Wednesday night’s CNN Republican debate with its eight contenders and sound-bite responses was akin to a World Wrestling Entertainment bout. Bottom line: President Obama is a failure and President Reagan was tops.
Yet you can glean a fair amount about the candidates via some of their sound-bites. So here’s a stripped-down transcript of the debate. It’s designed to distill the candidates’ essence, illuminate hidden truths, and let you chat knowingly about the exchange over the Thanksgiving holiday:
NEWT GINGRICH: All of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives…I spent years studying this stuff. You start thinking about one nuclear weapon in one American city, and the scale of loss of life, and you ask yourself: What should the president be capable of doing to stop that?
RON PAUL: You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state
MICHELE BACHMANN: Today we deal with wireless functions, and we have to completely change the way that we go about investigating.
RICK PERRY: Well, here’s what I’d do with the TSA. I would privatize it as soon as I could and get rid of those unions.
RICK SANTORUM: We should be trying to find the bomber, not the bomb…obviously, Muslims would be — would be someone you’d look at, absolutely. Those are the folks who are — the radical Muslims are the people that — that are committing these crimes as we’ve — by and large, as well as younger males. I mean, these are things that — not exclusively, but these are things that you profile to — to find your best — the most likely candidate.
PAUL: We’re using too much carelessness in the use of words, that we’re at war. I don’t remember voting on a — on a declared declaration of war.
HERMAN CAIN: If you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like…let’s ask the professionals to give us an approach of how we can increase the identification of people that might be a danger to civilians as well as a danger to this nation.
BACHMANN: The Obama policy of keeping your fingers crossed is not working in Pakistan, and I also — also think that Pakistan is a nation that — it’s — it’s kind of like “too nuclear to fail.”
PERRY: I think it is important for us to send the message to those across the world that if you are not going to be an ally of the United States, do not expect a dime of our citizens’ money to be coming into your country. That is the way we change foreign policy.
BACHMANN: These weapons could find their way out of — out of Pakistan into New York City or into Washington, D.C., and a nuclear weapon could be set off in this city.
JON HUNTSMAN: We haven’t done a very good job defining and articulating what the end point is in Afghanistan. I think the American people are getting very tired about where we find ourselves today.
MITT ROMNEY: The commanders on the ground feel that we should bring down our surge troops by December of 2012 and bring down all of our troops, other than perhaps 10,000 or so, by the end of 2014…This is not time for America to cut and run.
HUNTSMAN: Of course you’re going to listen to the generals. But I also remember when people listened to the generals in 1967, and we heard a certain course of action in Southeast Asia didn’t serve our interests very well.
PAUL: Just think of all the money we gave to Egypt over 30 or 40 years. Now look. We were buying friendship. Now there’s a civil war. They’re less friendly to Israel. That whole thing is going to backfire once we go bankrupt and we remove our troops.
GINGRICH: But if we were serious, we could break the Iranian regime, I think, within a year, starting, candidly with cutting off the gasoline supply to Iran and then, frankly, sabotaging the only refinery they have.
SANTORUM: America is that shining city on the hill.
PAUL: I think the aid is all worthless. It doesn’t do any good for most of the people. You take money from poor people in this country, and you end up giving it to rich people in poor countries. And they’re used as weapons of war, so you accomplish nothing.
ROMNEY: They’re cutting a trillion dollars out of the defense budget, which just happens to equal the trillion dollars they’re putting into “Obamacare”…They stopped the F- 22. They delayed aircraft carriers. They stopped the Navy cruiser system. They said long-range Air Force bombers aren’t going to be built. They’re trying to cut our troops by 50,000. The list goes on. They’re cutting programs to cut into the capacity of America to defend itself.
GINGRICH: It’s clear, if it takes 15 to 20 years to build a weapons system at a time when Apple changes technology every nine months, there’s something profoundly wrong with the system.
PERRY: I’ve worn the uniform of this country.
SANTORUM: Well, as the son of a legal immigrant to this country, I strongly believe in legal immigration and believe we are that shining city on the hill.
HUNTSMAN: I have to say that our biggest problem is right here at home. And you can see it on every street corner. It’s called joblessness. It’s called lack of opportunity. It’s called debt that has become a national security problem in this country. And it’s also called our trust deficit. A Congress that nobody believes in anymore. An executive branch that has no leadership. Institutions of power that we no longer believe in. How can we have any effective foreign policy abroad when we are so weak at home?