A fictional account of how the debate might have gone if there was a candidate who stood for something we all care about – Captain America. I have taken the transcripts of the questions asked on CNN, and added fictional responses from the modern Steve Rogers, as he is exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tell me what you think in the comments.
WALLACE: The first topic is the Supreme Court. The next president will almost certainly have at least one appointment and likely or possibly two or three appointments. Which means that you will, in effect, determine the balance of the court for what could be the next quarter century.
First of all, where do you want to see the court take the country?
And secondly, what’s your view on how the Constitution should be interpreted? Do the founders’ words mean what they say or is it a living document to be applied flexibly according to changing circumstances? You have two minutes.
CPT ROGERS: Thank you very much, Chris. The Supreme Court is first and foremost, the example that our nation sets for the world – it’s decisions are supposed to define what our great nation considers justice. When those decisions are compromised by politics and campaign contributions, we compromise our integrity before the whole world. So, to me, the Court needs to find a way out of this partisan quagmire – it needs to look past issues of “conservativism” and “liberalism” and lead us to the truth, no matter how ugly that might be.
I know, as a man who sometimes feels a little out of time himself, that people will make fun of you when you do something that they see as quaint or outdated. But you know what? The values I held to as a young man – charity, respect, integrity, honesty, bravery – those things don’t, ‘change with the times.” Our founders weren’t perfect people – but they knew that, and they gave us a method for course correction – it’s called amending the Constitution. If the laws don’t represent who we are anymore, let’s fix ‘em. But let’s not pretend that people who lived in the time of steamboats had the answer for how we handle internet regulation – that’s not living in the past, that’s lying about it.
WALLACE: We now have about 10 minutes for an open discussion. I want to focus on two issues that, in fact, by the justices that you name could end up changing the existing law of the land. First is guns.
In the 2008 Heller case, the court ruled that there is a constitutional right to bear arms, but a right that is reasonably limited. Those were the words of the Judge Antonin Scalia who wrote the decision. What’s wrong with that?
CPT ROGERS: Not a darn thing Chris. I’m a firm believer in making sure that the people of America can defend themselves when people like me can’t be there to fight for them. I saw what happens first hand when you disarm the people – corrupt governments and evil men make the innocent suffer and they have no defense. And making people register their firearms sounds well and good, but you already know how I feel about names on lists. The check on crime isn’t to take away people’s strength – it’s to give them a better way to live.
WALLACE: How will you ensure the Second Amendment is protected?
CPT ROGERS: I’ll end the federal firearm registry altogether, and I’ll encourage states to do the same. I’d push for the repeal of all legislation whose primary effect is to make our people incapable of defending themselves from real danger. And to make sure that people are safe, I’ll do everything in my power to reduce the social causes of violence – that means every American will have the financial freedom to pursue a meaningful life – parenthood, a professional career, artistic and educational pursuits.
There was this fella named Abe Maslow – a doctor – who was coming up at about the same time I went on ice. This guy, he really knew his stuff – clean air, water and food for every American has to come first. Without that, people turn into animals Chris. Once my administration locks that down, then we can talk about a safety net – FEMA, paid family leave, single payer medical coverage – stuff like that.
With those things in place, I trust my fellow Americans to live good lives – Americans are good people Chris. Even people who have committed crimes are, for the most part, victims of their circumstances. I chose to believe in that fundamental goodness in all of us, that just needs the right opportunities to grow.
WALLACE: Do you oppose any limits on assault weapons, any limits on high- capacity magazines. Do you support a national right to carry law. Why, sir?
CPT ROGERS: I trust people Chris. I don’t worry about a lone gunman being a threat to democracy. Lone gunmen don’t build helicarriers. Corporate military powers do. If we are going to safeguard America, we need to stop them and give power back to the people.
WALLACE: Well, let’s pick up on another issue which divides you and the justices that whoever ends up winning this election appoints could have a dramatic effect there, and that’s the issue of abortion. Do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which includes — in fact, states — a woman’s right to abortion?
CPT ROGERS: Chris, to me, every human life matters. So whether you are talking about an abortion or an execution, I have to take a stand and say that is something I cannot support.
That being said, there are cases where sometimes a woman is forced to make a choice between saving her own life and saving that of her unborn child. I don’t see any government having to right to make that choice for her – it is one of the hardest decisions a woman will ever be faced with, and they have to decide for themselves what they can live with and what they can’t.
So far as when a bundle of cells becomes a human life? I’m no philosopher and no scientist Chris, your guess is as good as mine. Neither states nor nations have a magic ball that tells them on the 181st day after making love, it’s a baby. I trust women and their doctors to do what’s right.
WALLACE: All right. Let’s move on to the subject of immigration. Do you want to build a wall? Do you want to create a pathway to citizenship? How will you secure our southern border?
CPT ROGERS: When I hear “build a wall” you know what I think? I think Berlin. I think China. I never want America to be a place that evokes those images in children around the world. No wall. Never. Period.
So far as immigrants are concerned, I am the son of immigrants Chris. We are a nation built by people who came here seeking a chance at a better life. That is what defines us as a nation. When I hear people saying that they are afraid that one out of a thousand refugees might be a bad guy in disguise, you know what I think? That is 999 desperate women and children whose lives we just saved by opening up our door and taking them in.
If we want to secure our nation, the way to do it is to restore America’s image as something other nations should aspire to – not something to revile. We end the drug war that fuels the conflicts throughout Latin America. We end our financial support of repressive regimes that use American bombs against their own civilian populations. We become the best versions of ourselves. That’s how we secure our borders.
WALLACE: Secretary Clinton,gave a speech to a Brazilian bank, for $225,000, we’ve learned from the WikiLeaks, that said this, and I want to quote. “My dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.” Is that your dream, open borders?
CPT ROGERS: First, let me just say, thank you to Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for having the bravery to share, not only with the American people, but with all the people of the world, the truth about what our so-called leaders are doing. My first day in office, every one of them gets an unconditional pardon. Without patriots like them, there would be no check on tyranny.
Second, let me be completely clear – I will never accept any amount of money to compromise my integrity. Even the appearance of impropriety leaves an indelible stain on the image of the American presidency and that is something we just cannot allow. There is already more blood on our flag than there should ever have to be – let’s not cover it more filth.
So, when I talk about being a nation that embraces immigration, a nation whose arms are wide open and accepting of everyone, I am talking about maintaining our policy of granting refugees and asylum seekers a safe haven from a violent world. For other people, whether they are itinerant workers or immigrants looking to start over in America for the long haul, I think we can find a way to make them feel welcome. Everyone who can afford to do so has a duty to pay taxes, that’s a fundamental fact in our nation – and it doesn’t matter if you are just helping harvest grapes for the season or you want to be a permanent resident of this great nation. But so long as you do that, you have a place in my America.
WALLACE: And I would like to ask you this direct question. The top national security officials of this country do believe that Russia has been behind these hacks. Even if you don’t know for sure whether they are, do you condemn any interference by Russia in the American election?
CPT ROGERS: One of my very best friends was born and raised in Russia. She is someone I trust implicitly. I trust her with my life. Everything that comes out of Russia isn’t immediately suspect Chris – that cannot be how we do things here. So far as “interference” is concerned – if sharing the truth with the American people about who these people are [gestures to the other candidates], how they pretend to be our friends and what these people say behind closed doors is interference, then I say keep it up. America needs that kind of interference.
WALLACE: We’re going to — no, we are going to move on to the next topic, which is the economy. And I hope we handle that as well as we did immigration. You also have very different ideas about how to get the economy growing faster. Secretary Clinton, in your plan, government plays a big role. You see more government spending, more entitlements, more tax credits, more tax penalties. Mr. Trump, you want to get government out with lower taxes and less regulation. But in this overview, please explain to me why you believe that your plan will create more jobs and growth for this country and your opponent’s plan will not
CPT ROGERS: I am not an accountant Chris. I’m just a simple guy who tries to make a difference when he is given the chance. But I can tell you this – if being wealthy means you can hire an accountant to help you do everything possible to avoid helping your fellow Americans by paying a fair share of taxes, and being poor means paying taxes you can’t afford or losing your families’ home for generations, then something is wrong. Complex tax laws only benefit the wealthy at the cost of everyone else. It’s the poor and the middle class who spend money in our economy – rich people hide their money over seas or put it into IRA’s and real estate shelters. We need a tax plan that puts every dollar possible into the hands of people that are going to spend it, and that is so simple anyone can understand what is going on when they look at a tax return. I’ve heard people talk about a flat tax, maybe that is a good way to go.
But what these two people are talking about? No way Chris. Trumps’ plan didn’t work in the 80’s when Ronald Reagan come up with it. And Hillary’s plan hasn’t worked for middle class Americans for the last decade under Obama. It’s time we stop choosing between two bad choices.
WALLACE: We’re going to drill down into this a little bit more. But in this overview, please explain to me why you believe that your plan will create more jobs and growth for this country and your opponent’s plan will not.
CPT ROGERS: I said it before Chris, you give people the basics – a roof over their head, clean drinking water, basic medical services, a good education – and they will surprise you with what they can do. Everyone I have ever met wants to contribute – they want to help their neighbors live good lives – they just don’t always get the opportunity. You keep the wealthy from hoarding what they have taken from Americans over the last century, you make sure we take care of basic needs, and people will innovate all on their own. They will find a way to contribute. It’s not economics – it’s who we are.
WALLACE: All right. We are going to get to foreign hot spots in a few moments, but the next segment is fitness to be president of the United States. Mr. Trump, at the last debate, you said your talk about grabbing women was just that, talk, and that you’d never actually done it. And since then, as we all know, nine women have come forward and have said that you either groped them or kissed them without their consent.
Why would so many different women from so many different circumstances over so many different years, why would they all in this last couple of weeks make up — you deny this — why would they all make up these stories?
Since this is a question for both of you, Secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump says what your husband did and that you defended was even worse. Mr. Trump, you go first.
CPT ROGERS: My mother taught me to respect the woman I’m with Chris. I know I grew up a few years ahead of Mr. Trump, but I am pretty sure things didn’t change that much. Being a gentleman still means something to me Chris.
So far as Mr. Clinton, well, I think you know a man by the company he keeps. And I’m pretty sure I saw them both at Chelseas wedding a few years back – they have a lot more friends in common than I’m sure Mrs. Clinton would like to admit.
I’m not the kind of man who attacks women to win an election, so please forgive me, but I’m not going to take your bait here. Mrs. Clinton makes up her own mind about her relationships, and the voters can decide for themselves if they can stand with her or not.
WALLACE: In this bucket about fitness to be president, there’s been a lot of developments over the last 10 days since the last debate. I’d like to ask you about them. These are questions that the American people have.
Secretary Clinton, during your 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, you promised to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest with your dealing with the Clinton Foundation while you were secretary of state, but e-mails show that donors got special access to you. Those seeking grants for Haiti relief were considered separately from non-donors, and some of those donors got contracts, government contracts, taxpayer money.
Can you really say that you kept your pledge to that Senate committee? And why isn’t what happened and what went on between you and the Clinton Foundation, why isn’t it what Mr. Trump calls pay to play?
CPT ROGERS: What happened then, and what is happening now, to the people of Haiti is a tragedy that most American’s cannot even really appreciate without being there themselves. When you trust private organizations run by the wealthy elites of America to help protect the weak and suffering of the world, you are making a mistake. They aren’t accountable, they don’t have the kind of influence they need to get the work done that needs to get done, and there is no guarantee that they will be able to keep their promises.
As president, I’ll re-allocate military funding to provide resources for rebuilding the infrastructure of cities both here and abroad that have been devastated by war and natural disasters. And I will open up an avenue for non-military public service that will allow each and every willing and able American to take a direct role in rebuilding the world we helped tear apart. Seeing the faces of those who suffer as a result of our past will help us understand why we need to build a better future. It’s too easy to hate those you don’t know.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic. You have been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you.
Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you — his words — “will absolutely accept the result of this election.” Today your daughter, Ivanka, said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely — sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?
There is a tradition in this country — in fact, one of the prides of this country — is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?
CPT ROGERS: You know what Chris, this question is pretty unfair. Who pays your salary? How much do they contribute towards political campaigns? This country has for far too long stood by while evil people amassed more and more wealth and power. If they use that power to control the entire process of choosing a leader – if no matter who you vote for, you are voting for HYDRA, then no we cannot and we should not stand peacefully by and let that happen. There has to be a point where we draw a line in the sand and say here, here but no further. Maybe that time and that place is this November at the ballot box.
WALLACE: Hold on, folks. This doesn’t do any good for anyone. Let’s please continue the debate, and let’s move on to the subject of foreign hot spots.
The Iraqi offensive to take back Mosul has begun. If they are successful in pushing ISIS out of that city and out of all of Iraq, the question then becomes, what happens the day after? And that’s something that whichever of you ends up — whoever of you ends up as president is going to have to confront.
Will you put U.S. troops into that vacuum to make sure that ISIS doesn’t come back or isn’t replaced by something even worse?
CPT ROGERS: You’re darn right I will put boots on the ground. What are the policies we have now? Stand by and let a vicious dictator kill his own people? Do nothing while our allies in Kurdistan fight and die, embattled on all sides? No I will not accept that Chris.
I say we wage a war not on some vague notion like terror. I say we wage a war on war criminals, on people who think that it is still okay to arrest and execute your political opposition, to murder people for choosing to love whoever they want to love. And I say we use every weapon in our arsenal – that means we cut off trade with people who behead women and children. We bring convicted war criminals before a national tribunal to face justice. We make it very clear that not only will the US not support you if you attack your own people, but we will actively do everything we can to end your reign of terror.
WALLACE: Let’s turn to Aleppo. In the last debate, you were both asked about the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo. And I want to follow up on that, because you said several things in that debate which were not true, sir. You said that Aleppo has basically fallen. In fact, there are a quarter of a million people still living there and being slaughtered. Syria and Russia are busy fighting ISIS. In fact, they have been the ones who’ve been bombing and shelling eastern Aleppo, and they just announced a humanitarian pause, in effect, admitting that they have been bombing and shelling Aleppo. Would you like to clear that up, sir?
CPT ROGERS: If that’s not clear enough for you Chris, let me put it like this. [looks directly at camera.] I’m coming for you Assad. And America is coming with me.
WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, you have talked about — and in the last debate and again today — that you would impose a no-fly zone to try to protect the people of Aleppo and to stop the killing there. President Obama has refused to do that because he fears it’s going to draw us closer or deeper into the conflict.
And General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says you impose a no-fly zone, chances are you’re going to get into a war — his words — with Syria and Russia. So the question I have is, if you impose a no-fly zone — first of all, how do you respond to their concerns? Secondly, if you impose a no-fly zone and a Russian plane violates that, does President Clinton shoot that plane down?
CPT ROGERS: Mr. Putin, you have a choice to make. You can either protect the innocent people of Syria, or you can protect a brutal dictator. You can’t do both. Join us – free those people – be a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem. We will not stand by, no matter the danger to our own people, while innocents suffer at the hands of evil men. Never again will we will let the Hitlers of the world run roughshod over the powerless. It ends now – and if blood is the price of freedom, that is a price America will pay again and again.
WALLACE: We need to move on to our final segment, and that is the national debt, which has not been discussed until tonight.
Our national debt, as a share of the economy, our GDP, is now 77 percent. That’s the highest since just after World War II. But the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says, Secretary Clinton, under your plan, debt would rise to 86 percent of GDP over the next 10 years. Mr. Trump, under your plan, they say it would rise to 105 percent of GDP over the next 10 years. The question is, why are both of you ignoring this problem?
CPT ROGERS: The answer is simple Chris. They are ignoring the problem because its not one they will ever have to the feel the consequences of in their lifetimes. They are ignoring it because they know it will take hard choices to resolve it – choices that may not be politically beneficial. I will reduce the national debt in my 8 years in office by dramatically reducing the size of our military budget – a small, nimble fighting force can accomplish a lot more than a bloated out of control monster. I will dramatically change the way we handle entitlements in this country by reducing expensive red tape and overhead costs. I will dramatically reduce the cost of providing health care by requiring a single payer government run health care plan, the profits from which will go to the people, not to big pharmaceutical companies. Tactical, efficient, direct action can save our nation Chris.
WALLACE: All right. The one last area I want to get into with you in this debate is the fact that the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements, which is 60 percent of all federal spending. Now, the Committee for federal — a Responsible Federal Budget has looked at both of your plans and they say neither of you has a serious plan that is going to solve the fact that Medicare’s going to run out of money in the 2020s, Social Security is going to run out of money in the 2030s, and at that time, recipients are going to take huge cuts in their benefits.
So, in effect, the final question I want to ask you in this regard is would you make a deal to save Medicare and Social Security that included both tax increases and benefit cuts, in effect, a grand bargain on entitlements?
CPT ROGERS: No. Social Security and Medicare are underfunded as it is Chris – the benefits for most people are not enough to cover all of their basic retirement and healthcare needs. They need to be expanded, not cut – maybe an alternative is a good idea, something like a basic income guarantee you might have heard about. But no, absolutely not, I would not cut Medicare or Social Security benefits. If we need to transfer funding from other government programs to keep them afloat, let’s do that. If we need to increase taxes on those of us who are doing to the best to keep them afloat, then we can do that to. But taking away anything from those of us who are already most vulnerable? No. Never. It’s un-American.
WALLACE: This is — this is the final time, probably to both of your delight, that you’re going to be on a stage together in this campaign. I would like to end it on a positive note. You had not agreed to closing statements, but it seems to me in a funny way that might make it more interesting because you haven’t prepared closing statements.
So I’d like you each to take — and we’re going to put a clock up, a minute, as the final question in the final debate, to tell the American people why they should elect you to be the next president. This is another new mini-segment.
CPT ROGERS: It’s pretty simple Chris. Americans don’t want to be controlled and manipulated by rich real estate tycoons who make their living off of squeezing every drop of blood sweat and tears out of the people. American’s don’t want to lied to by a leader who openly says one thing while privately doing another, who accepts donations from murderous regimes and who funds her private life and her campaign with money from a corrupt financial market. Americans want a leader who doesn’t want authority, but is willing to accept the burden of leadership because one of us has to step up and stand for what’s right. America is the wealthiest nation in all of human history, yet, we seem incapable of even providing basic healthcare and education to all of our own people. America has the largest military the world has ever seen, but it can’t seem to defeat even small groups of tribal terrorists living impoverished in a dessert. America has since its founding been a nation based on the idea of that together through democracy, we can make a difference, but we have some of the lowest voter turnout in the civilized world. These things have to change Chris. And neither the Democratic nor the Republican party has any plans to change it.
WALLACE: Thank you Captain Rogers.