Highlights from the GOP Debate

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. (Win McNamee/Getty)

Tuesday night's GOP debate focused on foreign policy - from Iran's nuclear policy to socialism in Latin America. Perhaps most notably, the night featured a departure from Republican party orthodoxy by Newt Gingrich, who said the GOP shouldn't "adopt an immigration policy which destroys families."


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney warned against future cuts to the nation's defense budget, saying nearly $1 trillion in potential cuts could undermine the nation's military clout. He underscored his support for Israel, saying if elected, his first foreign trip would be to Israel.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry noted that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had said the cuts would hurt the military. "If he's a man of honor, he should resign in protest," Perry said.



Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the nation's immigration policies shouldn't separate people "who have been here a quarter century" from their families. Gingrich said illegal immigrants without any ties to the U.S. should be deported and the nation should control its border. But he said Republicans shouldn't "adopt an immigration policy which destroys families which have been here a quarter century and I'm prepared to take the heat for saying let's be humane in enforcing the law."



On the sweeping anti-terrorism law known as the Patriot Act, Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas sparred, with Gingrich saying the United States needs all of its power to prevent another attack. Paul said the law infringes on liberties; the other candidates sided with Gingrich in putting protecting the homeland ahead of civil protections.



All of the candidates - except Paul - said the United States could not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and should work with ally Israel to prevent it. While they differed on how best to change regimes in Tehran, they were largely unified on the need for new leadership in that country.



The debate included questions from a litany of former top aides to Republican presidents.

Ed Meese, who served as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, asked about a long-range extension to the Patriot Act. David Addington, who was chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, asked the candidates what they would do to protect American interests in the region surrounding Syria.

Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy defense secretary under President George W. Bush, asked about the wisdom of the Bush administration's spending billions of dollars to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa.



Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, responding to Wolfowitz's question, referred to Africa as a country. Santorum noted that he worked on legislation to battle AIDS in Africa during his time in the Senate. "Africa was a country on the brink. On the brink of complete meltdown and chaos, which would have been fertile ground for the radical Islamists to be able to - to get - to get a foothold," he said.



Debate moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates to introduce themselves.

"Here's an example of what I'm looking for: `I'm Wolf Blitzer and yes, that's my real name,'" the CNN host said into the camera.

Romney's version: "I'm Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name."

Actually, it isn't. Romney's full name is Willard Mitt Romney.



One questioner noted that George W. Bush was never asked about al-Qaida, an issue that would dominate his presidency, during the 2000 presidential debates. Republicans were asked about the national security issues that most worry them but get little attention.

Santorum said he was concerned about the spread of socialism in Central and South America. Paul said he worried most about another war. Perry said China was foremost on his mind.

Romney ticked off a series of concerns, listing China, Iran becoming a nuclear threat and Latin America. Businessman Herman Cain pointed to potential cyberattacks. Gingrich cited weapons of mass destruction, the potential for an electromagnetic pulse attack and a cyberattack.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota pointed to the militant group al-Shabab. And former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman turned to domestic concerns over the economy, the national debt and a lack of trust in Congress. "We've got to get on our feet domestically," he said.



When Blitzer asked Cain whether it's appropriate for Muslim Americans to get more extensive pat downs or security screenings at airports, he got an interesting response.

"No, Blitz. That's oversimplifying it," Cain said, mixing the CNN anchor's last name with his first. As Cain began responding, he caught himself and said, "I'm sorry, Blitz, I meant Wolf, OK?"

When the Georgia businessman finished his answer, Blitzer had his retort. "Thank you, Cain," Blitzer said to laughter.


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Comments [4]

David Drescher from NJ

So far, the most interesting thing is that Romney's white shirt is pressed better than the president's.

Oct. 03 2012 10:10 PM
George N. Wells from Dover, NJ

I have to put the question about Romeny and Bain Capital: Is that kind of investment strategy really "Capitalism?"

Bain was not a "Venture Capital" firm as they only purchased failing companies never a startup.

Bain never planned to take an active interest in creating a long-term corporation that would provide an reliable income stream over time.

Biain made a lot of its money from providing captive client consulting services.

All of the above left a company saddled with debt reeling from the effects of a massive turnover of staff. I ask again: Is this the definition of Capitalism?

Jan. 11 2012 10:47 AM
Scott Jeffrey from New Jersey

I found it scary that I agreed with Ron Paul on the patriot act.

I tuned in expecting the candidates to play name that tune with torture, and they were reasonably civilized about "enhanced interrogation".

I was also quite impressed with Huntsman, but because he was sane, he'll never get the nomination. Good - because he actually could win a general.

Nov. 23 2011 12:04 PM

[Quoting myself from another forum ...]

"It's not worth the effort.

"I've given up on watching the presidential candidate debates.

"These days, with so much information available from so many sources, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate that which is true from that which is false. And I really dislike having my mind's data set contaminated and cluttered up with falsehoods. It makes the process of logical thinking and decision-making far more difficult. It warps how I see and comprehend reality.

"There are several web sites which specialize in determining the truth of statements made by political figures and their spokespersons. At first, I'd watch a debate and then make the rounds of these sites and other reliable sources to separate fact from fiction. But lately the number of false statements made and the disregard for accuracy shown by the debaters has simply become too much to deal with. I don't have the required amount of time available.

"So I've given up. I no longer watch political figures on TV nor listen to them on the radio. I'll wait for them to publish their position papers.

"If they ever bother to do so, that is."

Nov. 23 2011 08:54 AM

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