Unlike the last two Republican love fests, last night’s debate actually felt like a real competition. The Republican contestants tried separating themselves from each other and questioned the decision making or lack thereof of their rivals.
Ron Paul and Rick Santorum briefly engaged in their little match when foreign policies and America’s role in other nations were involved. Between these two, Iran’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons was a hot topic, with Paul suggesting that a nuclear Iran poses no threat to America, therefore, they should be left alone to do what they believe is in their best interest. Santorum took opposition to this, and the heated battle was on.
Then Newt Gingrich took offense at Chris Wallace asking him questions about his campaign and statements he had made in the past. Apparently, Gingrich believes his decision to run for President means questions about his political history, public statements or past actions that he should accountable for, should be off limits.
Chris Wallace: “How do you respond to people who say that your campaign has been a mess so far?”
Newt Gingrich: “I took seriously Bret’s injunction to put aside the talking points,” he said, referring to a request Wallace’s co-host Bret Baier had made at the start of the debate. Newt continued, “And I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions…I’d love to see the rest of tonight’s debate asking us about what we would do to lead America…instead of playing Mickey Mouse games.”
Chris Wallace: “If you think questions about your record are Mickey Mouse, I’m sorry. I think those are questions that a lot of people want to hear answers to and you’re responsible for your record, sir.”
Newt Gingrich: “I think that there’s too much attention paid by the press corps to the campaign minutiae and not enough paid by the press corps to the basic ideas that distinguish us from Barack Obama.”
The audience cheered.
But the most interesting part of the debate in my view, happened between Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann. Being in next to last place in his presidential campaign, Mr. Pawlenty felt the need to make up some ground. He also didn’t want to miss another opportunity to separate himself from the bunch, as he did in the last debate when he was asked to explain a statement he previously made, in which he called Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts, Obamny Care – combining both Obama and Romney’s name together to say their healthcare policies are the same.
So when he was asked to explain a statement he made about Michele Bachmann and her lack of accomplishments in Congress, Mr. Pawlenty took the opportunity and went on attack mode. Unfortunately for him, Bachmann was already sitting in the bushes with her sniper gear on, staring down the scope of her rifle. In her view, the unsuspecting Pawlenty.