Immigration, Deficits, Planned Parenthood: GOP Pack at Their First Big Forum

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked if Republicans would be able to win the presidential election while telling the truth about reforming entitlement programs.

“You have to have a concrete plan. You can’t just speak in generalities to folks – 71 percent of federal spending right now is between entitlements and debt service. When the American people hear that they understand what we are doing is mortgaging away not only our children’s future but killing those programs,” he said. “We need to increase the retirement age over a period of time. I’ve said two years over the next 25 years.”

Christie said politicians are failing the American people by not telling them the truth about the need to reform Social Security and Medicare for future generations.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was also asked what he would implement as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Carson said Obamacare has to be replaced before it is fully repealed.

“You don’t want to pull the safety net out from underneath people,” he said.

Carson said he would replace Obamacare with something that puts power back in the hands of consumers and healthcare providers.

“Health savings accounts – available from the day you are born until the day you die, you can pass it on when you die – we pay for it with the same dollars we use for traditional healthcare and give people flexibility, the ability to actually move money within their family,” he said.

Carson also said tax dollars should not fund Planned Parenthood.

“These recent videos show the atrocity of that and the level of depravity we have sunk into as a nation and we simply have to stop it,” he said.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki and Fiorina agreed.

“The videos just point out quite clearly that Planned Parenthood has a horrific disregard for basic human life and I think they should be defunded and the funds reprogrammed for other woman’s healthcare services,” Pataki said.

“This is about the moral character of our nation. It’s not about whether you are pro-choice or pro-life,” Fiorina said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the U.S. needs a strategy to defeat ISIS.

“We need Special Forces; the idea of boots on the ground, I’m not sure that’s necessary,” he said.

Bush said the U.S. needs to a do a better job training the Free Syrian Army.

“We’ve spent a half a billion dollars to have 60 people ready to go. This is absurd. If this a serious effort then we need to treat it seriously,” he said.

As president, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he would push back against China for stealing intellectual property and manipulating their currency.

“Here is my foreign policy and trade policy: a clenched fist and an open hand, you choose,” he said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the choice in the upcoming election is simple.

“Do you measure prosperity in the government sector or the real world? Hillary Clinton measures it in the government sector. We measure it in the real world,” he said.

Jindal argued Republicans in Congress should focus on reducing the federal budget, rather than simply slowing the growth of federal spending.

“We’ve got a bunch of math deniers in D.C. in both parties. We do need to shrink the size of the federal government,” he said.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the Iran nuclear deal for giving more than $100 billion to Iran, which Cruz called the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

“That money in turn, billions of it, will go on to Hamas, Hezbollah to the Houthis,” he said.

Asked about college affordability, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he would allow individuals to deduct the interest and principle of their student loans as a working expense throughout their entire working career.

“There’s no free lunch. You can’t just offer free education but I think tying it to work and making it deductible is a good idea,” he said.