Blogging the Huckabee Presidential Forum

I’ll be commentating on the FOX News “Huckabee Republican Presidential Forum” as I watch it. The format for the program sounds interesting: the candidates will be interviewed one-by-one, answering questions independent of each other with each allotted 11 minutes.  There are three state attorneys general who will be asking questions of the candidates—Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, Pam Bondi of Florida, and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma

Mike Huckabee has mentioned that former Utah governor Jon Huntsman has declined the event after multiple invitations.  I’m surprised by this; he really needs to get himself out there as much as he can if he thinks he has any shot of winning.  I think it’s all but over for Huntsman—he may have been a decent candidate for a general election, but he’s too moderate to make it through a Republican primary.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is up first. The focus with Gingrich has been on his support for a few not-so-conservative causes in the past. The attorney generals have asked how he would ensure that his administration is in favor of small government. As Newt points out, he actually has a record of doing what so many of the other candidates only talk about, such as implementing balanced budgets in Congress. Given his record of conservatism, I’m surprised this question was directed at Gingrich. Gingrich came across as scholarly per usually.

Next is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.  Santorum is talking quickly and does not seem comfortable. He ends up rambling on the first few questions, and the attorneys general try to keep him on track. I really dislike Santorum’s strong emphasis and ultra-conservative views on the social issues of marriage, abortions, and families. If you’re for limited government, then stop trying to legislate morality and let the individuals make these decisions.

Texas governor Rick Perry is up next, and he’s having some trouble explaining how the president can void the health care law. There’s no surprise there—it’s certainly a hard task trying to undo laws from the executive branch. Perry is an interesting candidate. Unlike Santorum, he’s very likeable, but his performance at debates and these kinds of forums indicates that he’s just not ready. When talking about securing the border, Perry comes off as confident since it’s something he knows a lot about.  On the other issues of the campaign, which he hasn’t really had to address until now, Perry fumbles and stutters on his answers. On Perry wanting to give terms to Supreme Court justices—I think that would just politicize the branch of government which is not supposed to be political.  Perry’s answer to all the questions seems to be to just leave everything to the states, and I don’t think that’s what the majority of Americans want to hear since it’s not much of a solution.

Now it’s former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s turn, and she’s already avoiding the first question.  She was asked why states cannot implement their own health care mandates, and she just goes off on “ObamaCare.” When she is steered back on track, she answers that ObamaCare would trump state law anyway, which is a good answer. She gives her usual conservative answers on the issues of illegal immigration (deport all the aliens) and education (get the federal government out of it).  Congresswoman Bachmann came across as the most confident and knowledgeable so far.  The real downside to a potential Bachmann candidacy is that her views are just too conservative to win over independents.

Now we turn to Congressman Ron Paul.  I really respect his consistency over the years and that you can really tell what he believes. Unlike the other candidates, Paul favors repealing the Patriot Act and viewing terrorists like we would any other criminal. While I value Paul’s intentions of protecting privacy, there needs to be a balance which involves increased security.  I like Ron Paul’s idea of opting out of Social Security and transitioning away from the program, although I would meet in the middle and go for a personal account option.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is in the hot seat now, and he’s very confident and comfortable.  He’s been running for president for a long time, and it shows. Right off the bat he comes across as trying to have an issue both ways when he says the federal government should stay out of education and he supports some aspects of No Child Left Behind. So what would he do if elected? That’s often the question with Romney. Would he change the law? Abolish the Department of Education? Despite these flaws, he does come across as presidential.

And now all the candidates give their 1-minute signoff.  These are all standard (although Rick Perry somehow managed to come across as more uncomfortable than usual). This concludes my commentary of the Huckabee Presidential Forum. For those closely following the election, there was really nothing new to be learned.  For anyone just starting to pay attention before the primaries get started, this was a good opportunity to get a sample of each candidate. I applaud Huckabee for trying this format which allows the candidates to speak more freely, although they still ended up being rushed through the questions.

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  • annwatt  On December 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Great entry! I like that you chose to blog live as you watched, as many bloggers do for such events. Some good rhetorical observations, such as that Santorum does indeed tend to speak quickly and ramble, which is part of why he seems so uncomfortable, and maybe untrustworthy.

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