Politics Watching the Republicans
posted by June 5 at 16:05 PMon
The debate’s on, with the introductions just finished at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm’s College.
4:02 p.m. Giuliani had a rather amazing self-introduction: “I’m Rudy Giuliani, and I agree with the motto of your state, ‘Live free or die,’ and I think it would be a pretty good motto for our times.” (For an interesting Rolling Stone look at Giuliani’s love of hitting the fear button, click here.)
4:05 p.m. Mitt Romney dodges the question of whether invading Iraq was a mistake knowing what we know now. Giuliani says it was absolutely the right decision, because you can’t separate Iraq from the “War on Terror.” McCain doesn’t get the same question; instead he gets asked what we should do if the “surge” doesn’t work. He doesn’t have a clear answer. Instead he attacks Hillary Clinton for saying the Iraq war is Bush’s war.
4:20 p.m. Debating the new immigration bill… Every Republican candidate dislikes it, except McCain, who backed the bill in the Senate: “If someone else has a better idea, I’d like to have them give it to us.” Just about everyone on stage raises his hand to signal he has a better idea. McCain quickly adds: “That will get enough support…”
4:27 p.m. McCain is the only one on stage who doesn’t think English should be the official language of the United States.
4:30 p.m. God mad at the Republicans? The audio keeps being interrupted by loud buzzes. Wolf Blitzer has told the audience that these buzzes are due to a lightning storm outside.
4:32 p.m. Giuliani is trying to explain his view on abortion. The lightning cuts off his audio briefly. Giuliani points to the heavens as a joke. (Hey, that’s my joke! See 4:30 p.m.) The candidates on either side of him, Romney and McCain, back away slowly. Everyone laughs. Rudy says he’s scared, apparently of God’s wrath, but continues his abortion answer, which gets interrupted a couple more times by lightning/the wrath of God.
4:40 p.m. No one will dis creationism, Romney isn’t ashamed of his Mormonism, etc.
4:45 p.m. Ron Paul says, in almost as many words, that the Iraq war is about oil. Lightning doesn’t strike.
4:49 p.m. Giuliani, Romney, and McCain all think “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is just fine, and shouldn’t be tinkered with, especially in the middle of a war. “It is working, my friends,” McCain says. “The policy is working.”
4:52 p.m. Wolf Blitzer, who asked the Democrats on Sunday how they would use former-president Bill Clinton if elected, asks the Republicans how they would use future-former-president George W. Bush. Tommy Thompson says he’d send him out to lecture the country on “honesty and integrity.” Tom Tancredo says he’d tell President Bush to get lost—and gets applause from the audience, many of them likely Republican voters.
4:59 p.m. Would any of them pardon Lewis Libby? McCain doesn’t answer, Giuliani suggests it’s likely he would (and uses the opportunity to filibuster about his experience as a prosecutor), and Romney suggests it’s likely he would, too.
5:09 p.m. We’re in the audience Q&A session now, and McCain gets up out of his chair to try to explain to a woman why the loss of her brother’s life in Iraq was worth it. “This is long, and hard, and tough, and I believe we will succeed,” he says.
5:12 p.m. Ron Paul: “You can’t enforce our goodness, like the neocons preach, with armed force… It doesn’t work and we have to admit it.”
5:19 p.m. As Wonkette notes, a blond woman asking a question says that Iraq used to be run by a “terrorist leader.”
Good work, Cheney!
5:24 p.m. An audience member who is a philosophy teacher asks: What is the most pressing moral issue facing the country today? Huckabee: Abortion. Giuliani: Having the “moral strength” to tell the rest of the world about the goodness of our ideals. Paul: The acceptance of preemptive war. “I do not believe that’s part of the American tradition… We have rejected the ‘just war’ theory of Christianity.” Brownback: Abortion, and adds a not-so-subtle dig at Giuliani: “That’s why I don’t think we can nominate someone who’s not pro-life in our party,” he says. Blitzer asks: Could he support Giuliani? “I don’t think we’re going to nominate someone who’s not pro-life.”
5:34 p.m. The candidates fight over whether it’s right to run a campaign ad in the dreaded Spanish.
5:44 p.m. Tancerdo goes on a nativist rant that ends in him decrying having to “Press one for English, and press two for all other languages.” Giuliani does a good job of slapping him down by quoting Lincoln. McCain describes what Tancredo said as “Beyond my realm of thinking.”
That’s all, folks.