This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 16, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: Last night, for the final time, the Republican presidential candidates took to the stage in an effort to win the support of Iowa caucus goers.
Good evening, everybody. I'm Monica Crowley, in tonight for Sean. In a moment, I will be joined live by former presidential candidate Herman Cain. But first, the highlights from yesterday's showed showdown in Sioux City where from much of the night, both Newt Gingrich and his connection to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appeared to be the top target. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA.: Speaker had a conservative revolution against it, when he was the speaker of House, I had conservatives knocking down by door because I was the effective advocate for the principles that they believed in. That's the contrast.
REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS: He has a different definition of the private sector than I have. Because it's the GSE, Government Sponsored Enterprise. It's completely different.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN.: We know that he cashed paychecks from Freddie-Mac, that's the best evidence that you can have. When the Speaker had his hand out, he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That's absolutely wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: The former speaker's conservative credentials were also called into question last night. Here's how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, R-FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I have a 90 percent American conservative union voting record for 20 years. I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt, pretty conservative. The first wealth entitlement reform of your lifetime, in fact the only major entitlement reform now is welfare, two out of three people went back to work or went to school, pretty conservative. First tax cut in 16 years, largest capital gains tax cut in the American history, unemployment came down to 4.2 percent.
It's sort of laughable to suggest that somebody who campaigned with Ronald Reagan and with Jack Kemp and has had a 30-year record of conservatism is somehow not a conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Joining me now live from Atlanta with reaction is former presidential candidate, Herman Cain. Great to see you, sir.
HERMAN CAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Monica. Look, I know what it's like to have that big bull's-eye on your back. Because at one point doing this campaign, as you know, I had it on my back. They were relentless last night attacking Newt because he's in first place. But I would hope that the people do not lose sight of the fact of the facts. Don't make a decision based upon attacks. Try to make a decision about who you are going to vote for based upon who can beat Barack Obama. That is the objective that they ought to all be focused on.
Now, given those attacks that you highlighted, some people overlooked the fact that he made some very good points -- and I am not trying to defend Newt, I am just simply trying to present both sides of what I saw last night. Number one, he made an excellent point about activist judges. And he also made an excellent point about the Keystone pipeline and how that would bring jobs and how it was utterly ridiculous that President Obama had threatened to not pass legislation if that were in it. So, yes, it was attack night against Newt, for most of them. But also, I don't believe that the American people got enough information about how they would solve some of these problems. We know what the problems are. The people want to know more about how you would solve them.
CROWLEY: But let me ask you that then, Mr. Cain, because you ran in the field with these folks until very recently. And now, you are no longer a candidate, but you are a voter like all of the rest of us. So, what specifically are you looking for from these candidates that could make up your mind as to whom to vote for?
CAIN: Number one, what is your specific plan for economic growth and job creation? We all know that this economy's on life support. I want to know the specific plan. Number two, what is your specific plan for energy independence? And what are your specifics on national security? I happen to believe that those are the top three critical crises that we face. That's what I was listening for. And the lowlight of the debate, in my opinion, was that we didn't hear enough of the specifics on those critical issues. That's what I am looking for, not a single issue.
And secondly, I am not going to make my decision based upon how bad someone gets beat up because they are going to be attacked negatively.
CROWLEY: Mr. Cain, you came out early with a very bold, clear pro-growth tax reform plan, 9-9-9.
CROWLEY: The other candidates have made other proposals to try to get this economy going. But I do think that radical tax reform in whatever form, but centered on cutting tax rates in exchange for closing most loopholes and deductions, will really light a fire under this economy. Do you think we are going to see that, assuming we get a new president?
CAIN: If we get a new president, I believe that we will get that. And here's why. Even though the current contenders that are still in the race, most of them based their economic growth plan based upon modifying the current tax code. In the last debate, I was pleased to hear Representative Bachmann and Speaker Gingrich to say, we need to throw out the current tax code. That's why I started before I introduced 9-9-9. Now, given that, if we elect -- when we elect a conservative Republican president, I am going to still be leading a massive people's movement to get 9-9-9 passed. It is not going to go away just because I'm no longer a candidate.
So, I think that the only way we have any real possibility of major tax code replacement is with a conservative Republican in the White House. It is not going to happen with this current president.
CROWLEY: You mentioned this week that when we do get a new president, you would like to be invited to be the secretary of defense. Why?
CAIN: Because I believe in the philosophy which is an extension of the Reagan philosophy, peace through strength and clarity. Our strength as a nation, historically, has always been a strong military. This administration has weakened our military. A strong economy. Our economy is not growing. And our strong moral values. Our moral values are under attack. And I happen to believe that someone who can influence the president on strengthening our military -- it in my opinion, you don't need to have detailed military expertise. I worked for the Department of the Navy as exterior ballistician. You need to be a leader and be able to properly prioritize the issues that are going to make the best military in the world even better. That's why I said that leadership is what the Defense Department needs, along with leadership in the White House.
CROWLEY: Mr. Cain, will you be making an endorsement of any of the GOP candidates? And if so, when?
CAIN: I will not be making an endorsement in the short future. And here's why. My number-one objective, Monica, is to endorse someone who can beat Barack Obama. If I were to endorse too early, I might help someone get the Republican nomination, but that's not my objective and that's not the objective of my supporters. I trust my supporters who -- to be able to make a decision in this primary process. And at the right time, I want to be able to endorse someone who can beat Barack Obama. That is the ultimate objective that I am focused on. And I am going to continue to work in order to help make that happen.
CROWLEY: And that's the point of this entire election, is to defeat Barack Obama. It is not about the Republican candidate, it's about Barack Obama's abysmal record.
CROWLEY: Herman Cain, great to see sir as always. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
CAIN: Thank you. Merry Christmas to you Monica, also.
CROWLEY: Thank you. You bet.
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