Kudos to Mike Huckabee for bringing together the GOP candidates (save for Jon Huntsman) for a forum on his Fox News Channel show. Each candidate was asked an extensive set of questions by three Republican State Attorney Generals – Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, Pam Bondi of Florida and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma. He provided an opportunity for the candidates to speak about the role of the federal government, state government, the courts and the Constitution.
Now I did not see Newt Gingrich’s session and thus not in a position to comment on the merits of his exchange. I will say that overall I was generally more impressed with the quality of the questions pose by the three GOP Attorney Generals than the answers given by the GOP candidates.
For instance, Michele Bachmann struggled to answer Bondi’s question as to how she planned to deal with illegal immigrants other than to say that she would enforce the law. O.K., how would she enforce the law? Cuccinelli raised the practicality of shutting down the EPA if there was a dispute between states (i.e. if emissions from a factory in Ohio crossed over into Pennsylvania.) Bachmann replied that the two states could simply negotiate with one another. Cuccinelli pointed out that still required a legal framework. And what if the two states couldn’t come to an agreement? Clearly it was something Bachmann hadn’t given it a moment’s thought.
Ron Paul was unable to answer Pruitt’s question as to what alternative means he would use instead of the Patriot Act to combat domestic terrorism. He also said that terrorism was a crime, not an act of war which is line with the position advanced by the Obama Administration and the Clinton Administration before it. When Bondi asked him about the actions of al Qaeda on September 11, 2001 he acknowledged it was an act of terrorism but he was more interested in addressing al Qaeda’s grievances than in addressing the deaths of innocent American civilians. Paul was lucky that Bondi wasn’t allotted more time to grill him because if she were he would have been burned to a crisp.
Mitt Romney was far more composed with Cuccinelli than he was with Bret Baier when it came to defending Romneycare in Massachusetts. But not only was Romney was unable to tell Cuccinelli how it was substantially different than Obamacare, he was just plain wrong when he said that his program only affected the 8% of the population who were uninsured. All residents of Massachusetts (yours truly amongst them) have to disclose our health insurance information on our state tax forms. To be precise, it’s called a Form HC-1099. Failure to disclose this information can result in a fine of up to $1,116.
Nevertheless, I liked this format and hope will it be employed again. I also suspect we will be hearing a lot more from Bondi, Cuccinelli and Pruitt in the coming years.