But let's get right to the debate rules.
Candidates will get 30 seconds to answer an opening question and then 60 seconds to answer a formal question. They'll also get 30 seconds for rebuttals and follow-ups. All of this comes at the discretion of the moderators.
We want you to weigh in tonight, either from home or wherever you are. By the way, if you check it out on the bottom of the screen, you can see your tweets right there using #cnbcgopdebate. You can also go to cnbc.com/vote throughout the night to tell us where you stand.
First up, let's get right to the candidates for tonight's Republican Presidential Debate. I want to run you through the line on the stage from left to right.
First up, Governor Bobby Jindal.
QUICK: Senator Rick Santorum.
And Senator Lindsey Graham.
Obviously we have a lot to cover here tonight so let's get this started.
My colleague, John Harwood, has our first question -- John.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC HOST: We're going to pose this question to all candidates and go left to right, starting with Governor Jindal.
Governor, a majority of Republican voters at this point in the campaign have made clear that they prefer someone from outside the political system.
In 30 seconds, tell us why your experience inside the system would be more valuable than the fresh eyes an outsider would bring.
BOBBY JINDAL (R), GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA: I think the reason voters are so frustrated is nothing seems to change in D.C. Look, over the next several hours, you're going to hear several Republicans all tell you they want to shrink the size of government and grow the American economy and it sounds great and we've got to do it.
Here's the truth -- of all these folks talking, I'm the only one that has cut the size of government. There's not two of us, there's one of us. The rest of it is all just hot air. When politicians talk, we need to pay attention to what they do, not what they say.
I'm the only one that's reduced the size of government. Let's shrink the government economy. Let's grow the American economy.
HARWOOD: Thanks, Governor Jindal.
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR: Yes, I think it's one thing to shrink the size of a state government but it's another thing to actually get something accomplished in Washington. It's a much tougher field.
And I'm the one in the -- on this stage and, frankly, on both stages that has actually gone to Washington, said we would shrink government, said we would shake things up and actually delivered for the conservative cause, everything from welfare reform, which was the largest, most significant accomplishment in the last 25 years for conservatism.
I authored the bill when I was in the House of Representatives; I managed the bill on the floor of the United States Senate. You need a conservative who can deliver and that's what I bring to the table.
HARWOOD: Thank you, Senator.
GEORGE PATAKI, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: We need an outsider to run our party and to win the next election. Washington has become a corrupt insider game and everybody talks about how they're going to change the taxes, grow the economy. Nothing seems to change.
But, by the way, Bobby, I shrunk the size of New York State's government when I left. We had reduced the employment by over 25,000 and cut taxes.
But I understand that to change Washington you have to understand government as well. You can't just be an outsider. You can't just be someone who throws stones at Washington. You have to be someone who can actually bring people together across party lines.
I can do that, I will do that if I have the chance to lead this party.
HARWOOD: Thank you, Governor.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: Well, number one, thank you for having me here tonight.
How about a round of applause for Boulder, Colorado?
This is a beautiful place.
GRAHAM: Looking at their academic standards, the only way I could have gotten into this university is to be invited to this debate tonight.
GRAHAM: But here's my take on things. Without national security, there is no economic security. Without the sacrifice of the veteran, all of our hopes and dreams are at risk.
Just a few days ago, Hillary Clinton said that the problems with the V.A. are being exaggerated by Republicans.
GRAHAM: They are not, they are real.
HARDWOOD: Senator Graham, thank you very much. Becky?
QUICK: Governor Jindal, let's talk a little bit about the news of the day. Just a few hours ago, the Republicans and the Democrats in the House voted on a budget deal that will increase spending by about $80 billion dollars over the next two years. You, however, have called the Republicans who have been willing to work with the Democrats to do things like this the, "Surrender Party of the Republican caucus."
Would you have shut the government down instead?
JINDAL: Well, look, I think that's a false choice. I think this is a very bad deal. Whenever they tell us in D.C. they're going to cut tomorrow, that means they're never going to cut. Tomorrow never seems to happen. Instead, why don't we actually follow our conservative principles? Why not insist on structural reforms? Why not cut spending?
I don't mean strength (ph) the growth rate, I mean, actually spend less. Why not a balanced budget in the amendment -- an amendment to the Constitution? Why not a super-majority vote before they grow our taxes, before they grow the government faster than the economy?
Let's be honest, $18 trillion dollars of debt. Record low participation rate in the workforce, record number of Americans on food stamps. We are going the way of Europe. The left is trying to turn the American Dream into the European Nightmare. If you're a Republican...
QUICK: ...But Governor...
JINDAL: ...(INAUDIBLE) willing to stand up and fight...
QUICK: ...if you didn't have a choice, if you didn't control things in the house, would you take the choice of shutting things down, or would you go ahead and agree with them?
JINDAL: I think that's a false choice. If I were -- I were to lead, we would pass a conservative budget, challenge the President to do the right thing. And, here's the problem, the Republicans never want to fight. Give Pelosi and Reed credit, they forced Obamacare and socialism down our throats, why won't the Republicans fight half as hard for freedom and opportunity. This was a bad budget.
QUICK: Governor, thank you.
PATAKI: Becky, can I comment on this question?
HARDWOOD: Just hold on, Governor Pataki, we're going to go to Senator Graham on this question because we believe you are likely to be the only person on this stage tonight who supports this budget deal. Now, you just heard Governor Jindal say that it's a phony deal, it doesn't do anything, and people like you are surrendering rather than fighting by supporting it. Why is he wrong?
GRAHAM: Well, let me tell you what is real. The threat to our homeland. I've never seen so many threats to our homeland than I do today. Barack Obama is an incompetent Commander in Chief. There are more terrorist organizations with safe havens to attack the American homeland than anytime since 9/11. We're in the process of reducing our defense spending by half.
I am looking at this budget with one view in mind, will it restore the ability to defend this nation. We're on track to have the smallest army since 1940, the smallest navy since 1915, this budget, if it is paid for, will put $40 billion dollars back in the defense department at a time we need it.
The number one role of the federal government's to defend this nation, I intend to be a Commander in Chief that can win a war we cannot afford to lose.
HARDWOOD: Thank you, Senator Graham...
PATAKI: ...John, can I quickly comment on this one...
HARWOOD: ...Governor, we're going to get to you in just a moment, we're going to try to keep this shorter...
PATAKI: ...But, I want to speak on this issue...
QUINTANILLA: ...Question, in the meantime, for Senator Santorum. You have advocated a flat tax, so we'd like to ask you about fairness. Why is it fair to tax all Americans at the same rate, as opposed to taxing more affluent Americans at higher rates?
SANTORUM: Well, if you look at my flat tax, it actually takes the best of what Steve Forbes, Art Laffer (ph), many have been advocating for a long time, which is a very strong pro-growth tax code -- very simple. And, it adjusts it to make sure that it is not regressive.
We have a $2,750 per person tax credit -- that's $2,750 off the taxes due, not a deduction, a credit. And, we think -- in fact, if you run the numbers, no American who's going to be paying more taxes under our proposal, so, we've accomplished both.
We have a system that has a low single rate, but we take care of American families. I'm talking about $2,750 per person. That means a family four, that's $11,000 dollar tax credit. That's a very, very strong pro-family -- and if you looked at the Wall Street Journal today, and so many of the publications that have been out there, they've talked about how the biggest problem of the hollowing out of the middle of this country. For workers to be able to raise is actually, the breakdown of the American family.
William Galston (ph), a liberal, said that on the pages of the Wall Street Journal today that the key to poverty is families. So, we put forth a pro-growth -- Steve Forbes plan, combined it with a pro- family plan, and that's why I think it's going to work out, and work effectively.
QUINTANILLA: Senator, thank you. John -- Becky?
QUICK: Governor Pataki, let's get to your point. You wanted to make a comment on the budget. You want to get in on the idea, what would you do if you were in Washington? Would you compromise...
PATAKI: ...I think it was a bad deal, but I would have voted for it for a very simple reason. Barack Obama is the first president in American history to hold our military hostage. He knew that we needed funding for overseas contingency operations, $40 million dollars that would go to support our troops. And, he was prepared, and had vetoed it, unless this deal went through.
I have two sons, they both served overseas. One in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan, and I understand that we have got to do far more to help our military, help our veterans, and help protect our security.
This is a bad deal, but to protect our military, I would have signed it. Uh, it's not going to be the case, if I have a chance to lead this country, we're going to reduce the deficit, shrink the government, lower the tax burden and grow the private sector because that's how you solve deficits.
QUICK: Governor Pataki, thank you.
HARWOOD: Governor Jindal, a question about fiscal policy, especially since you noted that this deal doesn't solve the long-term debt situation.
When you came into office with a budget surplus in the state of Louisiana, now, years later, the state legislature faced a $1.6 billion budget gap and the Republican state treasurer called one of your approaches to that problem "nonsense on a stick," quoting him.
Are you going to do for the federal budget what you did for the Louisiana budget?
JINDAL: Absolutely, Jhon. And what we did is we cut state spending. We've cut our budget 26 percent, according to Cato and other analysis, the only candidate that's actually reduced government spending.
Look, the left always complains there's not enough money for government. We have 30,000 fewer state employees than the day I took office, eight credit upgrades, we're a top 10 state for private sector job creation.
We've got a choice. You grow the government economy or the American economy. When I became governor, we had 25 years in a row of outmigration. We were coming back from Katrina. The question many were asking, will Louisiana rebuild, should Louisiana rebuild?
Seven years in a row, more people moving into the state than were leaving the state.
We now have more people working than ever before, erg a higher income than ever before.
Yes, we've reduced the size of government. That's exactly what we need to do in DC. In DC, the Republicans slowed the growth rate, they claimed victory. That's not enough.
Let's be honest with where we are today. We are running off of a cliff. Look, we'll be the next Greece and we can talk and we can rearrange the chairs. Over over $18 trillion of debt, no wonder our economy has been stagnant. We haven't had real growth.
If you're a young student here, you've not seen a robust American economy.
HARWOOD: But Governor Jindal, as you know, many Republicans are opposed to the approach that you've taken in Louisiana. They complain that you have tried so hard to avoid anything that could be called a tax increase so that you could run for president saying you'd never raised taxes, David Vitter, the Republican who's now running to succeed you, has told voters, I won't be like Jindal, I'm not using the governorship as a stepping stone to higher office.
JINDAL: Well, Jhon, a couple of things.
Not only did we not raise taxes, we did the largest income tax cut in the state's history. And I'm proud of that record. I think that's the kind of leadership voters want in DC.
Look, if you want a Republican that's going go grow government spending, if you want a -- a president or if you want a candidate who's going to income taxes, I'm not your guy.
If you want somebody that's going to do and say the things that can't be said, can't be done, I'm asking a vote for me to join my cause. That's how dangerous these times are. This is -- this is a -- this is -- these are dangerous times for America. I think we have a chance to rescue the idea of America, but if we don't do it now, four years will be too late from now.
So, yes, I'm proud we cut taxes, we cut spending, 30,000 fewer state government bureaucrats than the day I took office. I absolutely will do that in DC.
HARWOOD: Governor Jindal, thank you.
HARWOOD: We're going to take a quick break.
The Republican presidential debate continues live from Boulder, Colorado in a moment.
QUINTANILLA: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debate live in boulder, Colorado, on cNBC. We resume our questions now with Jim Cramer, the host of cNBC's Mad Money.
CRAMER: Thank you. Governor Pataki, in the wake of the Sony hack last year, you said, quote, "at the very least, we should declare cyber-war on North Korea."
What does a cyber-war look like? And if our companies are getting attacked by foreign governments, do we need a military response?
PATAKI: No, I don't think we need a military response, but we need a coordinated response. And I have to say that I think the Obama administration has been completely lax, to say the least, in dealing with these cyber-attacks, not just by governments like North Korea, but by, particularly, Chinese and other companies.
And what I would do is put in place a policy where if we know a company, say, a Chinese company, is hacking into American companies, stealing trade secrets, as we know they do every day, we will retaliate against that company and say that that company's not going to be allowed to continue to do trade with the United States.
I would also look at what we're doing at the federal level and put in place what Israel has done: a -- one federal agency dealing with cybersecurity and charged with working across silos to make sure we have the best technology.
And, Jim, I've gotta tell you something, talking about cybersecurity. Hillary Clinton put a server, an unsecure server, in her home as secretary of state. We have no doubt that that was hacked, and that state secrets are out there to the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese and others.
That alone should disqualify her from being president of the United States.
CRAMER: Senator Graham, you're a hawk. Was that tough enough?
GRAHAM: Here's the problem. We're being walked all over because our commander in chief is weak in the eyes of our enemies. Do you think Putin would be in the Ukraine today if Ronald Reagan were president? Why are the Chinese stealing our intellectual property, hacking into our system? Why are they building islands over resource-rich waters? Because they can get away with it.
At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, the foreign policy of Barack Obama needs to be replaced, and the last person you want to find to replace his foreign policy is his secretary of state.
So to the Chinese, when it comes to dealing with me, you've got a clenched fist or an open hand. You pick. The party's over, to all the dictators. Make me commander-in-chief and this crap stops.
CRAMER: Thank you, Senator.
Senator Santorum. We know that a troubling amount of air pollution on the west coast comes from China. Should we enact a pollution tax on products imported from China and give our manufacturers a level playing field?
SANTORUM: What we should be -- we shouldn't be putting tariffs on anything. That hurts working men and women in this country. What we should be doing is making our manufacturing more competitive.
One of the reasons I introduced the 20/20 plan, a 20 percent flat tax on corporations, as well as on individuals, is so we can be competitive, so we can bring those manufacturing jobs back.
You want to talk about cutting pollution? You do a little back- of-the-envelope. We -- we produce, per dollar of GDP, about one-fifth of the CO2 and other pollutants that China produces. So we're five times more efficient in producing goods here, as far as the environment -- environment is concerned.
Why don't we -- if we really want to tackle environmental problems, global warming, what we need to do is take those jobs from China and bring them back here to the United States, employ workers in this country.
We've lost two million jobs -- two million jobs -- under this administration in manufacturing -- 15,000 manufacturers have left this country. Why? Because of bad tax policy, bad regulatory policy and, yes, bad trade policy.
We need to have a president that's going to pledge, as I have -- I'm going to make America the number-one manufacturer so working men and women can have good paying jobs again in America.
CRAMER: Thank you, Senator. John?
HARWOOD: Governor Jindal, Senator Santorum just raised the issue of corporate taxes, and cutting corporate taxes is very popular in your party because our rate, at 35 percent, is one of the highest in the world. But nobody has figured out how to identify a set of loopholes that would allow that tax rate to be lowered. So can you tell us specifically what loopholes you'd do away with?
JINDAL: Absolutely, John. I'd go further. My tax plan, like everybody's, like a lot of Republicans' -- look, I'd get rid of the death penalty and the marriage penalty, and I'd simplify the brackets to 25 percent, 10 percent, 2 percent, so that an average middle-class family -- a teacher marries a law enforcement official (ph)...
HARWOOD: We're talking corporate taxes.
JINDAL: ...I -- I'm gonna get that. Pays 25 percent today, would pay 10 percent under my plan. But my plan does three things different from other people's plans.
One -- remember, I said 2 percent. I think everybody should pay something, even if it's only 2 percent. That's the most important 2 percent in my plan.
I know a lot of Republicans brag -- y'all can clap, it doesn't scare me. Go ahead. I heard some people.
There are millions of -- there are millions of folks that wouldn't pay taxes in Jeb's plan and Trump's plan. I think that's a mistake.
In terms of the corporate tax, secondly, I'd get rid of the corporate tax. We do have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. I'd get rid of it. I'd get rid of all the corporate welfare. Make the CEOs pay their same tax rates the way the rest of us do.
And third, I'd purposely shrink the size of government. You know, that is a -- that is an intentional feature of my plan. We've got a choice: do we grow government -- the government economy, or the American economy?
So I say get rid of the corporate tax, bring those jobs and investment here to the United States, stop sending jobs and investment overseas.
HARWOOD: Thanks, Governor. Becky?
QUICK: Governor Pataki, let's talk a little bit about what's happened on Wall Street. Some of your colleagues in the Republican Party, including some of the people on this stage, have bashed Wall Street. They say that it was largely responsible for the financial crisis.
You're a former governor of New York, and you relied very heavily on Wall Street for income. Do you think they've gone too far?
PATAKI: I think they have gone too far. I think we've seen Wall Street really blossom and do very well while the rest of the country is struggling, and it's because we have this corrupt connection between Wall Street and Washington.
And, John, you were just talking about what loopholes would you get rid of. I would get rid of virtually every single one of them. They cost American taxpayers $1.4 trillion a year. I would throw them all out.
HARWOOD: So the tax credit right now that we have for domestic manufacturing, which manufacturers say is...
PATAKI: No, I wouldn't. I was going to say...
HARWOOD: ...important, you would get rid of that?
PATAKI: ...no, I would keep -- first, yes, but what I would do is ii would lower the tax on manufacturing to the lowest in the developed world -- 12 percent.
We all have plans. I have a plan. We all have plans. My plan, the Tax Foundation said, would create five and a half million new jobs over the next decade.
The difference, though, is I will get my plan enacted because, when I was governor of New York, I passed sweeping tax code -- cuts in a Democratic state with a Democratic legislature.
I -- you know, Bobby, you're talking about your tax cuts? I cut taxes more than everybody on this stage, more than everybody on the next stage, combined. By more than the other 49 states, in New York state.
I don't just have a plan. I will enact tax cuts, get rid of those loopholes and make the system fairer for all Americans.
QUICK: Governor Pataki, thank you.
QUINTANILLA: Senator Graham. You have said you believe that climate change is real. You've said you accept tax increases as part of a budget deal with Democrats. You've co-sponsored a Senate immigration bill providing a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally.
Are you in the wrong party's debate?
GRAHAM: No, I -- I think I'm trying to solve problems that somebody had better solve.
Now, you don't have to believe that climate change is real. I have been to the Antarctic. I've been to Alaska. I'm not a scientist, and I've got the grades to prove it.
But I've talked to the climatologists of the world, and 90 percent of them are telling me that greenhouse gas effect is real. That we're heating up the planet. I just want a solution that would be good for the economy, that doesn't destroy it.
I want to fix an immigration system. I'm not gonna tell you, if you like your doctor, you can keep it -- keep him. Do you like your health care, you're gonna keep it. I'm tired of telling people things that they want to hear, that we know we're not gonna do.
We're not gonna eliminate the corporate tax. But we can make it lower. We're going to fix immigration, only if we work together. I want to secure the border because, if we don't, we're going to get hurt and hit again.
I want to fix a broken visa system. I want to increase legal immigration, because we're gonna have a shortage of workers over time.
GRAHAM: As to the 11 million, I want to talk about fixing the problem. We're not going to deport 11 million people and their legal citizen children.
But we will deport felons. And those who stay will have to learn our language to stay, because I don't speak it well but look how far I've come.
GRAHAM: At the end of the day, folks, I am trying to solve a problem and win an election. I am tired of losing.
Good God, look who we're running against. The number one candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The number two guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don't think he ever came back.
If we don't beat these people, who the hell are we going to beat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, you're well over your minute but thank you for that.
We will be back from Boulder, Colorado, in just a moment.
QUICK: Welcome back, everyone. This is the Republican Presidential Debate on CNBC, live from the University of Colorado.
Senator Santorum, I'd like to go to you. You have talked an awful lot about how you want to protect American jobs by eliminating the number of immigrants who come into this country.
But very recently, the CEO of Toll Brothers (ph) told that he can't get by without immigrants because they make up more than half of his workforce at this point. We're not talking about people who are making minimum wage but he can't find Americans who want to do these jobs for $20-an-hour-plus jobs.
What would happen if your plans are successful?
What happens and how would we fill that hole in the economy, that gap that's created?
SANTORUM: Well, as you know, Becky, we have the lowest labor participation rate in 50 years and we also have the slowest growth in wages in the history of our country, any 20-year period. In fact, the last quarter had the lowest wage growth ever recorded.
SANTORUM: And so you look at the fact that we've brought in 35 million -- 35 million legal and illegal immigrants over the last 20 years, more than any period in American history, we have low wages, low participation waits. Maybe -- rates.
Maybe there's something going on like we aren't -- we aren't -- we don't have the -- the right match, right?
We don't -- we aren't giving the training and the investment in our workers and we're bringing in people to compete against low wage workers. That's what's happening.
We are -- we have an immigration policy that Senator Graham supported that brings in even more low wage workers into this country. He says he wants to solve problems, that's great. But you're not solving problems for American wage earners. You're not solving problems for workers in America who have seen their wages flat line and have been disaffected enough to leave the workplace.
We need to get better training and better skills, including vocational education and -- and training in this -- in those -- and -- and cut -- community colleges. But the bottom line is, we have to make sure that we are not flooding this country...
SANTORUM: -- with competition...
QUICK: Senator, I'm sorry your minute is up.
SANTORUM: -- for low wage workers.
QUICK: Thank you very much, Senator Santorum.
SANTORUM: (INAUDIBLE) and I...
QUICK: And Graham, Mr. Graham, yes, that was a question to you, too.
GRAHAM: The first thing...
QUICK: You have 30 seconds.
GRAHAM: -- that we have to do is come to grips with the reality that we're facing as Americans. In 1950, there were 16 workers for every Social Security recipient. Today, there's three. In 20 years, there are two.
I want to make sure that no American company leaves America because you can't find a worker.
American workers always get the first preference. But if you can't find an American worker, after you advertise at a competitive wage, I don't want you to be at a loss. Bring people in based on merit. Let's take a broken immigration...
QUICK: Senator Graham, thank you.
QUICK: I'm sorry. That's your 30 seconds...
GRAHAM: -- and make a merit-based immigration system that will help our economy. We're going to need workers in the future.
GRAHAM: Let's just choose rationally.
QUICK: Thank you, Senator.
QUICK: Gentlemen, hold on a second.
PATAKI: Let me -- let me try to get a word in edgewise.
SANTORUM: That's not what's happening.
PATAKI: In Washington, they talk over each other...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each one...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, let's -- let's have -- let Governor Pataki have a chance to speak.
PATAKI: Yes. Very simply, you guys talk over each other in Washington all the time. I'm not used to that. I listen when people talk.
We have a skills gap. You mentioned the construction company. The construction industry says one of their biggest problems are they can't find the craftsmen to do the work.
PATAKI: -- do in America is honor blue collar work again. We have to honor the carpenter, the plumber, the electrician, who can actually build something and instead of just saying that a college degree live -- delivers prestige, let's celebrate those who do things with their hands and elevate their skills using training in high school and community...
QUICK: Governor Pataki...
PATAKI: -- colleges so that we can...
QUICK: -- I'm sorry, that was a...
PATAKI: -- have a better quality workforce that we honor...
QUICK: Governor Pataki...
PATAKI: -- as they build America's future.
QUICK: I'm sorry to talk over you, sir.
QUICK: Thank you very much.
QUINTANILLA: My question for Governor Jindal, Paul Ryan says he would take the speaker job if it did not take away from his family time. The Department of Labor says 13 percent of American workers are eligible for paid family leave and the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world not to have guaranteed paid maternity leave for new moms.
Should the government work to change that?
JINDAL: Look, I think the government should work to change that, but that doesn't -- does not mean I'm for the government mandating that.
We already have too many government mandates out of DC.
Do I want people to have paid leave?
Do I want people to earn higher wages?
Do I want them to have better benefits?
Sure. The government can't wave a magic wand and make that happen.
Here's the problem. The last seven years, President Obama has tried to teach the American people that government is the answer to all of our problems.
Where has that gotten us?
We're on a path toward socialism. The way that folks can get better paying jobs with better benefits is if we have a growing economy. That means to repeal all of ObamaCare, a lower flatter tax code.
That means that we have an energy plan that makes sense. That means that we embrace an all of the above approach to energy. Those are good paying jobs -- $50,000, $70,000, $90,000 a year jobs with benefits.
But this president won't let us produce more energy on our domestic federal lands and waters. He won't allow the Canadians to build the Keystone Pipeline. He's got an EPA that's doing everything they can to kill private sector jobs in America.
So, yes, I want families to have better paying jobs and better benefits, but we're not going to get that with a government mandate, we're going to get that with a growing economy.
QUINTANILLA: Governor, thank you.
HARWOOD: Senator Graham, Americans have gotten used to seeing headlines about more and more big corporations relocating overseas to cut their tax bill. Now, many in Washington think the way to stop that is to lower our corporate tax rate.
But as we've seen, tax reform takes time. It hasn't happened yet.
In the meantime, do you fault those companies for leaving?
Do companies owe anything to their country, as well as their shareholders?
GRAHAM: We owe to every businessperson and worker in America the best environment in the world to create a job. We owe that to American businesses. Thirty-five percent corporate tax rate is the second highest in the world.
We need to lower it so they don't leave. The goal is to help the middle class.
GRAHAM: We can talk about corporations all day long but my goal is to help the middle class, somebody who makes too much to be on government assistance but still lives paycheck to paycheck.
When the kid gets sick you don't go on vacation.
GRAHAM: That's the purpose of my presidency, to grow the economy here. And let me tell you, our Democratic friends have a list a mile long of more government. That's not going to grow the middle class, that's going to create a burden on your children, which they're already overburdened. The best way to grow the middle class is to make it a good place to create a job.
You know why Boeing came to South Carolina when they could have gone anywhere to build the 787?
Because we wanted them. We had a low-tax structure.
GRAHAM: A permitting structure that allowed them to build the building even faster than they thought they could build it. We welcomed them there. I'm going to take the South Carolina attitude --
HARWOOD: I want to remind candidates, you've got a one-minute limit on the -- on the response.
But I just want to follow up, Senator Graham. Four years ago, the nominee of your party said that corporations are people, too.
If that is true, the question is, do they owe any obligation to the country?
GRAHAM: I think everybody owes an obligation to the country. The ones that I'm most worried about are the 1 percent of Americans in uniform, who have been fighting this war for 14 years. They need a commander in chief who knows what the hell they're doing.
My first job as President of the United States is to rebuild the military and use it smartly. Admiral Mullen said the debt is a big threat to our national security. He's right. But people go where they're welcome when it comes to job creation.
If I'm President of the United States you will be welcomed in America.
HARWOOD: Senator Graham --
GRAHAM: This will be the place to come --
HARWOOD: -- thank you very much.
GRAHAM: And if I'm president of the United States --
HARWOOD: We're moving on.
GRAHAM: -- our enemies --
QUICK: You guys are making this just like home. This is just like (INAUDIBLE).
HARWOOD: Senator, we're moving on.
I'd like to bring on my colleague, Rick Santelli -- Rick.
RICK SANTELLI, CNBC HOST: Thanks, John.
SANTELLI: How are you doing tonight?
SANTELLI: Listen, America's central bank, the Federal Reserve, they've kept interest rates near zero since the 2008 financial crisis.
And, by the way, they had a meeting today, you think they raised rates?
SANTELLI: Listen, it's been a rough ride for American savers and retirees, they really rely on this interest income. And it's been a bonanza for the stock market, a bonanza.
And for investors that like the little bit more risk, it's been a bonanza for them as well.
So I guess what I'm asking is, do you think this policy is fair and do you support it?
PATAKI: No, I don't support it. But let me go back a little bit here. We need to grow our economy faster. We've had the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. And it's because of policy in Washington and policy at the Fed.
And let me go back to Washington. In 2009 --
HARWOOD: Senator, that -- I mean, Governor, if that's true, why was our economy limping six years ago and now it's the strongest in the world?
PATAKI: John, no question Barack Obama inherited a economic disaster in 2009.
Instead of focusing on pro-growth policies in the economy, he rammed through ObamaCare, the worst law of my lifetime, that hurt small businesses, hurt companies, raised taxes and almost completely eliminated one industry because of its taxes.
The Fed had to act. And the Fed did act and appropriately in reducing interest rates but they've reduced them now for seven straight years, that's never happened before. They've been zero for way too long.
They should raise the rates; the Fed should get out of manipulating the market and the Fed also, by the way, should reduce its balance sheet, $2.7 trillion. Let some of those bonds mature and put the money back in the banking system so our economy can grow.
SANTELLI: Thanks, Governor.
Senator Santorum, in the 2012 presidential debate, you were for the export-import bank, which facilitates government funding for U.S. exports. American companies like GE and Boeing are among the beneficiaries.
But you said that killing the bank here -- and I'm going to quote you -- "is the last thing a true conservative should be doing."
I don't know, government-backed funding isn't normally what I hear from true conservatives.
So why is this situation different?
SANTORUM: A true conservative wants to create a level playing field. That's what -- that's what we're -- that's what government is supposed to do. They're not supposed to favor one group over another.
And when it comes to our manufacturers, the level playing field is not in the United States. It's international. And so the federal government should have laws, tax laws, regulatory laws and, yes, finance laws. There's 60 other ex-im banks all over -- all over the world.
Every major competitor for the United States' manufacturing dollar has one of those banks.
And guess what? They use those banks a heck of a lot more than their -- than the United States of America does, number one.
So in order to have a level playing field, which is what conservatives talk about all the time, level playing field, then we have to have export financing and here's why.
SANTORUM: Because export financing doesn't help Boeing, or G.E.
G.E. just lost a contract, you know what they did? They went to . They got the X.M. (ph) bank in France to support it, and what did they do? They moved manufacturing out of South Carolina, out of Texas, moved to -- Hungary, and to France. G.E. is still making money. G.E. is still doing well, but American workers are out of jobs. That's why we have to have this level playing field so we can compete with the rest of the world.
MALE: Thank you, Senator.
QUINTANILLA: CNBC's coverage of the Republican presidential debate continues, live from the University of COlorado after this short break.
QUINTANILLA: Welcome back to the University of Colorado, and the Republican Presidential Debate on CNBC.
QUINTANILLA: A question for Senator Santorum. People in this state have loved Coors Beer since it was founded in 1873. I can atest...
Now, the brewer later became part of SABMiller, but, now SAB may be bought by Budweiser owner, InBev. Is it right to have a third of brewers in this country owned by one company, and do you fear a company that size will have too much power over consumers.
SANTORUM: Well, first, since you mention Colorado, I want to thank the people of Colorado because four years ago you -- gave me the honor of winning the nomination out here in the state of Colorado. On a night we won three states, and it catapulted us to win 11 states ultimately, so, I just want to thank you very, very much for that support, and -- in response to that, I do drink a lot of Coors beer, so...
SANTORUM: I try to help. The answer is pretty simple. The answer is simple. There are no shortage of breweries around the United States of America.
SANTORUM: I -- I do -- as I travel around the country, I do pints and politics, and I go to breweries all over the place, and there -- there's almost no town in America anymore that doesn't have a brewery, so I don't think we need to worry too much.
They're obviously -- if there's -- if there's some anti- competitive issues, you know, we have agencies to look at that. But, no, I'm not -- I'm not concerned that Americans are not going to have choices in beer.
QUINTANILLA: Well, let's get to that. I mean, another example, for example, is Walgreens.
SANTORUM: And I care about, by the way. I care about choices.
QUINTANILLA: I'm sure you do.
Walgreens/Rite Aid. Big deal, consolidation in drug stores, semiconductors, food. What is the line at which something becomes anti-competitive in your view?
SANTORUM: Well, I -- I would say this, that what you're seeing is -- in health care, you're seeing a lot of consolidation, and that consolidation is occurring because of Obamacare.
You're seeing it particularly in an area that I am concerned about, and that's in insurance -- health insurance. You're seeing the big health insurance companies fold up.
You've seen Obama try to seed health insurance companies, and they've all failed, I think, except one. Why? Because we have a system of Obamacare with minimum loss ratios that make it virtually impossible for a small insurer to operate effectively.
And this was the motive behind Obamacare. This wasn't incidental. This was deliberate, to make it so impossible for small insurers to survive...
SANTORUM: ...that they consolidate into a small group. Then the left can say, "there is no competition, we need a single payer." That's why we have to repeal Obamacare.
QUINTANILLA: Thank you. Becky.
QUICK: Governor Jindal, I want to go back to something that you mentioned before with your tax plan. I know that you want to put a 2 percent tax on all families, just to make sure everyone has some skin in the game.
But every working American pays 6.2 percent, when it comes to Social Security taxes. They pay another 1.45 percent of Medicare. Isn't that skin in the game?
JINDAL: A couple things. You're talking about payroll taxes that fund programs. People pay for their Medicare, they pay for their Social Security.
I want every American to worry and care about how those folks in D.C. are spending our money. If $18 trillion of debt -- they're misspending our money. Earned success is so much more fulfilling than unearned success.
I don't want us to continue to create one class of Americans that pays income taxes, that pays for government, another class of Americans that's growing more and more dependent on government.
That's what we have today. Socialism is bad, not only for taxpayers, but people that they say they're trying to help. There's dignity in work, dignity in self-sufficiency.
I wanna quote you a president. Our (ph) previous president said this: he said, "the problem is, is that tax rates are too high, government income revenues are too low."
He said, "paradoxically, lowering tax rates now is the best way to produce higher government revenues later." No, that wasn't President Reagan, as many are probably guessing at home. That was President Kennedy.
I see you know the answer. That was President Kennedy. Imagine if he were alive today -- and if he was at that last Democratic debate, imagine if you tried to say that in a party that's veering towards socialism. That wouldn't be welcome in today's Democratic party.
QUICK: Governor, thank you.
HARWOOD: Governor Pataki, you've indicated you believe climate change is real and caused at least in part by human activity. So, in 60 seconds, tell us what the federal government should do about it.
PATAKI: Yeah, absolutely. I -- one of the things that troubles me about the Republican Party is too often we question science that everyone accepts. I mean, it's ridiculous that, in the 21st century, we're questioning whether or not vaccines are the appropriate way to go. Of course they are. And it's also not appropriate to think that human activity, putting CO2 into the atmosphere, doesn't make the earth warmer. All things being equal, it does. It's uncontroverted.
I think part of the problem is that Republicans think about climate change, say, "oh my God, we're gonna have higher taxes, more Obama, more big government, the EPA shutting down factories."
That's not the solution that I see. I want Republicans to embrace innovation and technology. You know, there's one country in the world that has fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the rest of -- of the world. You know what that is? The United States.
Our emissions are lower than they were in 1995. Not because of a -- of a government program, but because of fracking, private sector creation...
HARWOOD: Is there a role for government?
PATAKI: ...replace coal plants -- government's roles -- is to incentivize innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit in America. We could have far more clean energy.
We could have next-generation nuclear, thorium reactors that have no risk of meltdown. We could have solar panels on every home that are four times more efficient than today.
HARWOOD: So, subsidies for those programs? For -- for those alternative energy sources?
PATAKI: R&D -- R&D credits. Let the private sector do this, develop this innovation. And not only would we solve our problems, we would have clean energy, cheaper energy here.
We could export those technologies to places like China and like India so we would grow our economy, have a far greater impact globally, have a secure domestic source of energy, and cleaner, healthier air.
That's the solution. Embrace science, embrace innovation and change.
HARWOOD: Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Governor. Carl?
QUINTANILLA: Question for Senator Santorum.
SANTORUM: Thank you. Can I just say something about that?
QUINTANILLA: After this question maybe.
The 2015 Nobel Prize winner for economics argues that slow growth causes poverty, and that leads to inequality. What would you do to ease inequality? And what would you do solve poverty? By the way, thanks to Larry Kudlow, CNBC, for this question.
SANTORUM: Well, if you look at our plan that I introduced, the 2020 Clear Vision for America, we increase growth by 10 percent, 1 percent a year. So we go from 2.3 to 3.3, in repealing Obamacare, it's another .7. So you're looking at 4 percent growth, according to the Tax Foundation.
And unlike Donald Trump and Bobby Jindal, we don't add $10 trillion to the deficit. In fact, our plan, while it creates as many jobs as their plan does and grows the economy as much as theirs does, we are a revenue-neutral plan because I believe that we need to reduce the size of government, yes, but we also need to reduce our deficit, and we need to get our budget balanced so we can start paying down this debt. And adding a trillion dollars with a tax cut and getting no more growth is not the way to do it.
But that's only half of it. The word "economy" comes from the Greek "euthokis" (ph) which means family. The family is the first economy. And the one thing that we do not talk about enough is how stable families are vitally important for the middle of America to be prosperous and to grow and be safe. And I will have policies, not just tax policies, but others that will make sure that families are strong again in America.
QUINTANILLA (?): Governor Jindal, I'll give you 30 seconds on this.
Look, if Senator Santorum wants to concede the tax cut wing of the Republican Party, I'm happy to fight for that side of the Republican Party. He's exactly right. I explicitly want to shrink the size of government; 22 percent over 10 years is not too much. We cut our state budget 26 percent in eight years.
This is a fundamental choice. We mustn't become a cheaper version of the Democratic Party, a second liberal party. We need to proudly say we're willing to cut taxes, shrink government, grow the American economy. President Kennedy said it to the Democratic Party. Why can't we say it in the Republican Party in 2015, let's cut taxes.
HARWOOD: Governor, if you cut spending and cut government so much, why did your legislature have such a big deficit?
JINDAL: John, our budget is balanced. We balanced our budget every year for eight years. Yeah, we've had to cut spending. You know what? We privatized or closed nine of our 10 charity hospitals. We did statewide school choice; $1.6 billion (ph) budget cut.
You're quoting an old number from the beginning of the year. We closed that gap. What they talk about, just like D.C., government's the only place where you give them less money than they wanted, they count it as a cut. They take last year's budget. They add inflation. They call it a baseline. We need to do zero-based budgets. We need to say just because you got money last year, you don't have it this year.
Let me close, though. We balanced our budget. We didn't raise taxes. In eight years, we never raised taxes. We cut taxes. Our -- our taxpayers, our families have been better off for it.
HARWOOD: No, we're going to move on. I'm going to bring on my colleague Sharon Epperson.
EPPERSON: Thank you, John.
Senator Graham, one in every four workers has saved less than $1,000 for retirement. Millions of Americans rely on their Social Security benefits for the majority of their retirement income. Now, you called for reforms to Social Security, but what would you do to fix the other part of the problem for future retirees and get people to save more?
GRAHAM: Well, number one, Social Security is not just a concept to me. I know why it exists; 50 percent of today's seniors would be in poverty without a Social Security check. I promise you, if you make me your president, I will save Social Security because I know why it exists.
Now, if you're looking for good beer policy, I'm your best bet. My dad owned a bar.
I know beer. We grew up, my sister and myself, in the back of that bar in one room with my mom, my dad and my sister who's nine years younger. When I was 21, my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Neither parent finished high school. She died within a year. We were wiped out from the medical bills. And if it wasn't for a Social Security survivor benefit check coming into my family, we wouldn't' have made it because my dad died 15 months later.
EPPERSON: But Senator Graham...
GRAHAM: Wait a minute, please. I'm 22 and we're wiped out. I am 60. I'm not married. I have a military retirement. I'm in good shape. I would give up some of my benefits to help those who need it more than I do.
To young people here, I will ask you to work a little bit longer because we have to. The purpose of my presidency is to save this country and to save Social Security by working across the aisle just like Ronald Reagan. This is the biggest issue facing this nation.
EPPERSON: Thank you, Senator Graham. Thank you, Senator Graham.
Governor Jindal, you've been a strong supporter of for-profit colleges. These are institutions that educate many veterans, minorities and working class Americans. They make up about 11 percent of the college population at these schools, but they account for 44 percent of student loan default.
EPPERSON: Should for-profit schools be held accountable when they take taxpayer money and leave students deep in debt?
JINDAL: (INAUDIBLE) absolutely they should be accountable. They should be accountable to their students through the market. Look, you either trust the American people to make their own choices or you don't.
I know the Left thinks we need to be protected from ourselves. President Obama is trying to limit competition to the higher education market. As a result, you're going to see tuition prices continue to go up. We've had $1 trillion of student debt and counting. And he wants to exempt certain schools from the same oversight he wants to apply only to the for-profit market.
For some reason, the private sector is a bad word to this president. It's not in the real world.
In Louisiana, we fought so that the dollars follow the child and so the child following the dollar. What that means, from K-12, what that means is that parents and their families can decide what's the best way for their children to be educated. Higher education, we have a TOPS program, where, again, we will help if a student maintains a 20 ACT, 2.5 GPA, we'll pay for their tuition. They can take those dollars for private school of their choice in the state as well.
You either trust the American people or you don't. I know the Left doesn't. That's why you get ObamaCare. They want to tell us what kind of insurance to buy. That's why you get Common Core, they want to take away our gun rights under the Second Amendment. They want to take away our religious liberty rights.
So, yes, there's accountability. There's accountability to students through choice and competition. We don't need the nanny state to protect us from ourselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Governor Jindal.
HARWOOD: And thank you, Sharon (ph).
This is the Republican Presidential Debate, live from Boulder, Colorado. We'll be right back.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (APPLAUSE)
QUICK: Welcome back to Boulder, Colorado, and the Republican presidential debate right here on CNBC.
Gentlemen, this is our lightning round, where we have some questions for you we hope you can answer in 20 seconds or less. And we will go right down the line on this.
Governor Jindal, I'll start with you.
We're wondering, what are the three apps that you use most frequently on your cellphone?
JINDAL: I was just saying to my colleagues, I may be the last person in this audience without an iPhone.
JINDAL: I'm actually one of the last folks -- I still have a BlackBerry in my pocket. And I basically use it for scheduling. I use it to keep up when my wife is here and my three kids at home.
The only games on that phone are Bricklayer. I use it to keep up with the news through the Internet. I may be the last American out there without an iPhone.
QUICK: I -- I'm with you. I still have a BlackBerry, too.
Senator -- Senator Santorum, how about you?
SANTORUM: MLB, NHL, so I'm a big sports fan. And "The Wall Street Journal." Those are the three apps I use the most.
PATAKI: The one I use the most is Uber. You know, I used to get driven...
PATAKI: -- when I was governor, I had a driver. I don't anymore, but...
PATAKI: And it's an example of what millennials are doing to change America for the better. And I tweet a lot, too.
So Uber, Tweet -- Twitter and then I communicate with my family.
GRAHAM: Well, number one, the only reason I have an iPhone is because I gave my number to Donald Trump. Don't do that.
(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor...
GRAHAM: Donald has done more to upgrade my technology than my whole staff.
Number one, Fox News. Sorry about CNBC.
GRAHAM: We're in a Republican primary here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks. Thanks a lot.
QUICK: We take your time back. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time is up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cut his microphone.
QUINTANILLA: We've got one more. One more lightning round.
Governor Jindal, should the day after the Super Bowl be a national holiday?
JINDAL: Well, absolutely, when the Saints go back to repeat, we were talking about beer sales earlier, all those folks from being hung over in Louisiana from drinking to celebrate Drew Brees winning this, I think it would be a great day to take off.
No, look, on a serious note, I do want to say this about the Super Bowl and our athletes. They can be great role models for our children and I'm obviously a Saints fan. Drew Brees and his wife great role models, great Christians.
So, yes, it should be a holiday.
SANTORUM: Well, since we're usually in the Super Bowl at the Pittsburgh Steelers...
SANTORUM: No. I was in...
SANTORUM: -- I was in Kansas City over the weekend to watch the Steeler game and about a third of the crowd were Steeler fans. So I'm usually not alone when I call on Steeler Nation.
But we are used to being in the Super Bowl, so actually, it is in Pennsylvania already.
PATAKI: I -- I am a long suffering Jets fan. So my answer is obviously no, there's no reason to take off the day after the Super Bowl.
PATAKI: But let me just add this. The Mets are going to win tonight. Let's go, Mets.
QUINTANILLA: Finally, Senator?
GRAHAM: Well, I think a national holiday would be the day that commander-in-chief Barack Obama doesn't have that job.
GRAHAM: But unlike these other three, I want to win New Hampshire. Go Tom Brady. Go Patriots.
GRAHAM: Sorry, Colorado is late in the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Panderer.
HARWOOD: OK, now we're at the point of the evening where we're just about to give our candidates a holiday from this debate, but not before they tell us in 30 seconds their closing statements.
Senator Graham, you're first.
GRAHAM: Somebody said -- or maybe I saw it on the bill of a cap -- that let's make America great again.
GRAHAM: America is great.
GRAHAM: I intend to make America strong again. I'm going to be the champion of the middle class, where I came from. If you make me your president, our best days are ahead. I'm ready to be commander- in-chief, ladies and gentlemen, on day one. I intend to war -- win a war that we cannot afford to lose.
I will be a commander-in-chief worthy of the sacrifice of those brave Americans who have been defending our nation. They have had our back. God knows, they have had our back... HARWOOD: Senator Graham...
GRAHAM: -- and I intend to have their back as commander-in- chief. Make me commander-in-chief.
HARWOOD: Thank you, Senator Graham.
PATAKI: Thank you for the opportunity to be with this great audience tonight.
I'm a limited government conservative and I mean by that that not just when it comes to economic issues leaving them to the state, but social issues, as well.
And in that I differ from every single other candidate seeking the Republican nomination.
I take the Tenth Amendment very, very seriously.
I'm a Republican who embraces science and understands we have to work with the next generation of millennials to have the innovation and technology so that we can grow a 21st century economy.
And I'm a Republican who understands in Washington, when you're a leader, you have to put aside partisan politics to do what's right for the people.
We are one America. If we work together across party lines, there's no problem we can't solve and the 21st century will be America's greatest century.
HARWOOD: Thank you, Governor.
HARWOOD: Senator Santorum?
SANTORUM: I grew up in a steel town of Western Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh, and when I announced for president, I announced from the factory floor. When I talk about making America the number one manufacturer again in the world, it's not just talk. When I talk about having the opportunity for people to rise again, it's not just because it polls well.
I represented the old steel valley of Pittsburgh. I represented a 70% Democratic district, and won with 60% of the vote. Why? Because I aligned myself with working men and women who feel that neither party, and certainly not Washington D.C. cares about them.
You elect me, we will get American workers on the side of the Republican party, and we can not be stopped if we do.
HARWOOD: Senator Santorum, thank you. Governor Jindal?
JINDAL: My message is to conservatives, this is our hour. Thanks to the insanity, the incompetence of the Democratic party, the American people are ready to turn our government over to us. It's not enough to let just any Republican, however. The reality is the idea of America is slipping away.
As Christians, we believe that the tomb is empty. As Americans, we believe that our best days are always ahead of us, and they can be again. We must win this election. We cannot allow Hillary Clinton to take us down this path towards socialism -- further down this path.
I've got the courage to apply our conservative principles. I can't do it alone. With your help, with God's grace, we can save the idea of America before it's too late.
HARWOOD: Governor Jindal, thank you very much. Carl?
QUINTANILLA: That concludes our first part of the evening.