For political junkies like me, primary debates are always a ton of fun. Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Library did not disappoint. There are only three electable Republican candidates, but one is from Utah and has no chance in the early primaries. This debate solidified the other two.
Primary debates are run by news networks, at places like the location of Wednesday night’s event, the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. General election debates are run on a compromise of the two parties with exclusive rules and some dull moderator, at varying boring universities across the country. Primary debates bring in all sorts of candidates, from the oddball to the mainstream.
Rep. Ron Paul and former businessman Herman Cain serve to garner votes in an attempt to steal the nomination in the fractured national party. The more mainstream candidates tiptoe around, stating their own platform and getting out ahead of their rivals, while being careful not to bash the party in ways that would show flaws during general election time.
General election debates are between two people who have clearly stated differences, trying to appeal to moderates on either side with good looks or compromised ideals. Give me a primary debate any day of the week.
There were eight people on stage Wednesday night. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry were the obvious front-runners. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (being from Pennsylvania, I cringe when I have to claim him as one of ours) and Newt Gingrich had no business being on the stage with the rest of them.
Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman were all there fighting to establish their niche. They did so with varying results.
Going into his first debate, Perry had everything to gain. He was the front-runner and as such he needed to take on all challengers. The debate started with a Perry vs. Romney back-and-forth about jobs, I thought Romney took that one handily.
The back-and-forth over job creation between the governors was a constant throughout the night. Here is the gist: Perry created jobs, but in oil and natural gas which was dumb luck not policy and much of his job creation involved wages within a few dollars of minimum wage. Massachusetts was 47th in job creation under Romney, but he inherited a terrible situation. He turned an F into a D+. That is still a D+. Huntsman has the best record; Utah was first in job creation under his leadership.
Huntsman flies in the face of Republicans later in the debate by saying we need to believe the scientists. He took to the strategy of calling Bachmann and Perry crazy, which most people agree is both truthful and effective. Perry took it one step further and proved he was crazy; saying that it is not definitive that humans have an effect on climate change. He also backed up his crazy by borderline bragging about capital punishment in Texas.
Ron Paul was Ron Paul and I loved it. Abolish the FAA, FDA, TSA, all federal mandates including school lunch and minimum wage. What I loved about Ron Paul, and what you should take from this article and this primary season is; he is opposed to federal intervention in those matters, not opposed to them in principle. That belief, and the policies that stem from it, are why I will be working on the ground in New Hampshire for Ron Paul all the way through the primary.
Paul sees no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to have a hand in most of the things it does, but rather all of that power should be devolved to the states. This idea extends to the role of the United States in nation building.
Paul and Huntsman both want the troops home from Afghanistan. Paul wants them home from everywhere. Oh yeah, Bachmann and Santorum want us to remain as the World Police, but nobody is listening to them anymore.
Cain laid out some catchphrase policy ideas that seemed to go over well. In the end, Romney held his ground, Perry was on message and defended his remarks on social security as a Ponzi scheme, but stumbled when he strayed from his script.
Gingrich said he was not there to fight other Republicans (somebody forgot to tell him what a debate consists of apparently), Bachmann looked flat, yet any mention of Ronald Reagan from any candidate got applause.
Perry will win Iowa, Romney will win New Hampshire. It will be a knock-down, drag-out primary season and Romney will come away with the nomination. We have seen that a racial difference is a surmountable obstacle on the road to the White House, so Romney will test if being a Mormon is just too much for some Americans to handle.