Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and host of Huckabee on FOX News hosted a forum for six GOP Presidential hopefuls. The forum gave candidates the opportunity to respond to questions from State Attorneys General Pam Bondi of Florida, Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma. The Attorneys General are challenging the “Individual Mandate” of the Affordable Health Act (Obamacare), which will be heard by the Supreme Court, with a ruling expected by mid 2012.
Each candidate appeared at the forum individually, allowing each to answer questions in detail. The forum gave candidates equal time to answer questions, which were to the point. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney attended. Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign early on Saturday, declined attendance.
While no one emerged as a clear winner, the questions were to the point and in most cases. Newt Gingrich was challenged on his immigration policy. During the CNN GOP Presidential debate he stated that he saw a path to legalization for illegals with 25 or 30 years in the U.S. In determining eligibility Gingrich proposed a jury of neighbours and friends to make that determination. Pam Bondi expressed concerns that that approach would undermine the rule of law.
“That is what we do in a jury trial. That’s the whole point. That’s why the founding fathers who distrusted judges insisted on juries. Because ultimately, in a free society, the citizens have to bear responsibility for their own culture and their own society. And ultimately, they are — I believe they are — more trustworthy. If you ask me would I trust a jury or a Washington bureaucrat, I would rather have my fate decided by a jury of my peers than have my fate decided by a Washington bureaucrat.”
Gingrich, who is seen by many as a Washington insider, tried to distinguish himself from the other candidates by stating that he knows how Congress works and that he was in the best position to carry on the fight with Congress, by building bipartisan consensus. a Des Moines Register Poll out Saturday has taken the lead in Iowa at 25 percent support
Ron Paul cited the Constitution in advocating his libertarian position that violent acts are not the federal government’s prerogative. Asked whether he considered the September 11th attacks to be terrorism, he said he did, but he argued that “more laws” and “federal policemen” are not the answer to fighting terrorism.
“We should be checking our borders and finding out who’s coming in, but we ought to understand that problem rather than saying what we need are more federal policemen.”
Rick Santorum presented himself as a strong defender of family values. He said that federal laws had undermined family values. He stated as a parent of seven children family was very important to him. He said as president he would start a national dialogue on the divorce rate and out of wedlock birth.
While the forum provided no knock out punch, it was helpful in getting to know the candidates a little better.