On Wednesday, September 7, 2011, NBC News and Politico co-hosted the 4th Republican presidential debate. Brian Williams of NBC News and John Harris of Politico co-moderated the debate at the Reagan Presidential Library. It was broadcast on MSNBC. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul participated in the debate.
Gary Jonson, Buddy Roemer, and Fred Karger were not allowed to participate, likely due to their low poll numbers. Gary Johnson was a former governor of New Mexico whose libertarian positions were displayed at the first Fox News presidential debate. He has not been allowed to participate in any subsequent debate, including the second Fox News debate. Buddy Roemer is the only candidate who has been both a governor and a congressman. He is also the only candidate who has placed a cap ($100) on the size of the donations his campaign will accept and refuses to accept super-pac money. Fred Karger has not held elected office before and is the first openly gay republican presidential candidate. At the very least, the previous governors should have been allowed to participate based on their previous political experience alone.
The debate was well run and included many great questions from the moderators. All of the candidates acted professionally. I especially enjoyed seeing Romney and Perry jockeying to prove who was the better job creator as well as their back and forth on Social Security.
Huntsman, Bachmann, Romney, and Perry each voiced their opposition to health care reform. I find the possibility of the repeal of Obama’s signature achievement that expanded health insurance coverage to millions of Americans to be very a troubling prospect indeed. Bachmann went so far to say that, “If we fail to repeal ObamaCare in 2012 it will be with us forever and it will be socialized medicine.” What does she think Medicare is? Ronald Reagan made a recording for the American Medical Association which opposed the creation of Medicare that was titled, “Ronald Regan speaks out against Socialized Medicine.” Funny how history repeats itself.
During the discussion on immigration, Romney came out against public universities allowing the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rather than the tuition required of those who were raised outside the state. This part of Romney’s position would punish children who had no choice in entering this country illegally. Most of those children grew up here and consider themselves Americans. There should be no reason to deny them their chance to achieve the American dream.
When John Harris set up a question for Rick Perry on global warming, he said that Huntsman had, “a difference of opinion” with Perry on whether humans were responsible for global warming. This is not a difference of opinion, it is a disagreement of fact. I understand that Harris needed to be polite in his question, but the public needs to know that the question of whether humans are the primary drivers of global warming is not a matter of opinion. Jon Huntsman accepts the scientific consensus that humans are the primary cause of global warming. Rick Perry believes that scientists haven’t come to a consensus on the issue. Perry is wrong (Politifact). I will address global warming at length in another post. Huntsman was very brave to tell voters the truth on global warming, a truth that many do not wish to hear.
While there were several questions about national security, the moderators didn’t ask a single question about Afghanistan. The moderators should have gotten everyone’s position on our country’s longest war. Huntsman provided his position anyway. He outlined a plan for a drastically scaled down mission in Afghanistan and proclaimed, “I say we’ve got to bring those troops home.” That’s exactly the kind of voice our country needs in the 2012 presidential race.
Here was Governor Huntsman’s full answer [emphasis added],
WILLIAMS: I want to go back to your comments on 9/11 to ask kind of an obvious follow-up. Do you think we're safer today?
HUNTSMAN: I think we've lost our confidence as a country. I think we have had our innocence shattered. I think, 10 years later, we look at the situation and we say, we have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. This is not about nation-building in Afghanistan. This is about nation-building at home.
Our core is broken. We are weak. We have got to strengthen ourselves. I say we've got to bring those troops home.
(APPLAUSE) In Afghanistan -- in Afghanistan, the reality is it is an asymmetrical counterterror effort. We need intelligence. We need special forces. And we need some training on the ground.
But I think one way to commemorate our 10-year anniversary of 9/11, remembering the 3,000-plus people who died in New York and in Pennsylvania and in Washington, is to say it's time for this country to set a goal for ourselves: We're going to get our core fixed. We're going to do some nation-building right here at home.
If you missed it, Ron Paul’s campaign put the entire debate on youtube. Thank you Ron Paul.
I have so much to say that I will likely be writing many more articles on this debate. Up next: The NBC-Politico debate, Factchecking edition!
Originally Posted September 9th, 2011