Eight Republicans took to the stage in the Reagan Presidential Library tonight, with new Republican nomination front runner, Rick Perry, joining the group this time. He was certainly the focus of the debate, and his words will likely be the most resonating amongst the most conservatives of the Republican Party. Regardless of who won or lost the debate, one thing is certain: a lot of things said on that stage tonight have to turn a liberal’s stomach. While there were some bright spots in Ron Paul’s social liberalism and John Huntsman’s pragmatic talking points on foreign military interventions, most of the quotables were ideas that large parts of people will find unsettling, incorrect, or flat out crazy.
Republican hypocrisy was on full display early and often as many advocated the vast deep spending cuts and limited government roles that the Tea Party crowd loves to hear, and then stood by the government building a fence and hiring border guards to secure the Mexican border. They also have changed their tone of unwavering support for military interventionism that was present three years ago to a largely isolationist tone condemning the military intervention in Libya that brought to rise the question of whether they would be saying the same things if the president were a Republican. It is shocking how much they will compromise their previous stances for the sake of seeing the President fail to win reelection. Even Mitt Romney forsook his own health care plan in Massachusetts in order to attack Obamacare. Rick Perry was quick out the gate to attack Romney anyway, who was later attacked on the fact that he can’t base his attacks on the mandates on Obamacare on his record, seeing as Texas has mandated HPV vaccinations for young women.
A few highlights of the debate…
All candidates said that one of their first actions as president would be to support the repeal of Obamacare, including Mitt Romney, who even disowned parts of his own healthcare plan in order to gain credibility amongst conservatives.
When asked about his previous statements on Social Security, Rick Perry stood by his stance that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and thinks that the private market is a better source of financial security since the program is unsustainable. Perry was also asked the question that was asked at the last debate, whether he would support a compromise of $10 worth of spending cuts for $1 of revenue increases, and he joined the ranks of his fellow Republicans and said that he would not accept any compromise involving tax increases.
On the subject of military intervention, there were two gems. Michelle Bachmann stated that there were no vital American interests in Libya, and it was a waste of American money to be involved. I would be highly interested to hear what she thought the American interests were in Iraq in 2003. Rick Santorum also jumped in on criticizing the military intervention, making the absurd accusation that the only reason we are in Libya is because Obama had been forced to get involved by the United Nations, something the great Ronald Reagan would scoff at, despite Reagan’s long resume of foreign interventions.
Jon Huntsman went on the attack against the more conservative people on stage, saying that the answer to this country wasn’t gutting government spending, emphasized the need to pull the troops out of Afghanistan, and not turning away from science as the key to advancing American society.
Newt Gingrich made an overt stab at the “liberal” media by saying that they are trying to turn Republicans against each other to try to aid Obama in getting reelected.
Herman Cain came exclusively to promote gutting bureaucracy and promoting his 999 tax plan.
Ron Paul kept being Ron Paul.
All in all, it wasn’t a very surprising showing. Republicans stood by their talking points of limited (or in some cases, virtually no) government, eliminating funding for programs that they are ideologically opposed to, but still voicing support for paying for their own ideas (border security, defense, tax breaks for corporations). I would say, after tonight, the race looks like a 2-man game between the Tea Party backed Rick Perry, and the establishment backed Mitt Romney, with Bachmann, Huntsman, and Paul being second tier candidates. No matter who emerges, they all seem to have frightening ideas that makes me shiver when I think of any of them as the president.