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The Republican presidential debate on Thursday involved lively exchanges moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace. The most contentious debates were between Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota and Minnesota former governor Tim Pawlenty.
Pawlenty has criticized Bachmann for weeks stating that Bachmann lacks executive experience that he has. During the debate, Pawlenty stated that the congresswoman has “done wonderful things in her life, absolutely wonderful things, but it’s an indisputable fact that in Congress her record of accomplishments and results is nonexistent. That’s not going to be good enough.”
Bachmann, not one to shy away from confrontation, blasted Pawlenty’s record as governor. “Governor, when you were governor in Minnesota, you implemented cap and trade in our state, and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandate, and you called for requiring all people in our state to purchase health insurance,” she said.
The two continued to debate and Bachmann praised her own record of fighting Democratic proposals, such as health care. But Pawlenty pointed out that she did not stop the health care bill, increases in spending or the 2008 bailout of Wall Street banks. “She said she’s got a titanium spine. It’s not your spine we’re worried about, it’s your record of results,” Pawlenty said. “If that’s your view of effective results and leadership, then please stop because you’re killing us.”
Minutes later, the two lawmakers argued again over a cigarette tax that both appeared to agree with. Bachmann, who voted for the tax, stated she only voted for it because it was tied to an anti-abortion measure. Pawlenty called her arguments “illogical.” Most observers and pundits declared Bachmann the winner in the debate. Kent Sorensen, a Republican state legislator who is supporting Bachmann, certainly felt that way.”She exposed [Pawlenty] for the phony that he is,” Sorensen said. “He came out with the first punch and she came back with a roundhouse.”
Mitt Romney appeared to skate through the debate unscathed, mainly because other participants were too busy arguing with one another. It was Jon Huntsman first debate but he did little to stand out. An interesting portion of the debate came as Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas, and Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, discussed Iran. Paul said he did not have a problem with Iran trying to obtain nuclear weapons.”Why wouldn’t it be natural that they might want a weapon … Why should we write people off?” he asked. “What’s so terribly bad about this?”
“Iran is not Iceland, Ron. Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979,” Santorum replied. Paul stated that the U.S. has intervened in Iran since the CIA was involved in the 1953 coup of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister.”We just plain don’t mind our own business … that’s the problem,” Paul said.
Paul became more agitated as he pointed out the “trillions of dollars” being spent on foreign wars to a crowd of cheering supporters.
NewtGingrich, the former House Speaker from Georgia, complained that the questions about his staff shake-up earlier in the year were “Mickey Mouse games.” “I took seriously [fellow host] Bret [Baier]‘s injunction to put aside the talking points. I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions,” he said. Gingrich then went on to compare himself twice to Ronald Reagan, who had staff departures during his run for the White House in 1980.
Wallace didn’t take it lightly. “If you think questions about your record are Mickey Mouse, I’m sorry,” he said, with disdain. “I think those are questions people want to hear answers to.”
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