I stayed up until 02:00hrs (UK Time) tonight to watch with anticipation the expected slug feast that was meant to be the GOP ABC News /Yahoo debate. Sadly, the standard of debate questions were the poorest of any to date, and I actually felt more sorry for the moderators asking the questions, then for the candidates, who had to stand through this whole debacle which was capped off with the most amateurish of finishes.
Ron Paul was put on the spot early by moderator George Stephanopoulos, over his accusation of corruption against Senator Rick Santorum in his campaign ads.
“It was a quote,” explained Paul. “Somebody did make a survey and he came up as one of the top corrupt individuals because he took so much from lobbyists.”
There was a good composed opening by Romney and Santorum on the issue of the latest jobs report although Santorum was reluctant to repeat his criticism of Romney when urged by the moderator.
At that moment, there was a loud noise and the microphone had some feedback, Santorum seized the moment saying, “They caught you not telling the truth, Ron.”
Mr. Paul quickly went after Mr. Santorum as well, faulting him for his “big government” votes while in Congress, controversy regarding his residency, and money he has taken since leaving office.
“I wish I had 20 minutes to answer this,” Mr. Santorum said. “It’s a ridiculous charge, and you should know better.” He defended his earmarks on behalf of Pennsylvania and the work he has done in the private sector.
“You’re a big spender,” Mr. Paul insisted. “You’re a big-government conservative, and somebody has to say it.”
Governor Perry did well citing his record and Washington outsider status in his quest for the presidential role and accused Ron Paul of taking earmarks for his district and then voting against the Bill saying it hinted of hypocrisy. Ouch! Perry also did well on the military question highlighting the $1 Billion in cuts under the Obama administration in three years, not just the recent cuts.
The next heated exchange came between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich in a fiery heated exchange following a remark earlier in the week by Paul that Gingrich was a “Chicken Hawk” for supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even though he himself has never served in the military.
Asked whether he stands by the remark, Paul responds:
“Yeah. I think people who don’t serve when they could and they get three or four or even five deferments, they have no right to send our kids off to war. … I’m trying to stop the wars. At least I went when they called me up.”
Newt clearly annoyed but disciplined not to appear snarly coolly responds, “Dr. Paul makes a lot of comments. It’s part of his style,” he says. He adds: “Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for a deferment.”
Paul responds, ““I have a pet peeve that annoys me to a great deal, because when I see these young men coming back, my heart weeps for them.”
Gingrich then notes his father’s years in the military and chides Paul: “I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like as a family to worry about your father getting killed, and I personally resent the kinds of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information, and then just slurs people.”
The debate then turned to a social values question on Contraception which Romney, Huntsman and Santorum all did their level best at ducking the question and trying not to sound too controversial.
Step up Newt Gingrich! “I just want to raise a point about the news media bias,” he says. He goes on to say that there is more “anti-Christian bias” than bias against other religious groups under this current administration and attacks the administration for their treatment of the Christian faith and receives rapturous applause from the audience.
The debate continued with some further questions and probing on the Patriot Act and privacy, with Ron Paul delivering a good response on the right to privacy under the constitution.
The next controversial issues was the right to Gay Marriage which Romney ducked again, and clearly did his level best to view it as a states rights issue with Santorum effectively agreeing with his assessment and Jon Huntsman distinguishing between traditional religious rights and legal rights. Newt stepped up again with a good answer on gay rights and designation and contrasted his position well to the right of marriage.
On the issue of Iraq, a huge talking point will be no doubt Rick Perry’s tearing up of the textbook by saying he’d send U.S. troops back into Iraq. Nobody expected that response and no doubt his team will try and walk back his response.
There was some discussion over tax and economic plans but to be fair to the candidates, the questions were of such a poor standard that we learnt nothing new and the questions didn’t enable us to learn anything factually new.
All the candidates struggled on the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and foreign policy in general with the exception of Newt Gingrich who gave a master class in the level of thinking and vision a president needs. “If you want to stop Wahabbism, get an American energy policy so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king and rattled of a number of ideas and solutions with so much ease frankly, it made the other candidates look poor. Romney was again exposed showing he is great at saying what President Obama isn’t doing but can’t tell us what he’d do as President.
Santorum did well when talking about being a president who would bring every American together not be a divider like President Obama saying, “If you want someone that’s a clear contrast, that has a strong record, has a vision for this country that’s going to get this country going – an appeal to blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and Michigan and Indiana, and deliver that message that we care about you too, not just about Wall Street and bailing them out, then I’m the guy that you want to put in the nomination.”
Gingrich came out with a very humourous but well driven home point about President Obama’s attempt to develop a radical European socialist system in the United States which went down very well with the audience.
All the candidates did relatively well with the possible exception of Jon Huntsman who despite an encouraging start got completely slammed on the issue of trade with China by Mitt Romney and desperately resorted to speaking Mandarin to try and save the point, he didn’t.
Overall, the debate was the most disappointing so far, largely because of the lame questions being asked & it made of mockery of it, supposing to be a presidential standard debate being put on by the network. It left the viewers and candidates short changed. I couldn’t believe that throughout the entire debate there was no question on Obamacare, debt or entitlement reform.
Newt & Romney are in a league of their own compared to the rest of the field; I just wish we could narrow down the field and have some real substantive debates.
All candidates generally had a good night, Newt was the quality class responder however, Romney was the winner purely due to the fact that, nobody laid a glove on him and he hammered Huntsman on China.
P.S. I’d like to thanks Tina Revers for her input & contribution in producing this analysis.