Rumble in Myrtle Beach

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The Republican presidential candidates debated in South Carolina last night. Mitt Romney tried to secure his lead while the other contenders sought to chip away at it. Every Republican nominee since 1980 has won the South Carolina primary, making it widely viewed as the last chance to stop Romney’s momentum.

The debate audience seemed to favor Romney, though Newt Gingrich won the loudest applauses by far. A remarkable number of attendees supported Ron Paul, admiring his consistency, integrity and willingness to dramatically slash the budget and size of government. A few of his supporters frankly admitted that his national security views are flawed, but argued that the crisis at home is a greater threat than anything abroad. It is clear that, for better or for worse, libertarianism has become a significant force in the Republican Party.

The biggest applause of the night came when Juan Williams forcefully challenged Gingrich, accusing him of “belittling” people and asking him if he could see why some of his statements could be offensive to African-Americans. He pushed back, defending his position that schools should hire students to do work, claiming that one New York City janitor would cost the same as 30 or so students. He explained that it would make kids less likely to drop out, would teach work ethic and “money is a good thing if you are poor.” He vowed to continue to state “facts that are uncomfortable” and put forth similar ideas. The audience roared.

Mitt Romney’s most popular moment came on national security. He responded to a discussion of the raid that killed Bin Laden by saying, “They declared war on us. We go anywhere they are and kill them.” He was booed once when he said that he would have signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which is controversial because it permits the military to indefinitely detain American citizens in the U.S. on suspicion based on associating with terrorists. Santorum responded that such American citizens should have the ability to bring their case to federal judges and the audience clapped.

Rick Santorum’s strongest moment was when he connected values to prosperity. He cited a 2009 Brookings Institution study that found that if you don’t have children outside of marriage, work and graduate high school, you are much more likely to succeed. The study, he said, showed that 77% of those who meet those criteria have above-average income. On the other hand, only 2% of those in poverty don’t fall into those categories.

The statement from Ron Paul that elicited the most positive reaction was when he argued he isn’t cutting defense spending because he doesn’t believe funding overseas military deployments qualify as “defense.” After mentioning the $1 billion price tag on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he said, “You consider that defense, I consider that waste.” He won further applause when he said that the other candidates are inconsistent conservatives because they feel domestic spending is wrong but approve of overseas spending. He also was cheered when he said that he’d eliminate the income tax and the “inflation tax.”

Ron Paul, however, was also the most loudly booed. He defended his opposition to the raid that killed Bin Laden in Pakistan by saying the “more proper way” would have been to work with the Pakistanis so he was handed over like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. He compared the raid to China bombing the U.S. because of a Chinese dissident living here. Gingrich responded that the analogy is “utterly irrational.”

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  • EKA

    Ron Paul demonstrated two utterly horrifying principles, tonight…

    (1) Openly proclaiming he would pick and choose what qualifies as 'military spending' and 'defence spending'. An utter and total lack of comprehension that the Department of Defence administers ALL military activities.

    This is especially worrying, since it confirms the consequences of his earlier debate statements, where he's been very open about how "the Defence Department needs to learn what defence means" and has, effectively, stated that all means of force projection would immediately be trashed: ANYTHING with a primary mission of force projection would be scrapped and the associated specialists mostly given retirement or, for a minority, retrained to completely different technical fields.

    Things like that can't simply be built up at a moment's notice. Look at China's attempts to build a carrier force. You can't just dump a load of sailors and pilots on it and expect the thing to work. There are very specialist areas you need to first build up experience in – and this takes years. That's why the our Royal Navy, here in the UK, is having to keep pilots and such constantly deployed on US carriers, so that those skills don't go to waste while we build our carrier capability back up.

    And yes, that means Ron Paul would, in effect, scrap carriers – as well as their associated escorts. He doesn't believe in force projection, after all. He wants to lock the US military into a purely border defence role. Possibly keeping a few ISBNs on, but I'm not sure he'd even do that much (and if that IS the extent of it, it means he'd be forcing himself and any future President into an option of doing nothing or unleashing nuclear war against an aggressor). After all, he only refers to the money which can be saved when speaking of withdrawal of all global military assets. Not national security concerns.

    And since he wants to do that, this likewise demonstrates no appreciation for how the US Navy polices sea lanes for trade.

    One is reminded of an earlier debate where he openly stated a similar state of confusion about why US troops are stationed in South Korea. Effectively saying he thought they, too, should be 'brought home'… Some might applaud that on impulse, but the logical conclusion of this is that he would TEAR UP TREATIES WITH STRATEGIC ALLIES, essentially stabbing them in the back and putting financial greed ahead of pragmatic responsibility.

    This statement, alleging a supposed difference between 'military' and 'defence' spending (and saying it in such a way as he expected the moderator to be aware of this) means, if implemented, he would be completely at liberty to classify any military asset he wanted to be rid of as 'military spending', scrap it, make the personnel unemployed and then claim he was being 'consistent'.

    (2) The other alarming statement I noticed was in not realising why the Taliban were fought against. He stated a belief that they're somehow different to Al Qaeda, not realising (or showing a worrying lack of memory) how they were allied to and supported/housed Al Qaeda for years. They're wrapped so closely into one another that they're more or less the same entity. For him not to understand this is, to say the least, highly puzzling. His view of the Taliban is that they should be left alone and that they're merely resisting outside influence… Makes me wonder what he thought they were up to before September the 11th.

    Things like these are as bad as his response on a previous debate, stating opposition to a security fence with Mexico, not on a principled moral stand of some sort, but on the rather bizarre ideal that he felt it would be use to somehow imprison citizens within the US if the economy collapsed… Yet, surprisingly, none of his opponents challenged him on this.

    • Flipside

      I see that your believe the President has broad Constitutional power to wage war and waste money, but not to avoid war and save money. Crazy. And conveniently the whole military industrial complex, according to you belongs solely to the Department of Defense? To the guy who created Al Qaeda and trained the Taliban? Did you forget that the President enjoys NATIONAL COMMAND AUTHORITY, and that includes the Department of Defense?

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Attacking capitalism and employing class warfare in the Republican Party is blasphemy. Newt needs to be excommunicated, tarred and feathered, and run out of the Republican Party.

    I watched that stupid documentary; I didn't see one thing that was accurate. In fact, it was far worse than I ever expected. Not to mention that the participants admit being paid and some admit that they are not even mad at Romney.

    Indeed, according to Newt's cronies, Romney owns 15 houses. The reality is he has 3, but why should that even matter?

    Hence, not only is Newt attacking free enterprise, he uses blatant lies and innuendos to do it. Of course, Romney is squeaky clean. Thus, Newt had to resort to attacking fictions by exploiting ignorance.

    • Uncle Samuel

      Bovine Excrement – It is not attacking capitalism as a viable economic system to question the business dealings of one capitalist and his corporation.

      That would be like having to approve the dealings of Corzine and Madoff, or of Fannie and Freddy, or Al Capone, just because they are capitalists.

      Perhaps a remedial course in logic and reason would be to your benefit.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Bovine Excrement – It is not attacking capitalism as a viable economic system to question the business dealings of one capitalist and his corporation.

        That's not what he is doing. Newt is intentionally distorting the truth for political gain. In fact, Fox News discovered that the participants willingly admit to being paid and that some of them that were interviewed even admit that they don't have any problem with Mitt Romney. Oh yeah, out of the four companies profiled, a couple of those companies were closed long after Romney was no longer at Bain, one of them was sold to a Canadian company that later moved the factory to Minnesota and during the time that Bain owned them their hourly pay increased by 2 dollars an hour, and the last company refused to renegotiate its labor agreement forcing the company to go out of business. In any event, all of those companies were run into the ground by their previous owners and were purchased just prior to filing for bankruptcy.

        That would be like having to approve the dealings of Corzine and Madoff,

        Really, when did Romney steal money? Uhm….never. Apparently, you hate capitalism and rich people too.

        or of Fannie and Freddy,

        Newt collected to $1.6 million dollars of taxpayer money from Freddie and Fannie to keep his mouth shut. At first he claimed that he was paid to be their historians, until someone pointed out that he was paid $30,000.00 an hour to be an historian. When Michelle Bachman tried repeatedly to get Newt to explain it, he repeatedly tried to change the subject and to this day still hasn't come up with a plausible explanation yet, obviously because there isn't any other than he accepted a bribe to keep his damn mouth shut.

        Then at the same time he is coordinating with the Obama White House to launch Alinsky like class warfare and anti-Capitalist attacks against Mitt, Fox News reports that Newt is a major stockholder in a company that does the same exact thing as Bain Capital and that, for instance, invested $2 billion dollars in a New England utility company that it subsequently caused to go out of business costing the jobs of thousands of utility workers throughout New England at the same time. In fact, the trials from that fiasco are still going on today even after many years. It's amazing how big of a hypocrite Newt really is.

        And how can we forget that Newt conceded a well publicized global warming debate to John Kerry and then a couple of months later video taped a PSA with Nancy Pelosi urging Congress to pass global warming and cap and trade legislation. Not to mention that he calls Congressman Paul Ryan's medicare reform proposal right-wing social engineering.

        It really doesn't matter because Newt can't win the nomination in any event and even if he did, he'd never come close to being president, as only 9 percent of delusional Americans believe he can defeat Obama. For one, while you may vote for that communists, which is your prerogative, a lot of people like me would never vote for a communists in a million years.

        or Al Capone, just because they are capitalists.

        Damn…you obviously hate capitalist! No wonder you embrace Newt!

        Perhaps a remedial course in logic and reason would be to your benefit.

        Perhaps you should seek mental help before it is too late.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Wow….Newt Gingrich isn't a sleaze bag very much. Two of the people portrayed in that anti-Capitalist video that Newt Gingrich unleashed against the free enterprise system to attempt to demonize Mitt Romney just came forward on Fox News to expose the fact that nothing they were talking about in that video pertained to Bain or Mitt Romney. They said the filmmaker had purposely taken their words out of context to make it look like they were talking about Bain and Mitt Romney, when they were really talking about something else entirely different altogether. Way to go Newt Gingrich, how deliberately low can you go? What a commie sleazebag! That moron will do anything to win.

        And now thanks to Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, they are turning a mountain into a molehill because Mitt Romney pays primarily capital gains taxes of 15 percent because his income consists primarily of investments. I never thought I would see the day when class warfare and anti-Capitalist attacks would run amuck in the Republican Party. It's surreal.

    • Johnk

      Problem: you can't excommunicate him for the reasons you can't get Pelosi

  • enoughalready

    I have always been supporter but did not approve of the PAC ad attacks on capitalism. That being said, all candidates have said they do not control their PACs but Newt did ask his to pull it off and correct it. Obama's biggest campaign contributor was Goldman Sachs…as is Romney's. This should give everyone pause.
    I still support Newt and last night's performance showed once more that he is the only one who can make mincemeat out of Obama in a debate. And say what you will, that will draw a sharp contrast between "US" and "THEM."

    • Uncle Samuel

      To question a particular capitalist's modus operadi, their ethics and use of capitalism is not the same as denying the virtues of free enterprise and capitalism.

      Please consider taking a course in logic and reason. You are thinking like a liberal.

  • mrbean

    All you Ron Paul supporters, you are obviously one digit short of a normal IQ or have a single digit IQ. No conservative believes we had anything to do with 911 or believes we brought it on ourselves. Once you step into the realm of 911 being America's fault, you're in the realm of kook ville anti-America rhetoric. I don't want a President that's going to sympathize with our enemies and rationalize it as it must be our fault. We have that already with the clandestine Muslim Obama. If you like that, vote for Hussein. Also, being a marine combat veteran, I'm sure as hell not voting for some clueless idiot that denies there's still a threat out there against America and wants to deal with it by dismantling our military. Mr. Paul demonstrates that he has a dangerous and fundamental misunderstanding of the threat posed to every American citizen by radical Islam

    • joy52

      Something tells me as time passes, Paul gets more shrill. He will take himself out. The few good ideas he has will bounce around for the next cycle. His fanatic supporters may need help after the election.

      • Fred Dawes

        MANY PEOPLE Will need help after the Darkness of the world bankers have Rape us all. Vote Paul.

      • Flipside

        What kind of help do you suggest?

  • Jim_C

    It's gonna be Romney. And I can see why Ron Paul is in it–he actually has a following.

    The question is, what do the rest of these hapless jokers think they're doing?

    • Jim_C

      Seriously–does anyone know?

      I don't see how they're doing anything but hurting their party's chances by indulging their vanity, at this point. It'd be one thing if this were a close race; it's been anything but.

  • Anamah

    Newt was the best.

  • Fred Dawes

    Vote Paul or become mexico, And all the other guys like that idea with Obama.

  • nunyainct

    Ron Paul came across like a blithering idiot last night about OBL, and any aspect of foreign policy. We are NOT responsible for 911, and what planet does he inhabit when he said we should follow the Golden Rule with foreign countries? Really? Is he talking about the Islamist countries where they amputate the clitoris of women, stone women to death and hang homosexuals, along with their sanctioned pedophilia? THOSE countries? The night belonged to Newt Gingrich who UNDERSTANDS the issues and handed Juan Williams his racism on a platter. Obama must be defeated if we are to save the US. I am hoping for a Gingrich/West ticket:)

  • Reason_For_Life

    Ryan Mauro did the best job of objectively describing what happened of any analyst I've heard so far.

    It was Perry's best performance, Paul's worst, Gingrich had a lot of sizzle but not much steak if you look for particulars, Romney was…whatever and Santorum actually made a couple of good points which, frankly, surprised me since he's by far the most anti-liberty candidate.

    Most of what we heard was about Super PAC lies, income tax returns, candidate flip-flops and birth places. None of that nonsense matters.

    My problem with the debates was that the most important question was never asked. "Do you intend to actually cut the budget from its present level and if so where will you make the cuts?"

    The real tax rate, as Milton Friedman was fond of pointing out, is the Federal Budget divided by the GDP. That has risen from 18% in 2000 to 25% in 2011. Playing with income tax rates won't have much of an effect. All it does is change the distribution of misery, it doesn't fix the problem.

    No candidate got the chance to give specific cuts that he would make. Ron Paul got as far as the Baghdad embassy which was farther than anyone else, but it's a trivial $1B out of a $3500B budget. Hiring kids to do janitorial work is nice, but they won't have any jobs when they graduate because the economy has no openings.

    Block grants to the states may save the feds some money but if they are the usual under-funded mandates then the problem is merely kicked to the states and not fixed.

    It's generally conceded that the continual deficits is the single most dangerous threat to America in a generation yet that 800 pound gorilla was completely ignored by the exceptionally incompetent crew of Fox interrogators. Bret Baird shouldn't be allowed to ask any more questions until he takes a course in economics. He is embarrassingly ignorant.

    Every time a cut is proposed we hear the equivalent of "Iranian armies will march triumphantly through the Capitol" or "Old people will starve and be forced to cannibalize the bodies of other elderly people who died for lack of medical care".

    There's no money left. We've got to cut something somewhere. Make these candidates say where.

  • EKA

    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Self-Reliance'.

    You can be 'consistent' as much as you like, so long as it's with common sense policies. Kim Jong-Il was fairly consistent, too, after all.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Ron Paul doesn't have a chance because there simply aren't enough Jew haters and Israel bashers in this country to vote for that kook.

  • Fred Dawes

    All but one is real and he is hated by the real enemies of freedom, Ron Paul is the only hope to keep us out of the third world war and before that we will become part of the third world and you will see both paties attack Americans ask why in the world would all the parties love NDAA? "It can and will be used against us all".

  • Flipside

    Your misuse of Emerson blackens your tongue.

  • Flipside

    You need a better slanderous comeback, Jim.

  • Fred Dawes

    Is that what obamas guys have told you?

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Actually, it was that unhinged kook himself that told me.