Dear Commons Community,
We are now down to four men sitting around a table as the Republican presidential candidates debated on CCN last night. I have to confess that I miss Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain.
The New York Times and the Huffington Post have good summaries of the give and take. Here are my impressions.
Mitt Romney and Ron Paul went after Rick Santorum most of the evening. Newt Gingrich seemed an afterthought. The issues (health care, Iran, ear marks, energy, No Child Left Behind) discussed were more wide ranging than in previous debates where the questions and candidates centered on the economy.
Romney scored points with the Republican audience by going after Santorum’s voting record especially his support of earmarks and Arlen Specter’s (Republican turned Democrat) senate run.
For me, one of the best exchanges of the evening was when Ron Paul called Santorum “a fake” who voted one way when he was a senator but now that he is running for president, opposes the same laws he helped enact. Specifically, Paul criticized Santorum’s support of the No Child Left Behind law, President George W. Bush’s signature education plan now out of favor with conservatives. By the end of the night, the scrutiny seemed to wear on Mr. Santorum, who was taunted with boos when he said he had voted for the education program even though “it was against the principles I believed in.”
Santorum explained that he had done so because of its importance to Mr. Bush, saying: “Sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader.” That line provided an opening for Mr. Paul, who declared: “He calls this a team sport. He has to go along to get along, and that’s the way the team plays, but that’s what the problem is with Washington.” Paul further commented that Santorum’s loyalty was to his party first and not to the country.