Republican candidates faced off on stage in the Republican primary debate at the Reagan Library in California, but it often seemed like they were facing the moderators instead of their Republican opponents. Most of the moderators’ questions were the typical fare of the mainstream media and out of place at a Republican primary debate.
The duo of NBC news anchor, Brian Williams, and Politico editor-in-chief, James Harris, asked a menagerie of politically loaded questions to promote infighting, prefaced with an overwhelming number of standard liberal attacks and had several snippy asides laced-in for good measure.
Here are the top 5 attacks from the NBC/Politico moderators:
1.) Blame the Texans
For the very first question, Williams started off by saying to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, “A majority of people in this country now believe the Republican policies of the first eight years of the past decade are responsible for the economic mess we’re in.”
He was, of course, saying that Americans blame former President George Bush for the state of the economy more than President Obama. But the blame for the recession has been shifting fairly steadily to Obama during his time in office. Saying that “now” people blame Republicans implies that this is a growing trend.
On top of saying that Republicans are being blamed for the poor national economy, Williams went after Texas policies under Perry.
“Texas ranks last among those who have completed high school, there are only eight other states with more living in poverty, no other state has more working at or below the minimum wage.” Williams said.
Williams then asked, “So is that the kind of answer all Americans are looking for?”
Perry answered by highlighting how Texas has “created over 1 million jobs”, while the nation has lost “2.5 million”. He also said that “95 percent” of all jobs created were above minimum wage.
2.) Mickey Mouse Games
In the Fox News debate in South Carolina, former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, called out moderator Chris Wallace for asking tough questions, which were, in his mind, “gotcha” questions. He called them “Mickey Mouse” games.
The games continued tonight, as Gingrich was thrown several hardballs that were forcing him to go after other Republicans.
The former Speaker refused to take the bait.
James Harris contrasted the healthcare system in Massachusetts, which has the individual mandate, with the one in Texas, which lacks the individual mandate, saying that “almost no one is uninsured” in Massachusetts, while “about a quarter” in Texas are not.
Gingrich slammed Harris with a harsh rebuttal, “I’m frankly not interested in your effort to get Republicans fighting each other.”
Despite his early stumbles and calling Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity plan “right wing engineering,” Gingrich is now preaching about unity for the Republican Party.
Gingrich said, “If this president had any concern for working Americans, he’d walk in Thursday night and ask us to repeal it because it’s a monstrosity. Every person up here agrees with that.”
3.) A Bunch of Cranks Who Hate Science
James Harris brought up words from former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s campaign strategist, John Weaver, who said that the Republican Party is full of “A bunch of cranks,” that, “make a buffet of crazy and inane comments.”
Harris then asked, “Tell us which one of these people are saying crazy and inane things.”
Huntsman replied, “Well, I’m sure you have John Weaver’s telephone number. You can go ahead and give him a call.”
On top of that first bomb thrown, Harris also tried to get Huntsman to point out who was “anti-science.”
Huntsman fed into the answer a bit by speaking about what “98 out of 100 scientists” say, but wouldn’t state specifically which Republican was “anti-science”.
4.) Let the People Starve
Texas Rep. Ron Paul was pushed about his views concerning FEMA, an agency that he called out for abolishment while floods were ravaging New Jersey, Vermont and other parts of the Northeast.
Stressing the suffering of the people in flood ravaged areas, Williams said, “There’s standing water tonight … We had people eating in outdoor and public parks because the supermarkets were closed down.”
Then, implying that the absence of FEMA will prevent any aid from reaching those people, Williams asked, “What happens in its absence?”
Paul wasted no time in saying, “Well, what happened before 1979? We didn’t have FEMA.”
5.) The Killing of Innocents
The most caustic question of the night came when Perry was asked about the death penalty in Texas.
Instead of just asking why Texas has executed “234 death row inmates,” to which the crowd erupted in uproarious applause, Brian Williams had to push it further, perhaps in reaction to, or disbelief about that crowd response.
Willaims said, “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”
To this, Perry gave a slow and deliberate answer.
Perry said, “No, sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all.”
He then continued to give a mini-sermon about why he believes Texas has made so many executions:
In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be executed.
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