Bachmann fired at Gingrich again later in the debate. She said that as speaker of the House, he didn’t cut off funding to Planned Parenthood and attacked him for his willingness to campaign for Republicans that were against the partial-birth abortion ban. He responded with, “Sometimes Congresswoman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts very accurate,” which she said was “outrageous.” He said he has an almost 100% pro-life record and that he’d use Planned Parenthood’s funding for adoption services. Gingrich received a big applause at the end of the exchange.
Mitt Romney refrained from attacking any other candidate. He mocked President Obama for asking Iran for the stealth drone back and said it was part of a foreign policy of “pretty please?” He had some bright moments when he talked about making sure that the 21st century belongs to America and peace through strength. His biggest moment was when he talked about his pro-life conversion. He said that as governor of Massachusetts, he did research when presented with a bill that would create embryos specifically to be destroyed. This caused him to change his position, he said. The audience clapped strongly.
Newt Gingrich’s big moments came when he slammed activist judges and cited incidents from history where Jefferson, Lincoln, Jackson and FDR took on the courts. The audience also loved it when he said he’d “radically cut” funding to the U.N. if it did not reform and that he’d drop Justice Department lawsuits against the states of Arizona, South Carolina and Alabama for their immigration policies. His most popular moment was when he said President Obama’s position against the Keystone pipeline from Canada “makes no sense to any rational American.”
Rick Perry also pleased the audience in some big ways. In particular, his call for a part-time Congress that has its pay and staff cut in half was powerful. He was applauded when he said that if his Attorney General didn’t know about a large scandal like Fast & the Furious, as Eric Holder says he didn’t, he’d have him immediately resign. On foreign policy, Perry slammed Obama for his weakness in handling the drone landing in Iran and called for a new Monroe Doctrine to keep Iran out of Latin America. He also said he sought to be the “Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucus” and the audience loved it.
Jon Huntsman didn’t have a standout moment, but didn’t make a major misstep either. He received some claps and boos when he brought up how he declined to participate in a debate moderated by Donald Trump. He called for promoting human rights in China, such as by meeting with Chinese dissidents. He called for a modernized foreign policy that puts economics first. He also called for using natural gas to alleviate energy dependence.
Rick Santorum’s standout moments were when he criticized Mitt Romney for issuing marriage certificates to gay couples and accused him of siding with the supporters of same-sex marriage in his state. Romney responded that it was out of his hands but that he fought for an amendment to the state constitution to ban it. He also was heavily applauded when he complimented Iowans for kicking out three judges who ruled in favor of gay marriage and pointed out that he was the only candidate actively campaigning against them in Iowa.
The polls in the coming days will tell us who benefited and who lost from the debate. Chris Cillizza wrote in the Washington Post that Bachmann, Perry and Romney won, while Gingrich and Paul lost. Nate Silver graded the candidates. He gave an “A-“ to Romney, Bachmann and Perry; “B+” to Santorum; “B” to Gingrich; “B-” to Huntsman and a “C” to Paul.
There is less than three weeks to go until the Iowa caucus. The polls are contradictory and it’s hard to tell who is up and who is down in the state. The race has been unpredictable so far, and it will remain so until it is finished.
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