Office.
We spend about 9 percent of education dollars now at the federal level. The responsibility historically and properly is at the state and local level.
I think, however, we can do things that would support choice, do things that would support vouchers, do things that would support homeschooling, and recognize that we need to speak the truth.
THOMPSON: One of the advantages of being in the Oval Office is having a bully pulpit. And the fact of the matter is, if families would stay together, if fathers would raise their children, especially young men when they get into troublesome ages, we would solve a good part of the education problem in this country.
MODERATOR: Senator Thompson, you -- how far can Hispanics get in this country?
THOMPSON: I think to help us be as strong as we can be and as good as we can be as Americans, I think the most important thing for Americans to be thinking about tonight is our national security, our future prosperity, for the children coming up behind us and our values.
The Hispanic community is traditionally strong in defending liberty and defending our nation's honor. They have had to fight their way, in many cases, just to come here and become a part of our society.
The Hispanic community is well-known as having a work ethic that is second to none.
THOMPSON: They ask for very little and contribute very much.
The Hispanic community is known for their values. They know that marriage is between a man and a woman, for example. They know that the family...
They know that the family is at the center of societies, and strong families build better societies. Those are things that they share with all other citizens of the United States...
MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.
THOMPSON: ... and will make for a stronger country.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This is a transcript of the responses of former U.S. Senator from Tennessee Fred Thompson at last night's Republican candidate presidential debate on the Spanish-language network Univision: