Political Animal


November 12, 2011 7:05 PM GOP Debate Open Thread

By Steve Benen

In about an hour or so, the Republican presidential candidates will take the stage in South Carolina for their 11th debate of the year, and their second debate of the week. While Wednesday’s gathering was focused almost exclusively on economic policy, tonight’s event is supposed to be focused on foreign policy, national security, and military policy. It’s co-sponsored by CBS and National Journal.

A few angles to keep an eye on:

* As the only candidate in the GOP field with foreign policy experience, will tonight be Jon Huntsman’s only chance to shine?

* Will Mitt Romney be able to overcome his breathtaking ignorance on international affairs and pretend to know what he’s talking about?

* Will Herman Cain be asked, just for pure entertainment, who the president of Uzbekistan is? Will he have been prepped on the correct answer?

* How many of the eight candidates will hint at a military confrontation with Iran? Six or seven?

* Will Rick Perry joke about forgetting his talking points?

* Given President Obama’s foreign policy successes, how will the Republican field find a way to whine about his accomplishments?

I’ll probably have some thoughts on this in the morning. In the meantime, the floor is yours.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Objective Dem on November 12, 2011 7:22 PM:

    I really question the Republican strategy of having so many debates. It provides numerous opportunities for the candidates to screw up and to say stupid things that appeal to the right but alienates the middle. Its certainly what has happen to date.

  • acefranze on November 12, 2011 7:25 PM:

    Who is carrying it?

  • Bernie Latham on November 12, 2011 7:35 PM:

    "Given President Obama�s foreign policy successes, how will the Republican field find a way to whine about his accomplishments?"

    1) he always apologizes for America
    2) he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism because he doesn't really love America
    3) he lost the Iraq war that Bush had won
    4) he respects rather than despises European socialism
    4) he almost seems to support Muslims while treating ally Israel as an annoyance thus risking the survival of that nation
    5) by not supporting more militarist solutions to Iran and Syria, he is endangering Americans home and abroad

    Each of those will be hit.

  • exlibra on November 12, 2011 7:53 PM:

    Will Perry be able to list all three countries he wants to start bombing the day he enters the White House?

    "heart. eryirin" Yes, we all love Ireland and have no plans to bomb it.

  • exlibra on November 12, 2011 7:59 PM:

    acefranze, @7:25PM

    CBS is sponsoring it, so I expect they'll carry it, too.

  • POed Lib on November 12, 2011 8:46 PM:

    Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman both said that torture was wrong.

    Romney continues to be a piece of crap.

  • samsa on November 12, 2011 9:25 PM:

    Looks like Romney is the most coherent and least hysterical. His pointed shots at Obama while ignoring the other clowns on the stage suggest that he knows that it's in the bag for him.

    Sad to say, but looks like he will be the next President.

  • John B. on November 12, 2011 9:44 PM:

    Increasingly there seems no difference between the parties. Ex. A:

    "WASHINGTON -- Under their latest proposal to the deficit reduction super committee, Democrats would agree to undertake comprehensive tax reform that included a pledge to avoid letting Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire."
    {HuffPo - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/super-committee-democrats-taxes_n_1088407.html)

  • desertflower on November 12, 2011 10:10 PM:

    samsa...you actually think that Romney "Let's bomb Iran next" is going to be the next President? Seriously??? Aside from the fact that there was nothing remotely different that the same old GOP talking points...and oh, by the way,waterboarding is fine....are you kidding me?

  • exlibra on November 12, 2011 10:42 PM:

    Sad to say, but looks like he [Romney] will be the next President. -- samsa, @9:25

    Is "sad to say" spelled "crocodile tears" on your planet? Romney may have the nomination in the bag but, as for the presidency... You have to be kidding. Or else you're nuts. There's many a slip between the cup and the lip. Romney may sound "most coherent and least hysterical" next to the Repub Flowering Field of Bozos but, put him on the same stage with Obama, and he'll be as impressive as that Irish setter of his, strapped on the car roof and dribbling shit all over the place.

  • Cha on November 12, 2011 10:43 PM:

    @ samsa

    Really? You don't say. Cheer up cause..it's a damn good thing your prediction has nothing to do with reality.

  • SYSPROG on November 12, 2011 10:50 PM:

    Thanx guys...Samsa, STOP IT. Yes, I really want Romney to explain his 'Iran will have nukes if Obama is reelected' while Obama is on the stage. Please. If you want to stay home, do, but just STOP IT that the Dems won't turn out. Fine, Romney looks like a Ken doll playing at being the Prez. He is a moron, a liar and has absolutely no moral core. Swallow THAT one country, along with the fact that the great unwashed are being to understand that the 'elite' in this country think we are sheep...and furthermore, I didn't think that it was ROMNEY that looked like he understood foreign policy the best up there. As much as I didn't agree with their stands, Perry and Santorum seemed to have least studied for this debate.

  • chi res on November 13, 2011 12:09 AM:

    Sad to say, but looks like he [Romney] will be the next President.

    How something "looks" depends on your perspective, where you're looking from.

    Leave where you are, Samsa. Get up and leave right now. It's a bad, bad place.

  • samsa on November 13, 2011 1:03 AM:

    I think that, given the economic situation and the sad state of the Democratic Party and the habit of its leaders to sacrifice all the sacred cows of the liberals - as I write this I see that they have made a pledge to not let the Bush tax cuts expire, for example - it is almost certain that the Republicans will win the Presidency even if they nominate a dog or Sharon Angle.

    If you think that Obama will pull a rabbit out of the hat a year from now you are in for a big shock. There are no wabbits left in his hat.

  • Mark on November 13, 2011 1:31 AM:

    It's pretty hard to say a year out from the election. Hard enough that one little comment pretending to be sad while actually gloating over the light-years-away remote possibility of Romney actually winning the office he's already paid for three times over should bring chuckles, not a storm of angry responses.

    Where's the analysis? Mitt Romney has not significantly improved his support among the party faithful, while ditzy poster children for a variety of mental illnesses like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich (Newt Gingrich!!!!!) are surging. Neither of them is going to be President, either. A lot of Republicans seem unimpressed with the Mittster, and look unlikely to change their minds.

    Not only will Obama not need a rabbit, he won't even need a hat to beat Romney. Romney's plans are all uniformly bad for America, and even if they weren't, he has no idea how he's going to carry any of them out. Policy leprechauns, I guess.

    Americans are simply not that desperate. Things might be bad. But they could get worse, and under Romney, they would.

  • mimi on November 13, 2011 1:39 AM:

    They should ask all of them what they would do differently about Iran. Romney mentioned a military action which some foreign policy think-tank is actually considering. and it's not unthinkable or unpopular, which worries me.

    it's more likely that America would let Israel strike Iran's nuclear facility instead of doing that ourselves. Either way, it will only lead to more conflicts/more supports for Iran and terrorists with little actual effect to stop Iran's nukes program.

    Russia and China will not work with us after that.
    in fact, most countries in the world will not want to work with us after that.

    We need to seriously oppose to any US military action against Iran for its nuclear program and actually live with nuclear Iran.

    We shouldn't be paranoid about Iran or nukes for that matter.
    Iran is not a superpower like Soviet was. Iran has weaker economy and lost popularity among its neighbors. Iranians themselves have internal rivalries and conflicts.

    Their ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and Sadir are strong but each group has its own independent issues. Hamas joined with Palestinian government. So did Hezbollah in Lebanon and Sadir in Iraq. They might all go their own way, away from Iran.

    We should not overestimate Iran's power and underestimate its cost of overreaction by military action.

  • samsa on November 13, 2011 2:02 AM:


    Were it so that election results were rational.

    I note with some glee your divining of my inner thoughts on the prospects of a Romney Presidency.

  • Lance on November 13, 2011 5:16 AM:

    Best question of the night was the one to Herman Cain asking him how would he know what "advice from the commanders on the ground" to accept and what to reject.

    His answer sucked.

    So did Michelle's complaint that the President took two months to formulate his policy on the surge in Afghanistan.

    The "I'll do whatever the generals ask at any cost" policies of all but Huntsman and Paul just demonstrates how wrong these people are for America.