Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Live-Blogging The National Security Debate

We're about five minutes from kickoff. 

Tonight's debate is sponsored by CNN, the Heritage Foundation, and The American Enterprise Institute.

Debate prep here.

7:05:  Good grief.  War montage opening, dramatic music, and candidate profiles that look like Mission Impossible dossiers.  Live-streaming here.

7:10:   What in the world could they all be taking notes about before the debate even starts?  They're scribbling on their notepads.  Hmmmmm.

Oh good grief; personal intros.  Does anybody not know who these people are?  Can't we just get started?

Finally, first question.  But why oh why must Wolf Blitzer always clarify, rephrase, or parse the question?

The question is about the Patriot Act and Newt explains what we'll "all be in danger" for the rest of our lives.  Be scared.  He would not change the Patriot Act.  Newt:  "I've spent years studying this stuff."  He does make a nice distinction between criminal law where "you're on the defensive" and national security.

Ron Paul, of course, disagrees.  And now his 89 seconds are done.

7:20:  Newt:  I don't want a law that says after you take out an American city, we're going to come find you.  I want a law that says if you try to take out an American city, we're going to stop you.

Bachmann says we've turned national security over to the ACLU and warns against Miranda rights for terrorists.

Mitt gets a question about TSA patdowns.  He says "we can do better" and then decides to answer another question.  He makes a distinction between crime, war, and terror.  "We need tools when war is waged domestically," so that the president can defend the country.  "Yes we'll use the Constitution and criminal law for those who commit crimes," but we'll use a very different form of law for terrorists.

Wolf tosses the TSA question to Perry who wants to privatize it and "get rid of those unions."  He, too, agrees with the Patriot Act and suggests strengthening it.  Perry touts gathering military intelligence around the world and suggests we may be lacking in that these days.

Santorum explains why he supports profiling:  "We should find the bomber, not the bomb."

7:25:  Santorum explains now who he would profile.  Ron Paul is coming unglued.  "What if they look like Timothy McVeigh!?"  They're not terrorists, he says, "they're suspects!"  Lawsy.

Finally to Herman Cain.  Should Muslims get extra screening?  Cain, too, says we could do a whole lot better with TSA.  He also likes privatization.  Cain:  The terrorists want to kill all of us so we should kill them first.  That sound you hear is Ron Paul imploding.

Did Cain just call him Blitz?  Okay.  "Well, since we're on a Blitz debate....!"  Laughter.

Next question regards using an extended drone campaign in Pakistan.  Huntsman says "it must be done."  We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, he exclaims.

Bachmann would continue aid to Pakistan but "the Obama policy of keeping your fingers crossed" in Pakistan is not working.

Perry says Pakistan has showed us time after time that they can't be trusted.  He's not sending them a dime and the audience applauds.  "If you're not going to be an ally of the United States, don't expect a dime of our citizen's money..."

Bachmann calls this "highly naive...."We're not just writing blank checks," she says, "we're exchanging information."

Huntsman suggests the American people are tired of being in Afghanistan and Mitt challenges him:  Are you suggesting we just pull out next week?, he asks.  Mitt harkens back to what the commanders want.  "I stand with the commanders in this regard," so as to not risk what has been achieved so far.  "The mission is pretty straightforward," Mitt says. 

7:45:  Newt is confused.  He's trying to clarify the question.  He's getting applause on the line that killing bin Ladin in Pakistan drew Pakistan/American relations to a new low.  Once again, Newt stays above the fray.

Sam Adams break.

7:55:  We're to Israel now.  

Rick Perry reasserts the need for a no-fly zone over Syria.

Newt:  We could break the Iranian regime within a year by sabotaging their only refinery and other strategic moves.  Replace the regime without a war and before they get a nuclear weapon.

Bachmann:  Why are we talking about Israel having to make a strike against Iran?  Because Iran wants to eradicate Israel.  Obama has failed, she said.  For 2.5 years, Obama gave Iran the "luxury of time."

Question:  Can the US afford to continue foreign assitance for AIDS, malaria?

Cain:  It may be worthwhile to continue, it may not.  I'd like to see the results.

Ron Paul:  Aid is all worthless; it doesn't do any good.  You take money from poor people in this country and give it to rich people in poor countries.  "Nobody cares about the budget!  Nobody wants to cut anything!"  Endless wars!  OMG!  Panic!

Romney:  They're cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget!  We need to protect America and stop ObamaCare!

Paul:  They're not cutting anything out of anything!


8:05:   Mitt runs through the list of what programs and weapons are getting cut.  He refocuses on "the failure on the part of the president to lead with strength."

Mitt promises that his first foreign trip will be to Israel.

Perry gets a question on the Super Committee and cuts.  "If you were president of the US, would you compromise with Democrats in Congress to avoid Washington gridlock?"

Perry says the Super Committee was a Super Failure and everyone expected that.  Obama didn't lead.  Perry passed budgets in Texas.  This president has been a failure.  Perry actually seems to be having a pretty good debate, and all that means really, is that he hasn't made a huge gaffe yet.

"If Leon Panetta is an honorable man, he should resign in protest!" (to defense cuts.)

Wolf pulls Perry back to the gridlock question.  Perry says you can work with people on both sides of the aisle, but in this particular case. Obama didn't lead.  Perry says if he had been president, we would never have been in that situation in the first place.

Everyone piles on Obama now. Santorum says all he does is campaign and "he's poisoned the well" in Congress.

Wonderful!  A question about entitlement reform!  Newt likes it.

Newt says entitlement reform could begin with his Social Security reform plan. He cites the Chilean plan.

To Bachmann:  What would you cut first?  She goes back to the Super Committee and drawing lines in the sand.  Sigh.

8:20:  Bachmann:  Our money will be used to grow China's military at the expense of our military.  That should give every American pause.


Border questions.  Perry fields this one.  "It's time for a 21st century Monroe Doctrine."  He explains the border is porous for terrorists working in and through Mexico.  Border security "is paramount" to the security of the "entire Western hemisphere!"  Working with Mexico is important as well as "boots on the ground."  He promises the border "will be shut down and secure" within 12 months of his inauguration. 

Ron Paul is for calling off the drug war.  Eliminate benefits for illegals, like education and free health care.  Paul says the war on drugs is a total failure and that sick people should have marijuana.  "The federal government is over riding state laws" on those matters.  Get rid of alcohol!  he says.

Don't come between me and Sam Adams, Dr. Paul.

Herman Cain:  Yes, an insecure border is a national security threat.  Terrorists have come into this country through Mexico.

Woah.  Cain says the number of people killed in Mexico last year equals the number of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  Where did that come from?

Rick Perry makes the most intense faces sometimes.

Newt says if you've just come to this country and you have no ties here, you ought to go home.  If you've been here for years and have 3 children and belong to the local church, we're probably not going to separate you from your family.  Give people with engineering degrees, etc, a green card upon graduation!

Bachmann: sounds like amnesty to me!  "I don't agree that we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally, legal."

Newt:  I don't see any reason to punish someone who came here at 3 years of age and wants to serve in the military.

Bachmann:  "We need to move away from magnets...."

Romney is still here!

"Amnesty is a magnet," he says.  The right course is to welcome people legally.  Make an easier, more transparent system. 

Mitt:  "Secure the border, turn off the magnets...".

Newt:  I do not believe that the American people will oust people who have been here their whole lives from this country.  Paraphrase:  I don't believe that the party that says it's the party of the family is going to separate families.

Perry comes after Mitt on magnets.  Please don't bring up the lawn service again.

Perry wants to secure the border first and then put something in place that keeps families together and clean up the process.  Nothing happens until the border is secure, he says.  "Boots on the ground" again.  Drink.

Mitt:  "I'm not gonna draw lines here on who gets to stay and who has to go."  No amnesty.

Commercial break.  You know what that means.

8:50:  Next question is about Syria.  Wolf reframes the question and asks Cain if he'd support a no-fly zone over Syria. 

Nope, he says.

Somebody forgot to tell Cain this is a foreign policy debate; he's back to growing the economy again.

Perry deftly handles his position on the no-fly zone, I think.  It's a weird position, but he explains it well! 

He appears to have studied a bit on foreign policy.  "If we're serious about Iran, we have to be serious about Syria as well.  A no-fly zone is one of a multitude of options...".

How can Ron Paul be so clueless and isolationist!?  Sometimes he says the most naive things ever.

"Taliban doesn't mean they want to come and kill us.  It means they want to kill us over there."  Yes, he really said that.

Mitt:  Good answer.  America leads the free world and the free world follows America.

Mitt is not in favor of a no-fly zone.  Use sanctions and covert actions to obtain a regime change.  He refers to the Syrian Alawites.  I bet Herman Cain doesn't even know what that is.

Perry:  "Get serious about Syria", again.  Tongue twister deftly handled.  Easier to remember than three departments to cut.

Okay well they're wrapping this up.

Newt didn't get as much thunder as I anticipated; could have something to do with being the front runner now.  He's still the smartest person in the room.  Ron Paul got a lot more time than I thought he would/should.  Ditto Huntsman.  Cull the herd.  Perry was actually stronger than I've seen him but not exactly on fire.  Mitt Romney was steady and consistent as always.  He didn't hurt himself, I don't think.  Bachmann was strong.  I guess if there's a loser it's Cain but we expected that.

One more debate in the books.

I'm out.

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