Highlights From The Univision Debate

Yesterday, the GOP candidates — with the exception of Tom Tancredo — participated in a Spanish language debate on Univision.

Now, some people may pan them for participating in a Spanish language debate, but I’m not one of them. To the contrary, I believe that we need to take every opportunity to show Hispanics that although we are dead serious about illegal immigration, the Democrats are wrong about our being anti-Hispanic. Just by showing up last night and saying the same things they always do, our candidates helped send that message.

Unfortunately, I don’t get Univision, so I didn’t get to watch the debate. However, I have read the transcript (and judging by the frequent applause, the candidates seem to have been well received) and here are a few replies that stood out to me for one reason or another,

OPERATOR: Governor Huckabee, is there a risk standing up here (inaudible)?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think the great risk is not so much that we would come. The far greater risk is if we didn’t. And it’s not just that we would offend or perhaps insult the Hispanic audience of this country. I think it would insult our own party. It would insult every voter in this country. To act like that somehow we’ve become so arrogant that there’s any segment of our population that we’re either afraid to speak to, hear their questions, or somehow that we don’t think that they’re as important as another group. And it’s why I think whether it’s an African American audience, a Hispanic audience, a union audience, as Republicans, we ought to be more than willing to sit down, even with people with whom we might know there are disagreements. And I think, frankly, it’s important for us to be here. It’s important that you gave us this opportunity. And I want to say thanks for letting us have this audience on Univision.

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: Tonight, your answers are being translated into Spanish, interpreted (inaudible). Thirty-one million people in the United States speak Spanish here. The census shows that. We’re going to start with Senator McCain. Do you think that there would be a value — a practical value of making English the official language in this country?

MCCAIN: I think the most practical value is to make English used by all Americans and all citizens, and all who come here. The only way…

(APPLAUSE)

The only way we move up the economic ladder from the bottom rung is to know English. And I would emphasize the importance of every person who comes to this country to become a citizen and enjoy its liberties and beauty is to learn English. And I will do everything I can to help them do that.

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: 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.

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.

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: Congressman Hunter, why not support the legalization?

…HUNTER: Listen, when I was — when I came back from Vietnam, I was a practicing lawyer in the barrio. I was the only lawyer there, and I never turned away a family that came in and needed help.

But I told them a couple of things. One thing is, you have to be here legally, because the first thing you’ve got to learn in this country is the rule of law. And the second thing is, you have to make sure that your kids learn English, because that is the American opportunity.

Now, in 1983, we gave an amnesty, and when we gave that amnesty, 3 million people came in who were allowed to stay in who were here illegally. We said at that point, no more, and we’re not going to let anybody else come in.

After that, 12 million more people came in. If we give an amnesty to this next batch of 12 million people, you will have a third wave of people coming in expecting to catch the third amnesty.

You know, this lady behind me represents a lot of things. One is welcoming immigrants to America. The other is the rule of law. We have to establish the rule of law, and people who are here illegally have to go home.

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: Governor Romney, we would like to know — see what your opinion — what’s going to happen to the children who are being separated from their families?

ROMNEY: We’re going to finally have a system that welcomes people here legally, and that says that those that have come here illegally are invited to get in line with everybody else.

And the Constitution, as Senator Thompson has indicated, indicates that those that are born here do become United States citizens by virtue of being born here.

But if they’re born here from parents who come across the border illegally and bring them here illegally, in my view, we should not adopt, then, these chain migration policies that say, you’ve got a child here that’s a U.S. citizen, and the whole family can come in.

That, in my opinion, is a mistake. We are a nation of laws. And you’re correctly going through each part of immigration policy here. But let’s underscore this one more time: We are, in this audience, almost every person here, an individual who came to this country because it’s a land of opportunity and liberty.

We also, because we have laws, can have opportunity and liberty. We’re going to enforce the laws. Welcoming people here — we’re not going to cut off immigration; we’re going to keep immigration alive and thriving.

But we’re going to end the practice of illegal immigration. It’s not inhumane. It’s humanitarian. It’s compassionate. We’re going to end illegal immigration to protect legal immigration.

…(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: It’s the presidential forum, the Republican one. We’re going to talk about something else. Now we’re going to talk about Latin America. A week ago, exactly a week ago, Venezuela rejected changes to the constitution, but the president, Hugo Chavez…

(APPLAUSE)

President Hugo Chavez has insisted that he’s going to propose them again. Many consider him a threat to democracy in the region. If you were elected president, how would you deal with Chavez? Let’s start with Congressman John Paul — Ron Paul, sorry.

PAUL: Well, he’s not the easiest person to deal with, but we should deal with everybody around the world the same way: with friendship and opportunity to talk and try to trade with people.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

PAUL: We talked to — we talked to Stalin, we talked to Khrushchev, we’ve talked to Mao, and we’ve talked to the world, and we get along with people. Actually, I believe we’re at a time where we even ought to talk to Cuba and trade and travel to Cuba.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

(APPLAUSE)

But let me — let me tell you — let me tell you why — let me tell you why we have a problem in South America and Central America: because we’ve been involved in their internal affairs for so long. We have been meddling in their business.

(APPLAUSE)

We create the Chavezes of the world, we create the Castros of the world by interfering and creating chaos in their countries, and they respond by throwing out their leader.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Congressman.

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.

(LAUGHTER)

The next question, of course, if regarding Iraq. Congressman Hunter, surveys show that two out of three Hispanics think that the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq. How would you convince them of the fact that they should stay there — the troops should stay there?

HUNTER: Well, you know, there’s lots of Hispanic Americans serving in Iraq. And my son came back from his third tour as a U.S. Marine on Thanksgiving, having served in Iraq twice and Afghanistan.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, if you check with the Hispanics of the 1st Marine Division or the 10th Army Division of the 1st Cavalry, you’ll get a lot different poll than the poll that you’re telling me right now, because the young men and women who are serving over there know we can win in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

And let me tell you what they’ve done. With blood, sweat and tears they have brought down the attack rate in Anbar province by 80 percent. They brought it down over the entire nation. The Iraqi army is now standing up, all 131 battalions. That government’s going to hold and the army’s going to hold, and we are going to leave Iraq in victory, and we’re going to leave an Iraq that will be a friend, not an enemy of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

So we’re going to be victorious in Iraq, and Hispanic Americans who serve there know that.

(APPLAUSE)

Mayor Giuliani, how can we curb the high cost (of healthcare) and also offer insurance to the people who don’t have it?

GIULIANI: The very best way to do it — and Senator McCain is on the right track, but it has to be more — more of an incentive for people to buy their own health insurance.

We only have 17 million Americans who buy their own health insurance. If we had 50 million or 60 million Americans who were, the cost of health insurance would probably be cut in half or more than half, and a lot of people could afford it, the way this person is asking us, how can you do it.

So, you give people a $15,000 for a family tax deduction, tax exemption, to buy their own health insurance. You encourage them to do it. You also give them a health savings account to up to $5,000 or $6,000, so that they can then look for deductibles in insurance.

And it brings down the cost of insurance. That’s one of the primary ways to do it. And then you break down the barriers where people can only buy in one state and you let them buy in any state, so that we can set up a real competition.

The thing that works in America is not socialized medicine that the Democrats want to bring us, not government control, not mandates, but a large consumer market where you empower people to enter that market is the only way to bring down costs and to bring up quality.

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: Well, we have the last question for all of you. Hispanics are the biggest minority in the United States, and by 2050, we’re going to be 25 percent of the population. Three months ago, I asked the same thing to the Democratic candidates.

What would you think would be the biggest contribution from Hispanics, but we want to ask you what is the role — what role do you think Hispanics will play in the development of our nation and our society?

We’re going to start with Governor Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: On our coins, it says, “E pluribus unum.” It means out of many, one. Ronald Reagan said it best. He said that if we go to Germany, we’re not Germans, and if we go to Italy, we’re not Italians. But anyone who comes to America is an American.

One of the great aspects of this nation is that when people come here and unite with us, they share not just our borders and our boundaries. They share our hopes and our dreams and our aspirations.

And if there’s any one reason that this country is a magnet for people, and clearly a magnet for many Hispanics who have found hope and opportunity here, it’s because they see in this country what we ourselves who live here see. And that is that here, we can dream great dreams and actually can see them.

Our equality is not based on our ancestry, our last name, it’s not based on how much money we make. It’s based on the intrinsic worth and value that every one of us have. It’s why we share something else, and I think that this nation is basically pro-life because we recognize that intrinsic worth. And I think what we offer is an opportunity to raise families and to live dreams and to be free.

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