Who Won The South Carolina GOP Debate?

According to the phone poll, Ron Paul won the debate by a handy margin. I wonder if any of his supporters had actually watched this debate? His most lucid comment occurred when he was asked if he would disavow his anti-government 9/11 conspiracy theorist supporters because they were hurting his campaign. His response that “I cannot tell people what to do” and that he, personally, had abandoned those viewpoints … now … can I please deal with the relevant topic the other candidates have commented on; deserved some applause.

However, Ron Paul seemed totally out of touch on the question concerning the recent incident in the Strait of Hormuz between a U.S. Navy ship and five Iranian speed boats. While the other five candidates stated that we should not second guess the commanders who were actually on the scene, and that they thought that proper restraint had been exercised by not firing on the speed boats; Ron Paul went on an anti – World War III tirade saying that he thought the incident was blown all out of proportion and that “we’re ready to start World War III over this? … You know there are people in this administration and in Washington, D.C. that are looking for the chance” to bomb Iran. This was despite the fact the no one had called for World War III, or even a slightly stronger response.

I think Mitt Romney summed up most everyones’ feeling when he stated that he thought Congressman Ron Paul should stop reading so “many of (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmaddinejad’s press releases.”

Ron Paul also received sharp criticism for his comments on Israel when he stated that we need to treat Israel in an “adult fashion” and that U.S. national security would be improved by making Israel responsible for its own security.

Mike Huckabee spoke for most when he said, “We’ve got one true ally in the Middle East. That is Israel. It is a tiny nation … for us to give the world the impression that we would stand by if they were under attack and say its not our problem,” would be recklessly irresponsible.

Despite the phone poll, there is no way a sane, competent human being who actually watched that debate could claim Ron Paul won. Actually, I don’t think most conservatives are too concerned with text voting. I do think his 9/11 conspiracy theory supporters were primed and waiting … cellphone in hand … to vote for their hero. To me this is a good argument for why we should never institute Internet voting!

The majority of the candidates seemed to be of one voice concerning the future direction of the Republican Party and the need to return to the successful Reagan principles of the past. “This is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Fred Thompson said.

John McCain stated that republicans were hurt in the last election because of the “Reagan principles, and philosophy, and practices we’ve gone away from.” He went on to say, “I’ve said a number of times we came to power in 1994 to change government,” and instead the government changed us. He continued by saying that spending was one of those changes. As a nation, we have to return to those conservative principles of less government, lower taxes, strong family values, and strong national defense that brought about a “dawn of a new day in America.”

Former New York Mayor Giuliani echoed these thoughts by stating that we need to return to the “peace through strength” principles. Guiliani, like the other five major candidates, discussed the need to lower taxes. “If you cut something like the corporate tax at 35 percent, you bring it down to 30 percent, you will get more revenues from that cut, because our corporate tax is the second highest in the world. If you cut some other tax, you might not get those kinds of revenues. So, the question is: What tax are you cutting? Is it anti-competitive?”

Guliani went on to say that we have to cut spending as “significantly” as we cut taxes. We have to impose cutbacks on each one of the civilian federal agencies. He said he would do that the same way he did as mayor of New York City, and the same way Ronald Reagan did it as president of the United States.

John McCain pushed his experience and the changes he has been a part of since 1994. He stated we have to stop out-of-control government spending and that, as president, he would veto any pork or earmarks that came across his desk. McCain said that he felt that he was the candidate to beat the democratic nominee because of his nickname “the sheriff” on the Appropriations Committee.

Personally, I think Mike Huckabee was brilliant in his handling of the the question concerning his endorsement, some years ago, of the biblical verse from Ephesians 5. This verse is so often taken out of context and misused. It is really sad that a chapter in the Bible that tells husbands and wives to mutually respect, honor, and love one another can become an issue in a political campaign. However, I guess that in a culture that attacks Christian ideas, supports gay marriages and free birth control for 13-year-old girls without parental knowledge, and has a divorce rate that is approaching 50 percent; this is a topic that would be shocking to some.

For me, and also pollster Frank Luntz’s focus panel, Fred Thompson was the clear winner. He came across as a thoughtful, experienced conservative with some fire. He nailed Mike Huckabee on his support for illegal immigration, his apologetic stance for the United States’ “arrogant” foreign policy, and for his received endorsement from the NEA. Thompson stated that when the U.S. went into Iraq, sixteen other countries went with us. He asked Mike Huckabee, were they all “arrogant” as well?

Fred Thompson came out strongly in support of smaller government, less taxes, strong family values, and a strong national defense. He even showed his sense of humor when he stated that, had those Iranian speed boats come any closer to our navy’s destroyer, they might have met those 72 virgins they are so concerned with.

I also liked Thompson’s comment to Alan Combs after the debate when Combs kept pressing him about the fact that only 9 of the 18 benchmarks established for the Iraqi government had been met. Fred Thompson reiterated the fact that, despite the reality ignoring denials of the democratic candidates and the surrender of Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, the surge is working. Thompson commented that it just might take the Iraqi government and people a little longer to get everything accomplished because they have no Thomas Jeffersons in Iraq … Saddam Hussein killed them all.

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