Sunday’s Republican debate in Des Moines at Drake University, which was aired on ABC, was not without some fireworks. Frankly, I thought David Yepsen and George Stephanopoulos did a poor job of moderating the debate. Yepsen started to get into an exchange with Rudy Giuliani over what programs he would cut in order to raise revenues in order to pay for national infrastructure.
Yepsen seemed to get irritated with Giuliani for answering the question properly and America’s Mayor didn’t like the way Yepsen phrased the question about tax revenues, basically implying that Yepsen was using a Democratic talking point. Stephanopoulos, who is nationally known for his weekly show on ABC, seemed to show his political stripes during the debate as well.
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson felt his position on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program had been misrepresented. When he attempted to clarify, Stephanopoulos, who worked for Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992 and 1996, cut Thompson off. I thought this was rude and very unprofessional on Stephanopoulos’ part. The question was about whether the candidates supported the expansion of SCHIP the way Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wanted it or whether they would veto the bill like President Bush has threatened to do.
Several of the other candidates such as Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, of course, said government has no business being involved in the healthcare industry. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from San Diego, warned that the way the Democrats set up the SCHIP program it would be moving us toward socialized medicine. Yet, according to Congressional Record, however, Hunter voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. The topic of abortion came up and Sam Brownback attempted to gain ground on perceived front-runner Mitt Romney by referencing an old speech Romney made back in 2005 which can be found on YouTube (according to a press released from the Brownback camp) claiming to be pro-choice. Romney retorted by saying he was tired of people claiming to be holier-than-thou just because they came to the pro-life position sooner than others.
A place where the candidates definitely disagreed was whether or not the fair tax was something that should be implemented nationally. This is a big issue in Iowa because the Iowa Republican Party has been publicly endorsing the idea of a fair tax within their platform for years. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he was in full support of the concept, which would remove the capital gains, income, payroll, social security tax and implement a 23 percent sales tax on all goods. Huckabee also went to say that this would get rid of the so called “underground” economy of prostitutes, dope dealers and gamblers, but did not get a chance to elaborate.
Another interesting moment was when Tancredo reiterated his position of not taking bombing Mecca off the table in order to fight Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Tancredo would then go on to say later in the debate that it took him about 30 years to realize that Jesus Christ was his lord and savior. Several of the other candidates jumped all over this saying that bombing a holy site would only unify the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims against the United States.
Barack Obama, a leading Democratic hopeful, would draw criticism from nearly all the candidates for his suggestion that sending troops into Pakistan to root out Al Qaeda cells should be left as an option. John McCain basically said this was a bad idea and Mitt Romney said Obama doesn’t know the difference between our friends and our enemies. On a local note, I once went to Drake University to hear Michael J. Fox speak on the need for more funding of embryonic stem cell research and the neighborhoods around Drake are very run down. This isn’t the best place to have a university or a serious debate on the issues that is broadcast nationwide.
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