The forum of December 3, 2011 was not a debate. Mike Huckabee’s idea was interesting. Give each candidate exactly 11 minutes, with a final one-minute summary at the end. The questioners were state attorneys general, from 3 states. The general topic was the relationship between the federal government and the states.
Herman Cain, having dropped out of the race earlier that day, was not present, nor was John Huntsman. The six candidates were Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann, and the Ricks – Perry and Santorum. The 3 questioners – all lawyers – posed some but not all tough questions.
Newt’s most difficult test was on his immigration ideas – having a local board select which long-term illegals can stay was questioned, and rightfully so. He was also questioned on his initial support of a federal mandate for insurance. He handled the questions well and wasn’t hurt too much. For the second time, I heard him refer to President Obama as a “Saul Alinski radical.” In my view, though arguably true, this is a mistake. Such references should be saved until direct debates between Newt and Obama.
Romney did quite well. He called the EPA a tool in the hands of the president to crush fossil fuels in favor of renewables. He would eliminate the NLRB. While harshly criticizing the Department of Education, he would continue to test kids.
Perry said some interesting things. He would not support a national right-to-work law, would leave that to the states. He believes the federal government should reimburse states for their expense in dealing with illegal aliens. He wants to amend the constitution to have shorter terms for Supreme Court judges, doesn’t like appointment for life as it is now. As said earlier, he wants congress to meet every other year.
Bachmann also did well. She favors a federal law enforcing right-to-work in all states. She confirmed she would deport all illegal aliens without exception. She would abolish the Department of Education, and supports the amendment for human life, defining a fetus as human.
Ron Paul’s performance was terrible. He came across (to me) as cranky and crazy. His opposition to the Patriot Act would strip tools from the federal which give them the ability to stop acts of terror before they happen. He thinks terrorism is a crime, not a way.
Santorum did fairly well. He said the government does things to hurt families, citing aid to unmarried mothers which results in couples not marrying so they can continue to receive government money. He cited EPA regulations that hurt states. He said the president has an obligation to enforce the law, and supports the Patriot Act.
In my view, the candidates are over-exposed. This is the most heavily televised pre-primary season of all time. There are currently 4 remaining events this month, 3 to be held in Iowa, and the Huntsman-Gingrich debate to be held in New Hampshire. Two of these events were arranged within the past few days, as was the Huckabee Forum. Perhaps the most interesting is the Donald Trump debate, coming up on December 27, a week before the Iowa Caucus. The Donald says that sometime after the debate, he will endorse one of the candidates.