Review: GOP Arizona debate

Could this really be the end of the debates? I’ll admit it; I’ll miss them.

Let’s go….

First question–Debt and deficits.

Santorum’s response included one thing that I just don’t understand: an inability to recognize that EVERYTHING should be on the table. He stated, specifically, that he would not cut defense at all. This attitude is a doomed approach, not only for him in a general election but also to the broader scope of American politics.

It’s a hardline opinion with no room for negotiation, no room for compromise. It may make party lines happy, but this is the poison of our current system.

Oh, and this is the primary reason I cannot vote Santorum. He’s too similar to Obama in the immovability of his opinion.

Going back to the introductions, I thought everyone did well in introductions (Romney’s was best), but I get tired of Gingrich’s “bowing to a Saudi king” thing. It was a cute line the first dozen times I heard it. Of course, I despise Gingrich…

Paul–“He’s a fake” spoken about Santorum. I certainly love Paul. Of all the candidates, he’s simply the most straight forward, clean candidate out there. If Santorum wins and Paul runs on a third party ticket, he’ll have my vote.

Now my complaint… As clean as Paul is and straight forward, he has no killer instinct. He could have beaten Santorum to death with his No Child Left Behind vote. He didn’t. And that is unfortunate.

Santorum’s rebuttal to Paul speaks volumes about my issues with the GOP. His response is 100% “I’m conservative.” In all fairness, I lean conservative, but to claim validity as a candidate because “I’m conservative” is ridiculous.

And Paul’s right; Santorum’s response is a cop out. Completely. I know I’m in the minority when compared to the GOP party, but that’s where I stand.

Oh, and to be fair, I’m a Romney fan, but his recent “I’m severely conservative governor” made me shake my head. I like Romney because he has conservative ideas without needing to be fair right on it like Santorum or Gingrich.

Gingrich’s turn…. Is it just me or is he playing nice and cool now that he’s not the frontrunner? Honestly, Gingrich was a top pick of mine early in the fall. He has a mannerism about him and intelligence that is, frankly, admirable (when he’s not being a jerk). I still don’t like him and his snake-in-the-grass methodologies, but his current presentation is why I originally thought he was a solid candidate.


I don’t get the issue of earmarks. Santorum is commenting on earmarks right now in the tune of “tens of millions of dollars.” Uh… the debt is in the TRILLIONS right now. As in six more zeros on the end of the million. I know it’s a favorite of people, but seriously… drop it. Earmarks are not the plague of our government right now. Yes, eventually we should go after the earmarks simply for the abuse and corruption they encourage, but this is not a major issue now.

Surprisingly Santorum’s response ended up with near silence and a handful of groans and boos. I’m somewhat shocked.

Perhaps more shockingly, Romney’s very similar response got a roar from the audience.

Santorum’s on enemy ground here. I wonder how this will look to those viewing in Michigan.

And there goes Gingrich. Can you see why I liked him? He is clear in his oration, concise, and inspiring. Now if he could only stop be a power grubbing manwhore….

Sigh… Since the earmarks are still going on, I will say this: Paul is right within the current system. But I hope that system changes.

On to the auto bailouts. The question is why was Bush wrong to do it, and Obama wrong to continue it. Highly pertinent to Michigan of course.

Why is Santorum getting first dibs on every question?

Santorum is holding a position which is in full agreement with his attacks on Romney back in South Carolina. Hyopcrite.

Oh, and I’m glad Santorum seems to have his head shaking under control. About time.

Romney is right on bailouts as well. Markets and a managed bankruptcy was the best answer for the auto industry. Obama’s method worked. I will not deny that. But I would point out that his method included managed bankruptcy, albeit a heavily modified version of what Romney would have done.

Gingrich’s response… UAW = evil. That about sums up his response, and I think he’s fairly right. UAW isn’t the root of all evil for the auto industry, but they certainly are strong contributors to the health of that industry.

Paul’s response… Bailouts are bad. Yep. I don’t know that I have yet seen a bailout that I strongly agreed with. There are some I recognize as being potentially useful and influential, but I don’t quite believe that they should have any kind of universal acceptance.

First break…. Santorum’s taking some heat. Everyone looks strong though.

Birth control–The audience is right to boo. What an incredibly dumb question.

What a response by Gingrich! Come on… You can see why I liked him, right? Right? Come on… look past the jerk and see the eloquence and intelligence.

I do have to love how both Romney and Gingrich have turned this question into a home run against Obama. I can only imagine that Santorum will follow up strongly and Paul will blast it out if they get the chance.

Santorum certainly makes strong points about contraception and related issues. He’s right to be frank. Where I pause is the idea that the president or the government has the right to regulate or enforce any of this. I completely agree with Santorum on the issue. Completely. Hmmm… and he ended it with the claim that he wouldn’t have a program. Okay… Intriguing.

Paul, of course, is saying hands off, and shifting the conversation to immorality. And this is one where I think that hands off is right…

… but also wrong. Romney stated quite clearly, as did Santorum, that the family is very much the center of society. Paul would have a total hands off society, but what happens when the society’s choices are inherently self-defeating and destructive?

Does the government save the people from themselves? I could argue both sides for hours and leave myself no closer to a firm position. Frankly, it requires the society itself to recognize an error as an error and willingly take the steps to correct. Where does government fit into all of that?

Good question.

Santorum vs Paul… Paul wins. That was awesome. About the 4:00 to 6:00 minute mark in this clip.

Santorum on Romneycare… again. Sigh…. Santorum just doesn’t seem to get it. At least not for me. I recognize that some have issues with this. I don’t.

New question–Border Control.

Before the responses start, I’ll just say that I’m going to end up agreeing in at least some measure with all of them. In some ways, I’m a little done hearing on immigration again. It seems to be the constant question. It has value, yes, but it has been answered again and again at the expense of other pressing questions.

On to Iran and foreign policy.

Women on the front lines. I’m going to completely ignore the candidate responses for a moment if I may…. My wife is ex-military. I worry about a woman on the front lines like I worry for a man. Both are dear to me. Both have value. Both have the choice to do so, and I’d no sooner deny that right to a woman than I would to a man. It is their choice, and they will have my respect either way.

Nukes in Iran…

Before the responses, I don’t think many people recognize that the President of Iran is not the leader of Iran. The ayatollah is, and he’s far more reasonable and cognizant of cost benefits of nuclear weapons. I’m not saying the ayatollah is a saint and perfectly reasonable, I’m just pointing out that he’s not the lunatic that Ahmadinejad is.

I’ll frankly be surprised if any of the men on stage recognize that simply because it isn’t want the people in the audience want to hear. Oh wait… Paul will recognize it. Just wait.

I said it earlier, but I’ve softened considerably on my position regarding Iran and foreign policy in general. I was once much more hardline in this issue, but I’m moving center on it. I just don’t see war as an answer, especially an aggressive one.

Paul’s answer… He’s going to get killed on this, especially in front of a conservative audience. I’ll admit he’s a little too extreme on it for me, but his plea to at least get a declaration of war is valid. Oh, and his opinion on sanctions are valid as well. Sanctions are galvanizing for the people in power.


I’m ashamed that I’m so uninformed on Syria. I have admittedly avoided it over burn out of the Arab Spring. Only recently have I, and really most of us, started to see this as the disaster it is.

Obama has always been weak on foreign policy in my opinion. I know many don’t agree with me, but I think Syria is a prime example of his weakness. Santorum calls it timidness, and that’s right. He’s so hesitant to offend anyone that he does little or nothing to use the power he has. He shouldn’t wield it like a bludgeon of course, but he can’t wave it like a napkin either.

Education Reform and No Child Left Behind….

NCLB is a failure. It’s a national system trying to solve an individual issue. Yuck.

Santorum–“Politics is a team sport.” Yes and no. He says he voted for that because he needed to take one for the team and get President Bush’s primary platform as well. If he felt strongly against it, don’t vote for it. It’s pretty simple. Now, if you’re talking team as in working across party lines to build consensus and compromise. Yes, politics is a team sport, but I seriously doubt that Santorum can do that.

Just an aside really quickly, this is obviously Romney’s debate. It’s not necessarily his strongest night, but he’s representing quite well tonight.

I find it a little odd that Santorum and Gingrich both are taking a fairly strong Libertarian viewpoint on education.

Here’s another note here: Paul has only attacked Santorum tonight. Not sure what that means, but the opportunities are certainly there for him to attack Romney and Gingrich as well.

Any insight on this from big Paul supporters?

Final question: What is the biggest misconception about you?

Paul–The myth that he can’t win. True…. He won’t win, but he could win. Like I said earlier, he’s my next in line should Mitt fall.

Gingrich–Amount of work it took to achieve welfare reform, a balanced budget, and 4.2% unemployment. Good answer, too bad that Gingrich can’t claim full credit for that.

Romney–Romney didn’t really give a misconception. Well, maybe he did. His basic response is that he can win. There’s plenty of people who don’t believe that. Personally, I still think he’s the best choice at this point.

Santorum–Can he defeat Obama? Simple answer. No. He can’t. If he wins the nomination, something I think is a genuine possibility, he simply will not capture the centrist, moderate vote. He won’t. And as history has shown, that is the key vote anymore. A Santorum nomination is an Obama second term.

And that’s it. It’s late. I’m tired.

Good night.

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One Response to Review: GOP Arizona debate

  1. Lora says:

    Thanks for the synopsis, Dave. I appreciate the overview! You make me want to become better informed.

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