I have a confession to make. I had not been following the race for the Republican nomination as much as I should have. Debates with so many candidates get confusing and is somewhat boring because there are just some candidates that just don’t belong there. On the flip side of that is you get to hear the voice of the candidates that don’t raise as much money as the front runners and get to see how qualified they really are. So my wife and I decided last week that we would watch both GOP primaries last week. The one on Wednesday that covered the economy and the one on Saturday that cover National Security and Foreign Affairs.
I had been reading about the few candidates that the media constantly reports on, but I wanted to see what the other candidates had to say. I am glad I watched because I saw some good debates and one of the biggest debate gaffes since Admiral Stockdale asked to have the question repeated because he had shut off his hearing aid in the 1992 Vice-Presidential Debate. During the CNBC debate held on Wednesday the moderators completely challenged the candidates and that is what you look for in a debate. Unlike four years where the moderators were all part of the slobbering love affair. I thought John Harwood and Maria Bartiromo did a good job with the questions they asked, and a very good job following up when not getting the answer to the question they were asking. A couple of times during the debate Bartiromo and candidate Newt Gingrich intellectually sparred and neither one backed down.
The second debate was more lackluster than the previous debate. It was does by CBS and covered National Security and Foreign Affairs. I don’t think the moderators were as tough on the candidates as they could have been. The moderators, Scott Pelley of CBS News and Major Garrett of the National Journal, were more concerned on the debate rules rather than getting to the issues at hand. At one point Pelley told the audience to not applaud. Why have them there then? The questions were not as challenging and left the candidates reaching for substance to answers. The questions were what to do with Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. My favorite response to the question is Pakistan friend or foe came from former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. He said that Pakistan has to be a friend because they are a nuclear power. That’s great Rick, so wasn’t the U.S.S.R. Where has Santorum been? Pakistan has been hiding al Qaeda terrorists in their country, while they take aid from the U.S.. Do we wait for those nuclear weapons to get in the hands of terrorists before Santorum classifies them as foes? Do me a favor Rick, stop complaining that you don’t get any questions during the debates and shut up. They don’t ask you questions because you say stupid things and they are protecting you from that.
I can’t continue to write this without commenting on Gov. Rick Perry’s memory loss during the CNBC debate when answering the question of what cuts he would make to the budget. How anyone took Perry serious is beyond me. He is riding the Tea Party wave of conservatism and he doesn’t realize that too conservative isn’t popular either. When he was stumbling he could have covered himself by blurting out “Treasury”, he would have at least gotten some laughs. He is definitely falling into the Stockdale category of “Who am I? Why am I here?” from the ’92 debate. He tried to joke it off in the second debate, but too little too late.
The only uncomfortable moment in the debates came during the CNBC debates. The moderators were adamant that the debate was to cover the economy when the candidates would steer off topic. The John Harwood asks Herman Cain about his recent accusations and asks if he can be trusted. After Cain handled it well and responded to the blindsided question, Harwood follows up by asking Romney, “As a business man would you hire Herman Cain among the accusations?” Huh? Romney handled it well and basically refused to answer the question. I understand that at some point during these debates Cain will need to answer to the accusations. But the moderators cannot make up the rules as they go.
It is quite evident that Romney looks like he is going to be the candidate. The few things I noticed about the debate were that in neither debate the candidates did not go after each other. They even complimented one another, which the Republican Party needs. Maybe it was the format and the rules, but it was refreshing. The issues are more complex than people can image and to give the candidates 30 seconds to solve the economy, healthcare and foreign policy is just stupid. Finally, I see a couple of candidates abandoning their presidency bids and are campaigning for the Vice Presidency. I see John Huntsman as one of those candidates. He has great experience both domestically and internationally. Sorry John, there is no way there will be two Mormons on the ticket. If Romney does win, I see a possible Secretary of State position in your future. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has become very combative with the media during the debates and has been a protector of all the candidates claiming that all the candidates would be better than President Obama, and that should be unified message coming out of the debates.
I am still undecided as to who I like in this field but I did enjoy watching the debates. I plan to watch more. The next one on television in November 22, on CNN.
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