Q = Unidentified Male
A = Jeb Bush
U = Unidentified Speaker
(INAUDIBLE) = Areas that could not be heard due to background noise, tape/phone line quality, muffled speaking, etc.
Start time of Video: 00:51
A. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. What an honor to be here. Mike, it is great seeing you. Dennis, I have such fond memories campaigning, not so much fond memories campaigning against the Reagan family. Campaigning with the Reagan family was an incredible joy and it is such an honor for me to be here. I wanna thank everybody that has opened up this beautiful place. It is good to be with you. I appreciate the hospitality of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
I bring greetings from the wonderful guy who is still very proud to have been Ronald Reagan's Vice President. That competition turned into friendship and the better my dad got to know Ronald Reagan, the more he admired and loved him. On the way here this afternoon I made a call to Mrs. Reagan to thank her for this honor and to let her know that many many Americans love her very, very much. It's amazing, seven elections have come and gone since the Reagan name was last on the ballot. Yet in many ways that name and the qualities it brings to mind is still the standard. A leader of clarity and resolve, not given to idle words, it was President Reagan who took command of events, rebuilt America's strength and moved the world toward peace. Strategically and morally he conceded nothing to America's enemies. He believed that the Cold War could be won, not just endlessly managed, and in the end he put an end to an age of conflict behind us. They don't always give out peace prizes for that, but peace is what Ronald Reagan left behind and that is a legacy of a good and great man.
In our time as well, it is strength and will and clarity of purpose that will make all the difference. Good things happen when America is engaged with friends and allies, alert to danger, resolve to deal with threats before they become catastrophes. We've seen how in recent years, how critical each one of those principles is to our security. Because when it counted most, they were missing. To really grasp what the next President will face, we have to look candidly at a few policies that have gone very wrong in these years.
Above all, in what we used to call the war on terror. Despite elaborate efforts by the administration to avoid even calling it by name, one of the gravest threats we face today comes from radical Islamic terrorists. The terrorists are possessed. The terrorists are possessed by the same violent ideology that gave us 9-11 and they're on the offensive and gaining ground. It is not true and was wishful thinking by the administration to claim that the tide of war is receding. The reality is that radical Islam has been spreading like a pandemic across the Middle East, throughout Africa and to parts of Asia. Even in the nations of the West, finding recruits in Europe and the United States.
Here's another stark reality. Seven years ago the long awaited Jihadist Caliphate existed only in the fevered imagination of the terrorists. Today the radicals' caliphate exists as an actual place occupying a stretch of land larger than Indiana. ISIS, a genocidal terrorist army, controls large parts of two countries and is gaining influence in others and yet well into this nightmare, President Obama's administration by its own admission, has no strategy to stop it. In place of one, they're pursuing a minimalist approach of incremental escalation. The results have been a creeping US involvement without any strategic results. The worst of both worlds. A year of limited strikes and other half measures has made little discernible difference in the sum total of the ISIS danger. A halting ineffective measure against them has only emboldened these terrorists leaving the pandemic unchecked. Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi, and other cities that American and Allied troops died to liberate are now under the black flag of ISIS.
Inside the Caliphate, non-believers are forced to convert and those who do not can expect a horrible fate. A special hatred is reserved for Christians and other religious minorities. In the Middle East today we're witnessing the mass persecution and exodus of the followers of Jesus Christ, all across the region. Nor is any allowance made for the hearance of Islam found lacking in zeal by ISIS which has filled mass graves with innocent Muslims.
Potential recruits of ISIS ready for their own taste of violence can even follow it all on social media. It's a time when mass murderers have Twitter handles, Facebook and Instagram pages, using these to add the benear of glamour to their exploits. We need to work with the owners of these relevant companies to give careful thought on how we address this problem. Among followers worldwide, ISIS is hailed as the strong horse, the glorious cleanser and restorer of Islam and that word is getting out on Western-based social media. This helps explain the spread of ISIS and the terrorist pandemic in the Middle East and beyond, including thousands recruited from Europe and more than 100 from America, giving us ISIS terrorists with Western passports. The Islamic State and its followers are an asymmetric threat needing just one big strike to inflict devastation.
We're facing an ISIS and its ideology. What it is is to borrow phrase, the focus of evil in the modern world. And civilized nations everywhere, especially those with power, have a duty to oppose and defeat this enemy. No leader or policy maker involved with claim to have gotten everything right in the region, Iraq especially. Yet in a long experience that includes failures of intelligence and military setbacks, one moment stands out in memory as the turning point we had all been waiting for, and that was the surge of military and diplomatic operations that turned events toward victory. It was a success, brilliant, heroic and costly. And this nation will never forget the courage and sacrifice that made it all possible.
So why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq leaving not even a residual force the commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary. That premature withdrawal was the fatal error creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill and that Iran has exploited to the full as well. ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat.
And where was the Secretary of State? Where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the President himself, she had opposed the surge and then joined in claiming credit for its success. Then stood by as that hard won victory by American and Allied forces was thrown away. In all of her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once. Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009, when the President and Secretary Clinton, the story team of rivals took office. So eager to be the history makers, they failed to be the peace makers. It was a, it was a case of of blind haste to get out and to call the tragic consequences somebody else's problem. Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger and the costs have been gravious. All of that is in the past, it cannot be undone.
Another terrible miscalculation unfolding right now is a different story. That would be the Obama, Clinton, Kerry policy of treating the Mullahs in Iran as a stabilizing force in the region. When in fact they are deceitful dictators causing nothing but instability. Whenever bad things happen in the Middle East, from Israel's borders to the shores of Yemen, the influence of the Mullahs is rarely far from the scene. Here is a regime that supports terrorism, threatens to destroy Israel, has for years been trying to develop nuclear weapons, routinely commits human rights violations, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops in Iraq and even now is unlawfully detaining American citizens. Iran, it's ally Assad, it's terrorist proxy Hezbollah and the sectarian militias it sponsors have fueled the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that have helped give rise to ISIS. Yet the President's deal with Iran confronts none of these problems. And least of all does it prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. In fact the deal prepares the way for that capability with the lifting of sanctions. The deal also frees up more than $100 billion for Iran security services to use as they wish. In effect the primary investors in a violent, radical Middle East have just received a new round of funding, courtesy of the United States of America and the United Nations and this is President Obama's idea of a diplomatic triumph. Wow. It is a deal unwise in extreme with a regime that is untrustworthy in the extreme. It should be rejected by the Congress of the United States of America. If the Congress does not reject this deal, then the damage must be undone by the next President. And it will be my intention to begin that process immediately.
Knowing what has gone wrong, however, is not the same as knowing how to set it right. The threat of global Jihad and of the Islamic State in particular requires all the strength, unity and confidence that only American leadership can provide. Radical Islam is a threat we are entirely capable of overcoming and I will be unyielding in that cause should I be elected President of the United States of America. We should pursue the clear and unequivocal objective of throwing back the barbarians of ISIS and helping the millions in the region who want to live in peace. Instead of simply reacting to each new move the terrorists choose to make, we will use every advantage we have to take the offensive, to keep it and to prevail.
In all of this the United States must engage with friends and allies and lead again in this vital region. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the most populist and wealthiest countries in the Middle East, are important partners of the United States. Those relationships have been badly mishandled by this administration. Both countries are a key to a better coordinated regional effort against terrorism. We need to restore trust and work more closely with them against common threats. We have very capable partners likewise in the United Arab Emirates who are willing and able to take the fight to the extremists. We have a moderate and quite formidable leader in King Abdullah of Jordan. We have an ally in the new democratic government in Tunisia and a fragile democracy in Lebanon, nations that are both under assault by radicals and terrorists. Across the region responsible governments need no persuading of what the moment requires. It requires action, coordination and American leadership to bring it all together.
My strategy meets the unique circumstances in each of these two countries, Iraq and Syria, in which ISIS now has territory. And let's start with Iraq and the five broad actions I would take as President to help remove the threat from that country. First, we must support the Iraqi forces which right now have the will to win but not the means. As matters stand, the United States has been helping to reconstitute Iraqi security services and to aid the Kurdish Peshmerga. We need to broaden and expedite our efforts to help ensure Iraqis rebuild their security sector, not only to win against ISIS but to break free of Iranian influence. And that effort should also involve even greater engagement with the Sunni tribes whose fighting units serve side by side with Americans to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq and were then disbanded by Maliki government after the United States abandoned Iraq.
Second, we must give these forces the consistent advantage of American air power to cover their operations and to strike with fierce precision. The strategy has to include forward air controllers whose skill and accuracy would severely hinder the enemy's freedom of movement. This would greatly improve the ability of fighter aircraft and Apache attack helicopters to provide necessary close air support to local ground forces. ISIS fighters try blending into the civilian landscape. Our spotters on the ground will enable us to hit them hard and rarely miss.
Third, we must make better use of the limited forces we have by giving them a greater range of action. Right now we have around 3,500 soldiers and Marines in Iraq and more may well be needed. We do not need and our friends don't ask for a major commitment of American combat forces, but what we do need is to convey that we're serious, that we're determined to help local forces take back their country. Our unrivaled war fighters know that it is simply not enough to dispense advice and training to local forces and then send them on their way and hope for the best. Canadian troops are already embedded to Iraqi units to very good effect. Our soldiers and Marines need the go ahead to do that as well, to help our partners out think and outmaneuver the enemy.
Fourth, we should provide more support to the Kurds, giving them decisive military power against ISIS. In Iraq's Kurdish region we have loyal friends and brave and skilled fighters. If I'm Commander in Chief, the United States will make certain that the Kurds have everything they need to win.
And finally our strategy in Iraq has to restart the serious diplomatic efforts that can help that country move in the right direction. Only Iraq Shiite, Sunnis, and Kurds can decide if they can live together and share power and resources in a way that will serve their interests, assuring the survival of their country. But these partners have to know that while the United States is there in measure, we're also there in earnest and for the long haul, that has been the problem with the Obama administration. No one believes we're serious because we have not made the kind of commitments that friends make with friends. They will come through for their country but they've got to know that we have their back.
Now the situation in Syria is quite different from the one in Iraq. In some ways it's even more complex because we have no large cohesive force to work with. And here too we have seen what ruin and suffering can follow when America doesn't lead. Of 23 million Syrians about 11 million have been displaced or fled the country all together. Imagine that. More than 200,000 people have so far been killed in the mayhem. The regime of Bashar Al-Assad is deploying every ruthless means to stay in power. Long brutalized by that regime, now under assault from ISIS, Syrian moderates want to fight against both enemies and they view the regime as the greater evil. It's a sorrowful picture when you think back on how it could've been avoided. Exactly four years ago, we heard words that still hang in the air of the Middle East when President Obama declared the time has come for President Assad to step aside. Then three years ago came another pronouncement that any use of chemical weapons by Assad would be a red line inviting tough consequences for the regime. If the choice was between silence and these idle grandiose words, it would've been a heck of a lot better to say nothing at all.
What followed is that Assad used those weapons again and again and there were no serious consequences whatsoever. Having lost our credibility on such an epic scale, it is hard to get it back. But we had better try because the longer we do nothing, the more dangerous the situation becomes and the more directly our friends and our interests are threatened. Our ultimate goal in Syria is to defeat ISIS and to achieve long-term political stability in the country. Defeating ISIS requires defeating Assad, but we have to make sure that his regime is not replaced by something as bad or worse. The last thing we need in Syria is a repeat of Libya with its planless aftermath where the end of a dictatorship was only the beginning of more terrorist violence, including the death of four Americans in Benghazi.
Syria will need a stable government and a transition free of more sectarian bloodletting will depend on the credible moderate forces we helped to unite and build up today. To that end my strategy would be to bring American influence to bear in four important areas of action. First, a coordinated international effort is essential to give Syria's moderate forces the upper hand. As it is, the Qataris, the Turks, the Saudis and others have been supporting fighting groups in Syria, but these groups are not always working to common purpose. And if there's anything that moderate forces in Syria cannot afford right now it's confusion and disunity. Under my strategy the aim would be to draw the moderates together and back them up as one force. And we should back that force up all the way through, not just in taking the fight to the enemy but in helping them form a stable, moderate government once ISIS is defeated and Assad is gone.
It is a tough, complicated, diplomatic and military proposition. Even more so than the current situation in Iraq but it can be done. We saw in the Iraq surge how Islamic moderates can be pulled away from extremist forces. And the strategic elements in both cases are the same, we have to support local forces and we must stay true to our word.
Second, we have to expand and vastly improve the recruitment and training of Syrian forces fighting ISIS. At the moment, too many in Syria doubt that they can count on us which explains why our recruiting and training have basically come to nothing. We've spent a half a billion dollars on a program that has gotten us 54 recruits. When that happens you know that the plan's not working out really well. I'm tempted to be reminded of healthcare.gov, it costs a little bit more and got the same result, the website. Just sayin'. The reality is our recruitment efforts have been failing in Syria because we're not respected anymore as a reliable actor in the region and we have to change that impression with a clear, consistent and credible action that every nation should expect from the United States of America.
Third, we must over time establish multiple safe zones in Syria. It's a measure of progress that we join with the Turks to create a small ISIS free zone in the northern part of the country, that’s good news. But we need to go beyond, well beyond that by establishing safe zones to protect Syrians not only from ISIS but also from Assad.
Fourth, we and our partners should declare a no fly zone in Syria and then work to expand that zone to prevent more crimes by the regime. Enforce that fly zone and we'll stop the regimes bombing raids that kill helpless citizens. It could also help stop Iranian flights from resupplying the regime in Hezbollah and other bad actors. A no fly zone is a critical strategic step to cut off Assad, counter Iranian influence, keep the pressure on for a settlement and prevent more needless death in a country that has seen so much of it.
When we talk about no fly zones in Syria, precision air strikes in Iraq, or any projection of military power to meet or deter a threat, all of this assumes that such power is there when we need it. Yet here as well, the shortsightedness of the present administration will leave a cost. We're in the seventh year of a significant dismantling of our own military. In almost inverse proportion to the threats that are multiplying. I assure you the day that I’m elected President of the United States will be the day that we turn this around and we begin rebuilding the armed forces of the United States of America.
A winning strategy against the Islamic State or against any threat to ourselves and our friends depends ultimately on the military strength that underwrites American influence. Let that slip away and what would America be in the world affairs except one more well-intentioned voice at the United Nations? We don't want that. In any effort of ours to overcome violence and secure peace a winning strategy depends on maintaining unequaled strength and we can never take it for granted. I might add that this includes strength among our intelligence services, military and civilian. No men and women, no group of men and women receive so little credit for doing so much to track dangers and to keep us safe. These skilled brave Americans can be sure of this, if I become Commander in Chief, they will receive the tools they need and the gratitude and the respect and the support that they deserve.
A good many people who serve in our military and intelligence agencies are at mid career and I venture to guess that for quite a few of them their calling has something to do with their coming of age in the Reagan years. Yet any nostalgia for that time has to recall not only a falling wall and collapsing evil empire but also the fear and tension and the dead serious challenges that could've all played out so very differently. From the distance of decades, even the greatest successes in security and foreign policy can look almost inevitable. Of course nothing had to happen as it did. Weariness with conflict ran pretty deep back then, along with despair of ever getting past it. But then along came one formidable figure who would not accept that way of thinking and he was the one who mattered the most. It's that way for us too and having to deal with long conflicts and serious threats that again on the offensive. And in living up to our responsibilities we can always use a little more of the Reagan spirit, rejecting with contempt the idea that conflict must be endless or that the spread of danger and violence is inevitable. It is not.
For generations American led alliances, American diplomacy and American credibility deterred aggression and defended the peace. This is the way forward in our time as well led by a President who is resolute as I will be in the defeat of radical Islamic terrorism wherever it appears. We can protect our people, put adversaries back in retreat, get things moving our way again and move back, win back the momentum for freedom's cause. In all of this let us never forget that in fighting evil we're doing good. In stopping the merciless, we are delivering justice and in destroying the violent, we're defending the innocent. This is the work that America is in this world to do. Let us meet that duty with confidence, faith and resolve. Thank you all very much and God Bless the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you guys. Thank you. Thank you all.
Q: A few questions if I may. But I wanna assure you I’m no Megan Kelly - I.
A: I noticed. I could tell, it's just my keen sense of operation.
Q: Smart guy. You mentioned the plight of Christians in the Middle East in your speech. In some countries, Christian communities that have been around for more than 1,000 years are virtually extinct. So my question is does the United States have a moral responsibility to intervene to stop this kind of genocide?
A: But for us who? Who will stand up for the persecuted? Who will stand up, look Bob I have a personal connection to this. My views on this are, existed before but but because my daughter-in-law is a Canadian born beautiful spectacular woman, brilliant beyond belief and given me two of the most precious granddaughters I could ever imagine. She also, her parents are Iraqi Christians and I've been sensitized to the plight of Christians in Iraq. If you think about it, in Mosul for 1,600 mass was given, Communion was given and today it's not because ISIS controls, controls Mosul and they will persecute and kill Christians. And they're fleeing, they're fleeing all over the region, not just Iraq. They're they're there are challenges in Lebanon which used to be a a peaceful Christian nation. Think about the think about the ISIS inspired terrorists on the shores of the Mediterranean in Eastern Libya executing, beheading 18 Christian cops. Think about the Christians that are that are being slaughtered all around the world. Think of the precious Christian girls in northern Nigeria. This is, this is, this is our challenge because, but for us who? I think we do have a duty and we have the skills to do this. These are these are not the most awesome forces in the world. The United States has fought wars against forces that were evil, just as evil as this with greater military might. We can take these guys on. We have special forces that are the best in the world. We have military capabilities that are far, far exceed anybody else. I just reject the idea that this isn't important. This is something that would send a signal to the rest of the world that the United States is, is supportive of people that through no no fault of their own, believing in their faith are being killed and tortured and persecuted. We need to stand up against this.
Q: Different subject, you were critical of the President's deal with Iran.
Q: What would you do, what would you do to, up against this threat?
A: Well first of all if if you're gonna negotiate a deal with Iran then I think you should've kept the what the, what the objective was from very beginning which was to never allow Iran to to obtain the capabilities to build a nuclear bomb. That was the beginning of the efforts and we've gone from that to having you know trust but verify kind of inspections to now you know anytime anywhere, to now it's like secret agreements that are signed with a an agency of the United Nations where our members of Congress can't even read 'em. I mean this is this is the wrong approach clearly so I hope that Congress votes this down. I hope it's with a two-thirds majority and if it is then let the President go back if he wants and negotiate a deal that's in our security interest. If that's not to happen and I'm elected President, then on day one we'll have a strategy to deal with the multitude of threats that Iran brings. Iran just doesn't bring the threat of being a nuclear threshold country which is real and serious, that will provide the possibilities of nuclear proliferation in the region. I mean these are serious problems, but they're also the largest sponsor in every way of of terrorism. Not just by the way in the region but in Latin America as well and other places. They support Hezbollah that is active in our hemisphere as well, so we have to deal with that threat, we have to push them back in that regard, made harder because they'll have at least $100 billion of fresh capital to carry out their agenda. We have to deal with the the capabilities that they'll get when conventional weapon sanctions are relieved, which is in relatively short period of time. To have a missile defense capability bought from the Russians, to have ballistic missile capabilities that they're developing and then have conventional weapons capability second to none in the region is something that we're gonna have to deal with. And the strategy needs to be to engage with the with the region of course, with the the countries that feel most directly threatened by this, but we have to lead this. We can't be part of the community of nations, we can't lead from behind all this new language that is the antithesis of American leadership, we have to lead and develop a a strategy to push Iran back into its own country in terms of its efforts to destabilize the regime. And to make sure that they never have the capability of a nuclear weapon.
Q: My last question. You mentioned some of the mistake of Secretary Clinton with respect to Iraq. Could you talk to us about what you think of her tenure and some of the differences you have in foreign policy vision?
A: I would say the Obama Clinton foreign policy will be remembered as a a foreign policy based on grandiose talk and little action. It'll be based on, wonderful speeches, and then grandiose things like red lines. Russia is a regional power, 30 days later they invade Crimea. ISIS is the junior varsity and then they create a Caliphate literally and announce their objective is to put the black flag of ISIS on top of the White House. This is the language of of this administration and their inability to back it up has created real dangers in the world. They believe in soft power. I don't have a power with soft power as long as there's hard power behind it. When there's no hard power, you can't, you can't skip over that part. You can't just talk about things. We're not part of the community of nations. We we can't lead from behind. We have to lead. And the way you create a more peaceful world, past is prologue. There's enough evidence in history, starting with Ronald Reagan. We're in this in this in this place to honor him because he understood that having certainty, having a word that everybody understood, friend and foe alike, created created peace, lessened the chance of America's boots on the ground, American combat troops being necessary. We need to restore that foreign policy and we need to make it more bipartisan. This last week the President, and I haven't heard what Hillary Clinton's view on this is, if you if anybody sees her why don't you ask, that would be interesting. He says, the President says for those who oppose the Iranian deal, I mean there's there's solid reasons. Many people in this room I assume oppose the deal as well, there's legitimate solid reasons to oppose this deal. The President had the gall to say that those that oppose this deal were in cahoots with the death to America crowd in Iran. The death to America crowd in Iran is the group that he negotiated the deal with. This is the problem, we need to restore a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy. You can't keep pushing down people that disagree with you, ascribing horrible motives to them, calling them war mongers every time they have a principle view and make your view this illustrious so intelligent view that no one in their right mind would would would not embrace it. You're never gonna get the kind of consensus we need to create a more peaceful world unless you start with the premise that maybe people disagree with you based on principle for crying out loud and then maybe you should engage with people to forge a better consensus to get to a better place. And this is wrong. I mean across the spectrum of foreign policy we see this and Mrs. Clinton was the implementer of this foreign policy. I think the the experience she has is real, I mean she she was Secretary of State for four years, but it's a failed record. The reset, Libya, Benghazi, the fight against terror, on and on it goes and it's based on not backing up your word where America no longer has any credibility in the world. I would just conclude by saying name a country where our relationship is better today than it was the day that Barack Obama was elected was was inaugurated and when Hillary Clinton was sworn in as Secretary of State. Cuba and Iran. Name the relationships where our relationships are worse. It starts with Canada and it it's a long long list. The next President is gonna have to restore these relationships because they're important in keeping the peace.
Q: Thank you.