Awkward, South Carolina
Fox News reported that the Republican presidential candidate debate in South Carolina last night was “awkward.” I don’t know because I was watching American Idol. Jacob Lusk was sent home and that was awkward.
Awkwardness came from the demonstration of different views in the Republican Party. You know what, that shouldn’t be considered “awkward.” Diversity in ideas is actually a good thing.
After reading this brief report, I see what they mean. They’re ain’t no meat with them potatoes.
“GOP debate proves an awkward start in the fight against ObamaMinnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum
By Dan Balz, Updated: Friday, May 6, 12:18 AM
GREENVILLE, S.C. — The opening act in the contest to pick a challenger for President Obama in 2012 proved to be an awkward moment for the Republican Party. Thursday night’s candidate debate did as much to highlight divisions within the party as it did to offer a brief for why the president should be denied a second term.
With many of the party’s potentially strongest candidates either choosing not to participate — or still making up their minds about whether to run — the 90-minute debate offered a platform for second-tier candidates to make their case. They took full advantage of the spotlight, but in the process they offered dissonance in the GOP message along with moments of comedic relief to the audience.
That made for a sometimes-entertaining evening for the audience in the hall and those watching on television. But it probably did little to help Republican voters figure out who has the stature and the strength to take on the president in 2012.
The debate, sponsored by Fox News, came at a moment when Obama’s approval ratings are spiking because of the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden, though there has been no movement in the public’s view of his handling of the economy. The bin Laden death changed the equation for Thursday’s debate, forcing the candidates onto foreign policy turf, rather than being able to focus on the economy and government spending.
As a result, the five candidates who shared the stage had difficulty making a consistent case against the president. They found his foreign policy lacking, but they also found it necessary to praise the president for the raid in Pakistan that killed the world’s most infamous terrorist.
They reached considerable agreement on economic issues, as they sought to seize on rising gasoline prices, the debt and deficits and the sluggish recovery. But as often they differed on how to deal with Pakistan, on how long to stay in Afghanistan, on what to do about Medicare and Medicaid, and most especially, on social issues. As a result, they couldn’t develop a strong bill of particulars against the president.
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty hoped to profit from the absence of such potential rivals as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney or former House speaker Newt Gingrich. He used his answers to strike out at the president on the economy and particularly on health care, where he said Obama had broken a series of promises about health care, made as a candidate.
But given the rules of fair play and the need to engage everyone in the debate, Pawlenty was often a bystander to candidates with little chance of winning the nomination. That especially included Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), the libertarian Republican who has the same small but passionate following he did four years ago, and businessman Herman Cain, who spoke largely in forceful generalities but got a good response from the audience.
Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, an iconoclastic conservative who wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan immediately, also demanded and got air time that took away from the ability of Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum to take over the debate, as they might have hoped.”