Rick Perry had his usual inarticulate moments but had several where he shined. On Iran, he called for “shutting down” the Iranian economy and sanctioning the Iranian Central Bank. He was the sole candidate to bring attention to preparing for cyber war and predicted that “Communist China” will “enter the ash heap of history” if it didn’t change.
Perry’s biggest moment was when he said he’d start off all foreign aid at “zero dollars” and then move forward in giving to the countries that deserve it. He won a huge applause for calling for an end to aid to Pakistan in retaliation for their help. He was criticized by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum for that stance, but Newt Gingrich supported him.
Perry had an endearing moment when the moderator mentioned that he’d abolish the Department of Energy. Perry quickly interrupted to say, “Glad you remembered.” The moderator responded, “I’ve had a long time to think about it.” Perry finished the exchange with a humorous, “Me, too!”
Rick Santorum was the sole candidate to call for the U.S. to help Israel bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. He said that he disagrees with Newt Gingrich’s approach because there it will take too long. He also mentioned how the Bush Administration opposed his efforts to support the Iranian opposition. He was performing well but then criticized Perry for his confrontational attitude towards Pakistan. He described the Pakistani government as an ally that the U.S. needs and that allies need to “work through their problems.” When asked what he’d do if a Pakistani nuclear weapon got loose, he said he’d try to cooperate with the Pakistani ISI intelligence service.
Michele Bachmann spoke in detail about Afghanistan and appeared the most knowledgeable on the topic. She hit Obama for declining to provide the 40,000 additional soldiers as the commanders requested, instead only sending 30,000. She condemned the timeline for withdrawal and warned that the “table is set” for a nuclear war against Israel. “Obama will stand with Occupy Wall Street but he won’t stand with Israel,” she was applauded for saying. She said that “it’s like we’ve decided we want to lose” and claimed that the ACLU now runs the CIA.
Jon Huntsman was the only candidate besides Ron Paul to call for a speedier withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan than Obama is planning. He said he’d leave behind a small force to train Afghan security forces and gather intelligence. He opposed torture and waterboarding and criticized Romney for advocating a trade war with China. Instead, Huntsman said, we should reach out to the Chinese people, saying that 500 million Chinese use the Internet and 80 million are bloggers.
Overall, Newt Gingrich had the best night and Herman Cain had the worst and this was one of Rick Perry’s best debates. The next debate is hosted by CNN, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute on November 22 and will also be about national security and foreign policy. Get ready for round two.
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