This is the Q & A between audience members and Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox on August 22, 2015.
All right good morning. No, no, speech from me this morning. I want your questions. I want all twenty minutes to be your questions, not you hearing some speech from me so let's get your questions…
The lady in the Cubs hat... The question is, how would I secure the border when I become President? Four things we need to do: First is, in the urban areas around the border we need to build a wall or a fence in those urban areas cause they’re very heavily populated and that's the best way to do it. Second, we need to put FBI agents, DEA agents, and ATF agents in with our border patrol agents to interdict the drugs in the guns that are coming across our border. They're the ones that are best at it - we need to put them there. Third, we need to use electronic surveillance. We're using drones all over the world. We should use them on the southern border with cameras and other surveillance to make sure that we put our human resources - our border patrol officers and others - in the right places and places that are difficult to patrol on foot. And, fourth, and I think most importantly, is every employer in America has to use E-verify. The reason these folks are coming across the border is to work, and if they know that you cannot be employed in this country if you're not here legally then they're not going to come because they're only coming for a job. And, here's what we need to do to the employers, because they're part of the problem too, you know. They need to be fined double whatever their profit is from hiring cheaper, illegal labor. And, if we do that, we do those four things, that's going to secure the border and then we can move forward and grow our economy in this country and not worry about that problem. But, be careful, don't go for just one easy answer. This is a tough problem. We haven't solved it for 30 years. Let's use all four of those tools to do it really effectively and really efficiently. I enforced the law in New Jersey for seven years as a U.S. attorney and now for nearly six as the governor. When I get to the White House I will know how to enforce the law at the southern border. Alright.
Yes ma'am back there in the purple shirt... The question is, she said Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America, if I get elected what will we do? This is part of the reason why I've put forward an entitlement reform program to save over $1.2 trillion over the next ten years because, you know what? The National Institutes of Health, their budget only went up one-tenth of one percent, the National Science Foundation went down four percent. We're not spending money on what we need to spend to improve the quality of people's lives. We need to partner with the private sector and the government through the NIH to say we can find a treatment and a cure for Alzheimer's, extend people's lives and make the quality of their life better. But that's only going to happen if we do two things. One, the government has to invest, but also, we need to protect the pharmaceutical companies in this country, as well. They're spending a lot of their private money to try to come up with cures and treatments as well and then we let people steal their intellectual property we can't let that happen. We can’t let China or any other countries do that. So, I would protect our pharmaceutical companies and their hard work that they're doing and then increase the budget for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation so we get these great doctors and scientists in the United States to have Alzheimer’s be the next place where we bring in effective treatment and cure, we all need that, we need that for our loved ones, and we need that to make our country a better and more productive place.
(Next question) Well, first off, New Jersey has already sent in our objection to the clean power plan the President’s put forward. This president regulates things in a way that just makes absolutely no sense. It kills jobs in America and it kills technology and advancement in America. And, what we need to do - listen, this is this what we do in New Jersey. I think that each state should be able to do the thing that works best for them. I drive throughout Iowa here and I see wind power all over the state. It makes sense in a big wide open state like yours to be able to have wind power be part of what we do to have a cleaner footprint in terms of energy, and a lower cost electricity as well. In New Jersey though, you know, we are the most densely populated state in America. Eight-point-nine-million people in that little space right? And so if we started to put windmills in New Jersey, there'd be a riot. So we're not going to do that all right. But here's what we're doing in New Jersey, here's the bet you're going to win tonight when you go to one of these, go over to the 27 degree beer, sit up on the bar and say to somebody, “Name the top three states in America in solar energy production.” They’ll get the first two because the first two are California and Arizona, but you're going to win on number three, because number three is the Garden State of New Jersey. Solar power works in our state. You don't need as much space for it and so 53 percent of our electricity in New Jersey comes from nuclear, we use natural gas, and we're the third largest solar producer in America. You know what that means? We've reached our 2020 clean air goals already without this intervention from the Obama EPA that is killing jobs and killing opportunity in our country. As president, we’ll take exactly the same approach, empower all of you to come up with what's the best solution in Iowa. Go ahead and do it. If it's best for Iowans then it’s good for the rest of the country, as well. Let New Jersey do what they do, and let all the other 48 states do what they do, as well.
All right in the back the lady with the blue hat... Well, if I'm President of the United States, I don't think anybody who knowingly came here illegally should become a citizen. I just don't believe they should become a citizen. And, I think American citizenship is an enormous gift, it’s an enormous gift, and if you came here by breaking the law I don't believe you should get citizenship. Now, we're going have to figure out what we do and that's why this lady's question in the beginning about what you're going to do to secure the border. And, the first thing is Americans do not want us adding to that number. They don't want us adding to that number, but by the same token we don't want people to be rewarded for knowing illegal conduct. Doesn't make any sense to reward folks for that, you're just encouraging that conduct even more. So, that's what I would do as president and we would work to make sure that the folks that are here are treated fairly.
Sir... The question is on national service and on AmeriCorps in particular. They were enormous help during Hurricane Sandy. AmeriCorps volunteers from all over America came to help us recover during Hurricane Sandy and we are extremely grateful for it. Here's what we would do. I want to expand national service even more as part of the way to deal with the student debt crisis we have in this country. Students are graduating with six figures of student debt to go to college, and they have a mortgage. They can't buy a home. They maybe can't get married, or have children, because they have to pay off this debt. One of the options I want to give to students is to serve national service to our country to help pay off their student loans. They can help to make their communities, their state, their country a better place. Everybody wins and it helps to lower their debt. That's what I would do as president.
Yes, sir, Superman... Well, if this question is on Renewable Fuel Standards, I've been very clear on this. And it's... it goes right in coordination with this lady's question here. We need more options, not less in America. We need more options for energy to make energy more affordable. That’s going to help us to build more manufacturing jobs and have more people employed in this country. Here's the thing, on Renewable Fuel Standards, we should enforce the laws that’s on the books now. The law’s there, and it’s this Obama administration that refuses to enforce the law on renewable fuel standards. The law should be enforced here and here's what I say to other candidates. Make up your mind. Don't say one thing in Iowa and say something different in New Hampshire, and something different in South Carolina. You've got a position, tell the people of the country what your position is. I’m for more options in energy. I’m for the Renewable Fuel Standard and that won't change. And, when I'm president we will enforce the law that's on the books, all the laws that are on the books.
Yes, ma’am... Question is, what's the plan to curb the influence of big money? Here's the thing, we tried every different law and different way and here's the problem. Lawyers write these laws, then we hire lawyers to figure out how to get around the laws they just wrote. And, we find a way to do it every time. Here's what I would do. Let anybody donate any amount of money they want to donate to any candidate, but they have to reveal that within 24 hours so that you know who is giving me money, who is giving any other candidate money. Right now, the system we have is there's a lot of money is being given with absolutely no transparency at all. You don't know who's giving us the money. What you’re really getting at is, how are we influenced by the money? It’s not the money. It’s do we change our policies because you give us money. So, if you see that somebody gives me a lot of money and then 24 hours later I reveal it, and then two weeks later I change a position I had before to be in line with the person who gave me money, well then you can make a conclusion you want to make. We're always going to wind up having money involved in politics. There is 330 million people in this country, we've got to communicate to them, communicate to them effectively, to try to get elected. So, let's take all of the curtains away from it and make me responsible, too. Because if I get the money, I have to spend the money and I’m responsible. Right now, these super PACs and other groups, I'm not even responsible, nor is any other candidate, for what they say. You should be able to hold us responsible and that's the way I would fix it.
Yes, ma’am, right there. Should businesses be, no... no they should not. Listen. We have a system of laws in this country, and those laws need to be followed. And, the fact is that religious organizations should be protected from having to do anything that violates their religious beliefs as a religious organization. That should be protected. But other businesses who want to do business, they should have to be able to do business under the laws of our country. When I take an oath of office as governor, my oath of office is to enforce the laws of the State of New Jersey, not the laws I like, or the laws that I agree with, but all the laws. And, if we don't want to have a country of men and women, but a country of laws, where everyone is treated equally, that is what we need to do. And so religious organizations absolutely should be protected. Everyone should be able to freely practice their religion the way they see fit, but businesses should not be allowed to discriminate, no.
All right. Yes, sir, sunglasses... I could only hear part of what you said I think it was about scientific research and marijuana. Was that what you're asking about, legalization of marijuana - because I couldn't hear you. Listen, I have a really clear position on marijuana in general. It’s illegal in the United States of America except in specific instances where it's used for medical purposes. We’re now allowing, the president's allowing, certain states to just go ahead and use it recreationally. That's wrong. In my opinion that's wrong. We've got to enforce the laws in this country, not just enforce the laws we like, but enforce the laws of this country. And, if folks want to make marijuana legal, then go to Congress and get them to change the law. But we should not have ad-hoc, one state at a time changing laws. It’s not the right thing to do. And I will tell you, it creates lawlessness in this country everybody. That's how we get sanctuary cities also, because certain mayors don't want to enforce the immigration laws. We should enforce the laws that are on the books. If you want to change those laws then go to Congress and change them, but when I’m president we're going to enforce the laws that are on the books and enforce them aggressively.
(audience member yelling) This is a wise guy who forgets that I'm from New Jersey. You're minor league compared to what I deal with most of the time brother. (applause) So, good day.
Yes, sir, in the back... He asked about Russia and China slowly getting more influence in the world. What would I do to change it? Listen, first thing is, this president has been the weakest president on foreign policy that we have had in my lifetime. He makes Jimmy Carter look strong. And the fact is, the fact is here's what I'd do. First thing is we need to make sure that we do more military exercises in Eastern Europe. We need to put a missile defense back in Poland to make sure that the Russians understand, they've taken Crimea, they’re in Ukraine now, no further. No further for Russia than what they've done already and Mr. Putin needs to understand that there’ll be a president who will not put up with his adventurism around the world. And, in China, they're building these military islands, artificial islands in the South China Sea to try to make sure that they restrict shipping lanes. We don't want the Chinese to control that. Those are free, open international waters. So we need to rebuild our military. This president has weakened our military in a way that's made America less influential in the world. So we need to rebuild our army to 500,000 active duty soldiers, 185,000 active duty Marines. We need to make sure we get to 350 ships in the Navy, and we need to make sure we get to 2,600 aircraft in the Air Force. That's what I will do. Part of the reason, we’re going to save money in other parts of the budget. Rebuild our military. Send a clear signal to Russia and to China that we don't want a war, but we are not going to allow them to tread on the United States of America.
(question) He asked about the economy, the drop in the stock market this week, the devaluation of the Chinese currency, there was a lot in there. Here's what we’ll say: To strengthen our economy we don't need to worry about China, we need to worry about what's happening in the United States of America. Our taxes are too high. The tax code is rigged for the rich, not for everyday working folks. We need to get rid of all of these loopholes and these exceptions and what we need to do is just keep two of them: Home mortgage deduction and the charitable contributions deduction, and then lower our rates to 28% on the high end and eight percent on the low end. Let people keep more of their own money, invest it the way they want, lower our corporate tax rates as well, and get rid of their deductions, so we can start creating jobs, again. And, there's two trillion dollars offshore they won’t send back because Barack Obama wants to tax them to death. I'd give them a one-time chance to come and bring that money back in as long as they were investing it in American jobs. Get jobs growing again so our kids can get out of school and could be employed and work hard.
(question) I wouldn’t want to torture and kill these animals...(interrupted by protestors) This is a question about hog crates... and here we go. Well, let me be really clear about that. I have to tell you the truth. When something like that happens and I’m here in Iowa, man, I feel right at home. It’s like I’m back in Jersey for a couple of minutes. So thank you Iowa for doing that. Second, let me be really clear. I believe that farmers should be able to make the decisions about how best to raise their livestock, not government bureaucrats. I vetoed that bill twice in New Jersey, and if it comes to my desk again, I'll veto it again, and I thank them, I thank them for the opportunity.
(question) The Iran deal is the single worst thing that the president has done in his seven years as president, and that’s a high bar. We cannot permit Israel to be threatened by Iranian nuclear weapons. We cannot permit the United States to be threatened by Iranian nuclear weapons. If I were President of the United States, I would have walked away from that table and told the Iranians when they were serious, come back and talk to me. And, when I am president, the Iranians will know, including the Ayatollah, that there's a new sheriff in the Oval Office. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and the Ayatollah would know that, too.
The gentleman from AARP shockingly wants to know about Social Security. Let's remember something. Harvard and Dartmouth just did a study - said in seven to eight years Social Security will be broke. We can't allow that to happen. Social Security is there to make sure that our elderly who pay into the system, play by the rules and work hard don’t grow old in poverty, don't have to choose between heat and rent and food. So, here's what we need to do. We're all living longer. We're all living longer. Women live to 83 years old now in America on average. Men live to 79. I see this lady smiling - we’re catching up - don't worry, the men are coming. We were back six years before. So we need to raise the retirement age two years, but we can phase it in over 25 years. That's one month increase a year for 25 years. It will help our kids and our grandkids have Social Security be there for them. And, for the wealthiest Americans they don't need to get a Social Security check. They don't need to do it. The alternative is to raise taxes on everyone. Why would we want to give more money to the government for Social Security when they already lied to us and stole from the trust fund? No more money for the government, fix the benefits, and make Social Security secure.
(question) The national debt's out of control. That's why I've said that $1.2 trillion can be saved over the next ten years by making those reforms to entitlements. And in New Jersey, as governor I cut over 800 programs out of the budget and vetoed more spending - line item vetoed - more spending than any governor in New Jersey history. I will take the same approach as president. We’ll control spending on entitlements. We’ll control spending in other areas. And we’ll invest more in research and we’ll invest more in our military to make us the economic power of the world, and the military power of the world. The way we are now, the way we should be, for the next generations to come.
They are telling me my time is up. I'm going to be all around, ask me questions all day, today. I love the Iowa State Fair and love all you. Thanks for your warm welcome, I appreciate it.