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In respect of our organization’s long working and heartfelt relationship with Mrs. Nancy Reagan and the Ronald Reagan Library, in both our advocacy of missile defense and our creation with Mrs. Reagan of the Ronald Reagan Missile Defense Memorial at Vandenberg AFB we were invited to attend the Republican Presidential Debate at the Library last night in Simi Valley, California. It was an opportunity to hear the visions, understand the major republican platform issues and see in person the character and chemistry of leadership for the Republican Party of their eventual nominee and possibly the next President of the United States of America. We were honored to accept this invitation on behalf of our mission and purpose.

In the aura and backdrop of President Ronald Reagan who initiated the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983, eleven Republican candidates

MDAA Chairman Riki Ellison at the debate

MDAA Chairman Riki Ellison at the debate

presented their case for why they should be chosen as the Republican nominee and the President of the United States. In one of the most coveted conservative establishments of this country with the overwhelming majority of attendance from donors and those aligned with the Republican Party, it set the environment for those there.

Although many important issues were debated, from the economy to Planned Parenthood, it was U.S. national security that proved to be the main focus of the candidates’ attention. The following are some key quotes on this topic from each of the candidates that took part in the main debate.

Carly Fiorina:

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message. By the way, the reason it is so critically important that every one of us know General Suleimani’s name is because Russia is in Syria right now, because the head of the Quds force traveled to Russia and talked Vladimir Putin into aligning themselves with Iran and Syria to prop up Bashar al¬ Assad. Russia is a bad actor, but Vladimir Putin is someone we should not talk to, because the only way he will stop is to sense strength and resolve on the other side, and we have all of that within our control. We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven’t. We could rebuild the missile defense program. We haven’t. I will.

Sen. Marco Rubio:

There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range rocket that can already hit the very place in which we stand tonight. The Chinese are rapidly expanding their military. They hack into our computers. They’re building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world.
A gangster in Moscow is not just threatening Europe, he’s threatening to destroy and divide NATO. You have radical jihadists in dozens of countries across multiple continents. And they even recruit Americans using social media to try to attack us here at home.

And now we have got this horrible deal with Iran where a radical Shia cleric with an apocalyptic vision of the future is also guaranteed to one day possess nuclear weapons and also a long-range rocket that can hit the United States.

These are extraordinarily dangerous times that we live in. And the next president of the United States better be someone that understands these issues and has good judgment about them because the number one issue that a president will ever confront, and the most important obligation that the federal government has, is to keep this nation safe.
And today we are not doing that. We are eviscerating our military. And we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.

Donald Trump:

One thing we will say and I would like to get back to the Iran situation. We’re talking about Iran. The agreement was terrible. It was incompetent. I’ve never seen anything like it. One of the worst contracts of any kind I’ve ever seen.And nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea.And Ted and I have spoken. We’ve ¬¬ a lot of us have spoken. We’re talking about Iran. They are bad actors, bad things are going to happen. But in the meantime, you have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, I’m ready to use them. And we don’t even mention it.

Sen. Ted Cruz:

Now, I also want to respond to several folks up here who said we should trust this Iranian deal, see if the Iranians will comply. Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan. In the middle of negotiating this treaty, Khamenei led the assembled masses in chanting, death to America. I’m reminded of a great editorial cartoon. It shows the Ayatollah Khamenei saying, “Death to all Americans,” and then it shows John Kerry coming back, saying, “Can we meet ya half way?”

We need a commander-in-chief who will stand up and protect this country. And I’ll tell you, I can’t wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton and to make abundantly clear if you vote for Hillary, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khomeini to possess a nuclear weapon and if you elect me as president, under no circumstances will a theocratic ayatollah who chants death to America ever be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon

Gov. Jon Kasich:

Let me suggest to you we believe that we operate better in the world when our allies work with us. President Bush did it in the Gulf War. We work better when we are unified. Secondly, nobody’s trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us. If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on.

And let me make it clear ¬¬ if we think they’re getting close to a ¬¬ to developing a nuclear weapon and we get that information, you better believe that I would do everything in my power as the commander-in-chief to stop them having a nuclear weapon.

Sen. Rand Paul

I think this goes back to essentially what we’ve been saying for the last two or three questions. Carly Fiorina also said we’re not going to talk with Putin. Well, think if Reagan had said that during the Cold War? We continued to talk with the Russians throughout the Cold War which is much more significant that where we are now.

Should we continue to talk with Iran? Yes. Should we cut up the agreement immediately? That’s absurd. Wouldn’t you want to know if they complied? Now, I’m going to vote against the agreement because I don’t think there’s significant leverage, but it doesn’t mean that I would immediately not look at the agreement, and cut it up without looking to see if whether or not Iran has complied.

The same goes with China. I don’t think we need to be rash, I don’t think we need to be reckless, and I think need to leave lines of communication open. Often we talk about whether we should be engaged in the world, or disengaged in the world, and I think this is an example of some who want to isolate us, actually, and not be engaged. We do need to be engaged with Russia. It doesn’t mean we give them a free pass, or China a free pass, but to be engaged, to continue to talk. We did throughout the Cold War, and it would be a big mistake not to do it here.

Dr. Ben Carson

I have no argument with having a strong leader, and to be aggressive where aggression is needed. But it is not needed in every circumstance. There is a time when you can use your intellect to come up with other ways to do things. And I think that’s what we have to start thinking about. There is no question that a lot of these problems that we have been talking about in terms of the international situation is because we are weak. It is because our Navy is so small. It is because our Air Force is incapable of doing the same things that it did a few years ago.

It’s because our Marines Corps is not ready to be deployed. There are a lot of problems that are going on, and we need to solve those problems, we need to build up our military.

Gov. Chris Christie:

And I support what President Bush did at that time, going into Afghanistan, hunting al Qaeda and its leaders, getting its sanctuary out of place, and making it as difficult around the world for them to move people and money. And then he went to prosecutors like us, and he said, never again. Don’t prosecute these people after the crime is committed. Intervene before the crime happens. I absolutely believe that what the president did at the time was right. And I am proud to have been one of the people on the stage who was part of making sure that what Governor Bush said before was the truth. America was safe for those seven years and Barack Obama has taken that safety away from us.

Gov. Jeb Bush:

No, I don’t think so, but we need to be strong against China. We should use offensive tactics as it relates to cyber security; send a deterrent signal to China. There should be super sanctions in what President Obama has proposed. There are many other tools that we have without canceling a dinner. That’s not going to change anything, but we can be much stronger as it relates to that. As it relates to Iran, it’s not a strategy to tear up an agreement.

A strategy would be how do we confront Iran? And, the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel, which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back. If we do that, it’s going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.

Gov. Mike Huckabee:

This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we’ve just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion. This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization. To give them this agreement, that the president treats like the Magna Carta, but Iranians treat it like it’s toilet paper, and we must, simply, make it very clear that the next president, one of us on this stage, will absolutely not honor that agreement, and will destroy it and will be tough with Iran, because otherwise, we put every person in this world in a very dangerous place.

Gov. Scott Walker:

When it comes to China, why would we be giving an official state visit to a country that’s been involved in a massive cyber attack against the United States? That’s not just a visit, that’s a 21 gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House. It just doesn’t make any sense. If we’re ever going to send a message to them, wouldn’t this be the time, when they’ve issued this, sort of, massive attack against us?

And, Jake, for the question, I was one of the first ones to call for terminating the bad deal with Iran on day one. The President came after me and said I need to bone up. You know, the President who called ISIS the JV squad said I needed to bone up.
The reality is it’s a bad deal on day one, and it’s a bad deal because this president has allowed Iran to go closer, and closer. I’d love to play cards with this guy because Barack Obama folds on everything with Iran.

Click Here for the Full Transcript of the debate.

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Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.