Here are my quick-and-dirty notes about the debate.
Mitt Romney – we’re heading into a recession but that American jobs don’t have to be lost. During his leadership Massachusetts created jobs month after month.
John McCain – the economy is basically sound but that we need a reality check: Some jobs have left our country for good but we’re going to re-educate our people by being creative with adult education. Our dependence on foreign oil – $400 billion – harms the economy. We need to cut spending first and I’m called the “sheriff” in the Senate b/c I won’t allow pork-barrel spending as president.
Huckabee – dependency on foreign oil is contributing a lot to the bad economy, as is the sub-prime loan situation. Even so, President Bush is right to not jump into a quick bailout of this situation. Advocates a cut in the marginal tax rate and a transition to Fair Tax
Guiliani – certain tax cuts can increase revenues but not all. Experts are only half-right on this issue. It’s extremely important to cut costs
McCain – tax cuts stimulate economy, Bush tax cuts need to be permanent
Ron Paul – the government spending money to stimulate economy is a bad thing but reducing taxes is good. The recession – and it’s going to be bad – was caused by artificially low interest rates enforced by the Fed. THis causes people do the wrong things, sending the housing market into depression and destroys the value of the dollar.
Thompson – says Guiliani’s tax plan is copied from his. Two ideas to generate jobs are to speed up depreciation schedules for business and allow a deduction for capital expenses. We’d also be better off if the Bush tax cuts were guaranteed.
Huckabee – the Reagan coalition has lost the middle class. We need to lower taxes and promote traditional marriage and the sanctity of life. We need to be concerned with both the Christian and economic wings of the coalition and that the middle class is included in the party
McCain – we’ve abandoned fiscally conservative principles and spending out of control. Climate change is probably real and needs to be addressed to leave a better planet to our children. We need to return to the principles of less government, lower taxes, and a strong national defense
Romney – pro-life on every decision he could make. “Knowing how America works is more important than knowing how Washington works.” I’ll make sure jobs come to America.
Thompson – Says that Huckabee believes Reagan coalition is over and that he would be a Christian leader with liberal foreign and domestic policy; e.g., he opposes educational vouchers and would ban smoking nationwide.
(Loud cheers, first of the night)
Huckabee’s response – I cut taxes 94 times and suffered for it. But I governed and was rewarded by being elected again.
Guiliani – Reagan was elected b/c strength & b/c he empowered people. That’s the purpose of tax cuts, creativity of people. I believe in peace through strength, offense against terrorists. I would give power to local government.
Ron Paul – I don’t believe 9/11 truthers but I would like to participate in the real debate. Fiscal conservativeness is dead, and personal liberty and privacy are dead. Policing the world is too expensive, we’re borrowing money from the Chinese, and destroying the value of the dollar. If you want social security to work stop robbing the fund.
Huckabee – America will have the most powerful, best trained military ever. Those who will confront us will find out and had best be prepared to see the “gates of hell”. Even so, he would not second-guess the Navy commanders in the gulf.
Thompson – ditto, essentially.
Guiliani – NIE does not mean that Iran is suddenly peaceful. Should not allow them to become a nuclear power. Sanctions required because Iran is not a benign nation.
McCain – Presumptuous to second-guess Navy commanders. Not convinced Iran is done shipping arms into Iraq. President correct to defend the principle of freedom of the seas. This was a very important incident in an important waterway because of the oil that flows through there.
Paul – compared the incident to the Gulf of Tonkin. Are we ready to start WW III over this? Did the voice actually come from the ships? Many in Washington disappointed with the NIE and are looking for a chance to go to war.
Romney – Iran represents a serious threat and this instance was testing us in a calculated fashion. We need more economic and diplomatic sanctions with a coalition of allies.
McCain – Wondered if Democrats can win the election if they deny the facts on the ground, which is that we are winning? Hillary would have to suspend her disbelief to deny that we are not winning there. I am the only one on the stage who supported the surge from day 1 by condemning the Rumsfeld strategy. Only General Petraeus should decide when troops come home from Iraq.
Guiliani – Pals must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a state. Pals must renounce terrorism and allow verification.
Paul – there would be more incentive for Israel and Pals to come to a settlement if we weren’t there. There’s also a problem in that we’re out of money. Why are we aiding Israel and the Arab nations at the same time? After Gulf War I Israel could have taken care of Saddam Hussein for us.
McCain – I’m not interested in trading with Al Qaeda – all they have are burkas.
Paul – We used to be allies with Osama bin Laden. We were against Saddam Hussein and now we’re arming the Sunnis? How can Senator McCain commit to being in Iraq for 100 years? It’s time to come home.
McCain – the length of time does not matter, only the casualties. We’ve been in other countries for decades and it’s worked well. Casualities are down in Iraq.
Thompson – polls are irrelevant in regard to our policies there. Musharraf’s leadership in Pakistan is in our overriding interest. Stability in Pakistan is necessary but we need to encourage him to democratize the country, press Al Qaeda in the mountains, and keep the nuclear weapons secure.
Romney – Ditto, with reference to General Keani (sp?), who is a friend of the U.S. If Musharraf won’t get Al Qaeda, Keani will. What we need is a comprehensive strategy for helping Muslims reject Islamic extremism.
Huckabee – $12B was spent there and we need a better accounting for where that money went. We cannot push Musharraf out because of the vacuum that would result but he cannot take our money and not hunt down Al Qaeda. Regarding Israel, it is our only ally in the Middle East and under my presidency I will guarantee America will defend them because of its unique vulnerability.
Paul – Israel would be safer if we quit arming the Arab nations and starting to treat Israel as a sovereign nation capability of taking care of themselves.
Guiliani – Israel is not a step-child of the U.S but rather an extremely loyal ally. Regarding Musharraf, we should appy more pressure on him to capture Osama bin Laden.
Thompson – money sent to Pakistan and used by their military is a good thing because that is who will fight the terrorists for us.
Romney – I will bring change by taking the government apart and putting it back together, making it smaller.
McCain – I was part of reversing a losing strategy in Iraq. If the Democrats had gotten their way Al Qaeda would saying they defeated America. I’ll never let that happen. I know how to change things without asking for or taking a single pork barrel project for my state.
Huckabee – The purpose of government is to get the job done while balancing the budget. I improved education and roads and both are much improved in Arkansas, along with health care. I’ve pledged not to raise taxes.
Thompson – Huckabee earlier said that a tax pledge was a dangerous thing. When I was in the senate we passed 4 straight balanced budgets. I had a 100% pro-life record in the senate. We took a sound conservative message to the people and they responded to me.
Huckabee – As a governor I made welfare reform work, creating jobs and having the lowest unemployment rate in Arkansas’ history.
Guiliani – Democrats’ idea of change is to take money out of our pockets, pull out of Iraq recklessly, and create socialize medicine. I am for energy independence, choice in education, and lower taxes.
Guiliani – foreign policy going back many years and confronted Arafat and Castro
McCain – I’ve been involved in national security challenges for 20 years and fought in wars before that. Background gives him the experience deal with Islamic terrorism and is more qualified than anyone else on stage.
Huckabee – my wife isn’t in passive submission to me. I’m not ashamed of my faith, though I don’t enforce it as an executive. The point is that wives and husbands must submit themselves to each other and the Lord. This has nothing to do with being the president but rather about what it takes to have an ideal marriage.
Paul – I am a strict constructionist and the most conservative person on stage. Why wouldn’t Republicans want me? I’m for fiscal conservativism, a sane foreign policy. What’s the point of borrowing money from China to finance the gift to Pakistan and fight in Iraq? How am I less Republican than anyone else running?
McCain – immigration reform failed because people had no trust in the federal government. I will secure the borders first and border state governors will certify this. Criminal illegals must be deported immediately. But the remainder have to be treated humanely by getting at the end of the line and paying a fine.
Romney – McCain did not say how he would get the illegals out of America. We have enough resources to secure the border. All illegal aliens must go home in order to get in line to return.
Thompson – we need to decide who comes into America and when. We must crack down on employers who hire illegals and put an end to sanctuary cities but cutting off discretionary funding to those cities. We should not fund illegals’ education need and should verify status before immigrants can vote.
Paul – we should enforce the law, not have illegals here and allow amnesty. Free medical care and education bring illegals here. Their presence undermines the economy and stresses the infrastructure. We may lose votes but the law is the law and we should enforce it.
Huckabee – start with a secure border. Illegals must go home, on their own, to the back of the line.
Guiliani – illegal immigrants’ status was not relevant when illegals reported crime and crime went down in my city. 70,000 children of illegal immigrants went to school in New York to keep them off of streets. But NYC reported so many illegals that the INS told us to stop reporting them. Believes in the tamper-proof ID for immigrants and that we need more border patrol agents.