Bachmann, Pawlenty trade jabs; Newt Gingrich cleans Chris Wallace’s clock; Pawlenty promises to cook someone dinner or mow their lawn; Santorum, Paul debate Iran and war on terror
Eight Republican Presidential candidates spent two hours battling each other and at times, the questioners, in a fiery debate at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
Former Senator Rick Santorum, businessman Herman Cain, Congressman Ron Paul, former Governors Mitt Romney Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took part in the fast-moving debate.
A number of topics were covered, but economic issues dominated the evening.
As the debate started, moderator Bret Baier asked the candidates to set their talking points aside and talk straight with the voters.
The debate had several memorable moments.
At one point, fireworks erupted between former Governor Tim Pawlenty and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Fox News reported:
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is seeking to boost his flagging campaign, dismissed Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s record of accomplishments and results in Congress as “nonexistent.”
“That’s not going to be good enough for our candidate for president of the United States,” Pawlenty said.
“The American people are going to expect more and demand more. And in fact we need somebody who can contrast with Barack Obama on results.”
Bachmann responded by citing Pawlenty’s record as governor.
“When you were governor in Minnesota, you implemented cap and trade in our state and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandate,” she responded.
“You said the era of small government is over. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama if you ask me.”
“During my time in U.S. Congress, I have fought all of these unconstitutional measures,” Bachmann said.
Fox News reported:
Pawlenty replied that Bachmann has a record of misstating and making false statements. He also questioned her fighting skills, saying that her efforts to prevent more government spending, to derail “Obamacare” and to stop government bailouts after the 2008 financial crisis didn’t work.
But Bachmann wasn’t finished.
“I was at the tip of the spear fighting Obamacare,” she said, adding, “When others ran, I fought.”
Throughout the debate, Bachmann made clear her goal was to see Obamacare repealed.
But that was not the only testy exchange in the debate.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace – perhaps the biggest loser of the night – got his clocked cleaned by a visibly upset Newt Gingrich when he asked the former House Speaker about the status of his campaign, which so far has seen a number of setbacks.
“I took seriously Bret [Baier]’s injunction to put aside the talking points,” Gingrich said. “And I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions.”
Gingrich recalled the turmoil that took place in the Reagan campaign on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, and the troubles that John McCain faced before becoming the GOP nominee.
Rattling off a laundry list of things Congress needs to do, Gingrich said he would like to see the rest of the debate focus on what they as Republicans would do to “lead an America whose President has failed to lead, instead of playing Mickey Mouse games.”
The audience responded with wild applause, and when Wallace said he thought questions about the campaign were important, he was met with jeers and boos.
Gingrich responded by saying “there’s too much attention paid by the press corps about campaign minutae” and not enough paid to the things that separate the Republicans from Barack Obama.
Again, the audience responded positively.
The exchange clearly helped Gingrich, and it was a prime example of how Republican candidates should deal with contentious members of the media.
Gingrich was not the only one who got a jab back at the media.
At one point the Washington Examiner’s Byron York asked her a personal question about her marriage.
Reading back a quote from Bachmann — in which she said she’d become a tax attorney because her husband urged her to, and it was important for wives to be “submissive” — York asked: Would you be submissive to your husband as president.
The audience was clearly not pleased with the question and many could be heard booing York.
“Thank you for that question, Byron,” Bachmann responded calmly.
“Marcus and I will have been married for 33 years this September 10th,” she said, explaining that to them, being submissive “means respect.”
“I respect my husband,” she said. “And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other.”
Rick Santorum and Ron Paul engaged in a testy debate over Iran and the war on terror.
Paul indicated he was okay with Iran getting a nuclear weapon, despite that nation’s stated desire to wipe Israel off the map.
The debate also had its lighter moments.
At one point, Pawlenty offered to cook dinner or mow the lawn of anyone who could find Barack Obama’s plans on entitlement reform:
“Where is Barack Obama’s plan on social security reform? Medicare reform? Medicaid reform?” Pawlenty said. “In fact, I’ll offer a prize tonight to anybody in this auditorium or anyone watching on television, if you can find Barack Obama’s specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook you dinner.”
The Daily Caller reported:
Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, also used the joke to land a punch against opponent Mitt Romney, the wealthy former governor of Massachusetts.
“Or if you prefer, I’ll come to your house and mow your lawn,” he said. “But in case Mitt wins, I’m limiting it to one acre. One acre.”
All of the candidates agreed that Obama is a failed leader who is ruining America economically, and they unanimously agreed they would “walk away” from any deal raising taxes, even if it had a 10:1 ratio, with 10 dollars of real cuts for every dollar in tax increases.
The GOP primary is just beginning, however, and the field of candidates is not yet finalized. Texas Governor Rick Perry is set to announce his candidacy on Saturday, and Sarah Palin has yet to make a decision.
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