Center stage at the latest GOP Presidential debate were Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and playing the “Devil’s Advocate” — as put by MSNBC’s Brian Williams — was Ron Paul.
Most headlines about the event highlighted mainstream media favorites, many focusing on a bitter quarrel that ensued between Romney and Perry during the debate as each attacked the other’s experience and record.
“Actually, what Americans are looking for is someone who can get this country working again. And we put the model in place in the state of Texas. When you look at what we have done over the last decade, we created 1 million jobs in the state of Texas. At the same time, America lost 2.5 million,” said Perry, when asked about how Americans expect jobs to be created.
After the Texas Governor attacked Romney’s job creation record as Massachusetts’ Governor, Romney replied: “States are different. Texas is a great state. Texas has zero income tax. Texas has a right to work state, a Republican legislature, a Republican Supreme Court. Texas has a lot of oil and gas in the ground. Those are wonderful things, but Governor Perry doesn’t believe that he created those things. If he tried to say that, well, it would be like Al Gore saying he invented the Internet.”
Taking a break from swinging at Romney, Perry aimed at Paul in light of a recent political ad calling the Texas Governor a “cheerleader for Al Gore” when the now-outspoken global warming theorist ran in the 1988 Presidential primary. Perry brought into question a letter that Paul wrote announcing his resignation from the Republican Party in 1987 due to Federal excess. In the letter Paul cites Ronald Reagan’s drug policy, the growth of the Internal Revenue Service, foreign interventionism and a growing national debt during that president’s second term as affirmations to suspicions the Texas Congressman had about the Republican Party stepping away from its ideals.
All of the candidates spoke about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, criticizing the previous two Presidents for not outlining a clear exit strategy (although Paul continued to push his familiar “get out now” ideals). However, all of the candidates — except Paul — also said the U.S. must continue to pressure Iran to relinquish any nuclear aspirations.
“The president has not done what he needs to do to keep the United States safe. If you look at the biggest issue in the Middle East, it’s a nuclear Iran, and the president has taken his eyes off that prize,” said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who appears hell-bent on ending Iran’s nuclear program.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania also condemned any notion of an American isolationist stance: “Well, we’re in the Reagan Library, and I’m hearing from at least a couple of people on this panel a very isolationist view of where the Republican Party should be headed about pulling troops out with Governor [Jon] Huntsman and with Ron Paul. The bottom line is, Ronald Reagan was committed to America being a force for good around the world. We were a society that believed in ourselves and believed that we can spread our vision to the rest of the world and make this country a safer country as a result of it. We didn’t have missions where we put exit strategies saying this date is when we’re going to leave. We didn’t say that we are the problem and the cause of the problems that confront us around the world. We were — we are a source for good. We could have been a source for good from the very get-go in Libya, but this president was indecisive and confused from the very beginning. He only went along with the Libyan mission because the United Nations told him to, which is something that… Ronald Reagan would have melted like the old Wicked Witch of the West before he would have allowed that to happen.”
When it came to taxes, Herman Cain offered his 9-9-9 deal. Cain’s proposal essentially represents a “flat tax” situation that would impose an income tax of 9 percent on both individuals and businesses and do away with payroll tax altogether; the plan also calls for a national 9 percent sales tax.
“The government needs to get out of the business of trying to figure out who gets a tax break here, who gets a tax break there. When you go to 9-9-9, it levels the playing field for all businesses. What a novel idea. And the government won’t be in the business of trying to determine who’s going to be able to make more money and pay no taxes and vice versa,” Cain said. “Secondly, this recession is the worst recession since the Great Depression. If the recovery that this administration claims would just tie for last place, we would have another 6 million jobs. If it would tie for the recovery that took place in the ’80s under President Reagan, we’d have 12 million more jobs out there, which would be music to the ears of the 14 million people looking for jobs. The president simply does not understand that the business sector is the engine for economic growth.”
Williams, the MSNBC moderator, seemed very determined to bring to light Paul’s distrust of the Federal government to handle America’s problems (as if the candidate has not already been very vocal), from suggesting that the candidate advocates plane crashes because of his insistence that the airline industry could be completely privatized to noting Paul’s dislike of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the moderator seemed to mock the Congressman. To end the debate, Williams asked Paul if he was in favor of doing away with government programs that provide free lunches to needy schoolchildren. Paul rebutted that if States were interested in providing such lunches, they would always be in a better position — in unison with charitable organizations — than the Federal government to do so.
“[D]on’t always try to turn around and say that we who believe in liberty, we lack compassion, because we who believe in liberty and understand the market, we’re the only ones that really understand how people are taken care of, how they are fed, and how people have jobs. It’s the market. It’s never the government that does it,” said the candidate.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich took offense with the tactics of questioning earlier in the debate, and described what the entire 2012 GOP election really appears to represent at its very core.
“I, for one, and I hope all of my friends up here, are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama, who deserves to be defeated. And all of us are committed as a team. Whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama,” he said.