BRET BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.
Again, we’re looking for you to raise your hand now — raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.
Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.
DONALD TRUMP: I fully understand.
BAIER: …the place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod…
TRUMP: I fully understand.
BAIER: …and that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.
You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?
TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.
BAIER: So tonight, you can’t say if another one of these…
RAND PAUL: This is what’s wrong!
PAUL: I mean, this is what’s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already…
BAIER: Dr. Paul.
PAUL: Hey, look, look! He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent…
PAUL: …but I’d say that he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.
TRUMP: Well, I’ve given him plenty of money.
BAIER: Just to be clear, you can’t make a — we’re gonna — we’re going to move on.
You’re not gonna make the pledge tonight?
TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time.
BAIER: OK. Alright.
MEGYN KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.
You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Only Rosie O’Donnell.
KELLY: No, it wasn’t. Your Twitter account…
TRUMP: Thank you.
KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.
TRUMP: Yes, I’m sure it was.
KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.
I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody.
And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
But you know what, we — we need strength, we need energy, we need quickness and we need brain in this country to turn it around. That, I can tell you right now.
CHRIS WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.
Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”
I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.
Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?
TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.
This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement. And I said, Mexico is sending. Except the reporters, because they’re a very dishonest lot, generally speaking, in the world of politics, they didn’t cover my statement the way I said it.
The fact is, since then, many killings,murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.
And I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally. But we need, Jeb, to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.
TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.
And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them.
Why should they when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that’s what is happening whether you like it or not.
BAIER: Gentlemen, the next series of questions deals with ObamaCare and the role of the federal government. Mr. Trump, ObamaCare is one of the things you call a disaster.
TRUMP: A complete disaster, yes.
BAIER: Saying it needs to be repealed and replaced.
BAIER: Now, 15 years ago, uncalled yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system. Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?
TRUMP: First of all, I’d like to just go back to one. In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I’m the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that’s exactly what happened.
BAIER: But on ObamaCare…
TRUMP: And the Middle East became totally destabilized. So I just want to say.
As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here.
What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid.
You know why? Because the insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians, of course, with the exception of the politicians on this stage. But they have total control of the politicians. They’re making a fortune.
Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have…
TRUMP: — yourself great plans. And then we have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves. And I will do that through a different system.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, hold up one second.
PAUL: I’ve got a news flash…
BAIER: All right, now, hold on, Senator Paul…
PAUL: News flash, the Republican Party’s been fighting against a single-payer system…
PAUL: — for a decade. So I think you’re on the wrong side of this if you’re still arguing for a single-payer system.
TRUMP: I’m not — I’m not are — I don’t think you heard me. You’re having a hard time tonight.
BAIER: All right, let me…
BAIER: Mr. Trump, it’s not just your past support for single-payer health care. You’ve also supported a host of other liberal policies. You’ve also donated to several Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton included, Nancy Pelosi. You explained away those donations saying you did that to get business-related favors.
And you said recently, quote, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
TRUMP: You’d better believe it.
BAIER: So what specifically did they do?
TRUMP: If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.
RUBIO: Not me.
CARSON: Not me.
KASICH: But you’re welcome to give me some, Donald, if you’d like.
TRUMP: Many of them.
RUBIO: Actually, to be clear, he supported Charlie Crist.
TRUMP: Not much.
TRUMP: I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give.
And do you know what?
When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.
BAIER: So what did you get?
TRUMP: And that’s a broken system.
BAIER: What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?
TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding.
You know why?
She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was.
BAIER: Hold on. We’re going to — we’re going to move on.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, you talk a lot about how you are the person on this stage to grow the economy. I want to ask you about your business record. Trump corporations — Trump corporations, casinos and hotels, have declared bankruptcy four times over the last quarter-century. In 2011, you told Forbes Magazine this: “I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage.” But at the same time, financial experts involved in those bankruptcies say that lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars.
Question sir, with that record, why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?
TRUMP: Because I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera.
I have never gone bankrupt, by the way. I have never. But out of hundreds of deals…
WALLACE: No, but the concept sir…
TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.
WALLACE: … that’s your line, but your companies have gone bankrupt.
TRUMP: Excuse me, what am I saying? Out of hundreds of deals that I’ve done, hundreds, on four occasions I’ve taken advantage of the laws of this country, like other people. I’m not going to name their names because I’m not going to embarrass, but virtually every person that you read about on the front page of the business sections, they’ve used the law.
The difference is, when somebody else uses those laws, nobody writes about it. When I use it, they say, “Trump, Trump, Trump.” The fact is, I built a net worth of more than $10 billion. I have a great, great company. I employ thousands of people. And I’m very proud of the job I did.
Again Chris, hundreds and hundreds of deals. Four times, I’ve taken advantage of the laws. And frankly, so has everybody else in my position.
WALLACE: Well sir, let’s just talk about the latest example which is Trump Entertainment Resorts, which went bankrupt in 2009. In that case alone, lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than 1,100 people were laid off.
TRUMP: Well, I…
WALLACE: Is that the way that you’d run the country?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you about the lenders. First of all, these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers. These are not the nice, sweet little people that you think, OK?
You know, I mean you’re living in a world of the make-believe, Chris, you want to know the truth.
And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City, which by the way, Caesars just went bankrupt. Every company, Chris can tell you, every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt.
Every company. And let me just tell you. I had the good sense, and I’ve gotten a lot of credit in the financial pages, seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it.
TRUMP: And by the way, this country right now owes $19 trillion. And they need somebody like me to straighten out that mess.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, “very pro-choice.” Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like clowns and puppets. When did you actually become a Republican?
TRUMP: I don’t think they like me very much. I’ll tell you what. I’ve evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues.
And I am pro-life. And if you look at the question, I was in business. They asked me a question as to pro-life or choice. And I said if you let it run, that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I’ve very much evolved.
And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances.
And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.
As far as being a Republican is concerned, I come from a place, New York City, which is virtually, I mean, it is almost exclusively Democrat. And I have really started to see some of the negatives — as an example, and I have a lot of liking for this man, but the last number of months of his brother’s administration were a catastrophe. And unfortunately, those few months gave us President Obama. And you can’t be happy about that.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, 30 seconds. [to respond to Jeb calling his language divisive]
TRUMP: First of all, Jeb, I am very happy that you denied that, and I appreciate that very much. He is a true gentleman. He really is.
One thing he did say, and I mean that. The one thing he did say about me, however, was my tone. And I also understand that. But when you have people that are cutting Christians’ heads off, when you have a world that the border and at so many places, that it is medieval times, we’ve never — it almost has to be as bad as it ever was in terms of the violence and the horror, we don’t have time for tone. We have to go out and get the job done.
BAIER: Our next topic is foreign policy. Candidates, you may not have seen the late developing news today our Fox Pentagon team broke earlier this evening about a top Iranian general traveling to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His name is General Qassem Soleimani, he’s blamed for hundreds of U.S. troops death in Iraq, and Afghanistan. His trip to Russia appears to directly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions to confine him to Iran.
So, Mr. Trump, if you were president, how would you respond to this?
TRUMP: I would be so different from what you have right now. Like, the polar opposite. We have a president who doesn’t have a clue. I would say he’s incompetent, but I don’t want to do that because that’s not nice.
But if you look at the deals we make, whether it’s the nuclear deal with 24 hour periods — and by the way, before you get to the 24 hours, you have to go through a system. You look at Sergeant Bergdahl, we get Bergdahl, a traitor, and they get five of the big, great killers leaders that they want. We have people in Washington that don’t know what they’re doing. Now…
TRUMP: I agree. Now, with Iran, we’re making a deal, you would say, we want him. We want out our prisoners. We want all these things, and we don’t get anything. We’re giving them $150 billion dollars plus, they are going to be — I’ll tell you what, if Iran was a stock, you folks should go out and buy it right now because you’ll quadruple — this, what’s happening in Iran, is a disgrace, and it’s going to lead to destruction in large portions of the world.
BAIER: Mr. Trump, closing statement, sir.
TRUMP: Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore. We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade.
We can’t do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that. Thank you.