7:01 - Opening Statements.
Tommy Thompson came off looking like a major tool to me. I winced, big time. McCain seemed dry, and I was waiting for Romney to add in at the end of his opening statement, "And who is ready for a great big hug??".
7:05 - McCain just seems out of sorts tonight. He seems angry, and that's not going to help his case, if he can't open his mouth without looking/sounding pissed off.
7:07 - No offense, McCain, but we don't need the puffball response. Just answer the damn question. When he actually did answer the damn question (what should we do if the surge fails?), he answered it well. Great answer -- we cannot give up, and must give it a chance to succeed. Audience cheered.
7:09 - Thompson's answer to the same question was rambling and somewhat ludicrous. He didn't seem to make a lucid point, although the point about Iraqis voting themselves was a good one, albeit potentially problematic. Duncan Hunter answered knowledgeably, and I thought well. Ron Paul just shot himself in the foot, saying it was a mistake to go and a mistake to stay, and that we should pull out now. Caused murmurings from the audience, then applause.
7:11 - Does Tancredo have a surrender watch on? He seems to be on the same page as Ron Paul.
7:13 - Brownback was the first one to bring up Iran, saying it was good to have opened a dialogue with Iran. Hunter was asked if he agreed, and he said he did on certain conditions, mentioning the dangers of Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. Hunter also said he would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons if there was no other options -- risky stance, but I agree with it.
7:15 - Giuliani said he'd rather use conventional weapons, but wouldn't rule anything out completely, and agreed that Iran is a threat. Good answer from Giuliani.
7:17 - Gilmore just parroted what Giuliani and Hunter just answered. How about throwing out something different?
7:19 - Tancredo is being asked about the immigration reform bill/shamnesty. He's one of the few who has spoken out against it. I love his answer -- he said it would be "disastrous" if the bill passed. But don't apologize for saying "dramatic things" -- that is what needs to be said. Just make sure you walk the walk as well, and actually go after the senators who want to screw us over.
7:22 - Giuliani seemed to skate around the actual topic at hand, saying the problem with the bill is that there was too much "compromise" in the bill. How about actually answering the question you were asked?
7:23 - Romney says that shamnesty is unfair to the people who are waiting legally, and there was thunderous applause. I agree and all, but still... is what he said that much of a surprise? I thought that was just common sense, but all right.
7:25 - McCain is asked to defend the bill as one of the co-authors, something he hasn't been able to intelligently do. He says it is a matter of national security, but doesn't this bill just make national security weaker? How does this make our borders stronger?
7:26 - McCain went on and on and on and on... Giuliani wanted to respond but McCain wouldn't shut up. Giuliani ate him for breakfast on this, but considering McCain can't sputter out an intelligent defense for his bill, that's not surprising. Romney said he'd enforce the law as it exists with the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country -- does that mean he'd kick them out, like he should? He was pretty unclear.
7:27 - Here's the obligatory "jobs Americans won't do" line to Hunter. He flat-out said he disagreed, and brought up how quickly those 800+ jobs at the Swift plants were filled when ICE deported the illegal immigrants working there. I love Hunter's passion, but I'd love to see him turn on a little charm. He could use some likeability. Great response, ended with saying, "It's a bad bill." Audience applauded.
7:29 - Brownback wants "exterior and interior enforcement", and supports the bill if we can do that. Gee, great answer. Thompson says we must secure the border first and foremost, saying we must do that first. Called the bill amnesty -- way to go. But he says "have a secure border, then move on" -- does that mean he would give amnesty after the fence is built?
7:32 - Ron Paul is a kook. His answer was good -- the economic downfall that would come about if this bill were passed -- but he's a few fries short of a happy meal.
7:33 - No one said they wanted English to not be the official language of the United States -- except McCain. No surprise there.
7:34 - McCain keeps talking about how something needs to be done, and he mentions crime, but he doesn't really defend himself. He is unable to make a legitimate point as to why this bill should pass! Hunter wanted to throw something in there, but was passed over.
7:35 - Thompson is asked if another Thompson should be involved. He says yes, because "Thompson is a great name, and a great addition to the Republican party." Then he goes on to say how he is SUCH a great conservative! Yawn.
7:37 - Giuliani starts talking about Catholicism, and lightning starts zapping away, interrupting him. Funny.
7:38 - Romney is called out on his flip-flopping on abortion. He makes no apologies for his past voting record, but how are we supposed to know that he won't flip-flop right back to pro-choice? And what the hell does "the opportunity of the 21st century" have to do with abortion and conservatism?!
7:39 - Huckabee's got a good response about creationism. Two thumbs way up from me for that one -- he unapologetically defended his belief in God. Heavy applause.
7:41 - Brownback talked about his cancer, and how he had a "season" to think about God, but he basically just echoed what Huckabee just said (almost word for word).
7:42 - McCain just kind of contradicted himself on the evolution being taught alongside creationism question, but gave props to Huckabee, saying he couldn't put it more eloquently than Huckabee did, which is what Brownback should have done.
7:43 - Romney asked about being a Mormon. Says he's a proud question, but then references JFK's "I'm not a Catholic running for President, but an American". I guess that's the best thing he could say. Good statement on how he won't distance himself from his church for political gain.
7:45 - Ron Paul breaks the momentum, saying we need to stick to the Constitution and keep it out of a central level.
7:46 - Giuliani asked if scientists are wrong on global warming, says he accepts that view (that humans contribute to global warming). Disappointing, but not surprising. At least the glasses make him look intelligent. Says we need an "Apollo project" to get us independent of oil.
7:47 - Romney asked about Republicans and big oil. Says we should pursue energy independence as a strategic move.
7:48 - McCain advocates for nuclear power and alternate energy sources. Says it is a national security issue. Interesting.
7:50 - Ron Paul says the profits in an open marketplace are not the problem, but the subsidies. Ron Paul is the Ross Perot of the '08 race. He even kinda looks like him. Gilmore says he agrees about the profits.
7:51 - Gilmore brings up how the Kyoto treaty is flawed. Nuclear power has been brought up multiple times now -- interesting, because global warming fanatics aren't advocating that (probably because they don't actually believe in it!).
7:52 - Paul is asked about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Says disruptive behavior should be dealt with, not necessarily homosexuality vs. heterosexuality. Huckabee says it is about conduct, not attitude. Says it is covered by the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, and that he wouldn't change the policy.
7:53 - Giuliani asked about gays being dismissed from the military for coming out, and he brushes it off. Says it is not the time to discuss it because it is a time of war. He's probably not sure which is the politically smart response to give.
7:54 - Romney says the policy is working, and that it is not the time to change the policy right now because it is a time of war. McCain heaps praise on our military, and says it would be a mistake to reopen the issue.
7:55 - Thompson asked what Pres. Bush's role would be, jokes that he wouldn't send him to the UN. Chuckles from the audience. Says he would put him on a lecture series for public service and that he could be a wonderful spokesperson. I like Dubya and all, but public speaking is not exactly his forte!
7:57 - Brownback asked the same question, says he would ask Pres. Bush what he would like to do. Says Clinton has not been appropriate as an ex-President.
7:59 - Huckabee asked what happened to the GOP, says we lost credibility due to our bungling of the Iraqi war, Katrina, immigration and corruption. I agree about immigration, but disagree on Katrina and Iraq. We didn't bungle anything about Katrina, Mayor Nagin did.
8:01 - Hunter asked if Scooter Libby should be pardoned. Kind of sidesteps the question and segues into the Compean and Ramos case, says he would pardon them, applause from the audience. Throws in pretty much everything he stands for right there, but it's a good answer.
8:02 - Everyone asked whether or not they would pardon Scooter Libby, and most said no (without seeing the transcripts or would wait for the appeal), except Giuliani, who rambled on quite a bit. Romney said he would keep the option open. Brownback said he would pardon him.
8:11 - Audience member asks a question about Iraq, mentions her brother was killed. Her question ends up being getting our troops out, and is directed to Hunter, who thanks her for her brother's service. Mentions that his son is a Marine who has done two tours in Iraq and is currently in Afghanistan. Says that it is worth it, which is absolutely correct. Explains why we need to stay. Great, knowledgeable answer on how to leave Iraq the right way.
8:12 - Same question directed to Brownback. Pretty much parrots what Hunter just said. Says he's putting a bill forward tomorrow to make Iraq a tri-state country with Baghdad as the federal center. McCain is asked if he agrees with that, says no. Says the war was mismanaged, which is true. Says that we need to stay and finish the job so that her brother's death is not in vain, because if we don't, more Americans will die. Great answer.
8:14 - Audience member has a question about the government in Iraq, and how we will stand them up to be a democracy and not just set them up for another dictatorship. Question directed to Paul. Basically says we've had four years to do that, and the way to do that is to stop patrolling the streets and pull out -- surrender, surrender, surrender! Calls everyone else on the stage a neo-con.
8:16 - Giuliani thanks the audience member for his service, and says that it has made us safer, and getting it wrong would make things worse for us. Re-building the nation will be the most difficult part, he says. Giuliani speaks best when he speaks about the War on Terror -- unfortunately, there is more to being President than just that. Asks if things go well, will it be reported as much as a negative outcome?
8:18 - Gilmore asked by an audience member if a conservative platform also include a conservationist agenda, and he says yes, the key is energy independence.
8:20 - Tancredo asked if true conservatives can do more to protect the environment, and he says yes, there is nothing anti-conservative about that, and can protect the environment using conservative principles. Talks about the free market helping with conservation.
8:21 - Audience member asks Giuliani about health insurance and prescription drug prices. Giuliani says that people should be able to buy their own health insurance and that we need a health savings account, and that health insurance should be like homeowner's insurance. Says socializing healthcare is not the answer.
8:23 - Hunter asked about how, as the congressman from San Diego, he feels about people who goes through the border into Mexico to get cheaper prescriptions. Says a family member does that, and free enterprise in the U.S. has created 80% of life-saving drugs that exist today. Says we need to be able to buy policies across state lines, which will bring down the cost.
8:24 - An online question asks about fixing the health care system and a single-payer system, and is directed to Thompson. Says we need to transform the healthcare system into a wellness and prevention system. Basically says we need to be informed and aware, and blah blah blah. I'm not liking Thompson tonight.
8:26 - Romney asked about his health care plans in Massachusetts, and how conservatives dislike it. Says socialized medicine is not the answer but that everyone needs to be insured without raising taxes -- neglected to say how he did/would do that.
8:28 - Audience member asks what the most pressing moral question today, and how would he handle it, and it is directed to Huckabee. He says it is respect and sanctity of human life, as a lead-in to abortion and being pro-life. Mentions child and elderly abuse. Says we celebrate life... unfortunately, he didn't exactly answer the question.
8:30 - Giuliani asked the same question. Says basically the same thing as Huckabee, but adds on that we need to share it with the rest of the world.
8:32 - Paul's answer to the same question is that we accept preemptive war. Sheesh. This guy should have been in the debate with the liberals. Gets all heated up about how it is "wrong" to not take tactical nukes off the table when it comes to Iran.
8:33 - Brownback jumps in, saying that it is the pro-life question. Says we cannot nominate someone who is not pro-life. Says he can and will support the nominee of our party, even if it is Giuliani, who is pro-choice. Says we are a party of principle.
8:34 - Audience member asks Romney about his flip-flopping on immigration, and about how he says the national language should be English, but has campaign ads in Spanish, along with his website. Says he loves immigrants and will reach out to them in any way he can to get them to vote for him -- he shot himself in the foot with that statement, right there. Very telling.
8:37 - Tancredo said he won't run any ads in any language but English, and we shouldn't be ashamed of English as our national language. McCain came out with a "Muchos Gracias", which prompted laughs all around. Pointed out how there are people of every nationality who have died for this country. True, but that's very different from the people who come here waving Mexican flags and burning American ones.
8:44 - Asked each candidate why we should expect anything different from 2006 with them, and what led to that defeat. McCain said spending, which led to corruption. Promised to veto every bill with pork attached. Giuliani says spending and accountability, and throws out some hypocrisy, saying Republicans became Democrats. Romney said... well, who knows? He didn't really make any sense. Brownback said spending and ending cancer in ten years -- I guess he is the new John Edwards. Thompson said Washington "changed us". Tancredo said Bush ran as a conservative and governed as a liberal. Paul said foreign policy, and more Iraq-war bashing. It's getting old. Gilmore said principle -- we are no longer a party of principle. Hunter gave a quote from his son, and then followed up that the GOP needs to rejoin the people and families of America. Huckabee said lack of communication.
8:45 - Tancredo asked by an audience member about immigration and what it means to be American. He says cutting your ties from the past and that we need to cut back the number of people coming, illegally or legally. Says we need to start assimilating people, because it is not happening now -- very correct. Says we shouldn't have to press 1 for English and 2 for another language.
8:47 - Huckabee disagreed about cutting the number of people coming into the country, but we need a sealed border. Giuliani says he is very uncomfortable with Tancredo's answer -- SHOCKER!
8:49 - McCain says he disagrees with Tancredo's answer. Says America is the dream around the world, and immigration should be legal and America is a beacon of hope and liberty, and quoted Reagan with the "Shining city on the hill". Says no barriers and no fences.
8:51 - Audience member asks what they would do to bring back moderates and independents; Gilmore answers. Says conservativism stands for all people. A good answer, but a safe one.
8:52 - Hunter asked same question. Says we need to move away from the Kennedy wing of the Republican party and calls out Romney, Giuliani, and McCain for schmoozing with Ted Kennedy. GREAT answer, audience cheered. Each candidate asked to respond; Romney seems incapable of responding relevantly to any question he is asked tonight. Giuliani sidesteps the question as well. McCain doesn't answer relevantly, either. All three sidestepped Hunter's challenge. Shocking!
8:55 - Debate over. Next debate will be on July 23rd; promised to be "revolutionary".
No one really wowed me tonight. I'm obviously partial to Duncan Hunter, and I thought he did well. Ron Paul is CRAZY -- Romney seemed like a kid on ADD, completely unable to give an answer relevant to the question he was asked. It's hard to pick a clear winner, because no one really stood out to me. Giuliani did extremely well on the War on Terror, as always, but that is the only card he has to play! Arianna Huffington is saying it was John McCain's night -- obviously she wasn't watching the same debate as me. The other candidates seemed to fade into the background and were immediately forgettable, but Tancredo and Huckabee -- especially Huckabee -- were both eloquent.
Bottom line? I still think Duncan's the best man for the job. Hands down, no contest. The only thing I'd have improved upon would be to add a little humor and likability.
I've moved — check out my new blog at cassyfiano.com!
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