By Katherine Bruce
The debate took off discussing Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan. All candidates took a united front against Cain’s tax plan saying it would actually increase taxes. Cain had a weak rebuttal claiming it wasn’t true and you can’t “compare apples to oranges.” Cain did not say how it would not raise taxes he merely suggested viewers should take a further look into his plan on his website.
The debate quickly shifted to job creation. Perry said we needed to increase energy independence but Romney didn’t stop there, saying it was pertinent we encompass more than just energy. Romney feels we need to enrich all aspects of American life like trade, education and Obamacare to start increasing jobs.
Then things really started to get ugly. Santorum went ballistic over Romney’s Obamacare comment and Santorum attacked him repeatedly because he believed the health care plan Romney implemented as Governor of Massachusetts was the foundation for Obamacare.
In regards to illegal immigration, Perry seems to have flip-flopped his views. Perry is now advocating to create a virtual defense zone with strategic fencing, technology and soldiers. Romney was quick to get on Perry because Texas has had a 60 percent increase in illegal immigration and Perry has implemented plans that give tuition money to immigrant students. Perry, outraged, began accusing Romney of hiring illegal immigrants for his lawn crew and even after Romney discovered their alien status, he kept them employed for another year. Romney said this was not true. Romney did not know that his contractor was using illegal immigrants, which is why he wants to put an “e-verify” system in place that would determine whether contractors have hired legal immigrants. Bachmann wants to build a fence around the entire United States-Mexican border in addition to requiring English be the official language of the United States.
Faith was also a big issue in the evening’s debate. Anderson Cooper asked Perry if he disagreed with Pastor Jeffress’ comments claiming Mormonism is a “cult.” Perry said he disagreed and believes freedom of religion shouldn’t be taken away; however, he feels freedom of speech should also be accepted. Gingrich believes faith matters though you should not judge others in how they approach God. Yet he feels faith determines how a politician approaches public life and you must have faith in order to have good judgment. Romney closed the subject saying what he found most troubling about Pastor Jeffress’ comments was his idea of choosing a presidential candidate based on his religion and not on his morality.
Foreign spending was the last issue the candidates discussed. Candidate Ron Paul feels we should cut all foreign aid, but he doesn’t want to cut any defense spending because he feels we should worry about our debt and it is unwise to cut spending that gives us the tools to protect ourselves. Santorum agreed with Paul and feels cutting military spending would only hurt us. Bachmann feels we need to cut foreign spending but we cannot cut it by the amount the Obama administration would like. She also believes we should not cut foreign aid to Israel because they are one of our greatest allies; however, she feels the United States should receive a reimbursement from the countries we liberate. Perry and Romney feel we should defund the United Nations. Romney says it does not make sense to borrow money from one country in order to give it to another country, saying we are in far too much debt for that. Instead, Romney said, we must cut the budget by repealing Obamacare and cutting federal employment.
Overall, GOP candidates must still consider Romney their biggest threat despite polls showing Cain as the upcoming frontrunner. Romney was repeatedly attacked for healthcare and immigration but these attacks may end in his favor. Audience members repeatedly booed Santorum and Perry for their tough jabs at the former Massachusetts Governor and the two candidates may appear too aggressive. Bachmann was the only candidate to stray from negativity, instead trying to make general statements that unite the GOP candidates against Obama.