Overall: I liked the less formal style of the candidates at the table. With the exception of Rick Santorum, the candidates spent a lot less time criticizing each other and more time on the issues. Rick Santorum’s constant criticism of the other candidates wore thin with the crowd, and with me as well. I think that both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich did very well. I think Ron Paul was just there. I have to agree with the CNN commentator who said that Rick Santorum was not ready for the big leagues.
On the various issues brought up during the debate I have the following:
Auto Bailout: Rick Santorum said he opposed the bailout because he did not think that government involvement is not the best method for the restructuring. Mitt Romney said that he wrote an Op-Ed in the WSJ opposing a loan package, recommending a managed bankruptcy and help coming out of bankruptcy. He said he supported TARP in order to loosing all the banks and having the entire financial sector going down. Then later the companies actually went through a managed bankruptcy, and the President gave the companies to the UAW; which was a big part of the problem. Newt Gingrich said the problem with the US auto industry was a management system that could not deal with the UAW. Newt said that he agreed to with Mitt, and that President Obama violated 200 years of bankruptcy law in an unprecedented manner and screwed all the bond holders. Ron Paul that the government and politicians were the primary problem in the auto industry.
Birth Control: The audience hated this question. Newt said that the media never once asked why Barrack Obama as a state Senator voted to protect doctors who kill babies that survive the abortion process. Ron Paul said the morality of society was the issue, not the birth control methods. He said that the Federal government should not be involved in this issue in any manner. Newt said that one of the problems with the government is that when you do not do what it wants, then it threatens to punish you. Rick Santorum tried to turn this into a criticism of Romneycare. Mitt responded by saying his bill was 70 pages, and Obamacare was over 2,000 pages. He then criticized Rick Santorum for supporting Arlen Spector in his last senatorial against Pat Tomney, and that Arlen Spector switched parties and voted for Obamacare.
Earmarks: Rick Santorum on earmarks he would regret; he said the money that went to the Salt Lake City Olympics. He also said that there was good earmarks that were needed when the Executive branch was not doing its job. Mitt said he would ban all earmarks. Rick Santorum performed very poorly in his rebuttal of the others comments. Ron Paul gave a good explanation of what an earmark really is. He said the real solution is to vote against the bill, and the spending.
Education and No Child Left Behind: Rick Santorum said that he supported, but it was against his principals. He said that he favored testing, but the spending has been a problem. He admits it was a mistake, and that he won’t make that mistake again. Favors local control over education. Mitt Romney said that he enforced mandatory testing requirements for high school diploma, and that he supported school choice. He said that we need to stand up to the federal teachers unions. Newt Gingrich said he supported charter schools. He wants to shrink the Department of Education. He favors local control of education. He said that teacher’s unions care about protecting bad teachers at the expenses students. He also criticized the current learning process as being ineffective; that you do not need to learn, but you need to learn how to learn. He had a very good point with this. Ron Paul said that there was no constitutional authority for the Federal government being involved in the education system. He attached Rick Santorum for calling politics a team sport.
Immigration, and Border Security: Ron Paul said we reward illegal immigration, and that needs to change. He then rambled a bit. Newt Gingrich said that he would work on border fences, and increase the number of border patrol agents. Mitt Romney said that the Arizona model works. He said the government should drop the lawsuits against the states. He also said that the employers should be required to us eVerify.
Iran and North Koera: Ron Paul said there was no evidence that Iran had a nuclear weapon. This is where I think Ron Paul is dangerous. I think he is an isolationist at heart and that blinds him to the real world. He thought the real threat was old Soviet nuclear weapons. He said the sanctions were backfiring. He thinks we are enhancing the power of the Iranian leaders. He thinks we can talk to the Iranian leaders.
Faith: Mitt Romney said that Obama was attacking religious freedom. Criticized Obama for attempting to say the government had the right to approve or disapprove of a church’s minister. Rick Santorum said that just because he talks about an issue, it does not mean he wants a government program for that issue. He said that is what the liberals want and do. He wants the government out of our lives.
National Debt: Rick Santorum has a specific plan to reduce spending yearly and cut over $5 trillion in spending. Wants to repeal Obamacare, reduce entitlement spending and reduce as a percentage of the Federal Budget. He also wants means testing for entitlements. Mitt Romney criticized Rick Santorum for voting to keep Davis-Bacon and 5 times to raise the debt ceiling. Mitt said that he has balanced his budget, balanced the Olympic budget, and state budget. Said he would turn programs over to the states that could be run more efficiently at that level. He would also tie the rate of pay for government employees to that of the private sector. Romney said he wants a Cut, Cap, and Balance provision. This is a big and important point for the Tea Party members. Newt Gingrich said that as Speaker of the House they had 4 straight balanced budgets. Wants to open up Federal land for oil & gas we would receive $16 trillion in royalty revenue over the next 20 years.
One Word to Define Yourself: Ron Paul: Consistent. Rick Santorum: Courage Mitt Romney: Resolute Newt Gingrich: Cheerful
Syrian Intervention: Rick Santorum said that Syria was a puppet state of Iran. He said that Obama had a problem standing up to the Iranians. He said Obama is afraid of Iran. Newt Gingrich said he would create a dramatic US energy policy to reduce the economic power of Middle Eastern countries and lessen their ability to harm our economy. That we should have our allies helping to covertly destroy the Ashad regime. He said the Obama administration only seems to have a problem with American allies, and that if you are an enemy of America you should feel safe. Mitt Romney said that the US needs to say “No” to Iran and that we should oppose Syria. Said that very bad news has come from the Middle East has provided a bunch of bad news, and changing the regime in Syria is one of the few positive bright spots. Ron Paul said that the our enemies wanted to bog us down in the Middle East and bankrupt our economy. He said foreign involvement was going to bankrupt the country.
Women in Combat: Mitt Romney said that is a decision for the personnel in the military. Criticized Obama for shrinking the military and cutting its budget. Newt Gingrich said the question was misleading because there was constant danger through the entire world. Also said that it was an issue for all 1st responders.
The Final Question of the Night, What is the Biggest Misconception About You? Ron Paul: The myth by the media that he can’t win. Mitt Romney: Restoring America’s Promise and the American Dream, what it takes to be the type of person who can really lead the country. He believes that his background is what it takes. I agree. Newt Gingrich: The fact that the American public is desperate to find someone who can solve problems. He wished that the American public had a better understanding of the amount of work it really took to accomplish what he did as Speaker of the House, and that is not simply a matter of talking about it on the campaign trail. In my opinion this is an extremely good point and should be remember by everyone who votes. Rick Santorum: Can he defeat Barrack Obama, who will have more money and have the national media on his side; that a candidate who can run on the issues and succeed.
On the individual candidates I have the following:
Mitt Romney: Said he was a conservative governor of Massachusetts. Considering the voting history of the state, I think any Republican governor would be conservative by that state’s standards. Again Mitt performed very well, and he is the man to beat; and I do not see anyone in the crowd really beating him. I think the other candidates are either running for the VP slot or to influence the platform.
Newt Gingrich: Said the current government is a disaster. He wants to repeal the old civil service laws and replace them with a modern management system. Newt performed extremely well. He dropped the critical commentary of the other candidates that have harmed in the past. He was at the top of his game. I see Newt being a strong possibility as the VP candidate to run with Mitt Romney.
Ron Paul: Said that Rick Santorum was a fake conservative. Ron was his typical Ron Paul. He is the type of candidate that you need to keep the discussion and issues on track. I do not see him winning, but I do see him being a major force at the convention.
Rick Santorum: Claimed he had a high conservative voting record as judged by the conservative rating agencies. I did not like his attacks on Mitt Romney for securing earmarks for the Salt Lake City Olympics. In this line of criticism he ignores that Mitt Romney represented the Olympics, not the government, and he had a duty to do what was best for the Olympics. Got rather testy with Mitt Romney on the discussion of earmarks. He did not do himself any favors. Overall I think he performed very poorly with his rebuttals of the candidates’ comments. I think he was the looser in the debate.
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