Okay, so I tuned into the debate a little late, closer to the half-time mark than the start; but here are my thoughts on a few topics that were discussed as well as the performance of the candidates.
Overall: I liked the format and the way Wolf Blitzer conducted the debate, himself, and the way he represented CNN. I liked answers by the candidates to the questions posed to them. I thought for the most part they kept it civil and didn’t sling any real mud at each other. They stayed focused on the issues, and almost uniformly presented a theme of personal freedom and responsibility; and a pro-growth economic theme that focused on the ability of the American people and not the government.
Tax Rates: At one point in the debate a member of the audience asked what tax rates should be and how much of their income workers should be allowed to keep. While a decent enough question on the level of tax rates; I think what was lost in the form of the question is that this is income that is earned by the citizens of this country and it is their money, not the Federal and State government’s money. The government of this country is to be of the people, by the people, for the people; not for the by the political elites for the benefit of the political elites.
The income earned by people in this country is their money, it belongs to them. The government at all levels need to justify its spending of the citizen’s money; and at all times it needs to be transparent in its spending and spend the citizen’s money as judiciously and responsible manner as possible, not in the irresponsible and wasteful manner it has become accustomed to.
Illegal Immigration: When the topic of illegal immigration was raised Rick Santorum, discussed the unsecure border and the need to secure it. He also stated that legal immigration is an important life blood to our country. He also talked about the importance of learning to speak English and assimilate into society.
Rick Perry talked about the Federal Government’s failure to enforce border laws and create a secure border. He further discussed the need for 4,500 border patrol agents, aviation assets, and the need for the Federal Government to honor its constitutional duty to secure the border.
Michelle Bauchman spent most of the night attacking Rick Perry. She also attached liberals in Congress for changing the immigration laws in the 1960s.
John Huntsman was asked about granting driver’s license to illegal aliens. He made a bad joke about Perry’s border comments. It wasn’t received well by the audience. He said it was driver’s priveledge card in Utah, but not an ID card. I think he was splitting hairs on this issue and the audience knew it.
Mitt Romney talked about how immigrants are here not for handouts, but for opportunity.
War in Afghanistan: When asked about protecting the people of Afghanistan by a female audience member who immigrated from Afghanistan while Reagan was President, John Huntsman said we can’t afford to be there, and the need for the Afghanistan people to take more responsibility for themselves. Sounds good on the surface, but if you remember the picture of the Afghanistan woman who had her nose cut off for not wanting to go through with an arranged marriage it didn’t leave you with a good feeling. Rick Perry supported being there. He feels the best way to handle the situation in Afghanistan is to transition to the Afghanistan military taking responsibility.
Defense Spending: Newt said that we are at the verge of a crisis due to lack of spending and dealing with problems around the world. He mentioned the situations in Egypt and Turkey. In looking at the news posted on this site, I think he is right.
Admitting Mistakes: Rick Perry did something I have seen very few politicians ever do. He admitted he made a mistake in requiring a vacine for HPV for your women. I can’t remember the last time I saw a politician admit he made a mistake, and hats off to Rick Perry for doing so. I thought that Michelle Bachmann’s attacks on a decision he admitted was a mistake seamed like populist grandstanding. I was very disappointed with her performance during this stage of the debate.
Michelle Bauchman: I do not feel that Michelle Bauchmann is a serious candidate. I do not think she is electable under any real circumstances unless Obama’s popularity really falls through the floor. I think she looks to score points by making what I consider to be essentially right-wing populist comments. As a result, I think it is tough to know what she really believes. I think she is more running for Vice-President than for President.
John Huntsman: I think John Huntsman performed very well. He probably had the most to gain and did his best to make it so. I think he made several key point about the performance of Utah under his governorship. His performance probably helped his long run staying power in this race. I think he would make a great Vice-Presidential candidate.
Newt Gingrich: I like Newt. I think he is one of the brightest and best in the race; I am just not sure he is electable. Again, I think he has a good chance of being a VP candidate. However, I think Newt knows this. I also think he is more interested in shaping the debate and influencing the front-runners than he is in winning the nomination.
Rick Santorum: Bright, campaigning for Vice-President.
Rick Perry: Performed very well. Tort Reform, Low Taxes, Framed a lot of discussions in state’s rights. Talked about opportunity vs. being on the state dole.
Mitt Romney: When asked about Romneycare, he refuses to admit he made a mistake in Massachuets. I think this bothers a lot of Republicans; it bothers me. He is in favor of health savings accounts. I think he made good points about the differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. Overall I still think he could win the nomination, election, and make a very good President.
Ron Paul: A very bright individual, but his populist b/s gets in the way of his making valid points that have life beyond his campaign. When asked about mandating healthcare coverage, or who pays for uninsured, he responded with freedom of choice and poor management by the government. Both extremely valid and important points. I think he brings very important points to the table about the importance of sound fiscal policy and the flexibity of dealing with problems when you are financially healthy and your inability to do so when you are financially weak.
Herman Cain: Another very bright individual. He talked about making health insurance deductable regardless of who pays for it; the employer or employee. I’ve been advocating for this since the early Clinton days. He also talked about the need for tort reform and his performance at the National Restaurant Association. Overall, I can’t find anything negative with Herman.
Overall I think this is one of the most talented field of Republican candidates I have ever seen. I am looking forward to this campaign being about ideas and policies. I think that this is campaign season is going to be a facinating one to watch. Stay tuned we are going to get an excellent chance to know these candidates.
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