Answer the quick questions above and submit your own (in the field at the top of the poll, marked "Enter a YES or NO question". Update: We are limiting the questions to 20 this time around, but will allow many more in the future. Thanks to everyone who submitted). A reader writes:
You noted that the crowd last night seemed to side with Romney when Anderson Cooper brought up the recent attacks on his faith. While it would be pleasant to believe there is a new sectarian streak in the GOP, a more likely explanation may lie in the debate's location; Nevada is right next to Utah and has a large Mormon population. Many of those in the crowd were likely Mormon or at least have many Mormon acquaintances. Would Romney's defense of sectarianism have played as well in South Carolina?
Another quotes me:
The moment of hope? Romney's defense of no religious litmus tests in American politics. I wish I could be as certain of the sincerity of this if he weren't a Mormon but an evangelical.
He started what seemed like a forthright defense of the Constitution's ban on a religious test for office. But then he made clear that a candidate could practice whatever faith he or she chose; he pointedly did not say that an atheist could also legitimately hold office. And he closed by saying that it didn't matter what church or synagogue a candidate attended. If he really believe in what he was saying – if he really had any guts in front of the redmeat Republican crowd – he'd have added "mosque" to that sentence.
Another comments on CNN's ridiculous intro:
Another makes a really substantive point:
I think one of the reasons Romney's rivals have had trouble attacking him on the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare is that they risk calling attention to Obamacare's *conservative* nature.
For the past two years, Republicans have been depicting Obamacare as a government takeover of the health care system, with death panels to boot. Probably many conservative voters have no idea that it contains no public insurance programs, because right-wing media has been fostering the idea that it does. So when Romney talks about how his plan used only private insurance companies, his rivals can't say "But so does Obamacare!" because that would be letting the cat out of the bag. They try to contradict his claim that it's market-based – as in Santorum's description of the plan as a "top-down government-run program" – but they know they can't get too specific, because it would expose their lie that either program is government-run.
They'd have to talk about the exchanges, which are clearly not socialized medicine, and when they get to the part about stopping insurance companies from excluding people with preexisting conditions, they'd be put in the awkward position of either straying from GOP orthodoxy or adopting a highly unpopular view (a dilemma that briefly tripped up even Tea Party star Marco Rubio last year). The only concrete major component truly shared by both plans that's easy for Romney's rivals to attack openly is the individual mandate, but they don't want to limit their attack to it. So they're in a perilous position, and skewering Romney on this issue is not as easy as it would first seem.
Arrggghhh … Anderson Cooper repeats the lie that 47% don't pay taxes. This drives me nuts. The poor pay sales tax! The poor pay other taxes. They just don't pay federal income tax. The host of the debate repeating that lie that 47% of the people don't pay taxes is just sad and misleading.
Romney said he wanted America to stop borrowing money from the Chinese to give foreign aid to Africa, saying he'd urge the Chinese to give that aid directly. This policy will have two complementary effects: it will decrease American influence and increase Chinese influence around the world. Good thinking, Mitt!
As a Canadian, it burns me a little every time I hear this. I wonder how many GOP candidates know that Canada is America's largest trading partner and largest source of energy. I see what the US does for Israel, but what the hell does Israel do for the US?? Nothing, as far as I can tell.
I love how Michele Bachmann blasted Obama for allegedly betraying Israel by being the first president to put "daylight" between the US and Israel, but in the very next breath insists that the US should never, under any circumstances, negotiate with terrorists – harkening back to the question posed about Israel negotiating with Hamas to release a single IDF soldier for 1,000 Palestinian soldiers. That sounds like a lot of "daylight" to me!
Another digs deep:
Gingrich: He suffers from looking out of shape, frankly. He often seems interested in making interesting points of facts about something or other in a knowledgable tone. He is good to have in the debates because his discussions of the history of healthcare or immigration law, etc, basically clue Bachman, Perry, and Cain in to what they're talking about. I'd say he is occasionally appreciated as a debate participant, but no one takes him seriously as a candidate.
Paul: Like Gingrich, he's good to have in the debate. The other candidates take cues from how the audience reacts to some of Paul's remarks. For instance, when Paul came out in defense of the middle class and took a swing at Wall Street, the audience roared approval. I'll guarantee that the other candidates took notice. Toward the end, for instance, Cain contrasted himself with Romney by pointing out that Romney's business experience was "Wall Street" while his own was "Main Street". As for Paul himself, he could actually make himself more popular if he would just quit bringing up the Fed all the time.
Santorum: He seems like he got into politics because he was told when he was in high school that he did well on the debate team. He just looks like that guy. Romney looks like the guy who was quarterbacking the football team while Santorum was earning gold stars on the debate club and then Romney turned out to have higher SAT scores than him as well. Who could have predicted it? If Santorum is right about Perry and the letter that he wrote in support of TARP, then Perry is probably going to become a laughing stock.
Bachmann: The only thing I remember about her was that she had no idea about how to relate to the setting. She never chimed in naturally. She never spoke in a normal tone of voice. She constantly seemed to be speaking in platitudes and she seemed to think that she was on TV and not in a debate. She has failed to realize that being on TV in this day and age of reality TV means you have to act more real, not more like a robot with makeup.
Cain: He could up his game, I think. He appears to be still adjusting to the fact that, as a frontrunner, he has to become less of a quips and sound-bites person (incessantly repeating "apples and oranges," for instance) and have more real explanations. What I like about him, though, is that he is very sensitive to what plays well and adjusts nicely. He shares this with Romney, and I wonder if it is because they have had to survive the shark-infested business environment. He appears to operate by testing the waters with bold statements, and then moderating his position according the variety of response he receives. His good-natured personality lets him get away with it.
So, for instance, he tested how his bold "electrified fence" remarks on the immigration wall played, then was willing to backtrack a bit. He tested how his remarks on Wall Street played during this debate and then adjusted a bit when Paul pushed back by saying he was blaming the victim. So he's good and he improvises well, but he needs to be better informed and prepared in terms of the facts and issues. One gets the sense that he is a follower and poll-reader, not a focused visionary.
Romney: In him I see a guy who is practical. No one is quite sure what he thinks about abortion or healthcare, etc., but most people don't have any idea what they think themselves about healthcare anyway, and abortion is also not a black-and-white issue for most people. What is clear about Romney, though, is that he is intelligent, able to take charge, emotionally aware, and seems to be in command of facts. I don't view him as either a Democrat or a Republican, really. I see in him a practical and successful businessman who has a conservative personal disposition and who has found that the conservative values and habits that were instilled in him in his youth have served him well in life.
But in terms of what he would actually do – I think Romney is probably the most likely of all the people running, including Obama, to take down Wall Street if elected president in 2012. He would see the practical sense in aligning with the Occupy Wall Street movement's calls for reform, and his Republican and pro-business chops will give him the cover he needs to take on the financial sector. I'm a little concerned about how much money Romney has taken from Wall Street, but I think that once he becomes president he'll adjust to the realities of the situation and he appears to have enough personal confidence that he would actually be able to stand up to powerful interests in a way that Bush couldn't and Obama isn't well positioned to. (Only Nixon could go to China…)
Perry: Basically, he continually made Romney look more alpha by repeatedly challenging him and getting smacked down hard. At one point Romney even put a hand on his shoulder and one could sense the testosterone rising. Romney not only continually won the challenges, but came away looking like the bigger man as well. Perry's attack on Romney for hiring illegal immigrants was easily brushed aside by Romney (maybe most Americans mow their own lawns, but most Americans would hire a lawn care company if they could, and most will give him a break on the situation he described as well).
Basically, Perry isn't in the same league as Romney. Romney shredded Perry to bits again on the issue of a religious test for office. Also, Perry's suggestion that we use Predator drones to police the border with Mexico sent shivers down my spine. That is exactly the kind of thinking that I want no where near the oval office. Perry seems out of his depth, although not quite as much as Bachman, whom everyone is pretty much ignoring at this point.