MEGYN KELLY: Gentlemen, our first round of questions is on the subject of electability in the general election, and we start tonight with you, Dr. Carson. You are a successful neurosurgeon, but you admit that you have had to study up on foreign policy, saying there’s a lot to learn.
Your critics say that your inexperience shows. You’ve suggested that the Baltic States are not a part of NATO, just months ago you were unfamiliar with the major political parties and government in Israel, and domestically, you thought Alan Greenspan had been treasury secretary instead of federal reserve chair.
Aren’t these basic mistakes, and don’t they raise legitimate questions about whether you are ready to be president?
CARSON: Well, I could take issue with — with all of those things, but we don’t have time. But I will say, we have a debate here tonight, and we will have an opportunity to explore those areas, and I’m looking very much forward to demonstrating that, in fact, the thing that is probably most important is having a brain, and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly.
So, you know, experience comes from a large number of different arenas, and America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians, but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, innovation, and that’s what will get us on the right track now, as well.
KELLY: Dr. Carson, in one of his first acts as commander in chief, President Obama signed an executive order banning enhanced interrogation techniques in fighting terror. As president, would you bring back water boarding?
CARSON: Well, thank you, Megyn, I wasn’t sure I was going to get to talk again.
KELLY: We have a lot for you, don’t worry. Fear not, you may rue that request.
CARSON: Alright. You know, what we do in order to get the information that we need is our business, and I wouldn’t necessarily be broadcasting what we’re going to do. We’ve gotten into this — this mindset of fighting politically correct wars. There is no such thing as a politically correct war.
The left, of course, will say Carson doesn’t believe in the Geneva Convention, Carson doesn’t believe in fighting stupid wars. And — and what we have to remember is we want to utilize the tremendous intellect that we have in the military to win wars. And I’ve talked to a lot of the generals, a lot of our advanced people. And believe me, if we gave them the mission, which is what the commander-in-chief does, they would be able to carry it out.
And if we don’t tie their hands behind their back, they will do it…
CARSON: — extremely effectively.
BRET BAIER: Dr. Carson, do you agree with that? [Huckabee on taxes]
CARSON: What I agree with is that we need a significantly changed taxation system. And the one that I’ve advocated is based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy. And he said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn’t matter how much you make. If you’ve had a bumper crop, you don’t owe me triple tithes. And if you’ve had no crops at all, you don’t owe me no tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about that.
And that’s why I’ve advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes, and…
BAIER: Governor Bush?
CARSON: And I have a lot more to say about it.
BAIER: We’re going to come back to you, Dr. Carson.
CHRIS WALLACE: I know that all of you would like to answer this question, but we’re only going to ask one other candidate before we move on to a different subject, Dr. Carson. Basically, same question to you. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee and she comes at you with that kind of line of attack, how will you take Iraq?
CARSON: If Hillary is the candidate, which I doubt, that would be a dream come true. But you know, the fact of the matter is, she is the epitome of the progressive — the secular progressive movement. And she counts on the fact that people are uninformed, the Alinsky Model, taking advantage of useful idiots.
Well, I just happen to believe that people are not stupid. And the way I will come at it is to educate people, help people to actually understand that it is that progressive movement that is causing them the problems.
You know, you look at the — the national debt and how it’s being driven up. If I was trying to destroy this country, what I would do is find a way to drive wedges between all the people, drive the debt to an unsustainable level, and then step off the stage as a world leader and let our enemies increase while we decreased our capacity as a military person. And that’s what she’s doing.
BAIER: Dr. Carson, in August of 2012 President Obama famously declared Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, quote, “that’s a red line for us,” and that there would be enormous consequences.
One year later, and with overwhelming evidence the Assad had, in fact, used chemical weapons and crossed that red line, President Obama declined to use military force against the Assad regime. As president, would you have used military force there?
CARSON: Well, what we have to stop and think about is that we have weakened ourselves militarily to such an extent that if affects all of our military policies. Our Navy is at its smallest size since 1917; our Air Force, since 1940. In recent testimony, the commandant of the Marine Corps said half of the non-deployed units were not ready and you know, the sequester is cutting the heart out of our personnel. Our generals are retiring because they don’t want to be part of this, and at the same time, our enemies are increasing.
Our — our friends can’t trust us anymore. You know, Ukraine was a nuclear-armed state. They gave away their nuclear arms with the understanding that we would protect them. We won’t even give them offensive weapons. You know, we turned our back on Israel, our ally. You know, and a situation like that, of course Obama’s not going to be able to do anything. I would shore up our military first, because if you don’t get the military right, nothing else is going to work.
KELLY: Dr. Carson, a question to you about God and his role, but also, one of the issues that the public was very interested in, and we touched on it earlier, is race relations in this country, and how divided we seem right now. And what, if anything, you can do — you would do as the next president to help heal that divide.
CARSON: Well, I think the bully pulpit is a wonderful place to start healing that divide. You know, we have the purveyors of hatred who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it, and drive wedges into people. And this does not need to be done.
What we need to think about instead — you know, I was asked by an NPR reporter once, why don’t I talk about race that often. I said it’s because I’m a neurosurgeon. And she thought that was a strange response. And you say — I said, you see, when I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that.
CARSON: Because our strength as a nation comes in our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states. And those who want to divide us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.
WALLACE: Dr. Carson, closing statement.
CARSON: Well, I haven’t said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that.
I’m the only one to separate siamese twins… The — the only one to operate on babies while they were still in mother’s womb, the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.
But I — but I’m very hopeful that I’m not the only one who’s willing to pick up the baton of freedom, because freedom is not free, and we must fight for it every day. Every one of us must fight for it, because we’re fighting for our children and the next generation.