- Business Insider held the first-ever Republican primary debate on Tuesday, September 24, which was moderated by politics editor Anthony Fisher, columnist Linette Lopez, and Insider editorial director Henry Blodget.
- It was hosted by Business Insider Today and livestreamed on Facebook.
- Candidates Bill Weld and Joe Walsh debated on a variety of issues like the health of the economy, combating climate change, foreign policy, and gun violence.
- You can watch the debate here and the full transcript is below.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Business Insider held the first-ever Republican primary debate on Tuesday, September 24, which was moderated by politics editor Anthony Fisher, columnist Linette Lopez, and Insider editorial director Henry Blodget. It was hosted by Business Insider Today and livestreamed on Facebook.
Candidates Bill Weld and Joe Walsh debated a variety of issues like the health of the economy, combating climate change, foreign policy, and gun violence. They also offered a contrasting vision of the Republican Party, which has swung to the right under President Donald Trump.
You can watch the debate here.
Here is the full transcript of the debate (NOTE: This is a rush transcript. The text may not be in its final form and may be updated.)
Anthony Fisher: Joe Walsh and Bill Weld. Good evening. Welcome to Business Insider’s 2020 Republican primary debate. I’m the politics editor at Business Insider Anthony Fisher.
Linette Lopez: And I’m Linette Lopez, a columnist at Business Insider. Tonight we’ll hear from two Republicans challenging President Donald Trump for their party’s nomination in 2020. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh. Thank you.
Anthony Fisher: Business Insider is committed to providing candidates of both parties a chance to speak with voters. We encourage our viewers to look beyond their personal networks and consider ideas and perspectives that don’t easily fit in red or blue boxes. In tonight’s debate the candidates will answer questions on economics, immigration, climate, foreign policy and America’s deepening political divide. We want to know how the candidates differ from the president, why they think they could do a better job.
Linette Lopez: President Trump did not respond to our invitation to this event. And Governor Mark Sanford had a scheduling conflict.
Anthony Fisher: Here’s the rules. Each candidate will have 60 seconds to speak on the record but when recognised by a moderator the candidate may also get an additional 30 seconds to respond as follows. Time will be deducted if the rules are not respect.
Linette Lopez: The speaking order and podium spots were chosen at random two weeks ago. Congressman Walsh you will start and have one minute for you.
Joe Walsh: Thank you. Thank you everybody who came. Business Insider thank you. Governor Bill Weld it’s an honour sir to stand on the same stage with you. Let me start like this. The president of the United States will be impeached very very soon. The president of the United States will deserve to be impeached very very soon. Look look let’s let’s cut through all the craziness right. We’re going to spend the next hour hour and a half as Anthony and said talking about really important issues climate change trade what’s going on down at the border.
Joe Walsh: But let’s be clear this is about Trump.
Joe Walsh: This is about that guy in the White House. I wouldn’t be standing in front of you. I wouldn’t be standing next to Governor Bill Weld if Donald Trump wasn’t president. Donald Trump is unfit. He lies almost every time he opens his mouth. He’s a danger to this country. He cannot put anybody else’s interests ahead of his own. I’m not debating Bill Well I got all the respect in the world from Bill Weld. Bill Weld I believe like me knows and understands what the problem is. And the problem is an unfit president in the White House who took a divided country and is, is defining the common man.
Linette Lopez: That’s your time.
Joe Walsh: We got to bring the country together. Thank you, congressman.
Linette Lopez: Governor, you –
Bill Weld: My thanks to Business Insider panelists moderators Fisher and Lopez and Blodget. It’s a great thing you’re doing. My name is Bill Weld. I’m running for president of the United States as a Republican. So what do you need to know about me since I’m running for president. I think all you really need to know about me is that I’m a very relaxed calm person and like the congressman I’m comfortable in my own skin unlike certain other people. And you know I’m not scared of anybody. I was head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. But more to the point I don’t think anyone else should be scared of anybody. And you know I’m a great believer in releasing the energies of everybody in the polity and giving them all a stake in the enterprise of our shared democratic institutions. As the congressman said it’s no secret that the president is seeking to divide us.
Bill Weld: And it’s really hateful. So my promise to you is if you elect me as your president you never again will have to feel exhausted or tired on account of your government in Washington that’s supposed to be serving you. Thank you.
Linette Lopez: Thank you, governor. And thank you both. Back now gentlemen. Slow news day, huh? Not much to talk about except about two hours ago Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would begin impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States for the fourth time in the history of our republic.
Linette Lopez: Governor, I’ll start with you. Do you have a message from Mitch McConnell who seems to be largest impediment to impeachment proceeding.
Bill Weld: Well I have a message for Mitch McConnell specifically. I worked on the Nixon impeachment with some of you know years ago and it took the House eight, ten months to get through the investigation before it even got ready to go to the Senate. And when an impeachment is voted by the House and goes to the Senate the House appoints six managers or prosecutors to handle in the Senate then make the rules. Mitch McConnell doesn’t make the rules. So those people who think that as soon as it goes to the Senate Mitch McConnell can call a vote and get an equilibrium through. That’s not true. If the House and the Senate take as long as they did proportionately in the Nixon impeachment this thing would not be over until after the election. Meanwhile cold hard facts- Trump’s enemies -cold hard facts from evidence under oath will have been hammered out in those proceedings. I think it’s a nightmare for Donald Trump and he has no way of stopping it before the election.
Linette Lopez: Thank you. Congressman. To Mitch McConnell.
Joe Walsh: Well Mitch McConnell and all the Republicans how disappointing. Because look look Governor Weld and I are going to say a bunch of things about the president up here for the next hour and a half. And I guarantee you most Republicans up on Capitol Hill they feel in private exactly what we say publicly. This president. You read the Muller report five months ago. You understand that this president obstructed justice that he lied. He instructed. He ordered other people to lie. It was clear when you read the Muller report that this president believes he’s above the law. I don’t give a damn what party you are. No party should put up with that. This side issue, Linette, this Ukrainian thing today. This is just the cherry on top. So is it any surprise that Donald Trump picked up the phone two months ago called the president of Ukraine and said ‘You know what. I’m not going to give you this aid unless you dig up dirt on Joe Biden.’ It’s not a surprise because Linette, Donald Trump, what was it with ABC News told us three months ago, He sure you take dirt from a foreign government. He deserves to be impeached and everybody should keep their boots on top of these Republicans so that they follow their constitution.
Linette Lopez: Thank you. That’s time for the next question is about the Ukraine issue and the fact that the Republican Party has been silent about it so far. How should the American people feel about that.
Joe Walsh: Congressman, you can respond. Well they ought to be upset. It’s hard to be disappointed in Donald Trump anymore because this isn’t a surprise. It’s not. But again these Republicans … I was in Congress eight nine years ago. These Republicans, they they claimed that they believe in the rule of law. They believe in limited government. They believe in a restrained executive. The Republican Party establishment. I want to be careful when I say because I’m not when they’re talking about Republican Party voters but the Republican Party establishment the party bosses they are a cult. They have abandoned everything they believe in to worship this guy every single day. Again that should offend all of us. And by the way the Republican brand under this president is horrible. So I don’t know why you’re defending them. They shouldn’t.
Linette Lopez: Governor. You call this Ukraine business quote treason pure and simple.
Bill Weld: Well I think I think Ukraine caper by the president is some combination of treason bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanours. The one thing that’s absolutely clear is that it’s grounds for removal from office. You have a sitting president of the United States essentially selling the results of an American presidential election in which he is a candidate and rigging it in his favour against another candidate corruptly. The end of the Mueller report makes it very plain that any activity the president takes – this president – to benefit himself or his family politically or financially is a corrupt action. And this suspending the aid and then immediately calling up the president and saying do this to kill Biden. And meanwhile 400 million dollars is no longer there as of three or four days before the call. How stupid are we supposed to be. How stupid is the president of Ukraine supposed to be. He knows exactly what Mr. Trump is saying to him. And it’s vastly illegal.
Joe Walsh: For the record Linette, Can I jump in and I get all the respect in the world from my friend Bill Weld, but I don’t want Trump hung for treason.
Joe Walsh: I just want him impeached.
Linette Lopez: OK. Well we’ll talk about hanging some other time. OK. We’re going to move on to the next question.
Linette Lopez: OK. Really, this is a family show. OK. And to all of to everyone who has read or watch Business Insider Report, it is no secret that I am highly critical of the president. But you guys are Republicans. And he is the head of your party and he has delivered on Republican mainstays like appointing conservative judges and cutting taxes. So. I’ll put this to you governor first. Are you not concerned that running against the president could hand The White House to say Elizabeth Warren.
Bill Weld: No, I mean I think I uh. First of all as governor I never met a tax cut I didn’t like I cut taxes 21 times and I never raised them so I’m not going to criticise a tax cut although obviously it could have been more more equitable. But this this president is not a fiscal conservative. He’s gone along with his trillion dollar deficits every year. I was ranked the most fiscally conservative governor in the United States. And I was governor of Massachusetts after three terms of Michael Dukakis. So that took took some doing. But no we simply can’t sit still for this guy who’s a disgrace to the office almost every day as the congressman has said he commits some deed or utters some word that makes it clear beyond any doubt that he’s unfit for the office of president United States. I wrote the book on what was grounds for impeachment of a president when I was working on the Nixon impeachment. And every day that President transgresses that line. So no we can’t worry about the general election. All we can do is the duty that’s staring us right in the face right now.
Linette Lopez: Thank you Governor. Congressman. Think about it. President Bernie Sanders.
Joe Walsh: You know that I’ve been asked this question a bunch. Is Joe Walsh going to weaken Donald Trump if he challenges in the primary. Hell yes. That’s the point. I want to weaken him. I would like to beat him. I’m sure Governor Weld feels the same way. I do not want him to be our nominee period. Look I’m a conservative? Right. You know that Linette. Governor Bill Weld knows that I’m a conservative. I probably agree with Bernie Sanders and maybe that many issues. I don’t know. There may be a few more issues I agree on with Elizabeth Warren. But we have. We have. Everything. Our founding. Listen to me. We have everything. Our founding fathers feared. I don’t care how old or young you are in the White House right now. That’s a hell of a lot more important than a tax cut for somebody like me.
Linette Lopez: Thank you. And now onto specifics about the Trump administration. Many Republicans have praised the president’s deregulatory push especially around rules around the environment. The Heritage Foundation says that Trump’s administration’s rollbacks have saved the country 33 billion dollars in regulatory funds. So let’s hear from the president talking about that about two weeks ago.
President Trump: Working with Republicans in Congress. We slashed 30000 pages of regulations from the federal… Government will no longer try to micromanage every rain puddle. And every drainage ditch on private land.
Linette Lopez: Governor Weld, isn’t that something Republicans should be excited about?
Bill Weld: No it is not. And the regulations that the president has rolled back are regulations dear to my heart to protect clean air and clean water in the United States. I’m a lifelong environmentalist. The Republican Party has a rich tradition in conserving our environment. Theodore Roosevelt started a national park service. It goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln. The Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act were enacted when Richard Nixon was president United States. Mr. Trump is tossing that out the window in order to to slate his unbelievable desire to do whatever might be beneficial to the coal companies. And he’s turning the country upside down because he wants if nothing else for the coal companies to like him. He’s a very insecure individual who has to be liked and patted. That’s why he had his cabinet have to praise him going around the room at the beginning. But they deserve no credit for their deregulator efforts in the environmental area. The only other regulations they really rolled back are the regs designed to protect little people in the event of another 2008 financial crisis. Nice work Mr. President.
Linette Lopez: Thank you governor. Congressman.
Joe Walsh: Look like every issue we’re going to talk about tonight. It’s a balance right between the environment and small businessmen and women in this country. You talk to small businessmen and women in this country like I have over the last eight or nine years, they have been more burdened by government regulations than they have taxes. So it is a balance right. We want to be good stewards of the environment. We want to acknowledge that climate change exists. In my Party, too many people think it’s a hoax. But don’t forget about those small businessmen and women all over this country who have been unduly burdened by government regulations over the years. We’re trying to find the balance. Has Trump gone too far? Well probably yea because pretty much with everything he goes to find.
Linette Lopez: Thank you. Once upon a time a long, it feels like a long time ago, like a long time ago, Republicans used to care about fiscal conservatism. They used to care about the US budget deficit which is how much more the government spends than it takes in in revenue. Under President Trump the deficit has exploded to over a trillion dollars. Now Congressman, I thought you were a deficit hawk? That’s how you came in to Congress.
Joe Walsh: Linette, nothing nothing disappoints me more than this. I mean this is why I went to Congress eight years ago because we’re bankrupting future generations. We are bankrupting future generations in this country. Both parties do it. And Linette, you’re right. You’ve got me. Because when Obama was president all of us Republicans screamed and howl every day about Obama increasing the debt and the deficits. Linette’s right. Trump has actually increased the debt faster than Barack Obama did. Think about that. Trump has increased our deficits faster than Obama has. But Linette, all of my former Tea Party colleagues in Congress what do we hear from them? Not a damn thing. Again just one more example of the Republican Party now face fealty to Trump and they have forgotten about every issue that they have claimed to believe in.
Linette Lopez: Governor.
Bill Weld: Look, my motto when I was in office was there’s no such thing as government money, there’s only taxpayer’s money. Boy, has everyone in Washington forgotten about that. Everyone not just Donald Trump. There’s nobody looking out for the taxpayers there. The Dems want to raise spending by 5 or 10 per cent on social programs. The R’s want to raise that on military. So they demonize each other until they have both raised enough money to all get reelected. Then they declare a special meeting this month to smoke the peace pipe and they agree to compromise by raising everything 20 per cent. It’s a total disgrace and Trump has raised it faster than anybody else. He hit a trillion dollars in month 10. His multi-year budget added 9 trillion dollars.
Linette Lopez: Do you keep the Trump tax cut?
Bill Weld: Oh I would keep them. I told you I never met a tax cut…
Linette Lopez : But then where do you cut?
Bill Weld: Or you cut across the board. You have to. You have to zero base the budget and not assume you start with last year’s appropriation. You have to measure outcomes instead of inputs which is how much money was spent last year. That should be irrelevant. Was a good program. Increase it. If it wasn’t zero it out. That’s how you cut spending and I did it.
Linette Lopez: Thank you, governor.
Joe Walsh: Linette just to add onto what the governor said, it shouldn’t have been a tax cut for the wealthy which is primarily what Trump’s tax cut was. It should have been a payroll tax cut that middle class Americans would have felt. But look the governor is right. Republicans and Democrats don’t get this. We have a spending problem and both parties like to spend a lot of money. And you listen to these Democrats, we’re going to spend a lot of time rappin on Trump tonight. But you look at these Democrats all genuine and there are a lot of good things they want to do but they never talk about how much these things are going to cost.
Linette Lopez: Congressman, thank you. I’m going to give you another 30 seconds because Congressman,.
Joe Walsh: I purposely said his name so that you would..
Linette Lopez: Congressman. Congressman. Governor…
Bill Weld: Just in terms of cutting cutting the budget, this builds on what I did when I was in office.Let’s say you have a preventive health program which avoids a lot of bad outcomes and delivers good savings in the health area. You might multiply that appropriation by 10. But if you have a bureaucracy that nobody can quite tell you where it came from probably a relationship between some long dead U.S. senator and some long equally long dead chair of Ways and Means you cut that to zero. And that’s where the big money is. And you have to have the political will to do that and not say there’s a bunch of sacred cows in the budget. No more sacred cows.
Linette Lopez: Thank you, governor. So guys, business investment is down. Manufacturing is in a slump and central banks around the world are preparing for an economic slowdown. We here in the United States have already cut taxes. And President Trump has already pushed the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates which it did last week. So. How do you get the country on the right financial footing within the first 100 days. What policies do you enact? Governor you can go first.
Bill Weld: Well one thing I would do is stop doing foreign policy and foreign economic measures with taxes and just putting sanctions on everybody and tariffs. The president says I’m a tariff man. I mean it’s an emblem of how ignorant he in foreign policy. We tried we tried tariffs with Smoot-Hawley in the 1930s and they greatly deepened the Great Recession. And Mr. Trump thinks that when he slaps a tariff on China it’s paid by China. Back in Beijing. It’s not. It’s paid by American farmers or American businesses or individuals who need to import something from China that contains steel or aluminium. And everybody knows it. Mr. Trump thinks that a car made in North America is made by either the United States or Mexico it’s a zero sum game. So we have to beat up on the Mexicans. He doesn’t understand that the average car made in North America travels across the US Mexico border 22 times because depending on the wage scale for that stage of production. So everybody makes out better with free trade and the United States always makes our best because we have the highest productivity per worker. So we get the high wage jobs.
Linette Lopez: Thank you, governor. Congressman. First 100 days. How do you fix it?
Joe Walsh: I am probably going to say too much tonight. And my campaign manager will scold me tonight because I will say too much that it’s not about the issues it’s about Trump. You talk to anybody in the business community right now. You talk to investors you talk to small businessmen and women. They don’t know what Trump is doing from hour to hour. This uncertainty that this president has unleashed he wakes up every morning. You don’t know who the hell he’s going to attack with the tweet. You don’t know what what private business he’s going to go after. The uncertainty, the hour by hour where the heck is this president going, has everybody in the business community on edge. And so they’re not investing they’re not hiring. This is where your slowdown is coming from, along with what Governor Weld said. These tariffs are finally beginning to have an impact on the country in the first hundred days. I get rid of the tariffs and I wouldn’t TWEET TWEET crazy, crazy crap every morning.
Linette Lopez: You heard it first guys. No tweeting, no tweeting in the Walsh administration.
Joe Walsh: Well I’ll tweet, Linette but not crazy stuff.
Linette Lopez: OK. Some economists blame the slowing economy on Trump’s trade war with China as we just discussed. President Trump has put tariffs on a slew of goods from washing machines to soybeans. And while many Americans disagree with Trump’s methods on handling this issue they do agree that the U.S. relationship with China economically needs to change. So without tariffs, how do you change that relationship? Congressman you can go first.
Joe Walsh: China cheats but they don’t just cheat against us. They cheat against the whole world. And they have been doing it for a long time, Linette. So in comes Trump, and what does Trump do right away. He like lays down and throws down tariffs against everybody and he goes at China all by himself. And so who pays the price? We do our farmers, small businessmen and women again, and American consumers. The mistake … You got to deal with China Linette. The mistake Trump made, is he put us out there on an island all by ourselves. Instead of rallying the whole world, rallying a coalition maybe Linette getting us back in the Trans-Pacific Partnership right? Where we could have a coalition of countries that could deal with China. He’s done it all by himself. And America has paid a big big price for that. You got to bring the world together to fight China.
Linette Lopez: So Governor, do you sign TPP? What do you do?
Bill Weld: Oh I absolutely would rejoin, would join TPP in a heartbeat. I point out that during the campaign candidate Trump said no we can’t join the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it would be dominated by China. He’s so incurious and so ignorant about foreign affairs that he didn’t know that China is not a member of TPP. The whole idea was that we would have a consortium of 12 Pacific Navy facing nations some in Asia some in the Americas without China at the table. So it would be our beachhead in Asia.
Bill Weld: So no, but in all the treaties that he has ripped up, even the treaty with Iran, he’s now scrounging around trying to get back to where he was at square one before he ripped up the 2015 deal with with Iran. I think the relationship with China. Has to be a complex one. We’re two biggest players out there. Xi Jinping I had high hopes for when he came, in but he really has resubsidized all those SOEs – the state owned enterprises, and we’re getting our brains beat in around the world and on intellectual property they are complete scofflaws. So you’ve got to be tough and I think we’ll probably return to this.
Linette Lopez: Thank you governor. Gentlemen we’re going to take a question from our online audience and this is about automation. According to a recent Brookings Report a quarter of U.S. jobs could be disrupted by automation. Nearly every occupation in the United States could be affected. Governor I’m go to you first. What would you do proactively to deal with automation and the jobs that will be lost due to it.
Bill Weld: First of all no one in Washington, least of all President Trump is doing the slightest thing about this and I agree we’re going to lose 15 to 25 per cent of our jobs in the next 10 years owing to artificial intelligence and drones and robotics and machine learning and driverless vehicles which is going to take care of long haul truckers. But there’s good news also is there will be replacement jobs with technical skills which will be higher wage jobs than those that are lost. So we got a we got a plan how to get the skills, the technical skills necessary into the hands of those workers. I ran the numbers here. That would be child’s play. One third of a per cent of a state’s budget to give, or make those displaced workers get free community college or post-secondary education to acquire those skills. To govern is to choose and I chose as a governor. And even without federal help states could take care of that like kind of a mini G.I. Bill and it wouldn’t be free for everybody like Bernie Sanders says. It would just be for the displaced workers and you would get them having higher wages and a happy ending in a more affluent society. Artificial intelligence is going to create enormous wealth in the United States because it is making everything more efficient. The federal government should take charge of harnessing identifying and harnessing that wealth for the benefit of the citizens.
Linette Lopez: Thank you Congressman. Thank you Congressman.
Bill Weld: I’m trying to be a member of Congress it didn’t work out.
Linette Lopez: I’m sad about that. Sad about that.
Joe Walsh: I’d love to be a governor. Governor Weld’s right. Look the Government’s got to play a role here. And so many of these issues I so believe in American ingenuity and American innovation. You’re not stopping automation. It’s not stopping and it is as the governor said it’s a good thing. It’s making the American economy more efficient and more productive. Our manufacturing sector is actually a hell of a lot more productive and efficient now with fewer workers. So what does government need to do? Help retrain those workers. Because you can’t stop the market. You’ve got to keep the market going. You’ve got to keep the market changing. It will lead to good things. But government’s got to play a role as the American economy goes through these seminal moments where we like move from one industry to another.
Linette Lopez: Do you buy what the Governor is saying that it’s not going to cost that much? That, where states can take care of it?
Joe Walsh: States can take care of it but the federal government’s got to play a role here too. This is a major transformation in our economy. This automation thing, artificial intelligence. The federal government along with state governments have got to devote resources to train all of these displaced workers.
Anthony Fisher: According to a recent Kaiser poll more than half of Republicans believe human activity is affecting the world’s climate. Younger Republicans are also increasingly concerned about the environment. Governor Weld, you just called yourself an environmentalist. What is your plan to win over the Republicans who still deny established climate science?
Bill Weld: My plan is to state what obviously needs to be done which is to meet the outcome that’s necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. And that is to prevent global temperatures from rising more than one point five degrees centigrade between now and 2050. That’s the injunction from the U.N. framework and of the Paris accord. And it’s very simple. We have to put a price on carbon, upstream at the wellhead for oil companies, at the mine shaft for mining companies, at the loading dock for being imported. Even agriculture is going to have to pay a bit. But you put a price on carbon, that has to be either a congressional statute or I think it’s such a natural national emergency that this might be the rare proper exercise of emergency powers.
Anthony Fisher: Do you think that argument will win over Republican voters?
Bill Weld: Well it’s just so clearly the right thing. I mean the other thing I’d say here is that the Democrats are off base because like with the budget they’re doing inputs. My plan will cost 16 trillion. SANDERS one point seven trillion. That’s Biden, and in between they talk about how much they’re going to spend. They don’t talk about putting a price on carbon which will allow the market to lower the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
Anthony Fisher: Congressman, is this climate a concern of yours?
Joe Walsh: Yeah, the Republican Party had better get onboard or they’re done. This is the issue that concerns most young Americans and I don’t want to sound like way too basic here but the party’s got to acknowledge the facts that it exists. And too often Republicans, in this is an issue, Anthony, where I’ve moved on. Acknowledge that it’s real. Acknowledge that on this four and a half billion year old planet, the climate changes and we’ve been on this planet for how long, and clearly we’re impacting this environment. Just to get the Republican Party, I know it seems like a baby step, but just to get the Republican Party to acknowledge the obvious is a big step. And if we don’t, ANTHONY, if we don’t do this, because this train’s going, we won’t even be at the table. And I don’t I don’t want. I have all the respect in the world for Congressman, congresswoman AOC but I don’t want a green New Deal. I don’t want the Democrats coming in and just re-revolutionising the whole American economy, to a heavy hand of the government, but if Republicans don’t sit at the table and acknowledge it’s a problem that’s going to happen.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you, Congressman. I’d like both of you to answer a very simple yes or no question, just a yes or no please.
Joe Walsh: That’s hard.
Anthony Fisher: Congressman, would you rejoin the Paris climate accords?
Joe Walsh: No.
Anthony Fisher: Governor Weld?
Bill Weld: Immediately.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you.
Joe Walsh: Can I explain?
Linette Lopez: No!
Anthony Fisher: Protecting coal industry jobs was a major part of President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Let’s take a listen.
Trump: And we’ve ended the war on clean beautiful coal and we are putting.. our coal miners back to work. Clean coal. Clean coal.
Anthony Fisher: Coal does produce about a third of America’s energy, but it is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. And according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics jobs in solar and wind technologies are two of America’s fastest growing occupations. Congressman. Under your administration when the future of America’s energy be coal, green energy or something else entirely?
Joe Walsh: Well it would be all of the above. But it probably wouldn’t be much coal. See that’s a lie. That’s that’s President Trump saying I’m gonna build the wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. When President Trump said that and he said stuff like that a bunch he knew and he knows that the coal industry is dying in this country and it should be dying in this country because it’s being replaced by cleaner forms of energy: natural gas and nuclear. I mean we lost 15 per cent of our total output two years ago under President Trump. We’re we’re on track to lose 20 per cent of our coal output this year. It’s a good thing. It should be replaced. It’s dirty but it’s an all the above thing we’ve got again we talk about a balance with every issue. Balance our use of fossil fuels knowing that the future is renewables.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you. Governor what is your…
Bill Weld: No there’s no room for coal or oil. I say not with a heavy heart but with a light heart. It’s going to be just exhilarating not to be dependent on foreign oil. No room for coal or oil in our energy mix. It’s going to be a renewables. Where I get off the Green New Deal is is a couple things. Number one, although AOC had nuclear in her first draft, the beautiful people made her take it out because it has weight.
Anthony Fisher: There were a lot of things in that first draft.
Bill Weld: Therefore therefore it’s dirty. Therefore we’re not going to we’re not going to love it, we’re not embrace it. I think you have to embrace nuclear power. So does the Union of Concerned Scientists, so do the most responsible environmentalist. I think it should be 25 per cent of our base. I’ve been around to a lot of underpopulated counties who would love to have most of them have nukes already. Another another nuclear plant. It’s a big employer it’s a great it’s a great neighbour. And I’m not talking about building a ginormous plant on a barrier reef which is what they did at Fukushima. I’m talking about essentially the best pocket of nuclear plants. And I think they’re the wave of the future. It’s been done in Europe with great, great impacts so that’s point number one on the Green New Deal. The other one is …
Anthony Fisher: Sorry, governor, that’s time.
Joe Walsh: If I can just add….
Anthony Fisher: Very briefly.
Joe Walsh: We’re not going to get rid of oil tomorrow and we shouldn’t. You’ve talked about this place for is that I am not getting rid of it.
Anthony Fisher: A drone attack recently crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. President Trump has responded by deploying US troops to the kingdom. And there are concerns of a hot war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As president how would you deal with the increasingly complicated U.S. Saudi relationship.
Joe Walsh: I would be honest with the Saudis, because Republican, Democrat after Democrat president, Republican president after Democrat president through the years had not met. Look at Iran’s the biggest threat in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is no great guy either. OK so I worry about with these troops us getting further involved in a region that we shouldn’t get involved in. Our men and women ought to be home from Afghanistan by now. We support Israel and we’ve got to do whatever we can to encourage that part of the world to move toward a democracy. But I don’t like us placing resources in there especially placing American troops. And one final point Anthony is Trump, The Trump administration I think…. Mike Pompeo said… did it. We’re in this weird scary place where we don’t believe what our own president says. I mean think about that. We don’t believe when Iran tells us we don’t believe what Saudi Arabia tells us. But the rest of the world right now doesn’t believe what a United States president say.
Anthony Fisher Thank you Congressman.
Joe Walsh That’s troubling.
Anthony Fisher: Governor how would you handle U.S. Saudi relations?
Joe Walsh: One of the things that troubles me about this Trump in the foreign area as he claims to be a non-interventionist but he’s awful quick on sending those troops. You know a couple of months ago he said after a discussion with his national security adviser I’m sending 5000 more troops to the Middle East immediately. Well they never got there because they must have had a second thought or a third thought. And he never said what it was for. I’m not quite clear why we’re sending troops to Saudi Arabia to defend their oil supplies. Don’t they have any troops Over there? I know they have a lot of weapons because we sold them all to Saudi Arabia but maybe maybe we should make sure they know how to fly those planes and fire those missiles. I just I don’t get it. Boots on the ground to another country for regime change or to correct something that we see in the other country that we don’t like. That’s the height of you know, the lessons we learned from the Iraq war we shouldn’t do that. I agree with the congressman our troops should have been home from Afghanistan a long time ago. but we’ve been there 18 years. People say oh we can’t bring them home now to which they respond. It begs the question when? How about never is never what for you? Because that’s what they really mean.
Anthony Fisher: I’d like to take a question from our online audience. In 2015 the Supreme Court made same sex marriage legal in all 50 states but according to the Public Religion Research Institute almost half of Republicans oppose same sex marriage. Governor Weld you signed one of the earliest laws legalizing same sex partnerships at the state level. What do you say to members of your own party who still are hostile to gay and trans rights. No I’d say you’ve got to get with it. You’ve got it. You just have to wrap your mind around that. And I’m just so sorry. But I came out for LGBTQ rights before anybody else did. I was by myself for 20 years on that I appointed the woman who wrote the opinion holding same sex marriage is constitutionally required under both the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause and became part of the Foundation for the US Supreme Court decision. I appointed a slew of lesbian judges, gays and lesbians to my Cabinet. I presided over the marriage of two gay members of my Cabinet. So I’m what you might call all in on this issue. One of the first things I did was to appoint a commission on gay and lesbian youth. We had a rash of suicides in central Massachusetts as a result of bullying in our high schools.
Anthony Fisher: Governor, your record is clear. What I asked was “How are you going to reach Republican voters who are still hostile to gay and trans rights?”
Joe Walsh: I’ll tell them it’s like the story about the gay suicides and relate stories of people for including Mayor Pete. Who I’ve gotten to know and like a great deal on the campaign trail. He’s very quick to say the most important thing in his life was decided by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court. And is someone I understand from Supreme Court Judge…
Anthony Fisher: I have a question for you. Last month the advocacy group GLAAD said that you have quote used the power of your public profile to repeatedly attack the LGBTQ community. How do you respond.
Joe Walsh: First off on your first question Anthony look same sex marriage is the law of the land. And how are we going to get Republican voters to eventually embrace it? This is one of those issues where it’s going to take time. And we have to let time play itself out. And I think the answer for most Republican voters eventually is the family. Is over the next number of years seeing love being same sex parents parent their kids. Republican voters Anthony conservatives that I’ve spoken to for years on the radio they value the family the nuclear family a together family more than anything. I think as year as the months and the years go by and they see that loving children can be raised by same sex parents. This is one of those issues that will eventually move Republican opinion.
Anthony Fisher: I’d like you to respond very briefly to the question of GLAAD saying that you’ve used the power power of your public profile to repeatedly attacked the LGBTQ community.
Joe Walsh: I disagree with that vehemently. I use the power of my public profile to go at the issue and talk about the issue and try to find common ground on the issue. I’m a big supporter of anybody gay lesbian straight or transgender serving in the military. This is one of those issues though where when you’ve got strong minded people on one side or another side pushing it too hard for the American people instead of trying to find an area of compromise for instance being able to use whatever washroom facilities or shower facilities according to the sex that you identify as. Fine. People in America should have that freedom to be able to do that. But we’ve got to think about the people sitting in high school situations other students 17 and 18 year olds Anthony who may be uncomfortable with that. So it’s finding the common ground.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you. I’d like to ask both of you this question. A significant number of President Trump supporters say they backed him because of his willingness to say outrageous and offensive things. In their view, Trump as a necessary reaction to an overly sensitive culture of political correctness. Congressman do you agree with that perspective? Your 60 seconds.
Joe Walsh: Yes I’m done. Yes. We’re … Look. It’s a great time to be alive. And we’re divided. I’ve been in, I I’ve been in the business of trying to break down political correctness for years because I want honest dialogue. I do a podcast back home called Uncomfortable Conversations with a black radio host from Chicago. He’s the black guy. I’m the white guy. We sit down for an hour and we talk about these uncomfortable issues like race and racism. How can black people white people look at the police differently. How come black people don’t like the Republican Party. We have these conversations because I abhor Americans who don’t want us talking about sensitive issues. I so believe in free speech. And I get really worked up when we try to shut down, Anthony, speech we don’t agree with. In this political correctness, the cancel culture, you said something five years ago and now you can’t get a job now?
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Congressman.
Joe Walsh: We’re way too sensitive on that stuff.
Anthony Fisher: Well do you agree with the perspective of many Trump supporters that he was a necessary reaction to an overly sensitive culture of political correctness?
Bill Weld: Yeah I think that’s spot on for how he got elected. I thought his most powerful line was ‘I’m going to drain the swamp’ like the congressman and I’ve always been known as politically incorrect, perhaps because I spoke truth to power before it was fashionable, but no I felt the same way about the bureaucracy in Washington. It used to drive me crazy. My little diatribe about the budget. You can tell. Don’t get me started about the bureaucracies. And that’s what the president was the current president then candidate was talking about when he said he wanted to drain the swamp. And…
Anthony Fisher: Draining the swamp and the bureaucracy is different than pushing back on political correctness and a lot of conservatives would call identity politics.
Bill Weld: I found it very refreshing how unpolitically correct he was. And I remember early going, thinking that he was the most refreshing of the candidates. At least he didn’t stand around on one foot and crane his neck and look uncomfortable and look the other way from right away from Donald Trump wherever he was standing. In the early going, he was quite an appealing candidate. The problem is we know a lot more now than we did three years ago about how this guy is going to comport himself in office. He’s coming apart before our eyes.
Anthony Fisher: A Quinnipiac poll from last month showed more than 70 per cent of voters including half of Republicans want Congress to take action on gun violence. Walsh you’re on record saying you would loosen gun restrictions. Do you have any plans to address gun violence in America.
Joe Walsh: Well I’m a big gun guy I believe in the second then. Plain and simple. There’s no silver bullet to this issue. Gun violence is down the last 30 to the last 30 to 40 years. Crimes with guns murders with guns. The numbers are all good. Over the last 30 to 40 years the problem we have now in this country is this is, are these mass shootings. There are a lot of things we need to look at. And Anthony I am a big gun guy. But here’s what our focus should be on. We don’t want anybody who shouldn’t have a gun to have a gun. When I leave here in about an hour if I go to a gun dealer down the street and I want to buy a gun I have to go to I have to get a federal background check. It makes sense to me that if I buy that same gun at a gun show, I should have to undergo a federal background check. It makes the same sense to me that if I buy a gun online, I should have to undergo the background check. It makes similar sense that if I buy that same gun from a friend across town I should have got a background check. If you can do things like that, Anthony, I think that will help, but then we’ve got to really take a serious look at mental health issues in this country.
Anthony Fisher: Governor Weld, do you have plans to address gun violence?
Bill Weld: So I’m a longtime federal prosecutor inside the Criminal Division in Washington. I worked with the FBI unit that deals with serial murderers and those sickos. And I think it’s fair to say that the people committing these mass shootings are sickos. So I am pretty strongly in favour of a version of these red flag laws that enable a co-worker or family member to petition a judge and you can get in front of the judge in six hours in this country, saying this guy has a history of violence, he’s exhibiting recent violent tendencies, he’s carrying around a list of people he says he’d like to kill. He’s talked about his admiration for Osama bin Laden and spoken favourably of Islamic jihad. These are all trigger words and trigger states and get in front of a judge and see whether it holds up and then if so this guy and usually these guys have six guns at home, so you know take the guns away in a, by all means, before something happens there and that… It’s going to come a lot closer to solving the problem than other other solutions which are being not at that popular time. But at every point..
Anthony Fisher: We have to move on Congressman.
Linette Lopez: So we’re nearing the halfway point of debate. We asked some Republicans and independents what they thought of the Republican Party under Trump and how it will look going forward. Let’s watch.
Anthony Fisher: Welcome back. Joining me now the moderator desk is Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget.
Henry Blodget: Thank you, Mr. Fisher. Hello gentlemen. Very much looking forward to my time with you. But for now you’re in Mr. Fisher’s good hands.
Anthony Fisher: Governor Weld, when Congressman Walsh announced his candidacy you said you were thrilled that others were joining the fight for the Republican nomination. But even the most optimistic polling has you’re about 16 per cent when matched up head to head with President Trump. It’s virtually impossible for you to win the Republican nomination. So how do you see a path to victory.
Bill Weld: Oh I don’t agree with that at all. I think I’m probably ahead of where John McCain was in his two insurgent campaigns which were successful in winning the New Hampshire primary. My strategy is to win the New Hampshire primary not to place as Pat Buchanan did. And he got 37 per cent of the vote and even so not George Bush 41. All of these things, led to his eventual defeat. There were five times in recent elections that a sitting president running for re-election has had a primary from within the party. All five times that President lost not in the, not in the final, but they were weakened and they lost in the general election or else withdrew. You know I go into the diners and shake 200 hands at a time in New Hampshire and I get between 2 and 10 Trump voters out of 200 people whose hands I shake there. So there’s some, there’s some disconnect there between the polls with a very tight screen that are focusing on the Republican State Committee and it’s hangers-on and those who voted in the last five Republican primary elections. And I’m reaching out not to those Republicans but to millennials and women and unaffiliated voters, independents, particularly in the crossover states of which they’re 20. And four of them are pretty early on: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and you’ve got Wisconsin. And a different strategy.
Anthony Fisher: Congressman Walsh you’re polling even lower than Governor Weld against President Trump. What is your path to nomination.
Joe Walsh: Anthony I’ll get to that answer. But I got I got to start there. Not let’s just be clear let’s not mince words. Donald Trump is a horrible human being. Now only a very broken political system right, and a very divided country would produce that. But here’s the thing about that. Donald Trump has an added one new voter in two and a half years. Not one new voter, yet he’s got a devoted base of about 35 per cent of this country. But he’s going to beat. If he’s the nominee in November, any Democrat will beat him. But how do you beat him. And here’s how we beat him. Here’s how I beat him in the primary. When I say that Donald Trump is a horrible human being when I say that I’m tired of his drama. I’m tired of this B.S. I’m tired of the ugly tweets. I’m tired of the division every single day. When I say that publicly like I do as a candidate every day, I firmly believe most Republican voters privately they believe that. The objective of this campaign Anthony is to get them to come out and say publicly what they believe privately and let’s not forget what happened today. The president’s going to be impeached. This is just beginning.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Congressman. I’d like to give you both 30 seconds with a follow up. The Washington Post found that 40 per cent of congressional Republicans who were in office when President Trump was inaugurated have since retired resigned or lost their seats. That’s a lot of turnover for a party that controls the White House. Governor Weld do you think the Republican brand is irreparably damaged?
Bill Weld: Yeah, I think it’s damaged and I think the president has no plans to help his fellow Republicans. If you look at the actions he’s taken he’s made it impossible for Republicans to run in suburban districts. He’s just looking for an electoral 270 electoral votes for himself. He doesn’t care what happens to the Republicans. And he’s you know, they’re spending the entire year defending him which is what they did with Nixon when he was lying to the American people. And then it turned out that Nixon was lying and all those Republicans were defeated by a mile. They were blown away the next year. And I think I think they’re going to get blown away in 2020 if those congressional Republicans because of Trump.
Joe Walsh: The Republican Party brand sucks and it sucks because of him. Young people can’t stand the party brand. Women can’t stand the party brand. People who live in the suburbs can’t stand it and people of colour can’t stand the Republican Party brand. And as long as Donald Trump is there that brand will suck. That’s why it’s so important for people to challenge him in the primary now, so that we can plant our flag and say this is not who we are.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Congressman. You’ve said the turning point in your support for President Trump came after he met with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. He was widely criticised for siding with a foreign leader over his own intelligence agencies. He’s also alienated longtime U.S. allies undermine NATO and a lot of people think he’s completely upended the post-World War Two international order. As president, how would you pick up U.S. foreign policy where Trump has left off?
Joe Walsh: In just one correction Anthony, Helsinki wasn’t the turning point for me it was the final straw. It was the final straw with Trump when he stood in front of the world and said I like that guy. I believe Putin and not my own people. I say often in fact I say every day that Donald Trump is unfit. I believe that I believe that because he can’t tell the truth. But more importantly Anthony I believe it because he is in capable of thinking or caring about anybody but himself. And so it doesn’t matter about American security. He’ll sit down and have a summit with Kim Jong un no matter how brutal and bad that guy is. If Donald Trump can get a big old photo op does it matter if it’s a bad horrible thing to invite the Taliban to Camp David. As long as Donald Trump might get the Nobel Peace Prize, we’ve got a president who can’t put the country’s interests ahead of ours. We need a president who will put the country’s interests first.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Congressman. Governor Weld how would you pick up foreign policy.
Bill Weld: Before I get to foreign affairs 15 seconds. I kind of agree. I mean I do definitely agree with Congressman Walsh. We have to remember that the president is a sick man. He’s a he’s a malignant narcissist. He’s not happy unless other people are losing. He’s a mega megalomaniac. He’s totally wrapped up in his own head he’s filled with fear. He’s filled with hatred. He has to offload his anxiety every morning as soon as he wakes up, that’s where the tweet tweets come from. He has profound autocratic tendencies. He thinks he’s going to be the man on the white horse who’s going to save us all. He absolutely does not want to have elections and he thinks he can take over everything. He’s a direct threat to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. That’s A. B on foreign policy. (laughs from audience). On foreign policy I would re-engage our allies and rejoin the Paris accord. I would rejoin the JCPOA away with Iran from 2015 and I would join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I understand that the uses of military power are self-defence but also keeping the sea lanes and the air lanes open for free trade among countries. He doesn’t even believe in free trade. He doesn’t have any conception about foreign policy.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Governor. Governor Weld this question is for you. You ran as the 2016 libertarian vice presidential candidate but shortly before the election you went on TV to quote vouch for the character of Hillary Clinton. A lot of Republicans said they were voting against Hillary Clinton more than they were voting for Donald Trump. Do you think this could pose a problem for you now if you’re running as a Republican again?
Bill Weld: Yeah it could, but I always tell the truth. You know I call it like I see them. I don’t care who knows it. And I’ve known her for a long time I don’t think she’s a crook. I don’t think she belongs in jail. Nobody was standing up for her. Nobody. But maybe Donna Brazile from the Democratic National Committee I thought that was kind of odd. You know I’ve known her a long time I’ve known her to mentor a lot of people. So I said I’ll I’ll vouch for her personally. It was not a political endorsement although it was widely take it as such, by my people who were not in the Bill Weld camp. But that’s why I did it. And I would do it again because I think it’s only being honest and rescue and trying to rescue someone from a bully. I despise bullies.
Anthony Fisher: Congressman Walsh, according to a Kaiser poll from this month more than half of Americans have a favourable view of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it’s commonly known. For the past eight years Republicans have been working to defund or repeal Obamacare. Congressman, how would your administration work to ensure all Americans have access healthcare?
Joe Walsh: Anthony, this would probably be if I’m elected president the issue I would start with. There is no more important issue in this country than this. We’ve got the American people living longer and longer and longer. That’s a good thing. But how we pay for the health care for all of these Americans living longer and longer and longer. Neither the Republican Party or the Democrat Party want to talk about that. And you’ve got Democrats out there again well-meaning Democrats saying Medicare for all. Just have the government do everything. And then you’ve got Republicans out there Anthony saying. Nothing. Because they’re afraid to talk about health care. It would be the issue I’d want to lead a discussion on.
Anthony Fisher: What would you do?
Joe Walsh: Here’s the issue. We have to take care of and make sure that people in need in this country and those people with chronic health care conditions are always taken care of and never have to worry about their health care needs the rest of the American people need to begin paying for the day to day health care costs and then look at things like universal catastrophic care coverage.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Congressman. Governor Weld, how would your administration work to ensure Americans have access to health care?
Bill Weld: Well I think I’d trying to have Americans have the option of having health savings accounts where they could send money aside on a tax advantaged basis to create their own plan instead of having a government mandate. Everyone’s got to have a Cadillac plan, and people do make such decisions all the time. People buy insurance with no deductible if they can’t take the hit with a big deductible if they want to have their premiums go down. People make their decisions to buy prescription drugs in Canada to buy insurance across state lines which they’re not allowed to do right now because of the government. So I want to skinny down the role of the government in the Affordable Care Act and place more decisions in the hands of patients and their doctors and have people making their own health care decisions instead of having that all come from a federal bureaucracy.
Joe Walsh: Anthony can I jump in?
Anthony Fisher: 15 seconds.
Joe Walsh: This is really really important. Nobody talks about how much this is ever going to cost. And to the young people in the audience your country right now it’s almost twenty three trillion dollars in debt. I’ll be long gone. I’m not going to pay that back. You are. This country has got to have an honest discussion about how we pay off our debt.
Anthony Fisher: Thanks so much Congressman. According to Pew Research about half of Republicans feel immigrants are a burden on this country while most Democrats say immigrants strengthen the country. Governor Weld, how do you plan to talk to your fellow Republicans about immigrants in the US?
Bill Weld: I’m going to tell them the truth. We need more work visas not fewer. Immigrants made this country great. It’s a melting pot. Donald Trump wishes it weren’t a melting pot. I want to wish him a lot of luck on that. And I think the whole canard about oh of these 11 million people that didn’t stand in line, they don’t want to be citizens. They don’t want to be citizens. A lot of them are people who overstayed their visa by one week, as I’ve done coming back from Europe on a 30 day visa. So the whole thing is a scare tactic by by President Trump, in order to stir up the pot and have people hating. He wants people to hate like Big Brother in the Orwell novel 1984. He wanted everyone to hate and beam hate into their heads two minutes every afternoon. And Trump started with the Muslims, he went on to Hispanics then he went on to people of colour.
Bill Weld: He always has to have someone to hate. And it’s pure politics and it’s the lowest kind of low.
Bill Weld: I mean to say he’s divisive is an understatement. And now Steve. Steve Bannon has, his Robespierre, says that if he’s re-elected this could be four years of unrequited payback. Payback for what? This guy is unhinged.
Anthony Fisher: Thanks so much Governor.
Joe Walsh: The Governor’s right. For Trump it is just a scare tactic. But listen to me for the American people it’s a real issue. People are in this country illegally and what do we do about it. It’s a real issue. Are we a sovereign nation? Do we have borders. Are we going to defend those borders? It’s a real issue, not a scare tactic to a lot of Americans. The governor is right when it comes to people coming here legally. The more the merrier. And it shouldn’t matter, it doesn’t matter what your colour is, it doesn’t matter what your creed is, it doesn’t matter what country you come from. It doesn’t. None of that matters. We welcome you. If you want freedom and opportunity. When it comes to people in this country illegally and people who come here illegally, again that’s another issue where Republicans and Democrats have to find a solution because you live on the border right now you live in Texas and Arizona right now it’s easy to say right here in our Manhattan studio that we don’t have a problem with illegal immigration in this country. Live on the border for a month. It’s a real issue that impacts Americans. Neither party is prepared to talk about.
Anthony Fisher: Thank you Congressman. I’m going to turn the reins over to Henry Blodget.
Henry Blodget: Thank you Mr. Fisher. Hello again gentlemen. Staying on immigration for a minute. Let’s just do a follow up Congressman. How do you bridge that difference between Republicans and Democrats. How do you solve this issue of 11 million people.
Joe Walsh: We both got to give. And I have a reputation as a pretty headlined on immigration. So I got to give and and I want my borders secure. I want our laws followed. But we’ve got eleven to how many people in this country illegally we got almost a million Dreamers who are here through no fault of their own. Both sides have to come together and give a little on this issue because it’s not getting better. There has to be a tradeoff. Between border security and dealing with the immigrants who are here and the biggest problem at the border right now Henry is this asylum issue and that’s something we got to move on a lot faster.
Henry Blodget: Yes, I’ll come back to that. Governor Weld, how would you solve it?
Bill Weld: Well I mean I agree with the congressman. now all the people who are worried about the immigrants being in our midst, they deserve to have a secure southern border. But that’s not rocket science. And all the experts say what you really need to secure the Mexican border is more people and more drones. We need more judges to handle asylum cases, you need more people to process the refugees and regular applicants coming in from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. And that’s what all the experts say we need. And it’s probably not as expensive as a 200 mile long 200 foot high wall but that should be number one and then everything else is easy once everyone relaxes about the immigrants.
Joe Walsh: Henry, Trump is just a demagogue and he did such a great disservice to this. All he talked about was a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. It’s so much more complicated than that.
Henry Blodget: So a question for both of you on the southern border. We have a crisis of this situation. President Trump his hardline stance on immigration has been extremely popular with a lot of his supporters it’s part of what got him elected and he has done things that have shocked Americans and the world. Detention, unlimited detention in crowded camps separating families. How would you solve the actual crisis now on the southern border.
Joe Walsh: Well and again the distinction that President Trump won’t make politically is people who cross our border and enter illegally to come into this country illegally and people who come here legally to claim asylum. You have a right from anywhere on this planet to come to our country and claim asylum. Those people we need to treat humanely and those are the people Henry that as Governor Weld said man we’ve got to adjudicate their cases a heck of a lot quicker keep families together. Most of the people who claim asylum especially when they’re given a lawyer and I bet mostly audience doesn’t know if you come here to claim asylum. And it takes two years or more to adjudicate your case. But most of these folks when they’re given a lawyer they show up for their hearing. We just got to devote the resources money and resources from more judges down at the border. It shouldn’t take two years it should take two months.
Henry Blodget: And Governor Weld is that your solution?
Bill Weld: Yes it is money for more people in adjudicator positions and border agents and drones to catch the bad guys coming across the soccer field in Tijuana and the coyotes who prey on people coming across the soccer field.
Henry Blodget: Another question on immigration for both of you. Congressman Walsh you raised this issue earlier. Younger voters tend to lean more liberal with respect to immigration. They tend to be more inclusive with respect to race and religion and they voted in record numbers in the 2018 midterms. Back in 2012 the Republican Party itself said quote young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents. Congressman Walsh to be elected president you will presumably want to appeal to younger voters. How do you get them past that?
Joe Walsh: And Henry, it’s even worse now. I sometimes I just feel like an old guy an old white guy when I talk to Americans in their 20s and 30s because they have got issues that really interests them like climate change, like the LGBT community, like immigration that they care deeply about and our party right now is so tone deaf. I think we’ve got to be honest and frank and be willing to dialogue. One of the big problems with the Republican Party my party and it’s gotten so much worse under him is we don’t dialogue with minority communities we don’t dialogue with the LGBT community and we don’t know how to talk to young people. Immigration is a big issue and and as long as we have a border Henry that border needs to be secure. And that message needs to be conveyed to young people. But then the Republican Party has got to understand that we’ve got to be a lot more humane again especially with a population like the dreamers who came here through no fault of their own.
Henry Blodget: Thank you Congressman. GOVERNOR Weld?
Bill Weld: I’ll give you another reason why we need to lighten up a little bit on our anti-immigrant rhetoric particularly in the left half of the country. I spent a lot lot of time in Texas and West in the last cycle and you could not populate. You cannot staff either the agricultural industry or the construction industry either in Texas or anywhere west of Texas in this country all the way up to the border without yes those brown people coming across that infamous Mexican border to supply the necessary labour. And it’s going to happen one way or the other or those industries are going to shut down in the West and business of America is by and large quite pro immigration for this reason. Canada has a very robust guest worker program that allows on top of the table allows many many people to come and work for four months. They send remittances home to yes Mexico but also yes Guatemala El Salvador, Honduras, troubled troubled countries of origin and then they go home after four months because they want to be with their families. They don’t want to come here by themselves without their family and stay indefinitely. That’s a hugely successful program we should have one like it.
Joe Walsh: And Henry, think about this. The president and states what two months ago told four brown skinned congresswomen to go back to where they came from. Now is it any surprise that most young people think the Republican Party is anti-immigrant? Most Republicans I know Henry are not anti immigrant they’re anti illegal. Because of Trump and truthfully a lot of Republican rhetoric, we’ve done a lousy job of conflating that.
Henry Blodget: So following up on that Congressman Walsh you supported back in 2016 the ‘make America great campaign’ uh, great again. And you’ve said racist things in the past. You called President Obama a Muslim, as recently as last year. How do you persuade Republican voters younger voters and America to trust you, the people who feared Trump’s racist.
Joe Walsh: I helped create Trump. Period.
Joe Walsh: I went to Washington eight nine years ago obsessed with the fact that we’re bankrupting future generations. I was part of that Tea Party way. Focused on the issues but plenty of times over the last seven or eight years. I got lost of these issues and I engaged like many in my tea party comrades did, I engaged in personal hateful rhetoric some of which Henry, I got to live with the whole rest of my life and knowing that I helped create Trump.
Joe Walsh: Maybe a, maybe a lousy thing to say on TV but I’m going to say it. Maybe a reformed gang member or a reformed outlaw like me sorry Helaine, who understands Henry some of what I did and we did to help create Trump can help bring the country together and heal the divide.
Henry Blodget: Governor Weld, would you like to respond to that?
Bill Weld: It makes me very nervous because if my wife thinks you’re Jesse James she’s gonna want to run off with you. Yeah. No. I love working with the congressman and you know I think his head is in exactly the right place about the present and the future of politics in the United States.
Henry Blodget: Switching topics, President Trump routinely rages against the media. He denounces respected news organisations as quote fake news and quote enemies of the people. Recently he even blasted Fox News as quote ‘not working for us anymore.’ Everybody gets frustrated by press coverage they don’t like, including me. But a free press is a part of our Constitution and a cornerstone of our democracy. Congressman Walsh you are in the media now. What do you think of President Trump’s attacks on the media and how will you handle your own frustrations with the media as president?
Joe Walsh: It’s abhorrent but again, where does it come from? He’s not a president. Donald Trump doesn’t think of himself like a president. He’s a dictator. He doesn’t respect the First Amendment. He doesn’t know what the First Amendment is. Can we just be real? I mean come on, dictators, Henry speak that way. The enemy of the people. But this this isn’t unusual at all. Fake news I get it. The media’s too liberal, the media’s too conservative. I understand. Talk like that. But for the president of the United States to have declared war on CNN and Business Insider and the rest of the media is abhorrent to everything we believe in America. Henry no matter who the next president is, their job is going to be to unite. Unite us with our allies. Unite Americans at home. Unite different members of the media. This guy took a divided country, and he’s hell bent on dividing it even more. If I’m elected president I’m going to try to unite us.
Henry Blodget: Governor Weld?
Bill Weld: Amen on the emphasis on unity. I think that you know, when the president said a free press is the enemy of the people, that’s straight out of the handbook, the playbook of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and many many other dictators through history. And it just sent a chill down my spine. And he’s given so many.. that he wants to dismantle our democratic institutions including free and fair elections one by one and knock down all those trees until it would be no no resisting him. It’s very clear that’s what what’s in his head. Now he has a book in his house the greatest speeches of Adolf Hitler, which is according to testimony of his first divorce trial. It’s one of his favourite books. This guy is he’s just way out there. And I think we have begun to see in the last two months him coming unglued. And it’s time for him to be removed. That’s what’s going to save us all. It’s not going to be Donald Trump. It going to be the absence of Donald Trump.
Henry Blodget: Re-follow up for the both of you on the press. The president is an employee of all of us and there is a room in the White House which used to be used for press briefing. But the current president decided to cancel press briefings because apparently according to the new press secretary he was annoyed at some of the questions. As president, will both of you commit to using our collective press briefing room in the White House?
Bill Weld: Yes and attending the White House correspondent dinner. Thank you Henry.
Joe Walsh: Henry. He’s a he’s a child. If you say something nice about him he likes you. If you don’t he doesn’t. Look I I’m pretty darn outspoken. I love speech. I believe in total transparency and I will invite the media to the White House all the time.
Henry Blodget: Thank you both. We appreciate it. This will be the last question of the evening and then we’ll go to closing statements. You both have made a very impassioned compelling arguments why this country should effectively unelected President Trump and nominate and then elect you. But. You have a problem. In a recent speech President Trump bragged about the loyalty of his supporters. Let’s listen.
Video Interlude: We have the greatest base. I believe in the history of politics. Well I wouldn’t be here with all the things I’ve done. They never wavered. They never wavered. Can you believe? Anybody else be down to 2 per cent right now.
Henry Blodget: President Trump even famously joked that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn’t lose any voters. And he seems to have a point. No matter what he says or does, his approval rating does not seem to drop much below 40 per cent. Congressman Walsh. What is your plan to break through that?What one of our viewers describes as quote blind devotion to President Trump.
Joe Walsh: By Henry, by trying to convey two things. That. This country cannot handle four more years of his B.S. The country will be endangered. Period. And Henry I firmly believe like I know Bill Weld believes, deep down most Republicans know that they’re afraid to say it. They need an alternative. The other message I want to convey to Republican voters this next year is Donald Trump hasn’t done squat for ya. Donald Trump hasn’t done anything for a point governor talked about he was going to drain the swamp he is the swamp he is the swamp the most corrupt president we’ve had in this nation’s history all he’s done is enrich himself. All he’s done is go to his golf courses, have members of foreign governments stay at his hotels and middle class Americans who put their faith in him in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. These tariffs, Trump’s tariffs are killing them. And Henry for the first time, now we’re beginning to lose manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This guy hasn’t delivered. For it’s a big con job. He hasn’t delivered for that.
Henry Blodget: Thank you Governor. Governor Weld, you have likened President Trump to the emperor with no clothes? We saw that earlier. That is a reference to a fable about a leader parading down the main street wearing nothing but his birthday suit and he is so brainwashed his subjects that everybody thinks he’s wearing beautiful clothes. How do you plan to show Republican voters that our emperor has no clothes?
Bill Weld: Well you know he he does have pretty strong support among a segment of the electorate which is somewhere in the 30s between 30 and 40 per cent. I tend to think that’s going to drop. It’s certainly not going to grow. That’s not a majority. It’s not even close to majority, but very hard for me to see how he can recover and grow that that base that he has to to win the election. Beyond that I think it’s going to be a tough six months and 12 months for the president partly because he is being called on the carpet now through the impeachment process and there are going to be daily, very bad bits of very bad news for him. The house is not going to go out of its way either in the House or in the Senate to gild the lily. They’re going to say exactly what Donald Trump has done and what it’s done to the American people and that will be a political brief if you will, and it’s going to be hard to disregard because it’s going to be on page one of the newspapers every day between tomorrow and the election in 2020. I think he’s got a hard road ahead of him.
Henry Blodget: Thank you Governor Weld, thank you Congressman Walsh. Before we end tonight’s debate we invite you both to give a closing statement where you explain to America and the world why you should be president. Governor Weld you’re one minute.
Bill Weld: Well again I want to thank Business Insider. This is really great for both of us and I think for the country. You will have seen tonight from both me and the congressman that there are tried and true Republican conservative policies that we would like to see deployed by the party in Washington. It’s could be conserving our financial resources as with the budget, conserving our precious natural environment, As with climate change. We could be conserving the dignity of all Americans which Mr. Trump wants to undermine depending on what minority group you belong to. The most important from my point of view, as a small l libertarian, conserving the precious individual liberties of all all Americans. So I think Congressman and I would like to see those adopted by of the Republican Party. It is a right of centre country. We’re not left of centre like many of our European friends. And I think this has been a terrific evening and so my closing wishes from this night forward: let the dialogue continue.
Henry Blodget: Thank you Governor.
Joe Walsh: I end where I began. A very broken political system put a horrible human being in the White House. An absolutely horrible human being. We can do better. We have to do better than a president who tweets ugly insults every morning at the American people. We have to do better than a president who lies to us every time he opens his mouth. We’ve got to do better than a president who has zero respect for the rule of law. This guy can’t get re-elected. Bill and I have said he’s destroying the Republican Party. Forget about the Republican Party four more years of him. This country is in danger. I believe most Republicans feel as I do about Trump. And what I’m trying to do is to get them to be brave enough to come out and come public with what they know privately. If you’re willing to be brave and say ‘Man I feel this way about Trump. I’m tired of the B.S. I’m coming out. Go to Joe Walsh dot org, Joe Walsh dot org and be brave. Governor Weld thank you. Business Insider, you rock. Thank you. Thank you.
Anthony Fisher: This is the Business Insider 2020 Republican Presidential primary debate. I’d like to thank my colleagues Linette Lopez and Henry Blodget. Thank you to the candidates Governor Bill Weld and Congressman Joe Walsh. Thanks for watching us on Facebook. Join us at Business Insider dot com for more coverage of all 2020 races and we’ll see you tomorrow for another episode of Business Insider today.