Theodore's World: Perry, Gingrich Standout in GOP Debate Last Night (11-12-11)

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November 13, 2011

Perry, Gingrich Standout in GOP Debate Last Night (11-12-11)

Perry, Gingrich standout in GOP debate

Washington Examiner

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry turned in is strongest debate performance of the campaign Saturday, though former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stole the show by schooling debate moderators on terrorist assassinations and refusing their efforts to get him to criticize frontrunner Mitt Romney.

With the nation's economy resisting recovery and joblessness stubbornly high, foreign policy issues have played only a minor role in the GOP debates this election cycle. But those issues took center stage in Saturday’s meeting in South Carolina, a crucial early-primary state.

Compared to past debates, Perry turned in a strong performance and even managed to joke about suffering brain freeze during last week’s debate when he forgot the name of the Energy Department, one of three agencies he was pledging to eliminate if elected president.

Romney used the appearance to showcase a broad knowledge of foreign policy issues. Herman Cain, who shares the top of the polls with Romney, escaped any questions about the growing scandal involving accusations that he has sexually harassed women in the past. But Cain has yet to really demonstrate detailed understanding of many foreign policy issues and several times avoided giving specific answers, instead falling back on his often-used answer that he will first have to consult with his military advisors and gather more information.

Cain won applause in the CBS/National Journal debate when he announced that he would revive waterboarding – simulated drowning often categorized as torture – as a legal interrogation technique, as did Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

"If I were president, I would be willing to use waterboarding," Bachmann said. "I think it was very effective. It gained information for our country."

One of Perry's stand-out moments came when he offered a passionate defense of allowing the military to use other enhanced interrogation techniques, which the Obama administration has prohibited.

"This is war," Perry said, adding that he believed the technique would be used to save American lives. "That is what happens in war."

Perry also scored points with the audience when he pledged to zero-out the nation's foreign aid budget and instead let counties make their case to the United States as to why the should receive money. Perry said countries like Pakistan, which has harbored terrorists including Osama bin Laden and where some within the government may be working against the United States, may not get much aid under his administration. Perry helped to set part of Saturday night’s agenda, calling to cut off aid to Pakistan. He pledged full support for Israel, however.

Gingrich, who has been experiencing a surge in the polls, once again sparred with the debate’s moderators, this time over when it would be considered legal to sign a death warrant for an American citizen overseas who is thought to be a terrorist. The question referenced Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American who was killed by a U.S. sanctioned drone strike last month.

Pelley referred to al-Awlaki as a "terrorist suspect," and Gingrich lectured that al-Awlaki had been found guilty by a special panel.

"The correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you," Gingrich said. "If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant. You have none of the civil liberties of the United States. You cannot go to court."

Gingrich, who has made sparring with moderators standard operating procedure during debates, had earlier zinged the moderator for asking the former speaker to elaborate on his recent accusation that Romney lacks the ability to change Washington.

"Would you care to evaluate Gov. Romney's ability to think outside the box and change the United States national security or foreign policy perspectives?" Gingrich was asked.

"No," he said to audience applause.


Wild Thing's comment........

Some positivei write ups have been coming in since the debate.

It was great when Perry said about the zero funding to all countries and start fresh then Newt backed him up and agreed with him. Perry went on to say even Israel but that Israel is already a proven friend. The whole thing went really well.

Posted by Wild Thing at November 13, 2011 04:47 AM


Israel is already a proven friend and will always be despite the person occupying the White House.

I don't recall so many debates with presidential contenders like what's taking place. I have a sneaking suspicion that the media is holding these debates for a reason; that reason being to help Obama. They know every candidate is going to make gaffs and mistakes. They're trying their best to get the candidates to attack each other and bring out each others flaws...Newt realizes this and is trying to stop it. All of these attacks, gaffs, and mistakes will be used by Obama once the Republican nominee is chosen. The best thing these candidates can do is quit showing up for the debates. Personally, I could care less what they say in the debates. I look at their track record and their actions which speak louder than their words.

Posted by: BobF at November 13, 2011 10:04 AM

Ditto Bob. These debates and their smug asshole moderators are basically obama reelection tools. It appears the Repub candidates have figured this out. Gingrich especially is aware of this and will not be victimized by it. I hope the others drop the nice guy personna and counter the moderators' snipes by attacking back.

Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at November 13, 2011 01:35 PM

Bob I agree so much, there are so many of these debates I wonder how the candidates can even have time to campaign. It takes time to fly place, drive etc. set up , speak, shake hands etc.

I agree so much what you said about the debates. sheesh there are just way too many of them.

Posted by: Wild Thing at November 14, 2011 04:29 AM