Bret Baier opened up the debate last night and introduced all the participating candidates on Fox News for the 2011 GOP Presidential Debate held in Florida. Chris Wallace and Megan Kelly joined Bret as panelists. Immediately it was lightened up with the replacement of the traditional bell sound with a Google created computer blip instead, to appease dog owners across the country. Another great tool introduced in this debate was the word cloud. Each topic had a cloud of words. The larger the word, the more it was mentioned in the citizen’s questions regarding that specific topic. This was helpful in letting the viewers of the debate understand what most people thought about when discussing that issue.
This GOP (Grand Old Party) debate had none contestants: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Gary Johnson. Some were long time politicians, other businessmen and, still, some were just running once again to try and grasp the title of President of the United States because they firmly believe they can do the job right!
Questions came from the panelists, as well as American citizens’ texting in questions or asking them over YouTube via prerecorded videos that had been voted on before the debate started. And that is how the discussion began – with a question from Dave Meldeau from Orlando, Florida regarding incentives to help small businesses hire workers. Perry stated that the tax burden needed to be lowed, and cited the state of Texas being the number one state people have been moving to for five years in a row.
Romney had a plethora of ideas including becoming more energy secure, and helping America to compete on a global level. When asked “What do you consider rich?” Romney responded with “I don’t try to define who is rich or who is not rich.” Adding that he would cut taxes for the middle class, Romney finished up his answer with “Let people enjoy the freedoms that have made us the envy of the world.”
Megan Kelly was up and had a specific question for Michele Bachmann: “out of every dollar I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?” Bachmann replied that every dollar a worker earns should remain in his/her pocket because “private solutions, not government, run [the] economy”. Rick Santorum was asked to discuss Right to Work states and unions. The discussion was started by Yates Wilburn from Hilton Head Island in South Carolina: “Would you support some form of a federal right to work law allowing all workers to choose whether or not to join a union?” After commenting on the state of unions and how they are bankrupting certain states in the country, Rick said he would support a bill that disallowed unions for public employees.
Kelly asked Newt Gingrich if Unemployment benefits would be extended under him if he became President. Newt said it was “fundamentally wrong to give people money from  weeks for doing nothing.” He felt that a training program should be a requirement for anyone on unemployment so that the money given is more of an investment than a hand out, and states should each be allowed to experiment with unemployment at a state level. He felt that the federal government was prideful in assuming that they knew better than the state governments.
Chris Wallace put Huntsman on the stand asking how his plan to subsidize natural gas is different from what the Obama administration has been doing. No quotes here because it was purely rhetoric, rhetoric I last heard when I watched the last presidential debate where I predicted Obama would be the Democratic nominee. His answer was that natural gas was the bridge to wind and solar energy. In other words, there was really no answer to the question at all.
At this time Herman Cain made himself known Chris Wallace asked the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza what his plan was for the economy and jobs. Herman pointed out his 999 plan, stated he would throw out the current tax code, treat businesses the same, then took a dig at Romney and said “That dog won’t hunt!” because Romney is “tied” to the traditional tax plan.
Ron Paul was given a question from Brandy and Michael from Spencer, Indiana: How do you plan to restore the 10th amendment? The answer was sweet, short, and to the point as always: “Obviously it would take more than one individual”, but that any legislation that crosses the President’s desk which violates the 10th amendment should be vetoed immediately.
After the first break Romney and Perry went head to head over social security, immigration, and healthcare. There seemed to be a lot of misinterpretation and wrong understanding. They debated back and forth about the whether or not the states should have control over social security, immigration, and education. When Megan Kelly asked Romney “Is Obama a socialist?” he somewhat dodged the question and stated he would rather hear him called “former President Barack Obama”, and called him a big spending Liberal.
Huntsman was asked if he felt there was any time when he would feel it was “a good idea to raise taxes on millionaires”, to which he said it was the worst time to raise taxes. Jon went on to state that the marketplace needed fixing, and spoke about a plan that included three rates with a final quote of we “need to fix the underlying structural problems”. No answer to the actual question was ever given.
One of the best, most hardcore, and entertaining answers of the night is awarded to Herman Cain after the question from Lee Doren in Arlington, Virginia was posed: “If you were forced to eliminate one department from the federal government, which one [would it be] and why?” Cain replied that the EPA has lost control, as they will be regulating dust come the New Year 2012. He then took the opportunity to discuss social security and called out the other candidates for beating around the bush by giving the same system different names instead of changing it altogether by stating that Chile has a personal retirement account model that 30 other countries have successfully used, and that Americans are robbed because that system is not set up in the United States. He said “The solution: fix it!”
Another humorous moment came when Gingrich told Megan Kelly that the way she “described the question” makes the idea of fixing the American economy sound hopeless and, by that standard, everyone should just buy a specific type of bond and we will all “go down together”. He went on to discuss the Regan administration and how the success they had was due to good, solid leadership.
The next question, from Stella Lohmann in Atlanta, Georgia sparked huge discussions with many ideas. Most had to do with taking the current, federally-run public school system and making it smaller, such as on a state level. Huntsman demanded that education “localize, localize, localize!” This idea resonated in Gingrich’s idea to allow states to adopt a Pell grant type of system so parents can choose where their child attends school. Johnson felt that the Department of Education should be shut down, as did Michele Bachmann. Santorum did not give a straight answer, but did state he felt that government had lately been trying to force and convince parents that government should educate their children instead. Ron Paul got a load of applause with this statement: “If you care about your children you’ll get the federal government out of the business of educating our kids”, and then discussed giving tax credits to those who opt out of the public school system.
Perry disappointed with some of the same rhetoric Former President George W. Bush touted when he was in office regarding vouchers. Romney also disappointed when he said he would stand up for the teacher’s union and said class sizes were a myth created to hire more teachers. Bachmann was with Johnson in shutting down the Department of Education and send the money back to the states, and Cain said federal programs that came with “strings attached” should be dismissed. “We must find ways to empower the students”, Cain stated.
The topic turned to immigration. Wallace asked Bachmann a question from Tim Emerson from California: “would you support states enforcing immigration laws since the feds are not?” Michele stated she felt it was appalling that Obama was suing Arizona, and that she “would not allow tax payer funded benefits for illegal aliens or for their children.” Fences on the borders, security officers, and enforcing the laws already on the books were also mentioned.
Roughly the same idea was passed to Romney and Perry who ended up getting in a debate as to why illegal alien children get a huge discount on education at Texas public universities. Perry had stated at an earlier time this year that it was “better to get these kids an education than to consign them just for being a burden to the state.” Romney noted that US citizens pay more to attend those same universities, and that he is in favor of a fence, border patrol, and systems to check if employers have been hiring illegal aliens.
That last idea had been noted by Newt Gingrich on an earlier question from Kristin Williamson from the Federation for American Immigration Reform regarding the eVerify system used by employees to be sure they are not hiring illegal aliens. Newt stated the system was as easy as “swiping a card to buy gasoline”. He also stated support for English as the official language for government, and “modernizing” the visa system, discussing the irony of how simple it was to jump the fence at the border, but harder for anyone to try to enter legally through the United States visa system.
Perry was asked the following question from Dave Hollenback from Prescott, Arizona: “Are you going to exert an effort to stop the abuse of US citizens by illegals?” Perry put himself up as the hardest worker on the stage toward working on border security, that he supported the Arizona immigration law, has the Texas rangers involved in security, and then defended his education for illegal alien children’s issue by stating that those children were brought to the United States by no fault of their own. He considered it a state issue and the majority won the vote regarding that matter.
Ron Paul was pulled into the immigration debate by Chris Wallace after Paul stated that the fence actually keeps many Americans in the country who want to leave. Wallace asked, “Do you know a lot of Americans who want to take their money and flee the United States of America?” Paul said yes, referring to the outsourcing of American companies to places such as Mexico. He equated capital controls to people control, and that during difficult economic times people want to find greener pastures in another country.
The topic turned to international affairs. Romney and Perry both stated that having good relationships with our allies were very important. Gingrich weighed in with this statement: “This world is in danger of becoming dramatically more dangerous in the not too distant future.” Although Rick Santorum spoke of allies, he also took another moment to state that the troops are meant to keep us safe, and that politics should not be an issue when considering whether or not to withdraw troops from a foreign country. Johnson made a good point when he said “I think the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we are bankrupt.” Some conservatives may go against him after hearing his plan to cut military spending. However, he did state that “military alliances are really key to other countries taking up the slack”, and that “trade promotes friendship.”
Johnson insinuated that the United States should trade with Cuba, to which Bachmann stated Cuba sponsors terror and that is why we do not trade with them. Seems that Johnson has some ignorance when it comes to international issues. By far, Herman Cain had the best response: “Peace through strength and clarity.” He had visited Israel and met with the Prime Minister. His closing statement on this issue showed all viewers exactly where he felt the United States should stand in regards to Israel: “If you mess with Israel, you mess with the United States of America.”
Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum got into a tizzy discussing foreign policy. Huntsman felt America did not have one right now, and that the troops should be brought home now. Santorum stated that wars should be fought to win, not for political gain. Huntsman made a telling statement regarding other countries are the only ones who can save themselves. It seems there is a lack of understanding and communication on both ends of this small debate within a debate.
Megan Kelly asked some very poignant questions throughout the debate. Bachmann responded to religion in schools, stating that everyone should be allowed to exercise their faith in all public buildings. Ron Paul was attacked on his Pro Life views for being somewhat hypocritical because he supports the morning after pill and abortion for rape victims. Paul stated that there are some wrongs that the law will never fix; instead it is up to the morality of that individual. Kelly also asked Perry to define the differences between former President George W. Bush and himself, stating that some gossip has painted a picture of bad blood between the two. Perry denied any bad blood and stated that the two men disagreed on many things, such as the No Child Left Behind Act.
Rick Santorum responded to a question from Stephen Hill, who is currently serving in the Army in Iraq, regarding homosexual provisions in the military. Santorum responded with “sexuality has no place in the military”, and that this was a way to “inject social policy into the military”, calling it “social experimentation”. He plans on going back to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy if elected.
Healthcare was now the topic, and Cain was the first to provide a response. He was a stage 4 cancer survivor, and believes that if Obamacare was in place at the time he was treated (9 months in 2006) that he would not have received the same care in the same amount of time due to the government creating his care time table instead of himself and his doctors, stating “It would have delayed my treatment and that would have changed things.”
Chris Wallace asked Bachmann about her famed statement that the STD injection was dangerous, to which Michele stated it was not her statement, but that of a mother’s. She turned it to Perry with an accusation of state mandated STD shots in Texas. Perry dodged the question. Unfortunately, for Perry, Wallace continued to dig Perry about healthcare, stating that Texas is the most uninsured state in the country, with the toughest eligibility rules. Perry placed blame on the federal government rejecting his request for a waiver which would offer Texans more choices in healthcare.
The final question was asked by Bret Baier to all the candidates: How are you going to turn this country around?”
Jon Huntsman: “This is a human tragedy playing out.” He talked about tax reform, regulatory reform, and energy independence while referring to Boone Pickens.
Herman Cain: He said it “starts with economic growth”, and referred to his 999 plan. He said Americans are looking for leadership, and “once we fill that void, I believe American people will start to rebuild some confidence again.”
Michele Bachmann: She simply stated that Obamacare had to be repealed first and foremost.
Mitt Romney: He gave two lines. The first was “we are a patriotic people”, and the last was “we place our hand over our heart during the national anthem.”
Rick Perry: Did not impress with his statement “Americans want a leader who has got a proven record of job creation.”
Ron Paul: In a signature statement, Paul answered with “government destroys jobs, market creates jobs”, and we have to deal with federal reserve and free markets. “The people will create the jobs, not the government.”
Newt Gingrich: The best final answer line out of all nine candidates came from this man. “Thirty-two years ago we were in the same place… and a leader came along.” He quoted Regan regarding how a recession is when the economy is doing poorly, and it’s a depression when a family is doing poorly, but “when Jimmy Carter’s unemployed it’s a recovery”
Rick Santorum: “We have a president who doesn’t understand what America is all about.” He went on to say that Regan was a leader who believed in individual people, and that Obama is more like a king who needs to be replaced.
Gary Johnson: Best joke of the night happened with his response. “My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs.” He felt the tax code should be thrown out, the budget balanced, and followed that up with this statement: “If that doesn’t create 10s of millions of jobs in this country, I don’t know what does”
At the end of the debate there was a wild card question about who they would each pick for a running mate, and that was followed with closing statements. Those are not included here because they are mostly just reiterating what has already been said. Plus, the internet television went out right before they answered. If I had analog this would not have been an issue. Just another example of government involvement. They can say what they want, but it is just friendly banter and the typical closing speeches from every other presidential debate anyone has ever had.
In the end, I sincerely hope that Herman Cain is the nominee. He is an upstanding business man, tells it like it is, and knows what he is talking about. He has sympathy for others, but a good head on his shoulders. At the end of the day that is the definition of a true and good leader. I do not predict a nomination for Rick Perry. While he differs from Bush, it will be hard for those who did not like Bush to want to see Perry any differently at this point in time. I felt that his debate with Mitt Romney put them both in the childish bin, so I would hope neither of them make it to the nomination. As for the rest, America is not ready for a woman president right now, and is not looking for extreme points of view. This puts Santorum, Paul, and Bachmann out of the running altogether. Huntsman comes across as a career politician and that is not what America is looking for right now.
My prediction? I predict that Newt Gingrich will go up against Rick Santorum or Herman Cain. One will win and the other will be a running mate. This prediction is only true if people are looking for true change. If not, then look for a Perry-Romney runoff with Romney as the winner, choosing someone other than Perry for his running mate. This choice, though, will mean four more years of the same bickering and almost getting nowhere that we have already had for the past four years. Please educate yourself and others in an honest manner. Do not vote by party, but by person because of the kind of leader they are. Good voting America!