WASHINGTON — June 13, 2011 – It was a debate that saw plenty of pandering, flip-flopping, red meat, and fear-mongering.
CNN attempted to lighten the mood of the debate with some “this or that” questions, but they probably did little to stir the excitement of voters. While the debate moderator, John King, seemed very concerned about applause and answers taking up too much time, he seemed quite alright with useless question such as wanting to know a candidate’s preferred soft drink or musical artist.
The most entertaining answer was probably when Newt Gingrich was asked if he preferred Dancing with the Stars or American Idol. Without hesitation, the former Speaker of the House answered American Idol, which will no doubt allow political commentators some playful jokes over the next few days, but these questions and answers offered little substance to the debate.
The winner of the night – who was also the winner of the first Republican debate – was Ron Paul. At least a few times, some of the candidates referenced Dr. Paul in their answers, and sounded their best when they used similar rhetoric as the Congressman from Texas. He was not as exciting as he was last month in South Carolina talking about Heroin, but he was able to refrain from giving himself a bad image – something none of the other candidates were able to do.
Michelle Bachman got the ball rolling by dodging the first question that was asked of her. When she was asked about Wall Street and whether or not they needed oversight, she instead announced that she was officially running for President of the United States and failed to give any answer to what her position was on the issue. This seemed to be an obvious attempt to shift the focus away from the question and to bring attention to herself, but no one seemed to care all that much.
Romney once again voiced his support for the repeal of Obamacare and backed off from the assertion that the supported national healthcare even though the bill was taken from the plan that he implemented in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, none of the other candidates wished to challenge the former governor on this issue.
Herman Cain – former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza – provided more flip-flopping when he backtracked on his support for TARP.
“When the concept of TARP was first presented to the public, I was willing to go along with it. But then when the administration started to implement it on a discretionary basis, picking winners and losers and also directing funds to General Motors and others that had nothing to do with the financial system, that’s where I totally disagreed.”
The problem with this statement is that Cain still acknowledges that he thinks it was acceptable to pump money into banks that were failing in order to prevent a financial collapse. This is a clear contradiction, because in the same statement, he professed a strong disagreement with “picking winners and losers”.
Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty both got their share of cheers, but also had some negative moments when their positions were compared to the current President’s policies. When Gingrich was asked about healthcare mandates – a position he had flirted with – the former history professor quickly voiced his opposition to mandated government healthcare.
Tim Pawlenty, meanwhile, was asked whether he agreed with Congressman Paul about ceasing the bombings on Yemen, or if he sided with the President and his policy of continuing the bombings. Although not referencing Dr. Paul or President Obama, Pawlenty answered by mentioning the September 11th attacks and that if there were targets in Yemen then we should continue the attacks.
Although Rick Santorum espoused support for Medicare Plan D – one of the largest expansions of government under the Bush administration – this was not his greatest folly. The former Senator from Pennsylvania simply failed to make any kind of noticeable impact at all. He was truly the forgotten man of this debate, and will surely pay for it in the polls.
Congressman Ron Paul may not have been flashy, but his answers had substance, he never contradicted himself, nor did he say anything that might have scared away an entire demographic of voters. This couldn’t be said about Herman Cain who acknowledged that he would be uncomfortable appointing a Muslim to his cabinet for fear that they might be the kind of Muslims that want to kill us.
Not only did the congressman perform well at the debate, but his ideas have begun to gain more traction among an electorate who are fed up with what they’re getting from both parties. He received one of the louder ovations of the night for his comment on two of the wars we’re fighting in the Middle East.
“We should spend more time defending our own borders instead of the border between Iraq and Afghanistan.”
While Ron Paul might not be seen as the front-runner, this could change very fast. Mitt Romney – the perceived front-runner – hasn’t had the nicest things said about him recently. GOP strategist, Greg Mueller proclaimed of Romney, “I can’t think of a weaker front-runner.”
Ron Paul is the only candidate who is consistently right on the issues. He has long time record of voting to defend the Constitution, and was the only candidate on stage who had any substance in what he was saying. For these reasons – and many more – he receives my full endorsement and support for President in 2012.
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