Live Blogging CBS/National Journal GOP Debate in South Carolina

I am live-blogging the GOP CBS/National Journal debate tonight from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Beginning at 7 pm CDT (8 pm EST, 5 pm PST), the focus is Foreign Policy. Watch the debate online here.


My opinion: This was an excellent debate. No snarkiness from moderators. Serious questions and serious answers.

Most contentious: Military action against Iran. What to do about Pakistan – are they friend or foe? Waterboarding.

9:05 pm CDT: Carl Cameron is on Fox saying Bachmann’s comment that there is a world-wide plan to use nuclear against Israel was astonishing (I can’t remember his exact wording). I see nothing astonishing about that. The whole Muslim world will Nuke them…if they can.

There is a general consensus that everyone did well, no one hurt themselves.

Bachmann was excellent, as she was in the CNBC debate last week. She is consistently good, but gets not traction. I think people are uncomfortable with a woman speaking with a strong and convicted voice (unless it’s Hillary Clinton who never had a conviction in her long life). UPDATE: Donald Douglas at America Power Blog has some thoughts on Bachmann. 

Note that my spelling may not be perfect:-) It was a fast-moving debate.

Debating tonight is Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Moderators are CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelly, and National Journal Congressional Correspondent, Major Garrett.

The debate airs at 8:00 p.m. ET on the CBS Television Network and will be webcast at and National The final half hour will only be available online, except for the West Coast where the full debate will air on television.

7pm CDT: Intro to the debate is on now. Former Fox News correspondent Major Garrett is on the panel. So glad to see him there.

7:02 pm – already time for commercial break.

Pelly: September 11th attack happened 9 months into a new presidency; The Bay of Pigs 13 weeks into a new presidence,  and the Civil War on the 40th day.

Garrett: Introduces the candidates.

Garrett: Evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapon. If you were prez what would you do.

CAIN: Assist the people of Iran in the resistance movement. Use economic pressure by having our own energy policy. Iran uses oil as a weapon as well as for energy. Pursue sanctions. Stop them through economic means. No military action from the US at this time. Deploy our fleet of warships strategically in the area.

Pelley: Is it worth going to war to keep Iran from going nuclear.

ROMNEY: Saying what Obama has done wrong. If a credible threat, we use military action if we must. If we reelect Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.

Pelley: Is it worth going to war?

ROMNEY: Crippling sanctions, working with insurgents – if everything else fails, we take military action. We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Do you see other non-war options?

GINGRICH: Both of the answers you just got are superior to the present administration. This administration skipped all the smart ways. Maximum covert ops, including taking out their scientists, all of it covert, all of it deniable. Help Israel. Every possible aspect of breaking the regime and bringing it down. If in spite of everything, we have to have military action.

PAUL: It is not worth going to war. We go to Congress and determine if our security is threatened. If we go to war, we get a declaration of war and then fight it to win it.

PERRY: This country can sanction the Iranian Central Bank right now and shut down Iran’s economy today. Afghanistan: the mission must be completed there, the idea that we have wasted our treasure is not appropriate. It is irresponsible to give a timetable to our enemies, and it is irresponsible of this administration. We are discussing the situation there with our commanders in the field. Issue is training up the Afghan security forces, and continue to take the war to the Taliban and Pakistan. Our military is getting little support from this admin and doing an amazing job.

SANTORUM: on stamina in Afghanistan. The Taliban is no longer a security threat. The issue now is Iran and nuclears. I’ve been working on Iran since 2004 and have proposed what Mitt and Newt has just proposed. I was opposed by Bush. We passed an act to support the opposition. Bush didn’t fund, and Obama cut it. We should be working with Israel to help them do what they did in Iran and Syria.

BACHMANN: Obama should have given full compliment of troops. With 40,000 troops they have dealt with the entire problem. When only 30,000 went our troops could only go into the South. Obama has made a fatal decision that by Sept. 2012, if that is the case, how can we expect our allies to work with us.

HUNTSMAN: Seeing spiked in Afghanistan in new places. The spikes are driven by lack of security, proper security. I say it’s time to come home from Afghanistan. We need a component that gathers intel and rapid response and some ongoing training. Other than that, we need to come home. We had free elections in 2004. We dismantled al-Qaeda, uprooted the Taliban and Killed bin Laden. We must meet our own economic future in a strong position.

ROMNEY: Never negotiate with the Taliban. They are terrorists. Our footprint is being reduced in the middle of the fighting season. Obama is thwarting the commanders. The time table at the end of 2014 is the correct timetable, not Obama’s small footprint.

GINGRICH: asked how we make peace without negotiating with the Taliban. We don’t. The taliban has a sanctuary in Pakistan. It needs a much, much larger conversation.

CAIN: Pakistan – we don’t know if Pakistan is friend or foe. Pakistan has had a conversation with Karzai. Karzai has said Afghanistan will side with Pakistan. There is no clear answer, friend or foe. If Prez I would ask commitments Pakistan is willing to make and be specific – commitment of their military, some regional agreement. We need a regional strategy.

PERRY: Why is Paki playing a double game? I think we’re having an interesting conversation, but the deeper one is foreign aid. The Prez must work with Congress to send a clear msg abt foreign aid. My foreign aid starts at zero dollars. Does a penny of our dollars need to go to a country? Am. soldiers lives are in jeopardy. It is time for us to say no to foreign aid to unfriendly countries. Pakistan’s military and secret service is in charge. We need foreign aid to be overhauled.

BACHMANN: What is happening in Pakistan with the Hakkiani network? What about foreign aid. Pakistan is a very difficult area, but I would not agree with Perry to pull all foreign aid to Pakistan. The problem is that Pakistan has a nuclear weapon. The next commander in chief has to understand the intricacies in the Middle East.

GINGRICH: Do you agree that we must start foreign aid at zero? I agree that we start off at zero. The Pakistanis hid bin Laden for at least 6 years. These are not allies. Start at zero and sometimes stay there. Egypt aid? Completely rethink it. The Arab Spring is becoming an anti-Christian Spring. I would be insistent that we will not be support of a regime that supports only Islam.

SANTORUM: I disagree with those wanting to cut foreign aid to Pakistan, but then a situation will be created with their nuclear. They must be our friend. Engage them as a friend. We must retain a relationship. Keep a solid relationship. Hakkani works against the government of Pakistan. Continue the aid relationship. The aid we send is mainly equipment, weaponry that creates jobs in the U.S. Much of the aid money stays in the U.S.

GINGRICH: Romney is competent manger, but not up to changing the U.S. Newt answers NO! The crowd cheers. We are here tonight because every single one of us is an enormous improvement to Obama. Thinking outside the box? I would adopt the Reagan Thatcher policy toward Iran. UN – dramatically take on their absurdities, Take on Obama’s Agenda 21. A capital investment program for the Pentagan. That’s how I would think outside the bo.

CAIN: How will you know when to overrule your advisors. I will be able to make the right choice. I will know when I consider all the facts, and ask them for alternatives. Then it will be my job to make the decision.

SANTORUM: My clear agenda: I will get people together who share my point of view. It will be crystal clear – our goals. I follow through and will surround myself with people who will execute what we promised the American people. Iran must not get a nuclear weapon – No. 1 security, and covert activity. Scientists have been turning up dead, computer viruses are shutting down Iran for a time. My focus is no nuclear Iran.

PERRY: If you eliminate the Department of Energy (huge applause) what do you do with the nuclear weapons. There are plenty of places within goverment that can have oversight of our nuclear weapons. I have chosen staff and surrounded myself with people who have extraordinary backgrounds in Texas. I’ll do the same in the Oval Office.

CAIN: What is your stance on torture? I beleive in following the procedures that have been established. I will trust the judgement of our military leaders to determine what is torture or is not. I agree that waterboarding was an enhanced interrogation technique.

BACHMANN: If I were president, I will use waterboarding. It was effective and saved lives. The ACLU is running the CIA. We have no interrogation in the US anymore.

PAUL: Waterboarding is torture. It is illegal and immoral under US Law and International Law. Why would you torture 100 people when only one has information. It is unAmerican and uncivilized.

HUNTSMAN: This country has values. We have a name brand in the world. We diminish our standing in the world – liberty, democracy, human rights and open markets. Waterboarding is torture.

ROMNEY: Obama ordered the death of an American citizen overseas. Is that appropriate? Absolutely, this is a citizen that declared war on America. Of course, anyone who is bearing arms against American is fair game for America. My foreign policy is straight forward. This must be an American century, leading the free world. We not just another nation. Obama thinks he conducts foreign policy by his affect on other countries.

Pelley warns the crowd. NO BOOING

GINGRICH: Would you sign the warrant for death for the American overseas? It is the rule of law. If you engage in war against the US you are an enemy combatant. You cannot have US civil rights. Waging war on the US is outside criminal law. We kill people who try to kill us.

PERRY: China is using cyber attacks to steal intellectual cyber warfare. I don’t believe America’s technological era is over. The communist chinese government will end up on the trash heap of history. Cyber warfare – we must use all of our resources. Fighting cyberwar is one of the great issues to face the next prez. We must win.

ROMNEY: China wants to be able to put their people to work. They need our market. That is our weapon. They have to play by our rules. Can’t hack in, can’t take designs and blueprints. They cannot manipulate their currency. They should want to collaborate with us. We cannot ignore these things. Day One, acknowledge – they are a currency manipulator. We go to the WTO and refuse to accept it.

HUNTSMAN: You were the ambassador to China. The reality is a little different. You can’t take China to the WTO on currency issues. We will hurt our small businesses. We should reach out to allies inside China – the youth, they are bloggers and they are bringing about change.

7:53 pm – Break time.

PERRY: Yes, foreign aid will start at zero, including Israel. My bet is we would be funding them at a substantial level, but yes starting at zero. Zero-based budgeting. Everyone must come in and make their case. Why would government get a pass on sending our taxmoney to anyone without a debate.

7:59 pm: THE CBS STATION MAYBE CUTTING THE SECOND HOUR. See the link above to watch another half-hour online. Another commercial break.

8:00pm Final half-hour Lindsay Graham and Jim DeMint will be on the panel.

BACHMANN: Should we increase  military spending? We look at how we are expending. Fixed-cost system, not a cost-plus system. We cannot cut back on troops and making sure they are fully provided for. We need modernization.

CAIN: What do you think is happening in the Arab Spring – how can it work for us and not against us? Look at Libya, Egypt, Yemen and how this administration has handled them. They are out of control. Our relationship with Egypt may not survive. The Muslim Brotherhood may end up with a majority of the MB in control. Obama has been on the wrong side. He says the president of Yemen must go, but he has been our fiend.

GINGRICH: It’s a good thing that the Arab League suspended Syria. Mubarak in Egypt had done literally everything we asked of him, was dumped. Assad in Syria has never done anything to help the US and is against us, yet Obama has supported him. If the US and Europe indicated that Assad is going to go, I think he would be gone.

PAUL: Covert ops in Syria? No, that’s a mistake. It’s a tragedy the people who are dying, but we must not prop up dictatorships. We have overthrown dictatorships that we have supported. We don’t need to lose anymore troops to covert ops.

ROMNEY: Syria is the only ally in the Middle East of Iran. It is important for us to stand up and help those efforts to replace Assad, and that means helping Turkey and Saudia Arabia, as well.

SENATOR LINDSAY GRAHAM: Waterboarding is not torture. The Obama administration presumes that terrorists will now go into civilian court, and not to Gitmo? What will you do.

CAIN: I will reverse that. I will keep Gitmo open.

SANTORUM: I agree with Cain. Gitmo is essential. We have to use enhanced interrogation techniques. It has been proven to be successful. It is critical in the War against terror. Using civilian courts is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. Terrorists do not have rights under our Consitution.

PAUL: This is a mess because we have a bad foreign policy. We are pretending we are at war, but we haven’t declared war. We do things outside the law. It was lawless to killl Al-Awalaki’s 16-yea-old son. We must live within and obey the law.

PERRY: The idea that we have our young men and women in combat today with an enemy that will do everything they can, in every horrible way they can – to say we will not use the techniques of enhanced interrogation that will extract information. I will be for it until I die.

BACHMANN: The orders that went out to kill including Osama bin Laden is a very good idea. Ron Paul doesn’t think so, but bin Laden had no problem attacking on 9/11. She is going through the terrorists on the US kill list.

PAUL: I voted for killing bin Laden but it took 10 years. That is different from targeting American citizens.

SENATOR JIM DEMINT: Prez and Congress continue to borrow and spend. the greatest threat to national security. What federal functions will you eliminate or return to the states.

ROMNEY: We eliminate ObamaCare. Save 95B by my fourth year. NEA, Public Broadcasting. Cut them. Medicaid should be returned to the states. We wills ave $100B a year. Make the govt more productive. I will reduce personnel 10% and limit govt workers salaries to that of the public sector.

HUNTSMAN: Our debt is our greatest national security threat. The Ryan Plan sets out a template for what we must do to get the problem of our debt taken care of. We must get spending closer to 19% of GDP rather than 24% today.

GINGRICH: Four national security problems: debt and deficity, security, manufacturing and  science and technology. We must open up offshore. Modernize the Charleston Port. If we are serious, fundamentally overhaul the federal goverment.

BACHMANN: Look at Johnson’s Great Society – it hasn’t worked. It has put us in the modern welfare state. I would look at food stamps. I would eliminate LBJ’s Great Society.

CAIN: Send Am. forces into Pakistan to take out those coming into Afghanistan to kill Americanc?  Would you order forces into Pakisatan to clear out those coming into Afghanistan to kill Americans? Cain says he would talk. It’s unclear where we stand with Pakistan. IN OTHER WORDS HE DOESN’T HAVE THE ANSWER. We must tread lightly. When the Prez approved the surge and then prematurely announced a pullback. I will make the mission clear.

ROMNEY: Will you send americans across the border into Pakistan to clear out those encroaching into Pakistan? Announcing this on television is not a good idea. We must have the ability to do what we must do. We must have understanding with the power bases that we will do it, or they must do it.

SANTORUM: What would you do about the vulnerability of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, where nukes are moved unsafely in non-containment vehicles, and insurgents want to get their hands on those weapons? I would be working with the intelligence committee within Pakistan. We have to have intelligence – human or other types of surveillance. We don’t cowboy this one. We don’t interdict a nuclear weapon without working with the Pakistanis.

GINGRICH: We don’t have a reliable intelligence service. The amt of info we might or might not have, might or might not be reliable. We have to overhaul our rules of engagement. We are in a very dangerous world.

HUNTSMAN: Pakistan is a problem. I would put SEAL Team No. 6 on any loose nuke. Then asked: How to keep the Euro problem from being a problem in the U.S Europe is our second largest export market, after Canada. We have to prepare for it. With banks too big to fail in this country. We are in BIG TROUBLE.

PERRY: The French and Germans have the economy to deal with this.


The Other McCain was on the scene and live blogging there. He has some great photos and analysis. Read it here.

Linked at Pirate’s Cove – thank you Captain! 

Linked at the Desk of Lady Liberty – Thanks!

  • dude

    I like the way mitt it corrected the moderator.

  • dude

    I’m so glad ron paul is still in this primary.

  • dude

    Rick Perry will be more interesting in the second hour.

  • dude

    Michelle Bachman sounds like she’s giving a book report.

    • Dude, by the way, I don’t have a favorite yet. I love the debates and I learn something every time. I’m still making up my mind.

  • dude

    Meet is pretty good at making everybody else look stupid.

  • dude

    this is a good debate.

    • dude, I agree. Not everyone agrees on this one, as they do on the economy. The issue of foreign aid is a critical discussion. I think Bachmann is always spot-on. Her answers are consistent and she is knowledgable. I can say that about everyone on the panel. My least favorite is Romney, but I will support our candidate.

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  • “Would you order forces into Pakisatan to clear out those coming into Afghanistan to kill Americans? Cain says he would talk. It’s unclear where we stand with Pakistan. IN OTHER WORDS HE DOESN’T HAVE THE ANSWER. We must tread lightly. When the Prez approved the surge and then prematurely announced a pullback. I will make the mission clear.”

    Sounds pretty clear to me. Who else had an answer, NO ONE. Walk softly and carry a big stick and use it when needed and make it clear. Now that is what I got from Cain’s answer.
    Saint Santorum didn’t have anything,
    Romney had nothing better,
    Gingrich is right, we have no INTEL, Clinton screwed it up trying to kill it and Obama is finishing the job.
    Huntsman’s Pakistan is a problem, yep half right but India could handle them and would love it. Keep India close but be wary of them. they are very cozy with the Russians. He really doesn’t have a clue , but rattle saber’s real good.

    • AFticker, his answer was clear but incomplete. I didn’t have a security briefing, and I could have said the same. If Cain wants to win, he has to get into some details and give his informed opinion.

  • As to Ron Paul’s answer: “This is a mess because we have a bad foreign policy. We are pretending we are at war, but we haven’t declared war. We do things outside the law. It was lawless to killl Al-Awalaki’s 16-yea-old son. We must live within and obey the law.”

    We don’t have to declare war to take action. Outside the law? Not according to the Consititution:
    Here is a short history lesson on taking action and declaring war.

    Under the Articles of Confederation, which was “the constitution before the constitution,” Congress had the sole power to wage war. The executive, under the Articles, had little power as it was, and in the case of war, had no say in the matter whatsoever.

    During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the founders were searching for a more balanced approach to the question of war. Congress, being populated by representatives of the States, were often in their districts. Unlike the politicians of today, the representatives were statesmen who spent more time at home than in Washington. If Congress had the sole power to wage war, the time it would take to get the message to the Congressman, and then for that Congressman to travel back to Washington, would be far too long when faced with the need for a quick decision regarding the issue of war.

    On August 17, 1787, the delegates debated heavily over war powers. The fear was that by giving the President the sole power to wage war a tyrannical president would use those powers in an abusive manner. Yet, to give Congress the sole power of waging war was inefficient, and had proven to be a poor decision under the Articles of Confederation.

    A compromise was needed. The founders needed to create both an efficient system, yet one that used limiting principles, and a system of checks and balances, to protect the nation from a potentially tyrannical executive.

    The power to wage war was granted to the President, and the power to declare war was vested in the Congress. The President, as a result of those debates, was granted the power to wage war whenever and wherever he deemed necessary. However, that war could only be formerly declared by Congress. If Congress disagreed with the President’s decision to wage war, we are reminded that the Congress has the power of the purse strings, and has the power to deny the President the funding to wage war. So, though the President has the power to wage war as he believes is necessary, that power is checked by the Congressional power of being able to defund the war.

    If a President continues to wage war, even after congressional attempts to cut off funding, the Congress also has the power to impeach the President as well.

    The decision to wage war often demands immediate action. In such a case, only the President has the ability to quickly step in and order the troops into battle to protect the national interest.

    Ron Paul needs to do a refresher course on Constitutional requirements for taking action and waging war.

    • Thanks ticker. I agree with you. In this case, Congress would have to stop all actions everywhere in the world where a sought terrorist would be (defund), to stop us from going after “a” bin Laden or “an” al-Awalaki.

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