The CNN GOP Presidential Debate hosted by John King from Mesa, Arizona featured no knockout punch that would have given any candidate a clear advantage. An new Detroit Free Press Poll today shows that Santorum still maintains a lead in Michigan with Santorum 37% and Romney at 34% in a statistical tie, while Ron Paul is third at 10%, while Newt Gingrich only garnered 7%.
The debate, which was a sit down affair this time around, was not as lively as the previous once, although the candidates attempted to demonstrate their differences between them. Earmarks were discussed at some length, almost to the point where the discussion became repetitive. John King was also successful in putting Rick Santorum on the defensive regarding his social views. Santorum talked of declining family values in America and attempted to differentiate his personal values from what a Santorum presidency would make policy. Santorum was on shaky ground after admitting that he had voted for birth control and even the morning after bill as part of a larger bill, where those issues were earmarked.
When Santorum came under fire for his earmarks, he reflected the argument by accusing Mitt Romney of asking for earmarks to support the Salt Lake Winter Olympics and referring to a half billion waiver Romney obtained for his Romney Care legislation in MA. There was also a lively discussion, which alleged that Romney Care was the example used to write Obama Care. One of the notable comments last night was when Romney replied to Santorum’s allegations. He made no apologies for getting money for the 2002 Olympics.
“Our Games were successful. But while I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the ‘Bridge to Nowhere.”
At one point
during the debate, a viewer asked he question for the candidates to define themselves with one word. Paul: Consistant, Santorum: Courage, Romney: Resolute and Gingrich: Cheerful
There was another lively discussion on foreign policy, especially regarding the situation in Syria and Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Three of the candidates, Santorum, Gingrich and Romney were on board that they would support America’s ally Israel and let Iran know in no uncertain terms that the United States was considering military action. They also criticized the Presidents record on foreign policy, especially in regard of failure to support America’s allies but providing support to America’s enemies.
Another highlight of the debate was when Mitt Romney told John King, “You have a right to ask the question how you want, but I have the right to answer question how I want.” This will no doubt raise criticism from the left biased media and was immediately apparent on the twitter sphere.
One of the disappointments of the night, IMHO, is that there was no discussion on Obama’s unveiling of the corporate tax cut proposal. This could have been a good discussion differentiating the GOP candidates policies from the President. The President’s proposal reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 to 28%, but the proposed tax reform, eliminating loop holes and subsidies, essentially amounts to a tax grab and would only increase pries at the pumps.
Overall there was no real knock out punch. Mitt Romney held his own, Santorum may have fended off the assault on his social values and Newt Gingrich had a good and steady debate with intelligent insight. Ron Paul appeared to be having fun and continued to hammer home the message on his anti-war stance. Although he doesn’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon, he continues to say that America should not be involved. He is a delegate collector who will most likely have a platform for his message at the GOP convention.
The debate was informative and again showed that there is not much separating the candidates on major policy issues such as the economy, taxes and foreign policy. The focus continues to be on creating jobs. This was the candidates last chance to convince voters to vote for them prior to this weekends primaries in Michigan and Arizona, followed by Super Tuesday.