Fox News apparently had trouble with its live video coverage, so I missed the first 20 minutes.
When we last saw them in New Hampshire the candidates had split into two factions, the Liberals (Romney and Huntsman) and the Conservatives (Santorum and Gingrich). Ron Paul continued to be his own faction and Rick Perry continued to appear irrelevant. Now that Jon Huntsman has dropped out, Romney has moved to the center, deferring to his opponents more than attacking them: “Newt is right … Rick (Santorum) is right.”
Although not asked many questions, Rick Perry seemed to emerge somewhat from his irrelevancy tonight by giving at least one solid answer. Asked about whether Turkey belonged in NATO, he replied no, and added that we should also cut off foreign aid to that country and other Islamist states. “There should be no space between the U.S. and Israel, period,” he added. Incomprehensibly, however, he volunteered that the U.S. Marines who urinated on enemy bodies should be “punished” but that their actions were “not despicable.”
Ron Paul clarified his proposed defense cuts by saying he wanted to cut overseas bases, not domestic ones, and might even support reopening some domestic bases that previously had been closed. He explained that he did not oppose the killing of Osama Bin Laden, but he thought it should have been done according to international law, or that we at least should have captured him first and gotten some information out of him.
He soft-pedaled U.S. policy on the Taliban by saying that they had once been our allies, that they simply resent foreign presence in their country, and that we should apply the Golden Rule and treat them the way we want to be treated. Newt Gingrich disagreed, saying we should treat them the way Andrew Jackson advised treating your enemies, i.e., kill them.
Rick Santorum said the U.S. should remove Bashir Assad as dictator of Syria, but he did not explain how this should be accomplished and, incredibly, nobody asked him.
Mitt Romney said he would veto the Dream Act (amnesty for illegal aliens), repeal Obamacare, refuse to sign any new laws against gun ownership, and refuse to negotiate with the Taliban. However, when asked if he would have signed the NDAA as written, which permits the detention of U.S. citizens without being charged or having recourse to an attorney, he replied “Yes.” Santorum and Ron Paul both stated that they would not have. Romney also refused to release his tax records until and unless he becomes the nominee.
When whining reporter/race baiter Juan Williams tried to get Rick Santorum to admit that blacks are inordinate victims of poverty, Santorum’s comeback was that, regardless of race, Americans who work, graduate from high school and get married before having children constitute only 2% of those living under the poverty level, and he cited his source.
Undeterred, Williams then tried to corner Newt Gingrich, asking if he didn’t see how having to work as janitors “belittles poor people.” In the other best response of the night, Gingrich replied, “No, I don’t see that,” and recalled that his daughter’s first job had been as a janitor at her high school. He went on to explain that, for every full-time union janitor a school hires, it could hire 30 part-time low-income students to do the same work, which would also furnish the students with cash while giving them work experience.
Williams got audibly booed; Gingrich got a standing ovation.