I hope you all watched the CNN debate last night. If not, you can find the video here or a transcript here. The most amazing thing happened - the candidates forced the moderator to act as a moderator instead of a reporter! Gingrich refused to make his divorces an 'issue,' and the other candidates agreed they had more important things to discuss. Sure, we need to vet Gingrich on his credibility, etc., but the debate is not the best place for that to happen. I haven't even bothered to read any news reports about the debate, I know full well the media will pick and choose what they want to say and select statements that match their templates, as usual. Romney won the debate, in my personal estimation.
The Stage Left to Right
Rick Santorum: Boy, was he nit-picking last night. He has nothing to lose at this stage in the game, but it doesn't make him look like an attractive candidate to ask the others to explain themselves over and over again. That and he interrupts and the others are more polite. I appreciate his sincerity and honesty, even his candor. I do not appreciate that he was trying to pick fights all night. I do appreciate that he gave Mitt Romney abundant opportunities to defend his record. And Newt Gingrich his fair share of them as well.
Mitt Romney: Great job! He was funny, he came across as candid and sincere, he was always respectful towards the other candidates. He defended his successes and defended them well. He defended what others view as his failures and defended them well. He defended his pro-life stance and defended it well. He, of all of them, really kept bringing the conversation back to Obama and reiterated that any one of them on stage would made a better president than the one we've got. My favorite line of his was, "I don't have character or integrity questioned very often." That is the kind of president I want! In fact, it reminded me, hearing him say that, that the left is responsible for his reputation as a flip-flopper. Every time he has explained his positions, he has convinced me of underlying conservative principles.
Newt Gingrich: Good debater, as usual. He was relatively quiet last night, maybe to keep negative attention from turning on him. He painted himself as a man of big ideas (grandiosity mentioned, in particular) and big achievements (inadvertently showing his big ego alongside). Some true, some a little blown out of proportion given what the other candidates said. I stick by my statement yesterday that Obama would clobber him over his private life, and the media would happily comply. That's not what we need to focus on. We need to focus on Obama's record!
Ron Paul: Almost irrelevant last night. He spoke the least of any of them and was questioned the least by any of them. When he did speak, it wasn't always in a coherent way and I had trouble following his train of thought. Still, he had his fun and funny moments.
Here are some memorable lines with my reactions to them:
"MR. GINGRICH: Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful
things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a
significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to
despicable as anything I can imagine."
Don't you imagine that cheating on a spouse is despicable, Mr. Speaker?
"MR. KING: Congressman Paul, I want to begin with you. Do you believe we need
specific federal programs to put the American people back to work?
"REP. PAUL: Well, most of the things the federal government could do to get us back to work is get out of the way."
Right on, right on! All the candidates agreed, of course.
"MR. ROMNEY: (...) I know we're
going to get attacked from the left, from Barack Obama, on capitalism. I
know that people are going to say, oh, you should only practice it this
way or that way, and think they know better than the private market. My
view is, capitalism works. Free enterprise works. (Cheers, applause.)
And I -- and -- and I find it -- I find it kind of strange, on a stage
like this, with Republicans, having to describe how private equity and
venture capital work and how they're successful -- (applause) -- and how
they create jobs. But let me -- let me tell you that answer." (he did, then continued)
"I'm very proud of the fact that throughout my career, I have worked
to try and build enterprises -- hopefully to return money to investors.
There's nothing wrong with profit, by the way. That profit -- (cheers,
applause) -- that profit -- that profit -- that profit went to pension
funds, to charities; it went to a wide array of institutions. A lot of
people benefited from that.
"And by the way, as enterprises become more profitable, they can hire
more people. I'm -- I'm someone who believes in free enterprise. I think
Adam Smith was right, and I'm going to stand and defend capitalism
across this country, throughout this campaign. I know we're going to hit
it hard from President Obama, but we're going to stuff it down his
throat and point out it is capitalism and freedom that makes America
strong. (Cheers, applause.)"
There was a bunch of follow-up after this that for the sake of time I will not quote. This was the gist of it, and I felt relief that he was finally standing up for himself and defending capitalism, business, and his successes in his endeavors financial and otherwise.
"MR. SANTORUM: ... I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going
on in the House of Representatives, and Newt Gingrich was leading this
-- leading there. It was an idea a minute -- no discipline, no ability
to be able to pull things together. I understand you're taking credit
for the 1994 election, and you did have a lot plans. As you know, I
worked with you on those, and we had meetings early in the morning on
many -- many a week. And so we worked together on that.
"But you also have to admit that this freshman congressman who wasn't
supposed to win a race, came and did something you never did, which is
blew the lid off the biggest scandal to hit the Congress in 50 years.
You knew about it for -- for 10 or 15 years because you told me you knew
about it. And you did nothing, because you didn't have the courage to
stand up to your own leadership, the Democratic speaker of the House,
take to the floor of the Senate, demand the releasing of the checks that
were being kited by members of Congress, risk your political career,
risk your promotion within the ranks and do what was right for America
-- and that had more or as much to do with the 1994 win as any plan that
you put together. (Cheers, applause.)"
Santorum was really on a roll attacking the other candidates. Newt, of course, defended himself saying he exposed other corruption at other times.
"MR. ROMNEY: ...(rebuttal to Santorum) I stood as a pro-life governor, and that's why the Massachusetts
pro-life family association supported my record as governor, endorsed my
record as governor.
"I did my very best to be a pro-life governor. I will be a pro-life
president. I'm proud of that. I wrote about it in my book. My record is
"I appreciate your record. I hope you'll appreciate mine. (Applause.)"
I laughed out loud at this one. Santorum had been nit-picking all night and never ONCE did Romney get testy.
Here's another interchange with Santorum, referring to abortion and National Right to Life voting records.
REP. PAUL: Well, just -- just for the record, I wasn't even thinking about you when I was giving my statement.
MR. SANTORUM: (Off mic.)
REP. PAUL: So you are overly sensitive. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
But it -- but it is true that we have a disagreement on how we
approach it. I follow what my understanding is of the Constitution, and
it -- it does allow for the states to deal with difficult problems. As a
matter of fact, it allows the states to deal with almost all the
problems, if you look at it. It is not given -- these powers aren't
given to the Congress.
I see abortion as a violent act. All other violence is handled by the
states: murder, burglary, violence. That's a state issue. (Cheers,
applause.) So don't try to say that I'm less pro-life because I want to
be particular about the way we do it and allow the states the
This is the solution. This is the solution, because if we would allow
the states to write their laws, take away the jurisdiction by a
majority vote in the Congress, you repeal Roe versus Wade overnight
instead of waiting year after year to change the court system. (Cheers,
And to be fair, here's Santorum when he's not ragging directly on the others, in his closing argument.
"MR. SANTORUM: ... We're -- we need someone who not only says now they're going to stand
up for conservative principles -- the big issues; (plus ?) someone who
has a track record of doing so, and winning. I'm the only one in this
race that's ever defeated a Democratic incumbent. I did it for the
Congress and I did it for the Senate. (Applause.)
"We're the only people in this race that actually has won a swing
state. And I did it because I have a plan like I outlined today. I come
from those states. I come from the background -- I come with the
working-class and strong credentials not just with a plan, but with the
character that fits in with exactly the voters we need -- those Reagan
Democrats in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan and Indiana and
Wisconsin. Those are the votes and those are the states. You want to
win? Elect someone who can win in the states we have to win and draw the
clear contrast with President Obama."
OK, there are too many great quotes. You should watch it if you missed it. They talked about jumpstarting the economy, immigration, social issues, the military, cutting spending, actual mechanisms for getting rid of Obamacare, etc. Having fewer debaters really helped the flow, the focus, and allowed more of a real debate format. Just a great night!