Presidential debates are tedious, but this one might have an effect on how Floridians vote at the end of the month. I’ll be covering what the candidates say and offering some commentary. I’m starting a little late, but I’ll do my best to catch up.
Santorum thinks that it is useful for him to point out that Republicans were swept in Pennsylvania in 2006. He “stood tall” and talked about Iran (yes, he did!). Santorum reminds people that he was faithful to Bush at the nadir of Bush’s popularity.
Paul doesn’t “daydream” about being in the Oval Office. He points out that the delegates from Iowa haven’t been selected. He is very ably avoiding the question he was asked. Asked what he would do if Gingrich is the nominee, Paul says he has no intention to run as a third-party candidate. If Gingrich changes on foreign policy, Paul might be willing to deal. Gingrich sucks up to Paul on the Federal Reserve and gold.
Romney is trying to turn his tax return question into an answer about taxes on voters. He thinks lowering the corporate tax rate is relevant to this. He invokes Bowles-Simpson’s tax reform proposals. Romney admits that he’s not a tax evader! He pays a lot of taxes, and he’s proud about it.
Gingrich has a tax proposal? That’s a shocking admission all by itself. I thought his goal was to go through the entire campaign without making any substantive proposals.
Romney will not apologize for being successful. He does not apologize for free enterprise. He will never apologize for anything!
Santorum attacks Gingrich and Romney on their support for the TARP, and cites the importance of creative destruction. He has just punctured their nonsense excuses in a short debate statement.
Gingrich claims that he was never a lobbyist. Romney points out the funding he received as a consultant from the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac. Romney almost sounds upset. Gingrich’s response is Gingrich is at his most disingenuous.
Gingrich seems stymied. He is whining now. He is boasting about his support for Medicare Part D! This is probably a winner in Florida. Gingrich says that Romney has been saying untrue things, which is like saying that the sun rises in the east. Romney has a decent response pointing to Gingrich’s conflict of interest. Williams finally intervenes to shut them up.
Santorum criticizes the GSEs for their lending practices. Paul criticizes easy money policies. He argues against reflating housing prices. Gingrich asserts that the financial sector is over-regulated. Romney says that the sector was poorly regulated before the collapse.
The “3 a.m.” phone call question. Williams presents a scenario of millions of Cuban refugees coming to the U.S. after Castro’s death. Romney pretends that Obama is too accommodating towards Cuba. Romney completely dodges the question. Gingrich wants to overthrow the Cuban government. Of course he does. He wants a “very aggressive” policy towards Cuba. The man is a lunatic.
Paul doesn’t like “the isolationism of not talking to people.” He sees no point in perpetuating Cold War-era policies towards Cuba. Stop isolation! That’s the Ron Paul message. Peace and commerce–it’s not 1962 anymore.
Santorum cares deeply about embargoing Cuba. He favors a bankrupt policy until the Castros are dead. The Cubans, the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans, oh my! They’re working with “jihadists.” That is what we call a lie. Santorum has been talking about this for six or seven years. No one knows why.
Romney puts in a pitch for his naval build-up plan in response to a Strait of Hormuz question. Gingrich repeats the lie about Obama cancelling military exercise with the Israelis. Incredibly, he is allowed to get away with a blatant lie.
How strange–Romney thinks that Afghanistan has sovereignty that can be defended. Paul jumps in on the Iran question, and objects that Iran isn’t going to close the Strait of Hormuz. That happens to be correct. He says that Americans don’t want another war, which is also true.
Santorum gets his chance to talk about Iran. This should be amusing. Santorum doesn’t answer the question. He deems Obama’s Iran policy to be a “colossal failure.” He likens the Iranian government to Al Qaeda, which is the point at which we can stop listening to what Santorum has to say. Santorum believes peace is reckless.
Santorum completely ignores the question about the BP oil spill. Manufacturing is important! Okay, yes, it is. He mentions the Keystone pipeline. The Keystone pipeline has nothing to do with Florida.
Gingrich favors English-only ballots, which would be unconstitutional in New Mexico. Obviously, English is the common national language. Gingrich has no problem campaigning in other languages, but wants voters to be able to read one language. Paul favors federalism in state laws that allow for multiple languages on ballots.
Asked about the DREAM Act, Gingrich endorses a version that requires military service. Well, someone has to serve in Gingrich’s wars. Romney makes an argument for reducing illegal immigration through attrition. Romney is dangerously close to making sense.
Okay, I’m running out of steam. If there is anything interesting in the remaining fifty minutes, I’ll follow up tomorrow. Good night.