At the next Republican presidential primary debate on Monday night, Fox News will be measuring viewers’ reactions to each answer on Twitter, the social Web site that acts as an online water cooler during big television events.
Twitter users who are watching the debate will be encouraged to react using the hashtags #answer and #dodge — giving their assessment of whether the candidates are dodging or actually answering questions — and the results will be displayed in metered form on FoxNews.com.
Afterward, when TV commentators are analyzing what happened at the debate, “we’re going to try to pull some of this data into those conversations,” said Jeff Misenti, the vice president and general manager of Fox News Digital.
Fox News and Twitter tested the meters during an earlier debate in December.
“Fox was game to experiment with us on something that hadn’t been done before — real-time measurement of audience reaction over Twitter,” said Adam Sharp, the manager of government and political partnerships for Twitter in Washington. he added that Twitter executives had already been impressed by the Twitter use of Bret Baier, the Fox anchor who will be moderating the debate.
The partnership between Fox News and Twitter is the latest in a wave of online extensions to the 2012 presidential debates. CNN used a Twitter hashtag to highlight debate reactions on its Web site last year; NBC News teamed up with Facebook for a debate; and ABC News promoted a way to see campaign “spin” in real time.
Twitter is calling this the first “Twitter election.” Televised debates are chances for it and other companies to show off their audience bases, and for TV networks like Fox to experiment with new technology.
Mr. Misenti cautioned that “one of the traps that we can all fall into right now is using technology to be cute.” As long as that’s avoided, he said, the data gathered from a site like Twitter can add value to both TV and Web news coverage.
By Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan Published on Monday, January 23rd, 2012 at 9:29 p.m.
the Republican debate in Tampa turned into a sparring match Monday night as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney attacked each other on their records in political office.
Gingrich began the debate with a spirited defense of his record as speaker of the House of Representatives. he repeated a claim we've heard before, that "When I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets." In fact, two of those balanced budgets occured after he left office. We rated that claim False.
Romney attacked Gingrich for his record, claiming that "at the end of four years, he had to resign in disgrace. We interviewed experts about Gingrich's resignation and found that it was more complicated than Romney described.
Gingrich sought to downplay his work for Freddie Mac, the government-chartered mortgage company, by saying it was a government-sponsored enterprise just like credit unions and rural electrical co-operatives. We checked and found the list of GSEs is actually quite small and does not include credit unions and electrical co-ops. Pants on Fire!
Romney criticized President Barack Obama's jobs record, saying that ""we have 25 million Americans out of work." We found the number of unemployed depends what measurement you use and the usual figure is about half that figure. We rated the claim half True.
Romney also criticized Gingrich for his consulting work at Freddie Mac, the mortgage loan giant. Romney said Gingrich's contract was with the lobbyists at Freddie Mac. We looked at the 2006 contract the Gingrich campaign released the night of the debate and concluded Romney was right. We rated his statement True.
It’s officially a reality television Republican primary now.
Donald Trump is pairing up with Newsmax, the conservative magazine and news Web site, to moderate a presidential debate in Des Moines on Dec. 27.
“Our readers and the grass roots really love Trump,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media. “They may not agree with him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.” Mr. Trump’s role in the debate, which will be broadcast on the cable network Ion Television, is sure to be one of the more memorable moments in a primary season that has already delivered its fair share of circus-like spectacle.
Mr. Trump’s own flirtation with running for president this year seems almost quaint (whose birth certificate was he all worked up about?) compared with more recent distractions – like allegations of adultery and sexual harassment, gaffes that seemed scripted from a late-night comedy show, and a six-figure line of credit at Tiffany & co.
But despite being derided by liberals – President Obama likened Mr. Trump to a “carnival barker” for his repeated assertions that the president was actually foreign-born – the real estate mogul carries weight with a certain element of the conservative base. And that sway seems particularly strong with the Tea Party wing of the base, which will be a decisive factor in the early primaries that are likely to determine the nominee. The debate, which unlike many recent ones will not be limited to a specific topic like national security or the economy, is set to happen just a week before the Iowa caucuses.
Newsmax sent candidates the invitation on Friday afternoon. it began, “we are pleased to cordially invite you to “The Newsmax Ion Television 2012 Presidential Debate,” moderated by a truly great American, Mr. Donald J. Trump.” Spokesmen for several candidates did not immediately respond to questions from The New York Times about whether they would accept.
Though presidential candidates may initially balk at the idea of appearing in a debate where Mr. Trump – with his bombast and The Hair – is the one posing the questions, they may ultimately see it as an invitation they can’t refuse. in fact many of the candidates have already met with him, some more publicly than others. Representative Michele Bachmann has sat down with Mr. Trump several times this year. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas had dinner with him at Jean Georges, the posh Manhattan restaurant. And Mitt Romney paid a visit but carefully avoided being photographed.
And Newsmax is a powerful player itself. it has a broad reach into the conservative base, with monthly Web traffic second only to Fox News among sites with conservative-leaning audiences.
Mr. Trump has been a popular attraction at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering in Washington. he was such a successful presence in the eyes of Fox News executives that they added a special weekly segment to their morning show “Fox and Friends” for him called “Mondays with Trump.”
Whether his professed presidential ambitions are genuine or merely a publicity stunt seems not to matter in terms of the news media attention Mr. Trump can command. His highly publicized flirtation with running this year coincided with a Trump-branded product that stood to benefit from all the attention – a new season of his highly rated NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
The arc of his noncampaign was similar in 1987 and 1999 – when Mr. Trump also said that he was considering running for president, episodes that are often forgotten.
His book ”Trump: The Art of the Deal” was published in November 1987 and reached The New York Times best-seller list by December. But by the time the Republican National Convention rolled around in August 1988, he had opted out.
”everybody wants me to do it,” he declared then. ”But I have no interest in doing it.”
And in late 1999, just before his book ”The America we Deserve” went on sale, he began courting support as a candidate on the Reform Party ticket. he even toured the country with his girlfriend, Melania Knauss, now his wife. The outcome? you guessed it.
Anti-Wall Street activists protest at Republican debate
(AFP)–Jan 7, 2012
MANCHESTER, new Hampshire — Protesters inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement gathered at the Republican presidential debate Saturday to blame “corporate greed” for economic turmoil being felt around the globe.
Dan Garrett, who traveled from new Haven, Connecticut, with his six-year-old daughter, Abigail, carried a sign reading, “Republicans love the rich.”
“Our country is at a crossroads,” said the 51-year-old property manager, “And the Republican Party has become more and more extreme. They’re being controlled by the Tea Party.”
Twenty other protesters had carpooled from Portland, Maine, and planned to stagger their return home to be able to make as much of a message splash before new Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary this Tuesday.
They also were inspired by the Occupy movement, which is known by the slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” a reference to income disparities.
Desiree Tanguay, a 19-year-old activist from Portland, said she’d come to “point out the ridiculousness of party politics,” adding, “it creates divisions and nothing ever gets done.”
Protesters were corralled, along with advocates for individual Republican candidates, into a lot not far from the building at Saint Anselm College where the presidential candidates prepared to debate.
Though it was unlikely the candidates heard the protesters, Lydia Simas, a 30-year-old shoe salesperson from Peterborough, new Hampshire, saw value in her participation.
“I want to end oppression, classism, racism and sexism,” Simas said. “People are exploited against for the richest one percent. Being here lets me get the message out.”
Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.More »
“Elect us, and your kids will be able to move out because they’ll have work!”
Rick Santorum at the debate at the North Charleston Coliseum January 19 in Charleston, South Carolina. , John Moore / Getty Images
Electoral politics has always been about managing public expectations, about promising what voters desperately want to hear without revealing yourself to be totally full of shit.
Gingrich has been navigating this line by virtue of volume and vitriol. No one overpromises like the former speaker: Vote for me, and every God-fearing, patriotic American will be rich, happy, and sexually satisfied!
Arguably, the only thing Newt is even better at is grabbing credit: Ronald Reagan? Great guy—but he owes most of his success to me.
Both of these talents were on vivid display in Charleston. and, tonight, Rick Santorum repeatedly and loudly cried bullshit on the speaker.
“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich,” Santorum said of his opponent’s shameless self-promotion. “A month ago, he was saying, ‘Oh, I’m inevitable.’ it was, ‘I’m destined to do it.’”
Of Newt’s electoral braggadocio, Santorum charged, “These are not cogent thoughts.”
Spot on, brother. and yet…
I’ll bet $10,000 that none of Santorum’s attacks tonight will make a lasting impression on anyone who doesn’t already share his concerns.
It’s not really Santorum’s fault. The senator was, even more than usual, passionate, cogent, and earnest in his criticisms. Not to mention accurate.
But there is just something about Senator Sweater Vest that doesn’t resonate, no matter how fired up he gets. it is a matter of presentation: He is too plaintive, too beseeching—even when he’s got both barrels blazing. He is begging rather than commanding us to recognize Gingrich’s many absurdities.
The speaker, by contrast, comes across as both condescending and thuggish even when he’s trying to woo. He is the junkyard dog to Rick Santorum’s yipping puppy.
In other words, he is just what much of South Carolina electorate has been pining for.
Saturday’s primary is looking more exciting by the second.
The immigration debate relative to undocumented persons currently in the country is not a complex issue at all. Formulating the immigration issue as a wedge between people is what makes its resolution complex. Only by knowing the facts and mitigating these in a pragmatic but not necessarily ideologically pure manner will the immigration issue be solved.
Back in 2006 it was evident that the status quo in immigration would be challenged not functionally but simply rhetorically. I posted the following in my political blog.
Right Wing Republican bait & switch? not this time.
The right Wing Republican media machine is one of the best ever. the synchronicity of this machine from the blogosphere to the radio to the television warrants many graduate theses. Now that the truth of Dick Cheney deceit via President Bushes aloof entry into Iraq is being uncovered the machine is gearing up for a major change in subject. They are throwing out the illegal immigration balloon and attempting to tie it to potential terrorism. Every crime committed by an illegal is accentuated. it is important that we do not allow this to happen less we fail our country yet again.
The insanity of the War in Iraq has cost us over 400 Billion dollars thus far. it is rather immoral that we can spend limitless for a war whose major beneficiaries are the Vice President’s crony corporate associates while;
- Making every American more vulnerable to terrorist attack in every corner of the world
- Sacrificing major necessary infrastructure projects
- Under funding K12 and college assistance in a time when our major competitors are gaining on us in parabolically.
- Not providing the resources necessary to protect the homeland.
We must be aggressive in showing this change in topic is a farce. the right Wing knows that when illegal immigration is framed in terms of terrorism American job loss health care & welfare abuse and depressed American wages most marginally skilled Americans will generally accept their misinformation at face value.
To counter the misinformation we must be ready to answer each point and offer actual solutions. While we cannot condone illegal immigration officially our economy depends on it. the reality is that the illegal aliens as a whole contribute much more to our society that they take in the aggregate. Many pay social security taxes they will never benefit from. Their disposable income turns over many times to support many local economies. They perform services that most Americans would rather not do at a fair price.
The reality is if we had spent the 25 percent of the monies we spent in Iraq we could have done much more to protect our borders. moreover we would have been able to spend more time on legitimizing the guest worker program we tacitly have.
The drumbeat continued and in 2010 after the Healthcare Debate was lost by the right as the President found a way to block it obstruction. at that point I blogged the following rather partisan but true analysis/statement.
Make the immigration issue our issue
By December of 2005 it was evident that the Republican right Wing was getting ready to create a new crisis that is afflicting our country. in that light I wrote the following blog right Wing Republican bait & switch? not this time. Given
- that during the majority of the Bush administration the Republicans controlled the Executive & Legislature (both Senate & House)
- that 9-11 occurred 5 years back with no substantive improvement in border security in said period (neither the Canadian or Mexican border)
- that the largest border of all our coastline and ports remained porous
It is laughable that the right Wing would have the mitigated gall to use this issue as a wedge in an attempt to corner liberals into the trap of being against the population. Their idea is to plant stories in all mass media about the strain illegal aliens are putting on society at large as well as the security implications. after this false impression has metastasized they then challenge Liberals as being soft on illegal immigration and security.
In watching the discourse in the mass media and in the blogosphere I fail to see an emphatic response specifically hammering every right Winger that brings up the immigration issue with their specific failure being the party in power to submit or effect legislation to protect the border. This one issue packaged appropriately can show their incompetence and hypocrisy.
The reality is that the immigration issue is a complex issue that is not easily explained in sound bytes (the preferred language of communication perfected by the right Wing). As such it is best not to be forced to address issues of citizenship but hammer on border security as well as homeland security. We do not need get wordy or nuanced on this issue. Make the immigration issue our issue.
Of interest is that while many are attempting to use immigration as a wedge issue, many towns wants solution. that a conservative Colorado Town wants a path to citizenship for undocumented workers illustrates why outside the rhetoric of immigrant hate and prejudice, pragmatism would likely be acceptable to most Americans. an article in Newsweek titled Why Americans Think (Wrongly) that Illegal Immigrants Hurt the Economy illustrates why the education process of the American populace is likely necessary before the wherewithal to create any good comprehensive immigration bill is political plausible.
We are all aware of the many punitive anti-immigration bills currently passed or being in the process of being passed in the states such as Arizona(SB 1070), Utah (HB 497), & Georgia (HB 87). These bills are all likely to be declared unconstitutional as only the Federal Government has authority to enforce immigration. what we need is to first understand the facts about immigration and pragmatically create an immigration schema that takes today’s reality into account.
First here are a few facts:
- Undocumented workers otherwise stimulate the economy on the demand.
- Undocumented workers are less likely to commit crimes
- Many undocumented workers pay into social security but will never get any at retirement. in fact illegal immigrants bolster social security with billions. back in 2005 they provided $5 Billion in Social Security and Medicare payments they will never collect
- The financial cost of undocumented workers on states is statistically marginal while their over benefit to quality of life on natives is high.
- Undocumented workers do cause the wages of American workers to fall.
- If American employers do not knowingly employ undocumented workers, most will stay home.
Plausible Solution: Knowing the above facts make solving the Immigration issue rather simple if the political will is there.
- Tighten the border. Tightening the border includes more than tightening the southern border. it means surveillance of both borders as well as the shoreline, a monumental task that will require the use of available technology.
- Provide a blanket amnesty to all undocumented aliens as of date of legislation. Non-violent criminals should be given probationary status to maximize the number of undocumented residents coming out of the shadows. Violent criminals will never come out but should be deported when caught. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to incarcerate in the US.
- Create a national worker ID card that an employer can use to identify a legal worker. This eliminates employer liability and ensures employer compliance with the new immigration law.
- Political asylum notwithstanding, deport anyone beyond their vacation visa or no visa post new immigration law.
A basic template for immigration reform is simple. Unfortunately it is also an issue that can be used to insight racial, cultural, an economic fear in natives that is ultimately detrimental to the society as a whole.
Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) — the four remaining Republican presidential candidates faced off Thursday for the second time in three days and two days ahead of South Carolina’s pivotal primary.
Just weeks ago, South Carolina looked like it might seal the deal for then-front-runner Mitt Romney, but the polls have tightened in the weeks leading up to Saturday’s vote.
Here are five things we learned from the CNN-Southern Republican debate:
Newt nails the press… again
It took less than five minutes for Newt Gingrich to find his sweet spot.
In the first question of the debate, moderator John King asked Gingrich if he wanted to respond to the drama that engulfed his campaign on Thursday — the claim by ex-wife, Marianne, that the former House speaker asked her to have an “open marriage” while he was having an affair with a staffer (his current wife, Callista).
Gingrich glowered at King and responded: “No.”
He proceeded to fume at CNN and the rest of the media for their “despicable” efforts to peddle “trash” just days before the pivotal South Carolina primary — a lengthy tirade that drew cheers and a standing ovation from the audience in North Charleston.
“I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans,” he said, once again embracing his self-appointed role as the GOP’s leading media critic.
There was also a new headline buried beneath the fireworks: Gingrich denied Marianne’s charges outright, something he had stopped short of doing in the wake of Marianne Gingrich’s explosive ABC News interview.
Never mind that character or personality issues are fixtures of American political campaigns — or that Gingrich helped lead the charge against President Bill Clinton after he admitted infidelity with a White House intern in 1998 — his press-bashing tirade was largely a winning tactic.
Gingrich curried favor with Republicans and neutralized the sting of the ABC story by painting the media as a bunch of salacious liberal muckrakers.
At the end of the night, though, his indignation had miraculously subsided.
Given the chance to make a closing statement, Gingrich politely thanked CNN for an “interesting and useful evening.”
Character issues are fair game
While his pushback against the “open marriage” question was aggressive, Gingrich did not completely sideline the issue of his past infidelities — a topic that frequently bubbles up across South Carolina in conversations with Republican voters.
Gingrich’s two main rivals for the conservative anti-Romney vote — Santorum and Ron Paul — both said questions about a candidate’s character were fair game.
“These are issues of our lives and what we did in our lives,” said Santorum, a staunch Catholic who has made faith and values central themes of his candidacy. “They are issues of character for people to consider. but the bottom line is those are — those are things for everyone in this audience to look at. And they’re going to look at me, look at what I’ve done in my private life and personal life, unfortunately.”
Paul said Republicans face unfair scrutiny from the media, but agreed with Santorum.
“I think setting standards are very important and I’m very proud that my wife of 54 years is with me tonight,” he said.
Only Romney, who prefers to talk about the economy, took a pass on the character issue.
“Let’s get on to the real issues is all I’ve got to say,” he said.
Taxes take center stage
For the second time in one week, Romney hit a speed bump when pressed on the matter of his tax returns.
Asked by Rick Perry and moderators during a debate in Myrtle Beach on Monday if he plans to publicly release his tax records, Romney squirmed and said he might release them sometime around April.
He gave a more definitive answer the following day on the campaign trail to clean up the mess, promising to release his returns and revealing that he probably pays a 15% tax rate — a rate lower than many working Americans pay.
King asked Romney on Thursday if he would follow the example of his father, George Romney, — also a governor and presidential candidate — who made his tax returns public for 12 years.
“Maybe,” he said. “I don’t know how many years I’ll release.”
Romney’s hesitant answer was jeered by the crowd.
Gingrich — who posted his own tax returns online just as the debate began — pounced on Romney’s equivocation.
“If there’s anything in there that is going to help us lose the election, we should know it before the nomination,” he said. “And if there’s nothing in there — if there’s nothing in there, why not release it?
Romney eventually found his footing toward the end of his answer when he said he anticipated attacks from Democrats about his enormous personal wealth, estimated to be somewhere between $190 million and $250 million.
“I know the Democrats want to go after the fact that I’ve been successful,” he said forcefully. “I’m not going to apologize for being successful.”
Santorum stops the bleeding
Santorum has proven himself a skilled debater throughout the Republican race — and he showed it once again Thursday when he needed it most.
With Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry now out of the race, the field of Republican contenders is now down to four. Santorum took advantage of the extra speaking time and framed himself as the conservative alternative to Romney and Gingrich.
When Romney and Gingrich sparred over hot-button topics like illegal immigration and health care reform, Santorum calmly explained each of his rival’s heresies on those very issues and positioned himself to their right.
Santorum also delivered the sharpest and most detailed takedown to date of Gingrich’s rocky tenure as Speaker of the House.
“Four years into his speakership, he was thrown out by the conservatives,” Santorum said. “It was a coup against him in three. I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going on in the House of Representatives when Newt Gingrich was leading this — leading there. It was an idea a minute, no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.”
With polls showing the South Carolina race quickly transforming into a two-man between Romney and Gingrich, Santorum needed a strong night to stop the bleeding.
Even rival campaigns acknowledged in the post-debate spin room that Santorum scored big.
The real winner: ‘Grandiosity’
One of Santorum’s best lines was a swipe at Gingrich’s reputation for pomposity and disorganization.
“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich,” Santorum said. “He handles it very, very well.”
Gingrich, who has never met an argument he didn’t try to win, tried to turn the charge into a positive.
“You’re right,” he responded. “I think grandiose thoughts. this is a grandiose country of big people doing big things. And we need leadership prepared to take on big projects.”
The Romney campaign, which has worked to convince voters that Gingrich lacks the discipline to be president, took the opportunity to blast out one of the most entertaining news releases the 2012 election cycle — a compilation of Gingrich making over-the-top statements about himself.
Some of his greatest hits:
“I am essentially a revolutionary,” he told the New York Times in 1992.
“I have an enormous personal ambition,” Gingrich said to the Washington Post in 1985. “I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it … I represent real power.”
Or this gem, from a debate last year: “I am the longest-serving teacher in the senior military, 23 years teaching one and two-star generals and admirals the art of war.”
The Romney release also noted that Gingrich has, in the past, compared himself to historical figures like Pericles, William Wallace, Charles de Gaulle, Abraham Lincoln, Vince Lombardi and Moses.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nearly half of all Republican primary voters say it’s time the U.S. stops intervening in world affairs and focuses on domestic priorities instead, signaling a persistent rift that is playing out in the party’s presidential nomination battle.
In the latest poll from the Washington Times and JZ Analytics, 48 percent said the U.S. should maintain a policy of intervening where its interests are challenged. But 46 percent disagree, saying the country is “in a new global era” where it can no longer take such an active role.
“that makes me say that the party is fundamentally fractured, and not only along the obvious lines of the social conservatives, the libertarian conservatives and the moderate conservatives,” said John Zogby, who conducted the poll.
The Paul factor
The split is most obvious in the candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate drew some cheers but also loud boos when he called for an international “Golden Rule” that would dramatically curtail U.S. power projection throughout the world.
“this idea that we can’t debate foreign policy, that all we have to do is start another war — it’s warmongering,” mr. Paul said, chastising the other four candidates on stage, who he said were pushing for a war against Iran.
Mr. Paul has made “non-interventionism” — he bristles at the label of “isolationist” — the hallmark of his campaign, along with calling for a return to constitutional principles at home.
He has called for bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan immediately and wants to end American military commitments that have U.S. troops stationed around the globe, though he says that doesn’t necessarily mean having a smaller Defense Department.
Before Iowa’s caucuses, the congressman from Texas questioned whether the U.S. should take steps to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and said killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan violated international rules. In Monday’s debate, he seemed to back away from, then later embrace, his belief that the U.S. violated international rules. that was when he called for an international Golden Rule.
Critics call it unrealistic
There is little doubt that mr. Paul’s non-interventionist stance has fueled his rise in the GOP presidential field, helping him to a third-place finish in Iowa and a second-place finish in new Hampshire.
But John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said mr. Paul’s poll numbers reveal more about the status of the debate on foreign policy than they do about a groundswell of support for the congressman.
Mr. Paul’s rise, he said, reflects “three years of almost no debate on international affairs” under President Obama.
“What I think the problem is, is that people’s attention has turned away from the international sphere, and it’s a big mistake because you can’t have a strong economy without the ability to protect American interests around the world,” said mr. Bolton, who last week endorsed Mitt Romney in the presidential contest.
Mr. Bolton, who was considering a presidential run last year, said mr. Paul ties himself in knots on international affairs.
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Updated as they tried to blame President Obama for the nation’s lowered credit rating, the Republican presidential candidates who squared off Thursday night in Iowa made several misleading, incomplete or simply false claims.
“I was fortunate enough to be a governor that got an increase in the credit rating of my state at the same time we got a president who got a decrease in the credit rating of our nation,” said Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota repeated her assertion that “we should not have increased the debt ceiling” — which would have led the nation to default.
Mrs. Bachmann misrepresented the debt ceiling deal when she complained that Congress had given a “blank check” to President Obama by raising it. the debt limit had to be raised to pay for the bills that Congress had already approved, not future spending. and the final deal required reducing the deficit by some $2.1 trillion over the next decade.
Her gloss of the warning issued by Standard & Poor’s, the agency that lowered the nation’s rating, was off as well. “When they dropped our credit rating, what they said was we don’t have an ability to repay our debt,” she said.
That is not what it said. Standard & Poor’s has carefully avoided partisan finger-pointing in its comments. but some of the factors it cited — from the “political brinkmanship” that left the nation at the precipice of default to its concerns that the deficit-cutting deal “falls short” of what is needed — can be attributed to Republicans in Congress as much as, or even more than, President Obama.
The ratings agency lamented in its report on the downgrade that “the statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.”
It was Republicans in Congress who made it a bargaining chip. They balked at raising the debt limit unless the White House agreed to a new package of spending cuts. the Obama administration initially sought a “clean” bill to raise the debt limit, but the Republicans prevailed.
When a bill to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling was finally passed this month, the nation was just hours away from a default that economists warned would have harmed the fragile economy.
Of course, President Obama acted similarly to Mrs. Bachmann when he was in the Senate: he voted against raising the debt limit in 2006, a vote his aides say he regrets.
But prominent economists and business leaders have said a failure to raise the debt ceiling would have led to a default that would have hurt the economy. Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, testified that it would probably be “a recovery-ending event.”
Several Republicans assailed President Obama at the debate for not cutting spending enough. Standard & Poor’s warned that the final agreement “falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary.”
But President Obama pushed for a plan to cut the deficit by more — $4 trillion, with cuts to entitlement programs including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as some $1 trillion in new revenues. It was House Republicans who rejected it, opposing any tax increases and ultimately pushing for the smaller measure.
Mrs. Bachmann claimed that the deal had led to only “$21 billion in illusory cuts.” That was the amount projected for the very short term. the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the deal would cut the deficit by at least $2.1 trillion over the next decade.
Her complaint that the cuts were illusory also clashed with her own critique of the debt ceiling deal from last week, when The Des Moines Register quoted her as saying: “Under this debt-ceiling bill, do you know how this works? the first thing that gets whacked and with a hatchet is defense.”
Kitty Bennett contributed reporting.
Alex Wong / Getty ImagesRepublican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney participate in the NBC News Facebook Debate on 'Meet the Press,' January 8, 2012, at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire.
Well, Mitt Romney won the weekend and, most likely, the Republican nomination. No one really laid a glove on him, not even in the NBC debate on Sunday morning, which was far sharper and more substantive than the ABC debate last night. There was a reason for Romney’s success–and it pains me to disclose it: he was well-prepped by his consultants. His answers were clear, concise, declarative sentences. none of the other candidates seemed to have been prepped at all. they had their moments, but their sentences were clumsy, loaded with jargon and dependent clauses. their message was garbled, their attacks muddy. they seemed amateurs. Romney is a professional. You have to work at being a good debater, a good candidate, and he has clearly done his homework.
The importance of Romney’s consultants pains me because I wrote a book called Politics Lost a few years ago, in which I laid much of the blame for the gaseous banality and negativity of modern American politics on consultants, pollsters and assorted marketers. I assumed when I wrote it that most legitimate candidates for President could figure out why they were running and why they were better than their opponents on their own and say so clearly. That was an assumption too far.
A few months ago, I asked Rick Santorum why Romney shouldn’t be the nominee. he answered the question directly, with extreme precision: “he created a mandatory health care system in Massachusetts exactly like Obama’s. he favored the Wall Street bailout. That takes two of the most important Republican issues off the table. People are really upset about Obamacare–and Romney can’t talk about it.”
Compare that with his attempt to make the same argument in the ABC debate:
“I was not ever for an individual mandate. I wasn’t for a top-down, government-run health care system. I wasn’t for the big bank of Wall Street bailout, as Governor Romney was…We’re looking for someone who can win this race, who can win this race on the economy and on the core issues of this election.”
Not bad, but not very effective, either–starting with the assumption that most voters know what an individual mandate is, which they don’t. A better way to answer would have been to address Romney directly: “Mitt, you created a state-run health care system in Massachusetts which forced people to participate. It’s just like ObamaCare. Conservatives hate Obamacare. You also supported the Wall Street bailouts. Conservatives hate that, too…So let me ask you, how are you going to confront the President on these basic issues when you support the same things he does?”
Romney probably would have had an answer to that–he’s an excellent, spontaneous debater. But he’s clearly gotten better over the past four years and I credit his consultants with teaching him the parameters of effective technique. He’s learned to pare his sentences to the bone. He’s learned that the attacks against you are much less successful if you don’t act flustered. he hasn’t been perfect, but who is?
Romney’s mastery, and his opponents’ weakness, was evident in their responses to the excellent question from the Manchester Union-Leader reporter, John DiStaso, about cutbacks in federal aid to help pay for heating oil for the poor.
Huntsman went first. he acknowledged that we had to help those people in the short-term–he was the only candidate to do so, which tells you a great deal about this crop of Republicans–but then he got all tangled up in the long-term solution, which was to break the national dependence on oil. “You have a distribution monopoly that favors one product–that product is oil,” he said. (He might have put it this way: “We have to break the oil monopoly. Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner. We need to give people choices and then prices will come down.”)
Ron Paul went next and started off clearly: “Subsidies are bad economic and moral policy.” But instead of explaining that, he went off into an abstruse discourse about how currency policy affects commodity prices.
And then Romney: “We don’t need the federal government to do it. That sort of program should bundled with other entitlements–food stamps, housing vouchers, medicaid…and sent back to the states.” he went on to mention the money lost in creating duplicative federal bureaucracies to deal with state problems. it was a clear statement of not only his philosophy, but also of conservative Republican philosophy. it helped achieve his larger purpose: to convince conservatives that he sees the world the same way they do.
I should take a minute to explore the effectiveness of DiStaso’s question, which added to the sum of our knowledge about the Republican contenders…and the ineffectiveness of so many of the other questions asked by the moderators in these debates. it was specific: poor people are going to freeze this winter because the government is cutting back on heating oil subsidies. what would you do about that? This was an immediate test of the candidates’ compassion (they weren’t very)–but it also enabled them to expand their answers into a general statement of their governing philosophy. (In Romney’s case, a radical devolution of federal anti-poverty programs.)
It was the exact opposite of a gotcha question. I would have liked to have seen similar questions asked about the Wall Street bailout, the “too big to fail” banks, the proper federal role when it comes to infrastructure development. DiStaso asked another good question about New Hampshire being the “tailpipe” for air pollution from other states. This was a direct challenge to those candidates, like Newt Gingrich, who want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. the reason why we need a federal EPA is because pollution doesn’t abide by state borders. If David Gregory, the lead moderator had wished, Romney and Gingrich could have been challenged: is environmental safety one of those programs you’d send back to the states? what is the federal responsibility here? where do we draw the line?
Given all the radical talk this year, it’s important to find out just how far these Republicans want to go. (That’s one reason why George Stephanopoulos’s much-derided question about the Supreme Court contraception decision, the Griswold v. Connecticut case was legitimate–if a bit peripheral.)
Romney handled the Griswold question neatly. he handled everything thrown at him neatly. he has established himself as the only candidate on the stage who looks and sounds consistently presidential. I suspect that, if nominated, he’ll give Barack Obama quite a tussle in the fall.