On September 22, nine Republican candidates will meet in the  Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for the Fox News/Google Debate.

The debate will be anchored by Bret Baier (Special Report) and featuring panelists Chris Wallace (Fox News Sunday) and Megyn Kelly (America Live).

According to the rules requiring polling at least one-percent in the FOX, CNN, ABC, McClatchy-Marist and Quinnipiac national polls former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson, qualified to join the other debate participants.

This debate will focus on social security, ObamaCare, spending, taxes and foreign affairs – probably with an emphasis on Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Google component will allow questions from an international audience although they have no right to participate in tonight’s debate or even render an opinion which takes time from serious candidates. I believe that we are in the good hands of Bret Baier who proved himself to be an excellent moderator in other debates.

Each of the candidates will have something to prove or a point to make:

Rick Perry, positioned by the media as the front-runner, he appears to be on top in recent polls although the distance between him and Mitt Romney has closed considerably after the last debate.  Perry must successfully fend off attacks on his positions to remain the front-runner. Issues likely to cause concern:

  • Social Security as a state – rather than a federal mandate.
  • State power to compel vaccinations.
  • Immigration since he has a cooperative relationship with Mexico and allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition.
  • Foreign policy as it relates to Israel.

 Mitt Romney, must re-capture the lead from Rick Perry and continue to present a polished, informed presidential demeanor. Look for Romney to attack frontrunner Perry over Social Security – a major issue in Florida. Romney can clearly beat Obama – now it needs to be seen if he can beat a Southern Conservative.

Michelle Bachmann, Another opportunity to diminish Rick Perry’s influence on her conservative base. But must fend off some of her unprovable and nutty statements when it comes to vaccinations. Prone to making statements that encourage post-debate fact checking.

Herman Cain, expect more of “we need to define the problem, I’ve got a solution, Here is what you have to do” directness. He is auditioning for the position of Vice President.

Rick Santorum, look for Rick Santorum to attempt to raise his presence by attacking Perry. Another Vice Presidential hopeful. Ardent supporter of Israel.  Could be trying for a Cabinet position.

Ron Paul. Same as always, one should expect another feisty rant from the quirky, passive-aggressive Ron Paul. Look for everything to devolve into a constitutional issue – with emphasis on non-interventionism, the Federal Reserve and possibly Obamacare.  He continues to be an entertaining non-starter.

Newt Gingrich. He is mostly irrelevant with high personal negatives that offset his command of history. Look for Newt to chastise the media and go after Obama. He will defend himself but does not seem likely to  gratuitously attack a fellow candidate. Good for memorable sound bites.

Jon Huntsman. The empty suit, the odd man out who should be running as a democrat on the democrat ticket. He is articulate, telegenic and appears to be every bit as much an empty suit as President Barack Obama. Look for him to attack the front-runners to remain relevant in the media. Especially Rick Perry.

Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor who has not participated in previous polls and has no right to be on the platform tonight. His participation only takes time away from the serious candidates and is not likely to enter the ranks of  the second tier of candidates. He needs a breakout moment that can only be achieved by mortally wounding another candidate. Since he has relatively no media exposure – it has to be an explosive performance to even make it to Vice Presidential consideration.

The Players, comments and result …




cyan_upcyan_up MITT
(Small Business) Lower taxes; fair and predictable regulatory environment that is fair and predictable; tort reform; plan to follow. Under $200,000 little or no tax on interest, dividends  and capital gains.  59-point jobs plan. Corporate and Employer tax rates have to be competitive. Government and regulators must be allies of business not foes. Energy Secure. Trade policies that work for us and not only for the other guys. Does not define “rich,” wants people to have opportunity.

Reinforces sound and stable social security. 

Refused to call Obama a socialist – but characterized him as a  big spending liberal, Obama takes inspiration from socialist democrats in Europe. Need to rein in the size of government.

Education must be at state level, get the federal government out of education. Smaller class size is promoted by the teachers’ unions. Best thing for education is great teachers. Test the children. Will stand up to national teachers unions. Says Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is doing a good thing by saying teachers should get evaluated, remove unsuccessful teachers from the classroom.

Attacked Perry on letting illegal aliens get in-state tuition. Doesn’t make sense to subsidize illegal aliens while making residents of other states pay more.  We have to have a fence, enough border agents, e-verify, turn off the magnet of extraordinary government benefits.  

Israel: Not an inch of space between America and her allies. The right course for us is not to negotiate for Israel, but to stand behind our friends, listen to them and let the whole world know we will support them and defend them. Unacceptable for Iran to become a nuclear nation.

As Texans, Perry has a different approach from President Bush in style and substance. Spending, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind.  

Need market-based insurance. Romneycare was different from Obamacare. It is market-based not government-based. Would issue a waiver for all 50 states opting out of ObamaCare. 

I know what I stand for. I have written it down.  Words have meaning and I have the experience to get this country going again.

Need leadership, a truth teller, a patriot.

You want a running mate that could be the President of the United States. Anyone would be better than what we have now.
cyan_rightcyan_down RICK
(Small Business)  competitive tax rates; energy independence; Obama did everything wrong. Tort reform. Written jobs plan to follow.

Changed answer on Social Security being returned to the states. Public employees should be able to opt out of federal social security. Solemn oath to protect social security for those now covered or people about to be covered.

Attacked RomneyCare as a failure.

School choice (vouchers), Attacked Romney on supporting Obama’s “Race to the Top” as not being conservative.

High on border security but opposes a fence; supports in-state tuition (subsidy) for illegal aliens. Formerly proposed U.S.-Mexico insurance policy. Responds to Perry attack by claiming building a 1200-mile fence does not make sense. You put the boots on the ground.

Pakistan: Ally with India, stand by our allies.

Tried to get a Medicaid waiver to have more options in healthcare. He wants healthcare decisions to be made at state level.  

Attacked Romney as a flip-flopper. Romney responded in kind.

Joked his running mate would be a combination of Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.
cyan_rightcyan_down MICHELLE BACHMANN
Taxes: It’s your money, you should keep it.

Education: local control with parents. Repeal entire federal education law. Turn out the lights at the Department of Education and send the money back to the states. 

Uphold the sovereignty of the United States. Build the fence  on every inch. Enforce immigration laws on the books. No tax-payer benefits for illegals or their children. No magnets. 

Government should not be a State Church is essence of separation of Church and State. Doesn’t mean people of faith should not be allowed to exercise faith in public square.

Walked back HPV vaccine/mental illness story by saying she was repeating what an audience member had claimed. And that Perry replaced parental decision with government decision. 

Tried to smear Perry his ad his aide’s connection with the HPV drug company. 

Perry admitted error, but claimed he “erred on the side of life” and would do it differently. Claimed that there was an “opt out” provision.

Introduced a bill to repeal ObamaCare and that’s the first thing she would do if elected.

Conservatives should not have to settle.
cyan_rightcyan_up HERMAN CAIN Toss the tax code. His 9-9-9 (9% corporate tax, personal income tax and national sales tax) plan is the answer.

Eliminate EPA and rebuild a responsible EPA. Adopt Chilean model of social security – personal retirement accounts.

Education: all the programs at the federal level where there are strings attached, cut all strings. Got the federal government out of education.

Peace through strength and clarity. Mess with Israel and you mess with the United States of America.

Bureaucrats should not be inserted between the patient and their doctor. Compelling personal story about surviving stage-4 cancer with surgery, chemo because he could get access promptly, not deal with bureaucratic clerks.

Continues to stress need for leadership.

Would select Romney as a running mate if he would adopt 9-9-9 or Gingrich who he greatly admires.
cyan_rightcyan_up RICK SANTORUM Waffled on union question and right to work; believes public employee unions should be eliminated.

Education doesn’t serve the customer: the parents.
Parents responsibility to educate their children, not the government’s responsibility.

Tells Perry he is making a leap: that unless the taxpayers subsidize education for illegals, they won’t be able to go to college. Let them get jobs like everyone else. As why should illegal aliens be given preferential treatment as an illegal in this country? Perry is soft on illegal immigration; doesn’t want to build a fence. Talked about buying national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. He is weak on American sovereignty and protecting our borders.
Listen to the Generals, stabilize Iraq government. Wants victory, not political interference.

Iraq: Not for removing troops from the region. Listen to our generals, we need to stabilize Iraq. We engage because we want to be successful, we want victory not on a political agenda to withdraw troops.

Pakistan: establish allies in the country to make sure any coup could be overturned before nuclear weapons become accessible to unknown parties.

Gay Issues: Sex has no place in military. Would return to don’t ask-don’t tell. Tragic we are playing social experiments with military. Keep sex private.

We have a President who does not understand what America is all about.

Would hypothetically pick Newt Gingrich as a running mate.
Veto all unconstitutional bills that violates the 10th Amendment. No federal authority to control economy, schools or personal lives.
Do thinks at state level.

Get the Federal Government out of education. Parents should get tax credits and be able to opt of of the system. Don’t enforce
“No child left behind.”

Thinking about the fences keeping people out, maybe they could used to keep us in. Went into repatriation of dollars held overseas. When countries destroy their currency, they do lead to capital controls – and they lead to people controls. Spoke about national databanks and national ID. No benefits for illegals. No free education, no free subsidies, no citizenship, no birth rights citizenship.    

Supports rape exception to abortion and morning after pill as a state issue. There are times when the law does not solve the problems, only the moral character of the people will eventually solve this problem.

Have to deal with the Federal Reserve, free-markets, the tax program and the regulatory system – then you can create jobs.

Would concentrate on being candidate one or two, rather than name a running mate.
cyan_downcyan_down NEWT GINGRICH Tie unemployment benefits to training as an investment in human capital. Unemployment without training is wrong.
People should not get money for doing nothing.

Will create 21st Contract with America.

Shrink the Department of Education and get rid of all its regulations. States should adopt the equivalent of Pell Grants (vouchers) for all K-12 so parents can choose where their children go to school.

Outsource e-verify to credit card companies and do it right. 100% control of the border and English as the offical language of government. Modernize legal visa system.

Replace government-to-government aid with business investment. Don’t give money to people who vote against us in the United Nations. 

An unstable and nuclear Pakistan presents the greatest threat.

Nothing will turn America around more than on election night when Barack Obama loses decisively.

Claimed picking a vice president isn’t a Hollywood game.
cyan_rightcyan_up JON HUNTSMAN Mostly platitudes. Energy independence; major push and short-term subsidy for natural gas. Believes his wife is the greatest person he has ever known.

We’re not going to raise taxes. Reform tax code.Phases out for individuals all the loopholes, all the deductions  and creates three rates: 8%/14%/23%. Corporate – phases out all of the corporate welfare, all of the subsidies – taxed at 25%. Tax reform, structural reform dealing with Dodd-Frank, repeal Obamacare.

Signed second voucher bill in the United States. Promotes early childhood literacy.
Say no to mandates coming out of Washington. Localize education.

Huntsman to Perry: Bring troops home from Afghanistan.
Perry responded: Just because our economy is sick, does not mean our country is sick and does not mean our values are sick.We are going to stand up for those values and make sure our country is safe. We should be fighting wars to win, not fighting wars for politics. Change the Rules of Engagement.

Huntsman to Perry: Only Pakistan can save Pakistan. Only Afghanistan can save Afghanistan. All I want now is for America to save America. 
ObamaCare brought uncertainty to the economy. Gummed up our system. It should be a state issue with affordable catastrophic coverage. Cost containment by harmonizing medical records.

Running mate – Herman Cain.
cyan_downcyan_downcyan_down GARY JOHNSON Balanced budget in 2013and veto everything where expenditure exceed revenue. Throw out tax code for consumption (FAIR) tax.

More tedious than his libertarian cohort Ron Paul when it comes to repeating he is for a balanced budget.

Eliminate Department of Education.

Greatest threat to national security is a bankrupt America. Will submit a balanced budget in 2013 with a 43% reduction in military spending.
Supports trade to Cuba because trade promotes friendship.

Michelle Bachmann reminds all that Cuba is still on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Balance the budget now, throw out the tax code and replace it with the FAIR tax.

Would want Ron Paul as a hypothetical running mate.

Best lines …

“My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this administration.”– Gary Johnson

“I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I only spent four as a governor, I didn’t inhale.” – Mitt Romney

Megyn Kelly: … “How can you possibly slash spending by 40 percent? How can you do it”  “Well by the way you describe the question, you can’t.  … If you assume that Washington remains as Washington is right know, it’s all hopeless. You might as well buy Greek bonds and go down together.”  

“Sometimes we are frustrated with all of you answering questions.” – Moderator Chris Wallace.

“When your brother-in-law is unemployed, it’s a recession. When you are unemployed, it’s a depression. When Jimmy Carter is unemployed, it’s a recovery.” – Newt Gingrich

When asked to pick a hypothetical running mate: “These are all good friends of mine. I couldn’t imagine hurting their feelings by choosing one tonight.” –- Newt Gingrich. 

Bottom line …

One, there are too many people in the debate which dilutes the time available for serious answers that go beyond one minute sound bites.

Two, there was too much emphasis on the trivial and pre-tested platitudes. There must be serious discussions – not an attempt to create media-friendly sound bites. Perhaps we should not treat these debates as a time-constrained media package and go back to the long-format with media reporting after the fact and the video being made available on YouTube.

Three, it is clear that the GOP has, once again, steered America into a pre-ordained outcome. With Mitt Romney as the designated candidate, Rick Perry as the loyal opposition who makes the chosen one look good. And the rest of the characters, contestants, candidates as local color to give the appearance of choice.

Four, the use of the social media like Twitter and YouTube is a glitzy distraction giving the appearance of participation; but the truth is that the questions were picked before hand by the moderator and producer’s panel and the time wasted in the video presentation is not helpful. Google searches and word clouds were filler and eye-candy.

Megyn Kelley was a disappointment when she asked Perry to account for a Perry-Bush feud and Perry was forced to waste time saying nice things about Bush. Something no one cares about and is trivial.  

It would be nice to see someone else with core principles run for office. My choice would be Alan West for President. And unfortunately Marco Rubio appears to be Constitutionally ineligible, because his parents became citizens 4 years after he was born and cannot be regarded as a “natural born” citizen. Ditto for that other Republican rising star, Bobby Jindal.

In the final analysis, it looks like Romney looked composed and presidential; Perry looked hesitant. Michelle Bachmann did not make a real impact. The others were so-so, except Gary Johnson who was somewhat annoying. If nothing significant happens, what we will get is the GOP’s version of  “Obama-Lite.”

-- steve

We all agree …

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