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Overall: I like the idea of the debate focusing on a single topic. Overall I think this gave the candidates a chance to shine and demonstrate their skills. I think it kept the snipping to a minimum. I enjoyed the debate and thought it was a rare chance to bring to the forefront several serious topics that do not normally get the airtime they deserve.
On the various questions concerning national security in the debate I have the following:
Advanced Terror Tools: Newt discussed the distinction between criminal law and national security. Supported the Patriot Act. Thought he would strengthen it. Ron Paul does not like the Patriot Act. Said terrorism is already a crime. Cited the Founding Fathers warnings against sacrificing liberty for security. Michele Bachmann said the war on terror was a very different war, and that technology is now completely different and that laws and investigations needed to be updated. Referenced the underwear bomber getting Miranda rights. Jon Huntsman it’s a matter of collaberation.
TSA Pat Downs: Mitt Romney addressed the prior question and stressed the difference between civil crimes and acts of war. Rick Perry said he would get rid of the TSA Union. Referenced the privatization of the TSA in Denver. Said that the US was failing at its ability to collect intelligence around the world. Rick Santorum and profiling; said we should be trying to find the bomber and not the bomb. Said Israel was successful at it. Favors privatization of TSA. Said we are at war with terrorism. Said he was in favor of profiling. Ron Paul said that terrorism is a tactic not a person or country. Wants to stress the protection of the rule of law. Herman Cain favors targeted identification, basically profiling. Privatization. Possible reform of the Patriot Act, but need to keep it. Kill terrorist before they kill us.
Expanding the Drone Campaign in Pakistan: Jon Huntsman, need a Washington that works, got applause for term limits. Said that Pakistan is a concern. Cited significant stats on Pakistan, including a population of 160 million. Favors expanding the drone program. Wants to pull troops out of Afghanistan. Michele Bachmann said that Pakistan is the epicenter of dealing with terrorism, and it is one of the most violent and unstable nations. That its nuclear sites were vulnerable to penetration by terrorist. China is trying to influence. Would continue to provide aid. Said it was too nuclear to fail. Rick Perry said that Pakistan can’t be trusted. Said he would not send them a penny until they proved they could be trusted. Said he would favor having the money used to build the country, but would not give them a blank check. Said that the thought a trade zone in that region might be solution as it would get the countries working together.
Money being spent and troops in Afghanistan: Mitt Romney favors a gradual transition to local securities forces. Referenced the situation in Indonesia in the 1960s, helping the country become a functioning trade partner. Jon Huntsman, doesn’t want to spend money in Afghanistan, wants the money spent here instead. Would rather have 10-15,000 troops in Afghanistan rather than 100,000 troops. Newt said that we should be upset with Osama bin Laden being found in Pakistan, and that if foreign governments don’t like our troops in their country then they should get their act(s) together. Rick Santorum said he agreed with Ron Paul and that we are fighting a war against radical Islam, and that they were trying to wait us out. He said that President Obama is that Obama is proving them right.
Israel attacking Iran, would you help Israel launch the attack: Herman Cain, make sure there was a credible plan, and credible intel. Would help and might join the attack. Ron Paul said he would not support such an attack. Cited experts including former Masaad leader. Said we should get out of Israel’s way and let them do what they want. Said they were capable of taking care of it themselves.
Effective Potential Sanctions against Iran. Rick Perry said sanctioning the Iranian Central Bank would be a powerful sanction. It would shut down the Iranian economy. Also said a no-fly zone over Syria would send a strong message to Iran. Newt on sanctioning the Iranian Central Bank and exporting of oil to Europe, said that drilling oil here would take the pressure oil exports to Europe. Suggested cutting off the gasoline supplies and shutting down there only refinery. Very bright on this topic. Michele Bachmann criticized Obama for the Keytsone pipeline decision, and his decisions that unilaterally disarm the US. Said that Iran has announced that it plans to strike Israel. Criticized Obama’s doctrine of appeasement, an unspoken reference to Neville Chamberlin.
Development Assistance: Rick Santorum said that development assistance is essential. That stabilizing these countries was essential to national security. We should promote our values. We should come to the aid of those in trouble. Spend the money on countries that will be our friends. Herman Cain, said it depends on priorities, and if the aid has been successful. Have the results been positive. Ron Paul doesn’t like aid. Says it is taking money from poor people in the U.S. and giving it to rich people in foreign countries. Said the budget doesn’t support it. Said that the biggest threat to our national security is our national finances. Mitt Romney said the President was foolishly spending us into bankruptcy.
Defense Cuts Being Off Limits: Newt said that if we were serious we would be able to bring efficiencies to Defense Spending and we could use the money more effective, accomplishing more with less. Jon Huntsman said that Americans have lost trust with their institutions.
On compromising with Washington Democrats: Rick Perry said that Obama punted to the Super Committee. Said he signed 6 balanced budgets in Texas. Suggested Leon Panetta should resign in protest. Said he would compromise. Said that we would have never been put in this position to begin with if he was President. Wants a part time Congress. Rick Santorum said that increasing taxes will slow the economy and ultimately increase the deficit. Don’t undermine the ability of the economy to grow in order to advance political agendas.
Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Defense Facilities: Newt, only unless it removes the regime.
What Entitlement Reform Proposals: Newt, social security reform based upon the Chilean and Galveston model. Cited great facts about the Chilean model working. Michele Bachmann said that revenues were sufficient, but it was wrong to give Congress a blank check. Said that the focus should be on Balancing the Budget. Said our interest payments were being used to grow China’s military.
Border Security & Drug Crime: Rick Perry, wants a 21st Century Monroe Doctrine. Said that a secure border is paramount to the entire Western Hemisphere. Said he would secure the border in 12 months. Ron Paul said that we had a national responsibility for our borders. Suggested eliminating the mandated benefits in the border states. Doesn’t like the war on drugs. Herman Cain said an insecure border is a national threat. Said 40% of the people in Mexico believe their country is a failed state. Wants the border secured, the enforcement of existing laws, and promote the current path to citizenship, and deal with the illegals already here.
High Skilled Immigration: Rick Santorum said the legal immigrants are a great source of innovation and economic growth. Newt, cited Regan’s programs. Discussed the success and failure areas. Also discussed the Dream Act. Michele Bachmann said that we need to retain the highly skilled. Mitt Romney said that amnesty is a magnet. Said the focus should be on people who want to come here legally. Need to shut down illegal immigration. Rick Perry said that until we secure the border the rest is just an intellectual exercise.
Syrian Regional and Our Interest: Herman Cain does not support a Syrian no-fly zone. Said cutting off oil exports is a better tactic. Rick Perry would support a no-fly zone. Had a couple of good points that it would protect disadents allow the military to switch sides. Jon Huntsman said that history will tell on the success of the Arab spring. Doesn’t think sanctions will work because Russia and China won’t play ball.
Somalia: Ron Paul said that Al Queda is inspired by meddling in a region. Said that a no-fly zone is an act of war. Mitt Romney doesn’t support a no-fly zone in Syria.
Unexpected Issues, What do you worry about that isn’t being asked: Rick Santorum is concerned about socialism in South America. Criticized the Hondourus incident. Ron Paul, over reaction on our part. Rick Perry said that he is worried about Communist China, and that Communist China is ultimately destined to the ash heap of history. Mitt Romney said that Latin America is his concern. Herman Cain said that cyber attacks are a national security issue. Newt said that weapons of mass destruction, and EMP attack, and a cyber attack. Michele Bachmann said that by withdrawing from the middle east we were bringing the terrorist threat the the US. Jon Huntsman said that China was in for real trouble with their economy. His biggest worry is the U.S. economy.
On the individual candidates I have the following:
Rick Perry: Performed much better in this debate. Shows that he knows his facts. I think he gave one of his best debate performance and put the lapse of memory issue from the past debate behind him.
Mitt Romney: Continues to be a very solid debater. Somewhat the man to beat in the debates.
Herman Cain: Solid performance. Didn’t mention 9-9-9 once. Shows he has knowledge beyond that topic. Said that a failure to grow the economy is the solution to our economic and security problems.
Newt Gingrich: Definitely the shining star of the debate. Knew the facts better than anyone else.
Jon Huntsman: Starting to sound like a cheap isolationists. However I think he had a great point that foreign policy should follow economics.
Ron Paul: Continues to do his thing well. Just don’t think he is viable in the general election. He is too much of an isolationist. I really think he blew it when he defined the Taliban as people who want to get us to stop occupying their country. We weren’t occupying Afghanistan in 2001 when they helped Al Queda launch the 9-11 attacks. I think at times Ron Paul’s libertarian bent clouds his vision and decision making process.
Rick Santorum: Wants regulatory and tax reform.
Michele Bachmann: Decent performance. Still far from Presidential material.
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