Questions For The GOP Field At Tonight’s Debate
Jun 13, 2011 | By Alex Seitz-Wald
Tonight, Republican presidential hopefuls will gather in New Hampshire for the first real debate of the 2012 election. The CNN/WMUR/Union Leader-sponsored event will help introduce the seven candidates to the country and offer the first chance for the field’s top candidates to go head to head, as the front-runners skipped May’s presidential forum in South Carolina. While much remains to be learned about these candidates, here are the questions we’re hoping they each get asked tonight:
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: You’ve positioned yourself as a leader on job creation, releasing a web video today attacking President Obama on the bleak jobs picture. But while you were governor, Massachusetts was ranked 47th on job creation. While you were at Bain, the company slashed jobs. And in 2009, when hundreds of thousands of jobs were on the line when General Motors and Chrysler were struggling for survival, you penned an op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” The government’s rescue of these companies helped return them to profitability and save jobs. Given your record, how can Americans trust you on job creation?
FORMER MINNESOTA GOV. TIM PAWLENTY: Last week, you presented an economic plan that would dramatically cut the top individual income tax rate and the corporate tax rate, depriving the government of up to $7.8 trillion in tax revenue. And that’s on top of the $2.5 trillion cost of extending all of the Bush tax cuts. You’ve said you would pay for the cuts with a nearly unprecedented economic growth rate of 5 percent a year for 10 years that even you yourself say is an “aspiration.” But, in case we are unable to achieve that growth rate, how would you balance the budget with these massive new tax cuts, especially since you’ve taken military cuts off the table?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): You voted for the GOP Medicare privatization plan, but later said there is an “asterisk” by your vote because, you said, “I’m concerned about shifting the cost burden to senior citizens.” Indeed, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says seniors would pay thousands of dollars more each year for their health care starting in 2022. By now, nearly all of your potential opponents have come out in support of the plan — do you fully support it? If not, why?
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): Several recent polls show that a majority of Americans are in favor of gay marriage. Republicans here in New Hampshire have veto-proof majorities in both chambers, but chose to not pursue repealing gay marriage to focus on jobs and the economy. Was that the right decision?
FORMER GODFATHER’S PIZZA CEO HERMAN CAIN: In March, you said you would not appoint Muslims to a Cain administration’s cabinet and then, just this past week on Fox News host Glenn Beck’s show, you called for special loyalty oaths for Muslim political appointees, which you would not give to members of other religions. You’ve also publicly calls on Americans to “re-read” the Constitution, but isn’t your singling out of Muslims unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Before later backtracking, you famously said that the GOP Medicare privatization plan was “right-wing social engineering.” You later disavowed those comments and pledged support for the plan. But now, given the fact that numerous polls showing the plan to be unpopular, the blowback Republican lawmakers faced in their home districts over it, and the results of the special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District, were you right the first time?
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX): You have been very outspoken about your interpretation of the Constitution, passionately arguing that most of what the federal government does today — including Social Security and Medicare — is unconstitutional. As president, would you work to completely repeal these social safety net programs? You’ve also suggested the Civil Rights Act was an unconstitutional encroachment on property owners. Would you work to repeal it? What about similar laws like the Voters With Disability Act or the Voting Rights Act?
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And finally: After CNN blocked former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) from participating in tonight’s debate, Fox News host John Stossel decided to throw Johnson a bone and invited him to debate “President Obama” — in the form of Obama impersonator Reggie Brown. In a “SNL”-worthy seven-minute segment, Brown recited “real Obama quotes” for Johnson to counter in front of “a small studio audience” that “was there to clap for Johnson and boo fake POTUS.”