GOP Debate in Iowa in Review, (Part II)

Iowa GOP debate
Photo Courtesy of Fox News

AMES, Iowa – On August 11, 2011, the third debate of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for presidential run took place at Iowa St. University.

To assist readers in differentiating the positions of the GOP candidates on various issues raised in the debate, this review of the debate has been published in two parts.  Part I, previously published, covered the debate’s focus on the economy.

In this, Part II, the debate’s issues are covered in six parts: (1) Foreign policy, (2) illegal immigration, (3) abortion, (4) marriage, (5)health care, and (6) education – No Child Left Behind.

Side note:  Tim Pawlenty, after learning the results of the Ames Straw Poll, has decided to withdraw himself from the presidential race. His tweet,  posted on his website Monday afternoon, said, “It was a great honor to run for President. I remain committed to turning this country around and electing a Republican to the [White House]. Thank you.” Consequentially, even though he participated in the debate, his views are not covered in this article.

Foreign Policy

Michele Bachmann said that the proper way to handle acts of terror is, “Terrorists who commit acts against United States citizens … do not have any right, … under our Constitution, to Miranda rights. We’ve also seen that Guantanamo Bay has yielded significant information; in fact, we’ve learned that that led to the capture and the killing of [Osama] bin Laden. This is a tool that we need to have in order to be able to prosecute the new type of war, the new type of warfare, and the new type of terrorists that this country is dealing with.”

She later explained her view on the Middle East when she said, “Regarding Iran, Iran is the central issue in the Middle East. … I sit on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. I can’t reveal classified information, but I can say this, as president of the United States, I will do everything to make sure that Iran does not become a nuclear power.”

Herman Cain took a different approach to his foreign policy when he said, “I believe that our energy strategy is directly related to national security, as well as stopping Iran in their efforts. The head of Iran, Ahmadinejad, has said that he wants to wipe Israel off of the face of the Earth. I take that seriously. He has also said that he’s not going to listen to the United States, Britain, or anybody else. … There’s more to foreign policy than bombs and bullets. [There’re] bombs and bullets and economics. If we [get] serious about maximizing all of our energy resources in this country, we can become a player on the world market. As the price of oil goes down, it puts an economic squeeze on Iran. This is why I believe we should have a serious energy independence strategy in order to be able to be a player on the world market. That’s what I meant by using our energy resources, … all of our resources, to become energy independent.”

Newt Gingrich very generally said, “I talked recently to General Abizaid, who is probably the most knowledgeable senior general who speaks fluent Arabic who said to me we have a bigger strategic deficit than our fiscal deficit. I think we need to rethink everything in the region. I think we need to rethink Afghanistan. We need to rethink Iraq and I think we need to recognize that right now Iran is on offense and our troops are in danger everywhere in that region. And I think we need a very serious national debate about it.”

Gingrich also mentioned the loyalty test he would impose on anyone that would serve in his administration. To defend it, he said, “I didn’t describe it as applied to Muslims. I described it as applied to everybody. Now, we had, after all, a Catholic head of counterespionage for the FBI who turned out to be a Soviet spy. We’ve had a Cuban-American refugee who turned out to be a major Cuban spy for over 20 years on behalf of Castro. My point was, there is nothing illegitimate about seeking to make sure that people are loyal to the United States if they work for the government of the United States, and I was responding to this insane moment where ‘The New York Times’ attempted bomber, … was asked by the judge, who said to him, ‘But you swore an oath of loyalty to the United States.’ And he said to the judge, ‘I am your enemy. I lied.’ And the judge seemed mystified at the idea that somebody would have lied. … I would suggest to you we need security provisions across the board to ensure that those Americans and the American government are loyal to the United States.”

Jon Huntsman responded to a question about cyber attacks that seem to be coming from China when he said, “This is the new war field. … What we need in this country is to use this issue as not only an economic development tool, but also a national security tool. We need early warning capabilities and we need safeguards and we need counter measures. Not only have government institutions been hacked into, but private individuals have been hacked too. He made mention of his time as Ambassador to China when he said, “This is also part of a dialogue that has not taken place with the Chinese. We need a strategic dialogue at the highest levels between the United States and China. … As far as you can see into the 21st century, we are going to have to deal with the Chinese. I understand this relationship. I’ve been at it for 30 years. I think it would be great thing to have a president of the United States who knew something about China.”

Ron Paul tied the discussion of the national debt in with foreign policy when he said, “If you want to cut [spending], you have to put the militarism on the table, as well. … It’s time we quit this. It’s trillions of dollars we’re spending on these wars.”

Later, he was asked for his thoughts on Iran and their desire to develop nuclear weapons when he said, “You’ve heard the war propaganda that is liable to lead us into the sixth war. … Iran does not have an air force that can come here. They can’t even make enough gasoline for themselves. And here we are building this case up, just like we did in Iraq built up the war propaganda. … Our own CIA gives me this information, that they have no evidence that they’re working on a weapon. Just think of what we went through in the Cold War. When I was in the Air Force, … we were standing up against the Soviets. They had like 30,000 nuclear weapons with intercontinental missiles. …Just think of how many nuclear weapons surround Iran. The Chinese are there. The Indians are there. The Pakistanis are there. The Israelis are there. The United States is there. … Why wouldn’t it be natural that they might want a weapon? … Why would that be so strange, if the Soviets and the Chinese have nuclear weapons? We tolerated the Soviets. … And they were a much greater danger. They were the greatest danger to us in our whole history.” He also responded on a statement by Rick Santorum about Iran when he said, “We’ve been at war in Iran for a lot longer than ’79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the shah, and the reaction, the blowback, came in 1979. It’s been going on and on because we just plain don’t mind our own business. “

Paul touched on free trade when he said, “This whole idea of sanctions, all these pretend free traders, they’re the ones who put on these trade sanctions. This is why we still don’t have trade relationships with Cuba. It’s about time we talked to Cuba and stopped fighting these wars that are about 30 or 40 years old. “

He also responded to Michele Bachmann’s stance on handling terrorists; he said, “I think she turns our rule of law on its head. She says that the terrorists don’t deserve protection under our courts, but, therefore, a judgment has to be made. They’re ruled a terrorist. Who rules them a terrorist? I thought our courts recognized that you had to be tried. And we’ve done this. And we’ve brought individuals back from Pakistan and other places. We’ve given them a trial in this country, near 300 [trials]. We tried and put them in prison. So this idea that we have to turn it on its head and reject the rule of law, we already are at the point where this administration already has accepted the principle that, when you assume somebody is a terrorist, they can be targeted for assassination, even American citizens! That affects all of us eventually. “

Mitt Romney explained his stance on Afghanistan when he stated, “We have helped the people of Afghanistan establish freedom from the Taliban, but now we are at a point where they are going to have to earn and keep that freedom themselves. This is not something we are going to do forever. We’ve been there 10 years. We’ve been training the Afghan troops. Sometime within the next two years, we are going to draw down our troop strength and reach a point where the Afghan military is able to preserve the sovereignty of [its] own nation from the [tyranny] of the Taliban. That has to happen. It’s time for the troops of Afghanistan to take on that responsibility according to … the timetable established and communicated by the generals in the field. Those generals recommended to President Obama that we should not start drawing our troops down until after the fighting season in 2012. He took a political decision to draw them down faster than that. That is wrong. We should follow the recommendation of the generals and we should now look for the people of Afghanistan to pick up their fight and preserve that liberty that has been so dearly won.”

Rick Santorum responded to Ron Paul’s stance on Iran when he said, “As the author of the Iran Freedom Support Act,  … Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979. Iran is a country that has killed more American men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan than the Iraqis and the [Afghanistanis]. The Iranians are the existential threat to the state of Israel. You ask the Israelis, what keeps them up at night? It’s the Iranians’ funding of Hamas and Hezbollah and the support of Syria. … Anyone that suggests that Iran is not a threat to this country or is not a threat to stability in the Middle East is obviously not seeing the world very clearly. He sees it exactly the way that Barack Obama sees it, that we have to go around and apologize. … I don’t apologize for the Iranian people being free for a long time and now they’re under a mullahcracy that tramples the rights of women, tramples the rights of gays, tramples the rights of people all throughout their society and it’s the greatest supporter of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world and is setting up training camps and is working with Venezuela and other countries south of our border to threaten us. Iran is a country that must be confronted. I was in front of this curve.  And I can tell you, when Rick Santorum is president, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon because the world as we know it will be no more.”

Illegal Immigration

Herman Cain stated, “We must secure the border with whatever means necessary. Secondly, enforce the laws that are there. Thirdly, promote the path to citizenship that’s already there. … It’s called legal immigration. And then, fourth, I happen to agree with empowering the states and allow them to deal with that issue. If we work on the right problem, we will be able to solve it. … America can be a nation with high fences and wide open doors. That’s what built this nation.”

Newt Gingrich excited the crowd when he said, “We can control the border. I would be prepared to take as many people from Homeland Security’s bureaucracy in Washington and move them to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, as are needed, to control the border.” He also added, “We should have English as the official language of government, and we should have a method for distinguishing between people who have lived here a long time and people who have come very recently. … I think it’s very important to go back and look at how the Selective Service Commission worked in World War II because it was local, practical decision-making, and people genuinely thought it was fair and it was reasonable.”

Jon Huntsman was very straightforward about it when he said, “When elected president, I’m simply going to prove to the American people that we can secure the border. … And I’m not going to talk about anything else until we get it done. … 1,800 miles, we’ve got a third of it done, between fencing and technology and National Guard boots on the ground. We can finish. And I will talk to the four border state governors and get verification from them that, in fact, we’ve secured the border.”

Ron Paul explained his stand against requiring employers to verify immigration status when he said, “I don’t like putting the burden on our businessmen to be the policemen.” He also added, “If a church helps them and feeds them, we don’t blame the church, or at least we shouldn’t in a free society. But I have a strong position on immigration. I don’t think that we should give amnesty and they become voters.”

Regarding our borders Paul said, “We should deal with our borders. But one way that I would suggest that we could do it is pay less attention to the borders between Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan and bring our troops home and deal with the border. But why do we pay more attention to the borders overseas and less attention to the borders here at home? We now have a mess on the borders, and it has a lot more to do with it than just immigration, because we’re financing some of this militarism against the drug dealers on the borders right now to the tune of over $1 billion. … I do not believe in giving entitlements to illegal immigrants at all. And there should be no mandates on the states to make them do it. “

Mitt Romney took a little bit of a different stance when he said, “We want to make sure that America is a home and welcome to the best and brightest in the world. If someone comes here and gets a Ph.D in physics, that’s the person I’d like to staple a green card to their diploma, rather than saying to them to go home. Instead, we let people come across our border illegally or stay here and overstay their visa. … I want the best and brightest to be metered into the country based upon the needs of our employment sector and create jobs by bringing technology and innovation that comes from people around the world.”

“Look,” he continued, “we are a nation of immigrants. We love legal immigration. But for legal immigration to work, we have to secure the border, and we also have to crack down on employers that hire people who are here illegally. I’d have the number of visas that we give, to people here that come here legally, determined in part by the needs of our employment community.”


Michele Bachmann drew a line in the sand when she said, “[Protecting life] is a fundamental. It’s a nonnegotiable and when we come to a nonnegotiable we must stand and I stand.”

Rick Santorum took a very bold stance when he said, “The Supreme Court of the United States on a recent case said that a man who committed rape could not be killed. … Yet the child conceived as a result of that rape could be. That, to me, sounds like a country that doesn’t have its morals correct. That child did nothing wrong. That child is an innocent victim. To be victimized, twice, would be a horrible thing. It is an innocent human life.” Santorum then supported his stance when he said, “And we in America should be big enough to try to surround ourselves and help women in those terrible situations who’ve been traumatized already. To put them through another trauma of an abortion I think is too much to ask. And so I would absolutely stand and say that one violence is enough.”


Michele Bachemann made herself clear when she said, “I support the federal marriage amendment, because I believe that we will see this issue at the Supreme Court someday. … When I was in Minnesota, I was the chief author of the constitutional amendment to define marriage as one man, one woman. I have an absolutely unblemished record when it comes to this issue of man-woman marriage.”

Jon Huntsman pointed out how he was different when he said, “I believe in traditional marriage first and foremost. … But I also believe in civil unions because I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality. And I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to reciprocal beneficiary rights, and I believe that this is something that ought to be discussed among the various states. … This ought to be an issue that takes place at the local level of government, that’s where these decisions ought to be made. … We haven’t done an adequate job when it comes to equality.”

Ron Paul brought out a third opinion when he said, “I think marriage should be between a single man and a single woman. And the federal government shouldn’t be involved. … I don’t want the federal government having a marriage police. I want the states to deal with it if they need to, but if you didn’t need the states, really, why do we have to have a license to get married? Why don’t we just go to the church? What other individuals do, why can’t we permit them to do whatever they call it; that is their problem not mine – just so nobody else forces their definition of marriage on you. That is what we have to prevent.”

Mitt Romney said, “I believe the issue of marriage should be decided at the federal level. … the reason is because people move from state to state, … they have children. … If one state recognizes a marriage and the other does not, what’s the right of that child? What kind of divorce proceeding potential would there be in a state that didn’t recognize a marriage in the first place? Marriage is a status. … Our marriage status relationship should be constant across the country.  I believe we should have a federal amendment in the constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, because I believe the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and a dad.”

Rick Santorum boldly stated, “Gay marriage came about, as we see here in [the] state of Iowa, where seven justices forced gay marriages on the people of Iowa. I was the only one on this panel who came to Iowa last year and made sure that those three justices were defeated. … We can’t have 50 marriage laws. This was the approach that the left took on abortion which is to pick a few states, pick a few courts, and then go to the Supreme Court and say ‘equal protection.’ You can’t have different state laws; then you will have nine people up at the Supreme Court deciding what marriage is in this country. You have to fight in each state. … I will come to the states and fight to make sure this strategy of picking off a state here and there does not be successful in transforming marriage.”

Health Care

Michele Bachemann said, “When it came to health care, I brought tens of thousands of Americans to Washington to fight the unconstitutional individual mandates. … I was at the tip of the spear fighting against the implementation of Obamacare in the United States Congress. … If the federal government can force American citizens or if a state can force their citizens to purchase health insurance, there is nothing that the state cannot do. This is clearly an unconstitutional action, whether it’s done at the federal level or whether it’s the state level. And I will not rest, as the president of the United States, until we repeal Obamacare.”

Ron Paul took a stand on the state’s right, specifically Massachusetts, under the 10th amendment, to mandate coverage when he said, “The way I would understand the Constitution, the federal government can’t go in and prohibit the states from doing bad things. And I would consider that a very bad thing.” He then added, “We have big trouble in this medical care problem, and we have drifted so far from any of our care being delivered by the marketplace. And once you get the government involved, and both parties have done it, they’ve developed a bit of a medical care delivery system based on corporatism. The corporations are doing quite well, whether it’s Obama or under the Republicans. The drug companies do well. The insurance companies do well. The organized medicine [companies] do well. The management companies do well. The patient and the doctors suffer. There’s a wedge, every time you have the government get in here with these regulations, and have these mandates, there’s a wedge driven in between the doctor and the patient. We have to get the people more control of their care, and that’s why these medical savings accounts could at least introduce the notion of market delivery of medical care.”

Mitt Romney stood up for the health care bill he signed as Governor of Massachusetts when he said, “There are some similarities between what we did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did, but there are some big differences. And one is, I believe, in the 10 th Amendment of the Constitution; and that says that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved by the states and the people. We put together a plan that was right for Massachusetts. … We said, look, we’re finding people that can afford insurance, health insurance, that are going to the hospital and getting the state to pay for them. Taxpayers are picking up hundreds of millions of dollars of costs from people who are free riders. We said, you know what? We’re going to insist that those people who can afford to pay for themselves do so. We believe in personal responsibility. And if the people aren’t willing to do that, then they’re going to help the government pay for them. … The president took the power of the people and the states away from them and put in place a one-size-fits-all plan. … It’s bad constitutional law. … And if I’m president of the United States, on my first day, I’ll … grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. I think you have to repeal Obamacare, and I will, and I’ll put in place a plan that allows states to craft their own programs.”

Rick Santorum took a different approach than Romney when he said, “I was the first author of medical savings accounts back in 1992 with John Kasich in the House, but this is a very important argument here. This is the 10 th Amendment run amok. Michele Bachmann says that she would go in and fight health care being imposed by states, mandatory health, but she wouldn’t go in and fight marriage being imposed by the states, that would be OK. We have Ron Paul saying, oh, whatever the states want to do under the 10 th Amendment’s fine. So, if the states want to pass polygamy, that’s fine. If the states want to impose sterilization, that’s fine. No, our country is based on moral laws, ladies and gentlemen. There are things the states can’t do. Abraham Lincoln said the states do not have the right to do wrong. I respect the 10 th Amendment, but we are a nation that has values. … States don’t have the right to tramp over [values and morals] because of the 10 th Amendment.”

Education-No Child Left Behind

Herman Cain clearly stated, “I believe in education starting at the local level. No Child Left Behind had some faults. I don’t believe in unfunded mandates. I believe that the federal government should be out of the business of trying to micromanage the education of our children.“

Jon Huntsman echoed Cain when he said, “No Child Left Behind hasn’t worked for this country. … We need to take education to the local level, where parents and local elected officials can determine the destiny of these schools. Nobody wants their schools to succeed more than local elected officials and their parents. He then added, “We need choice. We need vouchers. We need more technology in the classroom.”

 The next GOP Primary Debate is scheduled for September 7, 2011, at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

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