Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman met up at Saint Anselm College on Monday in a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. It really was more of a conversation as the candidates were very complimentary of each other and didn’t challenge or oppose each other on any topic. The ten topics to be covered were: Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran, The Arab Spring, Debt-Deficit Spending, China and the Pacific Rim, Trade, Eurozone, Banking, Mexican Drug War, and Russia. Only the first five topics were covered.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
Huntsman stated that “it’s time to come home.” He listed the accomplishments America has made in the region: removing the Taliban from power, enabling free elections in the region since 2004, removing Al-Qaeda from power, and killing Osama Bin Laden. These are also the same tasks Obama listed as his accomplishments during his Sunday interview.
He went on to say that “counter terrorism” is the biggest threat in the region and that it is in America’s best interest to befriend India. Huntsman referred to America’s relationship with Pakistan as that of a “transactional relationship.” He stated that America provides aid to Pakistan because they have nuclear weapons.
Gingrich responded in his typical fashion of history, citing 1947 and Communism. He also talked about Iran briefly. Then, suddenly, he spit out an organized list.
Gingrich stated that America needs an energy policy, to rebuild manufacturing, to liberate intelligence forces, and a national strategy to fight radical Islam.
At one point during the conversation, Gingrich stated that he began “using clear language so people can understand.” Gee, thanks, Newt.
Newt cited a book “Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America’s War With Militant Islam” as the starting point of a “war” with Iran beginning in 1979. He is referring to the opening line of the book, “On November 4, 1979, a group of radical Islamist students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”
Huntsman stated that economic sanctions will not work against Iran. Both candidates seemed to be in lock-step about the real threat of Iran gaining nuclear capability and the fact that America is the only one to stop this from happening.
Neither candidate mentioned the drone that Iran recently captured.
The Arab Spring
This is where Huntsman came close to challenging Gingrich by stating that American needs to take “leadership advice from Israel” and stating that a relationship “cannot be forced.” Huntsman was referring to the Israel-Palestine relationship.
Gingrich dismissed the challenge by stating that his comments about Palestine were different than the Arab Spring. He went on to discuss Mubarak.
Gingrich reiterated, from prior GOP debates, his wish to implement Six Sigma at the government level. Six Sigma does not work well in service type industries. However, in manufacturing, it’s a home run.
Huntsman called America’s debt a “National security problem.”
China and the Pacific Rim
Huntsman discussed the change of leadership that is coming up in China and the opportunity this presents for America.
Gingrich admitted Huntsman is the authority on this topic. He stated that a failure to invest in math, science and technology is the biggest threat to America. Obama shares this view on education. Gingrich concluded the evening by challenging Obama to seven three-hour debates in this same format, if he wins the GOP nomination.
The debate began and ended with complimentary comments from each candidate. They thanked each other and the University.
The format was better than the one-minute jabs during the larger debates. This was a more candid, authentic conversation.
Would you prefer to see more of these conversation-style debates? What candidates would you like to hear from?