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White House race begins: Republicans debate in New Hampshire

The first major debate of the 2012 US presidential primaries took place in New Hampshire Monday night, giving each of the seven candidates a chance to rise above the widespread view that the field is a poor one.

Michele Bachmann, the self-styled Tea Party leader in the US Congress, offered the only news of the evening by announcing she had filed papers to officially enter the race, the last of those taking part in the debate.

The rest of the otherwise sedate evening was marked more by backtracking than policy adventurousness, where significant differences were largely replaced with stock quotes.

Newt Gingrich smoothed over his attack on the Republican’s plan to wind back social security, which he had described as “right wing social engineering”.

Mitt Romney, as current frontrunner, answered for his health care plan in Massachusetts by saying it was not the same as the Obama plan. Tim Pawlenty, who had attacked him over those similarities, declined to repeat the attacks on stage.

Crikey captured some other highlights after the 12pm AEST finish of the debate…

Newt Gingrich: “The Reagan recovery clearly worked … and that’s a fact.”

Michele Bachmann: “I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare.”

Rick Santorum: “I think the Tea Party is a great backstop for America. I love it when people hold up the constitution.”

Ron Paul: “You have to have capital. You have to have strong currency, not a weak currency. It’s the job of the fed to weaken it.”

Michele Bachmann: “The EPA should be renamed the Job Killing Organisation of America.”

Newt Gingrich: “We built the transcontinental rail road without a national rail road department.”

Herman Cain: “Raising the retirement age, by itself, won’t solve the problem.”

Herman Cain: ”I do not believe in sharia law in American courts. I believe in American law in American courts. Period.”

Tim Pawlenty: “If the federal government can’t protect its borders, let the states do it.”

Newt Gingrich: “Libya was the second largest producer of people who wanted to kill Americans in Iraq.”

Mitt Romney: “We will not raise the debt ceiling unless the president becomes a leader on the issues that America people care about.”

Ron Paul: “I’m the commander in chief, I tell the commanders what to do. I’d tell them to leave Afghanistan. I’d tell them to leave Iraq. And I wouldn’t fight a war in Libya.”

Tim Pawlenty: “I think I’m the only one up here who has reliably appointed conservative appointments to the supreme court.”

Tim Pawlenty: “The separation of church and state was designed to protect people from government, not government from people.”

Tim Pawlenty: “I think Sarah Palin is qualified to be POTUS.”

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  • 1
    Harley Dennett
    Posted Tuesday, 14 June 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Live reactions are coming in now. Audience polls of registered democrats and republicans has them agreeing: Mitt Romney dominated the debate and remains the front-runner.

    Michele Bachmann was a close second, having introduced herself to a much wider audience of the American public.

    Tim Pawlenty, who many had hopes for but needs to improve his profile/charisma, was also mentioned a lot, but didn’t make a huge splash. Nor did Ron Paul, who has previously had strong audience support.

    Newt Gingrich started out strong, with attacks on Obama, but may as well have been on life support.

    Herman Cain’s sharia comments appear to be the low-point of the debate.

  • 2
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 14 June 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, oh dear. Seventeen more months of this to go. Do Australians really care who wins the presidential nominations or the next election? Whichever politician resides in the White House our Prime Minister and troops will be led with a ring through the nose to whichever war they care to nominate. Just more of the same.

    Seventeen months! oh spare us…

  • 3
    93d5619ef3af6712c84c0b6caf6c91e0
    Posted Tuesday, 14 June 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    If Ron Paul doesn’t win the presidency in 2012 I’ve truly lost faith in Americans.

  • 4
    Competitive Australia
    Posted Tuesday, 14 June 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Zut Alors

    You need to be FILTHY RICH to be President of the USA and it skews the applications to mostly bone heads and people who can spin and woo.

    Shocking system, the yanks need to change it ASAP

  • 5
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 14 June 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    All too stupid even to be wrong.

  • 6
    Tom
    Posted Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Possibly the only thing that makes Gillard and Abbott look even reasonable.

    @ Zut - you should care as while Romney and Pawlenty are ‘reasonable’ (in an American sort of way), and Herman Cain and Ron Paul shouldn’t be taken too seriously as candidates, the rest, with Bachmann being at the top of the list are absolute dangerous (in context of the Americans not dropping nukes on anybody who upsets them) lunatics.

    If the very worst does come to the very worst, is there any chance of offering Obama Australian citizenship? If ever we needed anybody of his stature …..

  • 7
    zut alors
    Posted Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Tom,

    You are right to pull me up on that comment about not caring who wins the US election. What I actually meant is that 17 months of having to live through the process is a galling prospect, I don’t care how they actually arrive at the end result.

    On the point about nuclear nutters, we should be doubling our news reportage on elections conducted in the Middle East to get a feel for volatility. Oz news services are slanted towards the US: the politics, the ‘celebrities’. We deserve wider and more thorough reporting - not just TV footage of tanks, troops, explosions, fire in the skies. Some informed analysis of what’s happening would be refreshing.

  • 8
    Tom
    Posted Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Zut - From The Jam song Going Underground, “the people get what the people want” …. the reason the media don’t report it is because we’re more interested in who’s been kicked off Masterchef, Julia’s marital status, Tony’s smugglers etc etc

    But there is still hope for those who seek news for knowledge as opposed to those who seek to be spoon fed C list celeb tat for… for … why do people watch commercial television? http://www.bbc.co.uk Still as good as news reporting gets (IMHO).

  • 9
    Michael James
    Posted Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    People get their ‘tighty whitey’s’ (to use an Americanism) in a knot over the contenders for US president, but it really doesn’t matter.

    The job is bigger than any individual.

    Look at Obama, he was going to change everything, people would love America after the evil Bush years, end wars, stop climate change, improve the economy and ensure jobs for all. Well none of that happened, the US is still hated by many simply for being America, it is involved in three wars (one more than Bush), the US is no closer to addressing climate change and the US economy has tanked and the unemployment numbers continue to rise.

    It doesn’t matter if Obama wins another election, or is defeated and his place taken by a conservative, even Palin.

    The vastness of the US domestic and foreign policy is too large to be turned around quickly by the actions of any one president over one term. Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Roosevelt, they all tried to permanently change the US, but in the end the nation continued on, driven by vast geo-strategic and economic forces bigger than any one nation, even America.

    If Obama is re-elected, then he will continue to try and set his own agenda and drive the US in the direction he envisions for the country, but will probably fall short.

    If Palin or another Republican is elected, the world will not collapse; they will try and steer the US towards a course more in keeping with their ideology and thinking, and will enjoy at best only limited success.

    Basically the trajectory of a nation as large, complex, wealthy and diverse as the United States is beyond the direct control of the inhabitant of the White House.

    The best they can hope for is to leave the office having done more good than ill for the people of the United States.

  • 10
    Tom
    Posted Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    @Zut - apols, am reliably informed it’s ‘the public gets what what the public wants’ in verse 1 and ‘the public wants what the public gets’ in verse 2.

    Great song which also has lyric:

    ”.. what you see is what you get
    you made your bed you better lie in it
    you choose your leaders and place your trust
    as their lies wash you down and their promises rust ..”

    Released in March 1980, oh how things have NOT changed!

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