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January 15, 2016

Note: Official YouTube Video Linked Through Subheadings in Transcript

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Senator, please, welcome. Welcome to our state. Welcome to our capital city and flagship university. We appreciate you taking the time to come here, to the University of South Carolina. First, I'd like to thank the University of South Carolina for providing, what I believe is a beautiful alumni center. We appreciate you being here. Senator, I know you heard my opening remarks and so what I would like to do is just give you a quick moment to introduce yourself and your family — I know that you have here on the front row — then we're going to jump right into this.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Well, Alan, thank you. It's great to be with you. Thank you all for coming out, particularly on a rainy Friday afternoon. I appreciate you all being here. I want to start by doing just what Alan suggested, introducing the love of my life, my wife, Heidi, and our two little girls, Caroline and Catherine. We are having an amazing time campaigning across South Carolina, all across the country. I'll tell you, the girls are doing an amazing job. Usually when we're on the bus, they're banging off the walls, they're having fun, they're swinging, they're speaking their heart. Catherine, the five-year-old, made it through more than half of the debate last night, before she went to sleep. Which I would say is better than most of people watching at home, and maybe even some of the candidates. Let me tell you, I am so encouraged by what's happening. People are waking up. Listen, every one of us understands the urgency of what we're facing. We're bankrupting our kids and grandkids. We're seeing the federal government violating our constitutional rights each and every day. America has receded its leadership. The image, yesterday, all I saw in the newspapers was ten American sailors on their knees. It was disgusting. It was heartbreaking. That image, if one image captures the failures of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy, that image makes everything clear. The response, I've got to say, you see President Obama and John Kerry groveling and apologizing to Khamenei as he's trying to embarrass and humiliate our sailors. That was even more disgusting. To see this President saying, "I'm so sorry," and then trying to send these theocratic tyrants $150 billion to be used to develop weapons to try to kill us. It is the height of lunacy. The word of encouragement I'll give y'all, the worse it gets, the more people wake up. There is a direct connection. Sometimes things have to get really bad to startle people out of their slumber and I am convinced 2016 will be an election like 1980. I am encouraged by each and every one of you, I'm encouraged by the grassroots tidal wave that is sweeping South Carolina and sweeping this country because other people are waking up, they are rising up, and we are going to turn this country around. We watched the State of Union address ... well, somebody did ... that I really think was really less a State of the Union and more a State of Denial. It was Obama saying things are hunky-dory, and that the economy is doing great. Which, if you're a big government lobbyist in Washington, he's right. This is the time of fat and happy, but the working men and women in this country are not anymore. When he talks about how strong America is, while our sailors are held captive, he doesn't as so much as mention that. Here's the silver lining. This week was the last State of the Union address from Barack Obama

On Supreme Court Nominations

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Senator, we're going to go ahead and jump right into the meat of it. You heard me in my opening remarks to our group here today, we're going to talk about the Supreme Court, because that's extremely important and doesn't get enough attention on these debate stages. You all heard what I said about the statistics, the members of the Supreme Court, that the next President could have a huge impact on the appointment process for the court for a generation or longer to come. Senator, having worked with the Supreme Court, being a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, you have personal first-hand knowledge of how that place works over there. What are questions, what would you want to know from potential nominees to the court, before you'd even submit their names to the U.S. Senate?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Well, Alan, you and I have both spent our lives fighting to defend the Constitution, fighting to defend the Bill of Rights. We have, right now today, an activist, out of control Supreme Court. It is lawless. Last summer, in a period of 24 hours, they issued two decisions on one day, a handful of unelected judges rewrote the text of Obamacare in order to force that failed law on millions of Americans. 24 hours later, five unelected judges reported to tear down the marriage laws of all 50 states, decreeing a right that is found nowhere in the Constitution. Both of those decisions were fundamentally illegitimate, they were lawless, they were wrong, and mark my words, they will not stand. Now, as bad as the current Supreme Court is, Alan is right that the next President, in all likelihood, will get one, two, three, maybe even four Supreme Court Justices. We are one justice away from a radical five-justice liberal majority, the likes of which this country has never seen. Let me give some examples from the time when I was the Solicitor General of Texas. I spent five and a half years as the chief lawyer for the state of Texas in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. When I was Solicitor General, we defended the Ten Commandments monument that stands on the State Capitol ground. We went all the way to the Supreme Court and we won 5-4. We are one justice away from the Supreme Court ordering Ten Commandments monuments torn down in every courthouse, every state capital, every public display across this country. One justice away is how close we are. When I was Solicitor General, we led 31 states before the Supreme Court in the Heller case, defending the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. We won 5-4. We were one justice away, and it's something I talked about last night. The position of the four dissenters was not that some gun control is sometimes permissible. The position of the dissenters is that the Second Amendment protects no individual right whatsoever, that it is only a "collective right of militia," which is fancy lawyer talk for a nonexistent right. Because what that means, one more justice, and the court will hold that not a single human being in this room has any right whatsoever under the Second Amendment, any individual right which means the federal government or any state could make it a crime, a felony, for any American to own a firearm. Under the Supreme Court's radical interpretation that we're one justice away from, the Second Amendment would be written out of the Constitution and not a single one of us would have any right in court to defend it. When I was in private practice I represented over 3 million veterans, defending the Mojave Desert Veterans' Cross, a lone, white Latin cross erected to honor the men and women who gave their lives in World War I. A lower court, the Court of Appeals, ordered that taken down. They said you can't gaze on the image of a cross on public land. We went to the Supreme Court, I represented 3 million veterans and we won 5-4. We are one justice away from the Supreme Court concluding that no image of a cross, no religious symbol, no acknowledgement of God can be found in a public square, which will result in veterans' memorials being torn down all over this country, and we are inches away from coming in with chisels to remove the Stars of David and the crosses on the tombs of our soldiers. That's how radical it is. This is front and center in the next election. Your question was, the most important question I would ask is: "Will you be faithful? Will you follow the Constitution?" Frankly, I don't care what they say; I care what they don't. I care if they spent a lifetime standing up, being faithful to the Constitution, walking the walk. The talk, anyone can say that sitting in the interview room. We've got to look — and the Scriptures say, "You shall know them by their fruit." We've got to look to a proven record and I give you my word, from someone who spent his entire life fighting judicial activism, fighting to defend the Constitution, every justice I put on the Court will be faithful to the Constitution, will not impose rights.

On Executive Action

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Let's talk about executive action. You know a little bit about that.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: As State Attorney General, I have, like you, Senator, had to fight this administration with your former boss, Governor Greg Abbott, and many other AGs around the country. This administration, this President, frequently defy the Constitution, ignore Congress, and basically rule by administrative fiat and not improve the rule of law. Last year, they tried to pass a law through executive fiat action, basically changing immigration laws, and in the state of Texas and South Carolina, and 25 other states challenged it and we are currently winning that fight. A few years before that, South Carolina had paid more money to the nuclear waste fund. Every time you paid a utility bill, you paid money to a fund that paid for exploration at Yucca Mountain, which is a nuclear waste depository that numerous Congresses over 30 years, bipartisan, Republican and Democrat alike, could all agree should be replaced and requited. The administration said, "You know what, you all keep the nuclear waste, we'll keep the billions of dollars we collected from you. Thank you." And the courts said you can't do that. Just two examples. Senator, which executive actions of this president do you disagree with most, and why?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Well, I'll tell you I pledge that the very first thing I will do on the first day in office, is rescind every single illegal, unconstitutional order. In the previous Congress, I was the ranking member of the Constitution sub-committee commissioner. And in that capacity we put out a whole series of reports on the lawlessness of Barack Obama in this administration. We chronicled 76 lawless acts. Sadly, that report is out of date. It was written a couple of years ago. But 76 lawless acts from this administration, one after the other after the other, ignoring the Constitution, ignoring the laws. You know, if you were to pick one, I think the one you might like is the Presidency's executive amnesty. A couple of years ago, activists asked Barack Obama, "Will you grant amnesty by an executive?" And the President said, "I would like to, but I can't. I don't have the legal authority. Federal immigration law prohibits it. I don't have the Constitutional authority." And he said, "I am not an emperor." That's a quote from Barack Obama, "I am not an emperor." Then just a few months later, partisan politics intruded, and guess what, he became an emperor. The exact same thing he said only an emperor can do, he turned around and said we will ignore federal immigration law and decree amnesty. And you know, actually who I think put it best, there's a liberal constitutional law professor named Jonathan Turley. Professor Turley is a man of the left. Professor Turley voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Jonathan Turley said, "President Obama has become the embodiment of the imperial presidents. Barack Obama has become the president Richard Nixon always wished he could be." That's an indictment from the left. I will say one of the things that's on the President now, is that the modern Democratic party that's acquiescing to these laws. You look at the Senate Democrats, it is stunning that not a one of them, not a single one can find the courage to stand up to a lawless president. I'll give you an example. The President a couple of years ago appointed several commissioners to the National Labor Relations Board. He did so using the recess appointment authority of the President, which applies only when the Senate is in recess. Here's the problem, the Senate wasn't in recess. And he just decreed, "Well, I say you're in recess, so I as President am going to say the Senate is in recess even when the Senate says we are not in recess." This was brazen. There were 55 Democrats in the United States Senate. Do you know how many Democrats stood up to the President? Zero. But there was an era not too long ago where you would have the old golds of the Senate, the lions of the Senate. There would be the Mike Mansfields, there would be the Ted Kennedys or the Robert Byrds. And it would have taken, a Democrat in their own party would have said, "No president has the power to take the authority of the United States Senate out of the Constitution." Not this Senate. It went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court 9-0 said of course the President can't declare the Senate in recess when it ain't in recess. This was not a complicated or subtle thing and yet today's Democrats, they think the ends justify the means. "Well, we like the people he appointed so we're happy with him just taking the Senate's confirmation power and ignoring it." That's going to change and it's going to change on day one. The one silver lining, a week ago he put out a bunch of lawless executive actions on guns trying to go after the Second Amendment. Well he may have a phone, and he may have a pen, but if you live by the pen you die by the pen. And everything done with executive action can be undone with executive action and I intend to do exactly that if I am elected.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: You used the metaphor of an emperor and I can't help but think of that book "The Emperor Has No Clothes."

SEN. TED CRUZ:  I've got to say, that's an image I'd really care not to think of.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Metaphorically speaking, not literally. Immigration. Will you help me?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  This is PG rated.

On Immigration

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Immigration is another hot topic we talked about the President's executive amnesty we're currently challenging. There are 27 states currently involved in that. Senator, what would you do to solve the immigration problem in the United States?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Well, look, immigration is a serious problem and it's become all the more serious as we've seen Iran's radical Islamic terrorists. Border security is national security. Anyone who is not prepared to secure the border and keep this country safe cannot protect the men and women of this country. I have laid out a very, very detailed immigration plan, it is 11 pages single spaced, chapter and verse exactly what I intend to do on immigration. This plan was drafted hand in hand with Senator Jeff Sessions and Congressman Steve King, probably the two strongest advocates and warriors in the United States Congress for securing this country, stopping amnesty, and keeping the country safe. What would I do? We're going to build a wall. Existing federal law requires 700 miles of reinforced fencing. You know how much Barack Obama's allowed to be built? 36 miles. They're just ignoring federal law. That's the existing law, he will not comply. We will build the wall. We will triple the border patrol. I represent Texas, we've got 1,200 miles of border. When you ask law enforcement there what matters, the number one thing they say is, boots on the ground is the most effective tool to actually secure the border. We will triple the border patrol. We will increase four-fold to fix rotary wing aircraft monitoring the borders so when you see an attempted incursion, the boots on the ground go right to that spot and stop it. We will put in place a strong E-Verify system at the workplace so you cannot get a job without proving you are here legally. We will put in place a biometric exit/entry system on visas. A lot of people don't know 40% of illegal immigration doesn't occur across the border. People who come legally on visas and they just don't leave. Once again, existing federal law requires a biometric exit/entry system. Obama refuses to do it. I will comply with law. We will put that in place so that the instant you overstay your visa, we know to the minute. We will end sanctuary cities. Talk's cheap on that, but there's a real easy way to do it. There are 360 jurisdictions in this country that have declared themselves sanctuary jurisdictions. Every one of them is going to find their federal taxpayer money cut off. We will fast pace law, and we will end welfare benefits to those here illegally. The point that is important to understand, the media tells us all the time we can't fix this problem. It can't be solved. What utter nonsense. You don't think a wall works? Go visit Israel. They put in a wall and they're keeping terrorists out and they ain't getting in. We know how to fix this problem. Most of the tools needed to do it are in existing law right now. Congress doesn't need to do another thing. What is missing is the political will. The Democrats and far too many Republicans don't want to get it done and I'll tell you this, I give you my word, if I am elected President we will secure the border, we will keep this country safe, and we will end illegal immigration.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I see a lot of young people in the audience, Senator, and I see some college aged people, so this is kind of directed at you. We'll give you a quick lesson. Most everybody here knows this. There are three branches of government, right? The three branches are, that's like a highway lane, each branch of government stays in their lane. The Constitution, each article says, executive branch, these are your powers, legislative branch, these are your powers, judicial branch, these are your powers. This is like an operating manual for how to run a republic. That's exactly what it is. Then the Constitution says "By the way, if the powers aren't listed in one of these three chapters, go to tab ten, we call it the ten commitments in the back of the operating manual." Anything not listed in the Constitution is reserved to who?

Audience: The states.

On Executive Overreach

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Right, the states. I have struggled as Attorney General, like so many other AGs, with the federal bureaucrats running federal agencies who simply refuse to follow the law and they administrate, they rule through administrative fiat. The EPA, the NLRB, the DOJ, the same few hot buttons. Senator, as President, how would you roll back those unelected bureaucrats who are entrenched in government and basically rule by regulatory fiat on that, and how would you address that?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  So, Alan, let me quote the movie "Jerry Maguire": "You had me at hello." Look, if you look at the regulatory state, there is this unelected fourth branch, the bureaucrats that outlast the politicians, that profligate rules each and every day that view themselves as the real governors of we, the subjects. If you look at what Barack Obama has done that is wrong with executive action, it is that he is intruded into the Article One authority of Congress. As you called it, the lane where all legislative power is vested in the Congress of the United States. That means the President doesn't have the authority to make the law, change the law, or ignore the law. But that being said, the President has robust authority in his lane. In Article Two, the executive power, all executive power is vested in one President of the United States. If you look at the regulatory state, that represents over the years Congress's efforts to intrude into the executive power of the President. Here's the sad reality. When Democrats are in office, regulations grow exponentially. When Republicans are in office, they still grow, just a little more slowly. Like a friend of mine suggested they should come up with a bumper sticker, "Republicans: We Waste Less." I'm not exactly a fan. Alan, we have never seen a President of the United States willing to use the full Article Two executive authority of the presidency to take on the regulatory state. To fire regulators. To rescind regulations like the Waters of the United States rule, the Obama administration put it in trying to take the vast majority of the farmland and say it's all subject to federal regulation. They find a ditch or a puddle on your land as navigable water. To use another movie line, this time from "The Princess Bride," "You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does." As President ... I'm playing all week. As President, I will rescind the Waters of the United States. I will say there may be one government agency that I think should be in effect. Our embassy in Iceland. Because we may well need to transfer about 10,000 bureaucrats to the Iceland embassy. We will clarify the lines for everybody else and I give you my word, if I am elected President it will not be the case that regulations continue to grow, just more slowly, but rather, when I leave office, the body of federal regulation will be materially smaller and human liberty will be an equal amount of margin.

On the Environmental Protection Agency

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I think what you just said is, unlike most men in this room, he actually reads the instruction manual. Senator, I don't know if you're peeking, but you started to answer another question I was about to ask. Waters of the U.S., we call it WOTUS. The EPAs, clean power plants, these are issues that the EPA, I call it the Eliminate Prosperity Agency because that's what it's doing. It's creating regulations that are crippling, driving up the cost of energy and crippling business because of the regulatory actions they are taking. I'm going to rename WOTUS to LOTUS, Lands of the U.S., because they're basically taking your land. LOTUS. My question for you is, how would you balance the need to protect a livable environment, because we all want a livable environment, with the reality of the cost of these regulations?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Listen, everyone wants clean air and clean water. Last time I checked, we all breathe. Some people in Washington I actually wonder about. And we all drink water. Every one of us cares about being good stewards of the environment. But the reality of it is the Obama EPA has nothing to do with it. These people are zealots. They are zealots who are anti-development. They hate anything that is developing and anything that is creating jobs and we see activists that use these laws to target any new construction and any new development. And it's wrong. It is nuts. We need a president that will take on the EPA. I'm reminded a few years back, the Obama administration was trying to use the presence of a little lizard out of west Texas to shut down oil and gas exploration. Now my reaction to that is, you know the thing about lizards? They make darn fine boots. Look, actually, endangered species are a great example. Where, the worst thing that can happen to a species whose numbers are diminishing, the worst thing that can happen is they get listed as an endangered species. Because what almost inevitably happens if you list them and their numbers keep going because the incentive is if you see that darn lizard on your property and no one is looking ... Because that little critter could take the value of your whole property. Now, listen, I'd like to see endangered species replicate, but how about changing the laws to say "This species' numbers are going down and you want to develop in its habitat. You have safe harbor if you take that population and double or triple it." Now, they don't have an obligation to crawl on that particular rock. You might move them to another rock. But how about you have the law create an incentive to increase the species rather than decrease the species and not shut down the development? That's actually valuing human beings at least as much as you're valuing snails and fish. You can change the law that we protect animals and we in fact increase the population of animals by creating a positive economic incentive, but not doing it in a way that shuts down and hurts people. And to do that, the first step is for there to be a president who is willing to take on the EPA and the zealots who are there and say "Either you enforce the law and stop going after and targeting and persecuting individual Americans or you're out of a job." That may be the whole thing.

On the Clean Power Plan and the Carbon Tax Plan

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: We'll move to the next issue in the next 60 seconds, but I'd like to get your quick thoughts on the president's clean power plan and his carbon tax plan, real quick.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  It is absolutely disastrous. It is the most costly regulation that has been proposed in modern history. I'll tell you, the real test of politicians is what they're willing to say about global warming. You get an awful lot of politicians, a lot of Republicans that are scared to take this on. I want to encourage y'all, so I chaired a hearing, I'm the chairman of the Science and Space Subcommittee in the Senate, I chaired a hearing on global warming and brought in experts to testify on what the data shows. I believe we should follow the science of the day. And here's the simple facts. The satellite data demonstrate over the last 18 years, there has been no significant warming whatsoever. Now that is what Al Gore would describe as an inconvenient truth. We chaired that hearing, I put up the satellite data there. I also put up John Kerry's quote, I think it was in 2009, he said "By 2013, the polar ice caps will be entirely melted." You know, the Bible talked about how you test prophets. It said "If someone comes and claims they're a prophet, you demand of them, make short-term prophecy and let's see if it comes true." Well, 2013 came and passed and anyone who's after the business of the North or South Pole will notice there's a lot of ice up there. In fact, there is more polar ice today than there was the preceding year. It's grown, not diminished. Another inconvenient truth. We put up pictures. They sent an exploratory ship down to Antarctica. The people putting this trip together, they believed the computer model said all the ice would be melted, so they just headed on down. I put up pictures. The ship got stuck in the ice because the ice had grown instead of melted. You've got to step back and understand what this debate is all about. For those of us with some historical memory, 20, 30, 40 years ago, there were a bunch of scientists and a bunch of liberal politicians talking about global cooling. They said we were headed to another Ice Age and they said the answer was massive government control of the energy sector and every aspect of our lives. Well, the evidence didn't support global cooling. It became pretty clear it wasn't cooler. So then suddenly all of these same liberal politicians and the scientists taking research money, following the liberal politicians' theories, they transmogrified global cooling into global warming. And interestingly enough, their solution was the exact same. Massive government controls of the economy and the energy sector and every aspect of our lives. But then the evidence didn't back it up. Their computer models said it should be getting really hot and the satellites that take the temperature didn't show it. Did you all know this was in the past couple of years? The theory has magically changed. Now it's climate change. For a politician seeing a pseudo-scientific theory to justify their power grab, climate change is perfect. How many of you all remember high school biology? The scientific method. You may be in high school biology. You start with a hypothesis and then you test it with evidence. You try and disprove it with evidence. That's what a scientist is supposed to do. Climate change can never be disproven. Whether it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier, the climate always changes. This is the perfect theory. Two final observations. One, their solution to climate change, massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives. You start to think "Maybe these politicians just want power and they don't care what bogus theory they're floating out of the gate." But secondly, what is the language of this group? Anyone who questions their piety gets named and branded and denied. The word "denier" is not a scientific word. That's the language of religion. That's calling someone a heretic. And in my view, the president's so-called Clean Power Act would drive up energy bills and would cost tens of millions of jobs in this country. Massively expensive, it's all about government power and I'm not willing to tell a single mom in South Carolina who's struggling to put food on the table for her kids, I'm going to double your energy bill just to give Washington more power on a bogus theory that the science doesn't back.

On Obamacare

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: You know, it's the power and bogus beliefs that prompt me to talk about Obamacare. The 2014 court decision, we just talked about the court, ladies and gentlemen. Two 5-4 decisions. Remember that, how important judges are? Just going in, here's the question – Obamacare? Go.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Take it out in the back alley and put two bullets in the back of its head. Let me give two more sentences. If I'm elected president, we will repeal every single word of Obamacare.

On Dodd-Frank

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: We've talked about this topic for a long time, and I want to make it short. Dodd-Frank is to the financial industry what Obamacare is to the healthcare industry. It's improvising the federal government, unelected bureaucrats. It makes getting capital for people on Main Street who want a student loan, a home loan, or a business loan more difficult and it causes small banks to struggle against the enshrined power of the two big federal banks. Senator, as president, what would you do to scale back Dodd-Frank and help get these lines of credit to people on Main Street?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  I've joked before, Dodd-Frank, talk about a bill you don't got to read any further than the title. You know nothing good can come from it. Actually, Dodd-Frank is a great example of what's wrong with Congress. It was sold to the American people as a way to sock it to the big banks. How's that working out? The big banks today under Dodd-Frank are bigger. And who's getting hammered? It's the little banks. Alan, you're exactly right. It's the community banks. It's the small financial institutions, which by the way, hammers all the small businesses. You'll notice, the giant New York banks don't make small business loans here in South Carolina. It's the community banks that fuel the small business loans that in turn fuel the job growth. Community banks are going under. Here's the point that's important to understand about this. That was not an unintended side effect. That wasn't "Oops, we didn't realize that." The lobbyists for the giant banks were sitting at the table when the Democratic members of Congress were writing Dodd-Frank and it's a real simple principle. When the giant companies put massive burdens of regulations on the industry, the big guys can ignore them. They've got so many accountants and lawyers, they throw a few more at them, it's fine. But what it does is it drives out of business their competition. And that's the intended purpose. My view is we should repeal every word of Dodd-Frank. Washington should not be used to help giant corporations and Wall Street. It shouldn't be in the business of cronyism and mandates and subsidies. We should get Washington out of the way and if we're fighting for anyone, it should be the little guy, the small business, the job creators. That's how we turn our economy around.

On the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Over the years, as you know, I became Attorney General right after you were elected to the U.S. Senate. The National Labor Relations Board came to South Carolina and took on a small starving company, a very small airline manufacturing company. South Carolina is one of the ... actually, it is the seventh least unionized state. I've never understood why you would have to compel someone to join an organization or a job. If that organization's worth joining, you shouldn't have to compel them. They'll want to join. But I would like to have your general views on unions and the roles they play with the NLRB and how they affect businesses expanding operations.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Look, if you look at union offices right now, they are destroying jobs in states across this country. I'm a passionate advocate of right to work. I think every American deserves the right to work without being forced to pay union dues, without being forced to join a union. If you want to join a union, that's fine. But that shouldn't be the condition of getting a job. And I think we are on firm ground standing and fighting with the American worker, fighting for your right to keep the money you earned in your paycheck instead of having union bosses use it to fund their political agendas and their power. I also think there's an incredible political opportunity. You know, Democrats have chosen between two conditional favorite children in the Democratic Party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid have made the choice to go with California environmentalist billionaires and their campaign contributions instead of the jobs of unions. And I think they made a very cynical decision that the union bosses will round up the votes and they need the money. Now, I think that presents an enormous opportunity for Republicans to go to the union members all across the Midwest, the working men and women who are getting hammered and say "We're fighting for you every day." When you see the president kill the Keystone pipeline with politics just to appease the extreme, tens of thousands of high-paying jobs with the stroke of a pen President Obama says "Go away." When you see that radical position, I think we have an opportunity. How will we win the general election in 2016? I think we fight for hard-working men and women across this country who want to believe again in the promise of this country and we run against the bipartisan corruption of Washington, which nobody embodies more than Hillary Clinton.

On the 2nd Amendment

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Senator Cruz, you touched on this earlier in your comments, but I have to talk briefly about the Second Amendment. We're a state, I don't know about y'all, but I like to cling to my God and my guns. We have the actions of some mentally ill people, some deranged lunatics, and some people who are just outright evil. They commit heinous acts, horrible acts, acts that would make any one of us cry, surely made the president cry. Made me cry. Seriously. But then these acts were caused because rules and laws weren't followed that were already on the books and the mental health issue hasn't been raised enough. Just real quick, in 60 seconds, I want to know your views on the Second Amendment broadly in the context of what I just said.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Well, let me give you a broader context, which is all of us are frustrated because we have candidates that talk a great game on the trail and then they don't do what they say. If you go to a candidate's website there's always an issues page. They have a series of issues, A, B, C, D, and E. They all say word for word the same thing. Every Republican says the same thing. On the Second Amendment, there is a right answer. I support the Second Amendment. Unless you are clinically insane, that's the right answer. Now, if you go to my website, which is, one of the first things people notice is we don't have issues. We have a page that is labeled "A Cruz Around." And it says "For far too long, politicians have said one thing and done another. Every one of us should ask any candidate who shows up, 'You say you believe these principles. Show me. When have you stood for them? When have you bled for them? And what have you accomplished?'" As the Scriptures say, "You shall know them by their fruits." And what it then says is for the past decade, Ted has been fighting for conservative principles over and over again and winning on a national level, and goes through three pages of bullets. Now, on the Second Amendment, everyone says they support the Second Amendment, including plenty of folks on that stage last night whose record is going against the Second Amendment but all of them say the same thing, that they support it. Our webpage actually doesn't say "I support the Second Amendment." Doesn't say a word about what is buried in the hidden recesses of my heart. What it does say is as the Solicitor General in Texas, I led a coalition of 31 states before the U.S. Supreme Court defending the individual right to keep and bear arms and we won a landmark 5-4 victory upholding that fundamental right. And then it links to the 2010 Carter Knight Freedom Fund Award given by the NRA every year to the leaders and defenders of the Second Amendment. And then it links to the endorsement of the presidential race of Gun Owners of America who said "We've looked and every one of these candidates, all of them talk about the Second Amendment and the person with the strongest record is Ted."

On Law Enforcement

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: We've got about two more minutes. Real quick, I'm looking around the room and I see a law enforcement officer back here in the corner and I see two other law enforcement officers back here. I don't know if we have any ...

SEN. TED CRUZ:  Are they coming to get us?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON:         ... un-uniformed officers here or retired law enforcement, but this question's for you. As the chief prosecutor, this is one of the most important things I do is keeping our community safe. I know that the president doesn't have a direct hold of the law or even a direct role in federal law enforcement, although he has a lot of appointment power and authority with federal agencies. We've all seen the president's beer summit, we've all seen a lot of these horrible things happening around the country and then it derives into the cost of one bad actor in law enforcement. It makes me upset, ladies and gentlemen, when I see men and women who thousands and thousands of times a day interact with the public and they do it right and one person doesn't do it right and that's all we get to talk about. I think there's a role for the president to play. I don't know how you feel, but I think there's a role for the president and how they can increase public confidence in law enforcement. As president of the United States, what would you do to increase public confidence in our law enforcement around the country who spend every day risking their lives to protect us?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  You are exactly right. I've spent a lot of years of my adult life working in law enforcement, working with officers, working with prosecutors, to lock up and punish murderers, rapists, and very worthy criminals. And one of the most shameful aspects of the Obama presidency has been the vilification and demonization of law enforcement. It started, as you know, just in the opening months of the presidency with the beer summit that began, you'll recall, with the president saying that the law enforcement, a police officer in Cambridge was foolish because he dared disagree with a Harvard professor. By the way, had he not gone to Harvard Law School, you're almost always right to disagree with a Harvard professor. Knowing nothing else. But it escalated from there. It escalated every time there was an incident. President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder and Attorney General Loretta Lynch stood with the looters and rioters and criminals instead of the men and women of law enforcement. I think maybe the saddest moment was when President Obama nominated to a senior position in the Justice Department a lawyer who is represented for free a cop-killer. Someone who has murdered a police officer and this lawyer represented completely free and lionized him as some sort of hero for shooting cops. I don't believe the opposition against that point. You want to talk about an insult to every law enforcement officer in this country, when the lawyer who worked for free for cop-killers is going to become the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Obama Justice Department, that nomination was so extreme that even in the Harry Reid Democratic Senate, we voted that nomination down because even the Democrats couldn't stomach what Barack Obama was doing. As I've traveled the country in the course of this political campaign, I've had the opportunity to visit with law enforcement officers over and over again. Firefighters, first responders. And what I tell them over and over again is this vilification, this demonization, it will end on January 20th, 2017.

On Religious Liberty

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Senator, this question isn't on the paper, but I'm going to ask this quick question and then I'm going to ask the final question and let you give your final remarks. But this question's important to me because a number of pastors from various churches around the country, or around the state, rather, telling me they're concerned. These are men and women who want to follow the law and they don't want to treat anyone horribly or badly. They want to respect everyone regardless of who they are or how they worship, how they live their lives. But they don't want to be compelled to violate their own religious convictions and the churches don't want to lose their tax exemptions because of a Supreme Court ruling. As it relates to religious liberty, how would you protect them as president of the United States by balancing it against the respect for people who want to be free?

SEN. TED CRUZ:  This is an incredibly important question and I mentioned that I was going to rescind every illegal executive order on the first day. I pledged to do five things on the first day. Rescind every single illegal executive order. Direct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood. Direct the Department of Justice and the IRS and every federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends today. Rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal. And begin the process of moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem where it belongs. Now, when it comes to religious liberty, this has been a lifelong passion for me. My father is a pastor. I have spent many, many years fighting to defend religious liberty and winning over and over and over again. The assaults on religious liberty that are coming from Washington are unprecedented and they keep getting worse. The gay marriage decision, the most chilling exchange was an exchange where Justice Alito asked the Obama solicitor general, "If your administration prevails and this court purports to tear down the marriage laws of all 50 states, is the next step for the Obama IRS to come after Christian colleges and universities that follow the Biblical teaching of the marriage of one man and one woman?" I will note, by the way, by extension that applies to Christian grade schools, to charities, and even churches. The answer from the Obama Justice Department in an open court of the Supreme Court of the United States was "Yes. Yes, that is a very real possibility." This threat is real and it's becoming real to more and more of us directly. One of the things we've been doing is we have organized religious liberty rallies. We did one in Iowa with 2,500 people. We did one here in South Carolina with 3,000 people at Bob Jones University. And what we endeavored to do in both of those, the media has belittled these threats. They say they don't exist. They're made up. So we brought in heroes, people who have stood for their faith and been persecuted, and just had them tell their stories. Now, typically at a political event, the candidate is front and center. I very deliberately wanted to recede from these events. I sat in the audience and just listened to these stories and they're uplifting. For anyone who wants to see them, they're on our website, You see people, God-fearing people, a florist, a baker, a T-shirt maker, a fireman. People who stood for their faith and were persecuted. I'll give you one example. He's Kelvin Cochran, an African-American who grew up in the inner city, hard family circumstances. His whole life, he wanted to be a fireman. And he achieved his dream and became a fireman. He rose to become the chief of the fire department of the city of Atlanta. Then he was appointed by Barack Obama to a national fire safety board, moved to Washington, served in the Obama administration and then he went back to Atlanta to resume his role as chief of the fire department. Now, Chief Cochran is also a Sunday school teacher, and he was teaching in Sunday school and he was focusing on a portion of the book of Genesis where God asks Adam and Eve "Who told you that you were naked?" And he began thinking about really studying nakedness. What does it mean in the Bible to be naked? Not just the obvious sense of not having clothes, but in the broader sense of being outside of God's covenant. Outside of his grace. Outside of his righteousness. Outside of his path. He contrasted that with how the Bible used clothed in righteousness, clothed in grace. And he developed a whole set of teachings in his Sunday school based on that and he decided to write a little book entitled "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" In the course of that book, there's a page and a half that discusses what the Bible says about human sexuality. For writing a book about what he was teaching in Sunday school in his private time, Chief Cochran was fired from his job as chief of the fire department. The position of the mayor of Atlanta is a Bible-believing Christian who actually believes what's in the word of God is unfit to serve in public office. We heard person after person after person who told stories. It was powerful and moving. I'd encourage you to watch it online because it will be uplifting, people standing up in the face of persecution. This has been a passion of mine my entire life and instead of having the federal government targeting our religious liberty, violating our religious liberty, we need a federal government that fights to defend the Bill of Rights for each and every American.

On U.S. Veterans

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: She gave me the wave to say I need to wrap it up. I'm going to wrap it up with a final question. I identified our law enforcement at the back of the room. Ladies and gentlemen, the next question is important to me. Senator, I'm going to let you in on this question and shake hands and you can do your closing statement with this question in it. I'm a veteran. I have 19 years in the Army National Guard and served a tour in Iraq. I've got three brothers who served, Dad is a 31-year retired veteran and many of you out here are veterans. Don't clap for me, please, I want you to clap for yourselves. If you are a veteran or are currently serving in the military, if you are married to a veteran or someone who's currently serving, or if you have someone that you care about who is serving in the Armed Forces, I want you to stand up and clap. The reason that I do that is because I wanted you to see how important the military in this state is and this troop is. This is a softball question, I admit it, but we want to know for veterans out there and people who care about veterans want to know as president, for far too long, many veterans still have been neglected or not taken care of. As president, what efforts would you take to assist our military men and women and veterans alike? And then you can close after that.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  That is a very, very important question. If you look at the last seven years, what we've done to the military and what we've done to the veterans has been disgraceful. We've dramatically reduced the readiness of this country. You know, in 1991, beginning the Persian Gulf War ... and by the way, tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. We had about 8,000 planes in the Air Force. Today we have about 4,000. In 1991, we had over 500 ships. Today, we've got 271. Our army has a third fewer soldiers today than we had in 1991. And we have a commander in chief who has abandoned the fighting men and women of this country. He refuses even to say the words "radical Islamic terrorism" to identify our enemies. He sends them in to fight with rules of engagement that have both arms tied behind their back. They cannot win and they cannot keep themselves safe. It is shameful and it is disgraceful. And it's dangerous. The world gets more and more dangerous. He's sending $150 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei who is responsible for the murder of hundreds of American servicemen. People are fed up with it. By the way, if you want a stunning indictment, I would encourage you to view this: "Dubya Meets the Marines." Dubya is spelled D-U-B-Y-A. It shows George W. Bush in Iraq meeting with a group of Marines. They go crazy, they're screaming and yelling and cheering. They're so happy their commander in chief is with them. It's amazing video. And then it cuts to "Barack Meets the Marines." You see President Obama walking into a group of Marines. They're all standing at attention. They're very polite, but not a single one of them is quiet. There's one guy in a suit at the front, clapping and really laughing, and the silence is as deafening an indictment as you could imagine. They're being respectful to the man who occupies that office but there is no mistaking the sentiments they have for a commander in chief who will not back up our fighting men and women. It is a disgrace. When it comes to our veterans, Hillary says it's no big deal that the VA is lying and keeping bogus books and denying life-saving treatment to our veterans. I think it's a national disgrace. And I can tell you there will be accountability. Anyone who has lied or broken the law will be fired or prosecuted. And the most important reform in the VA is we are going to fight so that every veteran has the right to choose his or her doctor. When it comes to our military, we have got to rebuild the military. We've got to rebuild the ships. We've got to rebuild the planes. We've got to get our troop strength back up to where we can defend this nation. We've got to get morale back up. We've got to modernize the nuclear triad. We've got to modernize our equipment. We've got to be prepared to win the war on radical Islamic terrorism. We seem to know how to do that. In 1981, Ronald Reagan came in after a similar hapless and ineffective president that screwed everything up and what Ronald Reagan did, he came in for the Jimmy Carter stagnation and he passed tax reform, regulatory reform. He reduced the burden of small businesses and job creation. And the incredible engine of the American free enterprise system took off, produced millions of high paying jobs. That in turn funded the ability to rebuild the military to defend this nation. And that in turn won the Cold War and bankrupted the Soviet Union. I intend to do the exact same thing. President Obama a few months ago traveled to Europe. He told folks he doesn't believe that American leadership or America wins. I've got to say, FDR and JFK and Ronald Reagan were all spinning in their graves at an American president saying that. My view of radical Islamic terrorism, or strategy, to borrow a page from Ronald Reagan in the Cold War should be very simple: we win, they lose. There is no higher commitment that I will have as commander in chief than to stand with our soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines and have their back, to stand with them and never put them in harm's way without rules of engagement that enable them to win and then bring our boys and girls home. Might I just make a final point in closing? Thank you guys for being here. South Carolina plays a critical role in our primary process. Historically, South Carolina has selected presidents. Very often, Iowa chooses one candidate, New Hampshire chooses another and it comes down to South Carolina to make the critical decision. I think the role of the men and women here across the state is to ensure that the next Republican nominee and the next president of the United States is a true and genuine and proven Conservative. It's easy for candidates to say they're conservative, but have they walked the walk? Do they have a record? If a candidate says he's going to take on Washington, great. We ought to ask, when has he ever taken on Washington? When have you stood up? Who's stood up, not just to Democrats, but to leaders in our own party? So I want to ask each of you to do three things. Number one, commit today to come out and vote in the Republican primary and vote for us in the Republican primary so that we win the state of South Carolina. Number two, volunteer. Sign up today to be a precinct leader and county leader. Sign up today to reach out and get others. Pick up a phone and call your mom, call your sister. Calling your mom is a good idea anyway. But call your sister, call your son, your next-door neighbor, your business partner, your college roommate, say "This election matters for my future, for my kids, for my grandkids." I want to ask everyone here to vote for me ten times.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Please don't I’ll have to prosecute you.

SEN. TED CRUZ:  We're not Democrats, I'm not suggesting voter fraud. But if every one of you finds nine other people to go vote on Primary Day you will have just voted ten times. The third and final thing I want to ask of you is this, is that you pray and you lift up this country in prayer, that each day between now and Election Day you spend just a minute of each day. When you wake up in the morning, when you're shaving, when you're having lunch, when you're putting your kids down to sleep, when you're going to bed, spend one minute a day saying "Father God, please continue this awakening, this spirit of revival that is sweeping this country. Awaken the body of Christ that we might pull back from this abyss." We're here today standing on the promises of Second Chronicles 7:14. "If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear their prayers and will forgive their sins and I will heal their land." It's history that our friends in the mainstream media will never tell us. In January 1981, when Ronald Reagan took the oath of office, his left hand was resting on Second Chronicles 7:14. The very real manifestation of that promise from Scripture. I tell you, we have done it before, we can do it again if we stand together we will win the primary, we will win the general, and we will turn around this country and restore this nation, this exceptional nation that every one of us loves so much.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Thank you. Thank you to Senator Cruz. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to the Conservative Leadership Project forum. We thank you.