Story and Photos by Dawn Wyatt // Staff Writer
Just days before Super Tuesday, when voters from 11 states including Tennessee go to the polls, two of the remaining five Republican candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson, participated in the Presidential Candidates Forum in Nashville.
Individually, each candidate sat down with Moderator Eric Metaxas, nationally syndicated radio host and author of the New York Times best seller Bonhoeffer, and panelists Roy Beck, Numbers USA President, and Star Parker, Founder and President of The Center for Urban Renewal and Education.
Dr. Ben Carson
The first half of the Forum was with retired neurosurgeon Carson.
Carson addressed problems with education surrounding the working poor and the African American community. “Seventy three percent of babies are born out of wedlock and that usually ends that woman’s education and sends that child into poverty at a rate four-times greater than normal.” He went on to describe how he has met with various private organizations who provide support and childcare for the mothers so “she can go get her GED, her Associates Degree, her Bachelor’s Degree, her Master’s Degree, she can learn to take care of herself and then teach her child. That’s the way you break the cycle of poverty.”
Carson stated that it’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of people for the rest of their lives. Entitlements, he said, are “meant to be a trampoline, not a hammock.”
On Social Security and retirement, Carson’s plan is for millennials to be able to direct and control their retirement funds through investments in the stock market. He also touched on immigration and the economy.
Sen. Ted Cruz
Hot off of Thursday night’s volatile debate, Metaxas joked with Cruz about being in such close proximity to GOP rival Donald Trump’s hair, whose coiffed mane has garnered as much media attention as the candidate himself.
Panelist Beck began with a statistic indicating one-out-of-every-three millennials have families but are not working. He suggested that a big contributor to the problem was immigration.
Cruz said immigration and the high unemployment rate of Americans was compounded by Washington and special interest groups.
“There’s an unholy alliance, the Democrats view illegal immigration and amnesty as just more votes,” he said. “They want to let as many people into this country illegally, make them citizens because they believe they will vote.”
He joked that there is a new word for illegal immigrants: “Undocumented Democrats,” which got a few laughs from the audience. Cruz stated it was the influx of undocumented workers that was driving down wages and making it difficult for Americans to find jobs.
“I think our immigration laws should put Americans first,” Cruz said.
Cruz suggested several ways to combat this problem. One was the mandatory use of E-Verify to confirm an employee’s legal status. Another was to stop of flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in government assistance to illegals.
Cruz and Metaxas both expressed shock over statements Trump made Thursday night in an interview with CNN. Cruz alleged Trump had said the reason he brings in foreign workers for his properties is because no Americans want to be waiters, waitresses or bell hops.
“Go to a TGI Fridays, and you’re telling me that no Americans want to be waiters?” questioned Cruz.
Cruz’s father, Raphael Cruz spoke on his son’s behalf at a separate event Thursday night.
The Presidential Candidates Forum was part of the National Religious Broadcasters convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. All five remaining GOP candidates were invited to participate in the Forum.