Tonight’s Debate in South Carolina is hosted by CBS and National Journal and is moderated by CBS Nightly News anchor Scott Pelley and Major Garret of National Journal. The candidates facing off against each other (and the mainstream media) are coming off another “interesting” week. Herman Cain defended himself well against the allegations that so far have not provided any proof of sexual misconduct. Newt Gingrich moved strongly ahead in polls to third place in the field and continues in his role of elder statesman while holding the MSM to account for its questionable questions in these debates. Rick Perry had a “brain fart” – and I used that term before I actually saw it in print on another website – not remembering the third department he wanted to remove from the list of government agencies. Ron Paul had a good night on monetary policy in the CNBC debate earlier this week, but he may be in for a rough ride tonight as his foreign policy is for America to become isolationist.
Cain will need to show how well his team has prepped him on foreign policy. Paull will show how bad he is on this subject. I’m not sure how the others will do at this point.
4:58 pm PST
The first question is what to do about Iran.
Cain responded that he would assist the opposition, but not a military opposition. More to his answer, but he was good on the question.
Romney was flittery about the answer, but did say that under Obama, Iran has gotten closer to nuclear weapons. Under him, no nuclear options would prosper.
Newt thought that it was time to use covert means to deal with Iran’s Nuclear program and maybe break the regime. Ron Paul in a follow-up said it was not worth it.
Perry got off topic when asked about his assessment of combat situation in Afghanistan. This was the start of a whole section on the country. He said we shut down Iran by shutting down the central bank of that country. Re: Afghanistan, he said that we should not our enemies have our withdrawal timetable.
Rick Santorum was asked What is Victory in Afghanistan and replied that’s it is when the Taliban is no longer a threat. He wanted all the candidates to answer the Iran questions. He thought Newt’s answer wasn’t enough.
Bachmann on whether 30,000 surge troops had been enough in Afghanistan thought it had needed more.
Huntsman said it was time to come home.
Romney said there should be no negotiating with terrorists.
Newt said there would be no peace unless you deal with Pakistan and Iran.
Cain on whether Pakistan was a friend or foe: “we don’t know.” The relationship needs to be redefined and there needs to be a regional strategy.
Perry on why Pakistan is playing a double game. Foreign aid is a part of the problem. Military and the secret service run the country, not the politicians.
Michelle Bachmann said she would reduce, but not get rid of foreign aid to Pakistan. A big problem is that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and that there are too many terror groups, including Al-Qaeda, Haqqani and the Taliban, near it. If they get their hands on one, it could mean a nuclear war with Israel.
Newt ageed with Perry. He further stated that what happened with Egypt and the Arab Spring has turned anti-Christian.
Santorum thought that we needed to make Pakistan remain our friend
Break at 5:30 pm PST
Newt was asked to evaluate Romney on foreign policy as he had done on a radio show just the day before. Newt refused to do this, saying we needed someone who can think outside the box.
Cain was asked about when should he overrule his generals. This was his most unclear answer of the night, I thought. He would surround himself with the right people and make his decision based upon the facts and the opinions of these “right people.”
Santorum said he was a straight talker, what you see is what you’ll get as a President. His #1 priority would be stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Perry and Major Garret had fun with the “brain fart” from earlier in the week. Perry said his advisors would be military and civilians with a background in national defense.
An email question was next on the subject of torture. Cain said he would follow military regulations on this. He does not believe in torture. Asked if waterboarding was torture, Cain said it wasn’t, that it is an enhanced interrogation technique.
Bachmann agreed with this, adding that we currently have no jail for terrorists under Obama.
Paul continued to sound his one-note on foreign policy, surrounding it with an anti-torture spiel. Huntsman went along with this, adding to Paul’s spiel that waterboarding is torture and immoral, tht torture devalues us in the world.
Romney was asked, in a similar vein, whether the President had authority for killing an American citizen who was an alleged terrorist. He responded with a yes, because the person was an active member of a terrorist group and active in operations against the United States (my note – it should be considered as treason, possibly in a time of war). He also added that foreign policy requires military strength. A side note on this answer – Treason is the only offense that is given the punishment of death in the Constitution.
Newt also said yes and Scott Pelley challenged him on it not being law in a court. Newt rebutted this well and stated that the law for this was followed.
The subject then turned to China. Perry was asked about the stealing of American intellectual copyrights and economic secrets. Perry’s answer was somewhat Reaganesque: Chinese communists will end up on the ashheap of history unless they start building virtues in their society.
Romney said China has an interest in trade, but that they must play by the rules, not manipulation. Obama policies have led to this. In a follow-up, he also said that they must stop their manipulation of currency prices.
Huntsman, former ambassador to China, had a different take, that the reality was different. We don’t need a trade war with China and thought that Chinese bloggers were the answer to its problems.
Break at 5:52 pm PST
The last question before the hour mark of the debate was another email asking Perry if Israel foreign aid would also start at $0 dollars. Perry said it would and that he also thought that it should be done with all government agencies as well.
Break at 5:57 pm PST
The final half-hour was not broadcast on most of the CBS stations save in South Carolina and the West Coast. It was webcast at the CBS News website.
Bachmann was asked about military spending in an email question. She thought that procurement should be fixed cost. That Tricare, the military healthcare system, should be modernized – that it might even collapse under Obamacare.
Cain was asked about the Arab Spring. His response was that we mishandled everything that happened in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The Muslim Brotherhood is well on its way toward taking over the region. The president of Yemen helped us in the fight with Al-Qaeda, yet Obama said that Yemen’s president should step down.
Newt had a better take on the situation: Obama’s administration has destroyed our allies and supported those who would become our enemies.
Paul continued his isolationist stance, saying that it was our support of dictators that got us in trouble in the first place.
Romney thought that Syria wanted to be the hegemon of the region.
Next up was a question from Senator Lindsey Graham. Obama syopped enchanced interrogation, stopped military commission trials for suspected terrorists and stopped using Gitmo for jailing suspected terrorists.
Cain said he would reverse all of those Obama policies. Rick Santorum agreed, adding that foreign combatants are not U.S. citizens.
Paul didn’t answer the question, instead he went on a tirade aganst Presidential kill orders. Perry took exception to this, highlighting his time in unifor and saying we need the ability to respond against those who do not follow the rules.
Bachmann that the Presidential kill orders Ron Paul derided also included the one for Osama bin Laden. Paul replied in a follow-up that it was different when ordering American deaths.
Senator Jim DeMint then asked his question. What federal functions would you eliminate?
Romney would start with Obamacare, Public TV (as in PBS and CPB, presumably), return Medicare to the state level and start making government more productive.
Huntsman said that we’re on the road to insolvency ala Greece and Italy. He would follw the Paul Ryan plan. He would also return Medicare and Education to the states and go on from there.
Newt said our four worst areas were: The Deficit, Energy, Manufacturing, Science and Technology. In a repeat of an answer from his Licoln-Douglas debate with Herman Cain, he once again declared his requirement for training before you start to get unemployment benefits. For our energy needs, we have something like $29 billion dollars of natural gas ( I may have misheard that – maybe he meant 29 billion gallons of natural gas). He also wants to overhaul the federal government.
Bachmann talked about how we added $203 billion of debt in October – equating to $650 per person. She wants to look at Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs and lose them.
Cain was asked if would order troops into Pakistan to follow terrorists. He referred to his earlier answer. He also stated that one of the maor problems is that there is no definition for victory. We need to define what victory would be in Afghanistan.
Romney declared Pakistan to be close to a failed nation. That there are too many factions even though some of those factions do accept the use of the drones – left unsaid was whether the use of those drones was preferable to the use of American troops.
Rick Santorum Said that if a Pakistani nuclear was lost, you could only hope that the military and the intelligence services would help to recover it. “You can’t cowboy this.”
Newt said that because of rules imposed on our intelligence community back in the 1970s, we do not have reliable intelligence.
Huntsman was asked about the Euro-crisis coming to America. He drifted off topic to the previous Pakistan theme and said that he would use Seal Team Six to solve the Pakistan problem. Getting back to the current topic, he said that if Europe goes down, we will suffer – primarily because of a loss of trade. It could spread through the banks and make it even worse.
In a follow-up, Perry talked about the Euro as a competitor to the American dollar.
Debate ends at 6:27 pm PST
So another debate ended. Herman Cain actually sounded better on foreign policy than he did before, but he still needs help and a better prep team. I think that with the harassment without proof stories constantly out this week and last, he would have done better.
Newt again showed why he is the statesman and grownup among the group, and once again clashed with a moderator.
Paul and Huntsman again showed, especially Paul, who got a lot of cheers and applause, why they shouldn’t be trusted with even being close to foreign policy makers.
Bachmann had a few good moments as did everyone else. Romney still doesn’t come across as truly presidential. Perry had his best preformance in a debate. A debate, however, only really shows how a person can argue with another, not how well they will do as president – as we know from the current occupant of the White House. So we still have a long way to go until Iowa and with 70% of Republicans still unsure of who they will support.
Post-Debate Analysis: 6:35 pm PST (approximately)
At the conclusion of the debate webcast, there was a short, 15 minute bit with John Dickerson form CBS News. The longest bit was with Ron Fournier. He thought that Cain had his best debate yet, but that he was unclear in his answer on Pakistan. He did not fumble, but he was unclear. He mentioned Perry and the fun that Garret and he had with the “brain fart.” He thought Newt played the grown-up again, but that it was hard to see him as the nominee.
After Forunier, there people from the Gingrich, Perry and Romney camps, all putting on the spin for their candidate. After these favorable takes on their debate participant’s performance, John Dickerson ended the “analysis.”
My thought on this was that it was not really analysis. I was waiting for a group of pundits, but I’ll have to wait for that with the Sunday talk shows tomorrow. If I see anything of note from any of the pundits, I’ll post it here. Hopefully nothing on the order of George Will and others saying the Republicans should ally themselves with the OWS movement because it’s a populist movement. I still can;t believe he said that.