Blogging the Hannity Vegas Forum

The other night I caught the Hannity Vegas Forum on FOX News, where Sean Hannity interviewed three of the four GOP presidential contenders: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. The program started out with Hannity interviewing Donald Trump on his endorsement of Mitt Romney, but I’m not going to detail that exchange. He basically explained that Romney is a smart guy and is the best choice for replacing Obama and leading the nation. I was partly surprised by Trump’s decision just because he seemed to be good friends with Gingrich up until this point. When Trump was going to host a debate in December, Romney declined to go, but Newt (and even Santorum) accepted. According to some polls, both scientific and Facebook, Trump’s endorsement actually does more harm than good. It certainly isn’t improving Romney’s image.

The forum focused on foreign policy and the Middle East. Romney was the first guest and made the claim that President Obama has exhibited weakness on foreign policy and dealing with Iran, and that he would show strength. Romney believes that the military should be so strong and capable that no one would test our resolve. He said that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would be unacceptable. In order to prevent that, he would put “crippling sanctions” in place, and take military action if necessary. Romney alleged Iran of being a supporter of terror, and that any action necessary should be taken to prevent them from obtaining nukes.

On the Arab Spring, Romney accused President Obama of being naïve. He believes that the President has failed to guide the movement of Egypt, and he should have helped them move toward true democracy and freedom rather than allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to take control. In his closing comments, Romney explains that he wants to take a new direction in foreign policy. He wants a strong military, to stand with allies, and to promote freedom and human rights. Romney effectively characterizes President Obama as weak and ineffective, but his large-military talk may be off-putting to some.

Newt Gingrich was interviewed next, and Hannity mentioned that President Obama is releasing five Taliban members to further peace talks. Gingrich responded that the President is living in a “fantasy land” and that the administration is trying to appease enemies. Newt accused the administration of not even thinking about the threats they face because they are so big. He said that they try to appease those who threaten us and, like Romney, painted a picture of a weak administration on foreign policy. On the Iranians threating to block the Strait of Hormuz, Gingrich said that the administration is being bullied by Iran. Continuing the analogy, he accused Obama of backing-off, only making the “bully” more dangerous. On a lighter note of Newt’s proposed Lincoln-Douglas debates with the President, Gingrich said that he would go around and demolish Obama’s speeches until he agreed to debate. Whether Obama agreed to debate or not, Gingrich said that he’d have no problem continuing to just respond to Obama’s speeches. Gingrich is a capable speaker and I could certainly see him doing this. I hope that Obama would agree to the debates to further the discussion, but that would be assuming that Gingrich actually gets the nomination.

Rick Santorum started off his segment by stating that the most powerful aspect of the presidency is that of commander-in-chief, and that foreign policy could be the most consequential result of the election. In order to stop Iran from becoming nuclear, Santorum would work with pro-democracy movements to weaken their economy. Given that there is pro-American sentiment in Iran, he wants to organize their government and turn it around. Santorum would call for Iran to dismantle their nuclear facilities, or he would dismantle them as President. That would mean crippling their air defenses and deploying bunker-busting bombs. Similar to the other candidates, Santorum accused the president of not being bold and aggressive. On the release of Taliban leaders, like Newt, Santorum called that appeasement. He accused the President of being complicit with allowing Islam to spread their radical theocracy around the world. This may have been the harshest comment yet—the candidates seem to be in a contest on who can criticize Obama the most.

All the candidates hit on one common theme: accusing President Obama of being weak on foreign policy and criticizing his decisions as commander-in-chief. Most of the talk was symbolic, such as supporting a stronger military, but the candidates expressed some specifics. Examples include Santorum’s idea of disabling Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Romney talking about sanctions or establishing an aircraft task force in the Mediterranean. I’d say that on foreign policy, all the candidates (including Ron Paul) have enough to criticize Obama for that they would provide enough of a contrast in the general election.

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