By Ashley Miller
The Southern Republican Presidential Debate that took place last Thursday, Jan. 19 was eye-opening for many voters. It was timed perfectly to give South Carolina’s voters a final look at each candidate before making their selection in the primary the following day. The results seemed to reflect each candidate’s performance in the debate. Senator Rick Perry dropped out of the race previously that day, so the remaining candidates were former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas Representative Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
The evening started off with an explosive argument between Newt Gingrich and debate moderator John King. For those of you who hadn’t heard, a scandal recently broke concerning Gingrich, his ex-wife, a mistress and a requested open marriage. When this was the subject of King’s first question of the evening, Gingrich’s response was angry, and justifiably so. Not only has the election thus far been riddled with a disgusting amount of concern over irrelevant personal issues, but to have this be the first question in such a pivotal debate was a poor choice on King’s part. King was hilarious when he realized what he had done and tried to shift blame from himself to a furious Gingrich. Sure, the whole situation was entertaining, but it was definitely rooted in some serious issues. Even if the rumors are true, how is it even remotely related to Gingrich’s ability as a potential president? I know that I am sick of all the personal attacks the media, as well as other candidates, make on TV commercials and the radio. It just distracts from the important issues.
Apart from this notable event, Gingrich was involved in several arguments with Santorum and Romney, but seemed to defend himself well enough in all. Gingrich said exactly the right thing about the SOPA issue, that it infringes on personal freedoms and that companies have the right to sue for legitimate infractions with current law. No candidate who supports SOPA is going to get the nomination.
Romney, a front-runner for the primaries so far, flip-flopped on several issues, most notably abortion. One of the biggest downsides to Romney is his inability to back anything wholeheartedly. He will say just about anything for a clap. I realize he really wants the win, but the way to get that is to stand strong behind every issue and not to change his stance. If elected, would he flip-flop on promises in office? He also notably declined to turn in his tax return, and then, in an unwise move, talked about how he would look over each year’s return carefully before he decided which ones he would turn in. If he doesn’t have anything to hide, why not turn them in? His attempts to explain why he wouldn’t were mediocre at best.
Santorum came in third, running on an everyday family man type of stance–-an image which he pretty much beat into the ground. Okay, we get it. You came from humble backgrounds. His biggest issue is that he is not moderate enough. Both he and Romney mention religion far too frequently. The separation of church and state is there for a reason. Religion is great for a candidate’s private life, but it has nothing to do with politics and so has no business in the political sphere. Another issue with all of these candidates is their stubborn stance on social issues. For a party who preaches the rights of state government and limiting federal involvement, these candidates sure are adamant about federal control of issues like abortion and gay marriage.
Paul came in last in the primary following the debate, but he is my personal favorite candidate. A lot of the things he says make perfect sense. If we have had troops randomly stationed all over the world for decades, why would we continue to pay for them to stay there when we could bring that money home where we really need it? And who wouldn’t want a reduced income tax? It also seems like none of the other candidates really have a problem with him, so he doesn’t get to talk that much during debates because he never gets involved in the little scuffles the others do. It’s a shame, because I would have liked to hear more of his ideas. I don’t think he will win, only because he is too far right to get the moderate and dissatisfied Democrat votes any Republican nominee will need to defeat President Obama in the coming election.
One of these guys is going to be the Republican nominee for the White House. But will it really matter which one? As is, none of them are going to get elected over President Obama. Many of them even have pretty good economic ideas (perhaps a bit radical at times, but our country is in massive debt). But the bottom line is that if any of these candidates want to have a shot at Obama, they are going to have to be less radical about social issues. A moderate stance is the path to win your way into the White House this fall, and so far it looks like we are in for four more years of President Obama.