Tonight’s debate was carried on NBC Politics via MSNBC online, whose live stream maxed out early as too many Internet viewers apparently tuned in simultaneously. After the initial 15 minutes it took to get off the ground, live transmission remained spotty at best. That will teach us all to get there early if we want a seat.
Irascible frontrunner Newt Gingrich was less irascible tonight, but maybe that’s because he faced the civil questioner Brian Williams instead of the manipulative Juan Williams or the hostile John King. Former vote leader Mitt Romney saved most of his attacks for the Obama administration but spent much of the first half hour accusing Gingrich of being a lobbyist. Gingrich accused Romney of making at least four inaccurate statements in this regard but added, “I’m not going to spend the evening chasing down his misinformation.” Ron Paul and Rick Santorum mostly touted their own respective achievements.
When asked if Iran were to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, would it be an act of war, Mitt Romney said of course, and it would be “appropriate and essential for us to maintain open seas.” Ron Paul disagreed, saying: “We’re blockading them. This is retaliation.”
In explaining how he would end the war in Afghanistan without talking to the Taliban, Mitt Romney gave perhaps his best answer of the night: “By beating them; by standing by our troops and making sure we have transitioned to the Afghan military the capacity to be successful in holding off the Taliban.”
Rick Santorum was asked what happens if we get into a war to take out Iran’s weapon sites: Where do we limit the target list, airstrikes, etc. In his homerun of the night, Santorum countered by simply asking: “What happens if Iran gets a nuclear weapon and the entire world changes?”
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, who both print campaign materials in Spanish, agreed that a central language was necessary to unify the country and that ballots should be printed in English only. Romney added that English immersion classes are the way to go for new immigrant children, and that not speaking English keeps people from being successful.
On other subjects, Rick Santorum noted that overland or undersea pipelines are much safer for the environment than transporting oil by tanker. Newt Gingrich said he would not veto the Dream Act but would make changes to it. Rick Santorum disagreed, noting that illegal aliens break the law not just once by entering the country, but continually by having to obtain forged documents to stay. Mitt Romney said he would release two years of tax information in the morning, and Ron Paul stated he would not support a federal program to save the Everglades, which will no doubt cost him some votes in the Sunshine State.