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Jacksonville 1/26 Debate Summary

I attempted to live-blog the debate tonight in paraphrase format using one long comment thread on Facebook. It was harder than I thought it might be, but you all might enjoy the result. I caught almost all of the exchanges, though I think I missed one from Gingrich and one from Santorum.

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Three panderers and a statesman introduce themselves.

Santorum: Romney is right on this. Solve illegal immigration with securing the border and identifying illegals more thoroughly, and make it economically unviable for them to stay. If they can't afford to be here and can't find work, they will leave.

Gingrich: Self-deportation doesn't work.

Romney: Self-deportation does work if you do it right. The concept is sound, that if you make it economically hard to live here illegally, people will stop coming here illegally.

Paul: We have to manage the border better, for one thing--such as using our resource to secure our own border instead of some foreign one. We also have to fix the economy to really address the core issue, since if we do that, even illegal immigration will be much less of a "problem" per se.

(Romney and Gingrich bicker over immigration)

Paul: Free trade is an answer to a lot of conflicts around the world (not just Latin America, but also Cuba). Free trade is good. But we have NO obligation or authority to force our views of government or economies on anyone else. We should build our own country so people want to emulate us, but we fail in this a lot.

Santorum: Paul and Obama [nice slight-of-logic juxtaposition] are wrong. Obama and Chavez and Castro side with leftsts against Honduras in their struggle. Terrorism is a threat, radical Islam, fear, etc. I will VISIT people until they agree with us! [?]

Paul: We can achieve what Santorum wants without military force (which we can't pay for anyway).

Observation from friend: Santorum hurts my head

Santorum: Paul wasn't paying attention. I didn't say use force! I said build economic and military partnerships! [Apparently military partnerships don't involve force?]

(Romney and Gingrich bicker over "ghetto" comment in Romney's radio ad)

Romney: Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac are a big part of the housing crises, and by proxy, so was Gingrich for not blowing the whistle while he was "advising" them. The solution is fixing unemployment so people can work and actually afford these homes. [Demonstrates a lack of understanding about the influence of the Fed's manipulation of interest rates]

Gingrich: I didn't lobby with them. Also, Romney is complicit in this problem since he invested in FM and FM and made money off of the suffering of others.

Romney: My trust manager (of a blind trust) invested in some mutual funds which include FM and FM. I don't own stock in these companies. Gingrich's investments also involve these. Zing!

Gingrich: You're blowing this way out of proportion. Also, ad hominem attack against Romney.

Paul: The investment practices of these two is frankly not interesting at all. Instead, here's a major economics lesson in 60 seconds. Take notes. FM and FM should have been dismantled right after the crash. The malinvestment would probably be eliminated by now. I identified the causes and proposed good solutions for the economic crash DECADES ago. I've been trying to prevent it and then to alleviate it, but nobody listens. Seriously guys.

Santorum: Yeah, what he said, only with less substance and more attempt at an emotional connection with angry voters!

Gingrich: Honestly, asking about personal finances is pointless. You should be asking real questions. [Blizter: you made an issue about this; don't blow it off.] Okay fine. Romney, you want to explain your Swiss bank account?

Romney: My trust manage did use a Swiss bank account for a while. So? I earned all the money I have either through work or investments, legally. This is totally fine.

(Romney and Gingrich negotiate a false-ish pseudo truce)

Gingrich: We should shrink the government to fit the revenue, not increase the revenue to fit the government. I'd be fine with a "Romney 15% flat tax" on everyone.

Santorum: We should reduce taxes, progressively so that the richest get less of a reduction. I don't think capital gains taxes should go to zero; it's not necessary.

Paul: No, Reagan taxes too much. My goal is to get rid of the 16th Amendment [income tax], but that's only possible if we kill the welfare/warfare state. Here's another quick economics lesson: capitalism is GOOD. Crony capitalism is BAD. Rich people should be allowed to be rich if they come by it through honest accumulation of wealth. Bailouts and manipulation of the currency is BAD.

Paul: Also, I'm super healthy even though I'm 76. I'd be happy to release my medical records. I could beat any of these guys in a 25-mile bike race in the heat of Texas.

Gingrich: Actually dudes, this guy really is pretty healthy. I've seen him campaign.

Romney: We need a government/private partnership for the future of manned space flight.

Gingrich: NASA in its current form is not a good approach to US adventures into space. We should use prizes and incentives to encourage private ventures. We can do much better than we are now, without using boatloads of tax money.

Santorum: Space is important as the "final frontier," a promising and motivating target for students and scientists. But we spend too much already. We have to fix spending first.

Paul: We don't need to go to the moon (maybe send some politicians there though). The only government spending for space should be for potential national defense purposes, not for scientific research or fun. No government/private partnerships; it's inefficient and not the government's business. Government should be involved in national defense. Private enterprise will take care of everything else: travel, discovery, research, etc.

Gingrich: I agree with Dr. Paul on this except that America has a "we're @#$! awesome first in space YEAAAH" reputation to uphold, and I think that's important to maintain, to the point of using government funds as well.

Romney: It's dumb to spend hundreds of billions of dollars building a colony on the moon when we have so much else to spend money on.

Gingrich: You aren't paying attention to the specifics of this state. Space is important. The Everglades! I balanced the budget!

Paul: Yeah, on that, Gingrich only balanced the budget if you don't count Social Security. During the four "balanced" years, the national debt went up $1 trillion. Not exactly balanced.

Gingrich: Actually you're right. But we should change the rules so I would have been right if the rules had been changed when I was office.

Paul: Here's another economics lesson. When you pump money into something, costs go up. This is true with housing, education, healthcare, and anything else. The government's involvement in medicine for 50 years is what has created the super high healthcare costs. Get the government out, allow deductions for individuals the same way employers get them.

Gingrich: Paul's right.

Romney: Paul's right. Also, more jobs.

Santorum: Paul's right. Also, health savings accounts are important. Also, both Gingrich and Romney flip-flopped on this. Romneycare doesn't fit with this sentiment. Gingrich advocated the individual mandate. [Paul, as he knows, has always said what he just said.]

Gingrich: I'm not the same as Romney, and not as bad as Santorum just said. I've done a lot of healthcare reform stuff.

Romney: Romneycare was what our state chose, which they were entitled to do. Obamacare is not the same, and its implementation is unconstitutional.

Santorum: Romney advocates top-down healthcare. If it's not allowed at the federal level, it's not allowed at the state level! [Wrong.]

(Santorum badgers Romney over idealism, apparently entirely ignoring state sovereignty)

(Romney fizzles and redirects; Santorum still won't shut up)

Paul: They're all wrong. They have WAY too much confidence in government sorting this out. Allow the people to make their own decisions. We were fine before Medicare and Medicaid, and now that we have it, we have all kinds of problems.

Gingrich: Paul's right. [Again.]

Santorum: Marco Rubio is an impressive guy. I'd consider him for my cabinet.

Gingrich: Rubio, maybe the governor [?] of Arizona. (Hints at Rubio for a more "central" role in his administration)

(Romney lists a few reasonable options, including Rubio)

Paul: Nobody specific at the moment; my litmus test is whether they understand individual liberty and monetary policy. But a lot of Hispanics are more attuned to the value of non-interventionist foreign policy, which is a very good thing.

Paul: My wife would make a great first lady. We've been married for 54 years, with another anniversary on 2/1. We've got a great, solid, big family. She also has a great cookbook!

Romney: We have a great family too. But more importantly, my wife is a fighter (MS and cancer).

Gingrich: All three women represented here [other candidates' wives, not his exes] would be fine. But Callista is ambitious and talented. This would be excellent.

Santorum: My wife is at home taking care of our seven kids. She's gone through a lot, including a death of a child. She's written some good books. She's a great woman.

Romney: Gingrich has more of a claim to the "Reagan mantle" than I do. It took me a long time to get involved in politics. I spent a lot of time in the private sector. The Olympics are awesome! And then I really got involved in politics when I ran for governor. I became more conservative during my governorship. Really, Gingrich was closer to Reagan than I was.

Gingrich: Yeah, pretty much. I was closer to Reagan. Also, not-so-subtle digs at Romney's "attack machine."

Romney: I always vote for a Republican *when there is a Republican on the ballot.*

Santorum: I would oppose it. [Cuba?] I have been 100% in support of the Cuban people. [He must not understand sanctions.] Obama's rewarding of the evil governments' actions, Marxism and thuggery, is totally wrong. (Anger, fear, and conflating Cuba and Iran and radical Islam.)

Paul: When we cut off relations with Cuba, we are only helping the evil governments. Our actions may be well-intentioned, but they almost always backfire. We help the dictators and hurt the citizens.

Romney: Obama is making big mistakes with giving into the demands of Cuban dictators. Helms-Burton is really important, and we should keep up what we're doing, cutting them off, until Castro dies. Then, freedom for Cuba!

Gingrich: Kind of what Romney said. Helms-Burton is a good thing.

Romney: The reason there is no peace between Israel and Palestine is that Hamas and others believe Israel should not exist. Israel is happy to have a two-state system; its the others who aren't. We need to stand with our ally and friend Israel, such that there is NO distance between us. Obama has not done this.

Gingrich: Israel has a right to exist. The "peace process" doesn't work when the opposite side is raining missiles on you. We need to stand with Israel, and move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. ("Palestinian" is technically an invented term, really.)

Observation from friend: Santorum did a lot of "things" and passed a lot of "things" in his relationship with Puerto Rico. What in the world?

Santorum: Puerto Rico is important. I believe in self-determination. I don't take a specific position on statehood; that's for them to decide. They are US citizens though, and we need to support them when necessary.

Paul: My religion impacts my lifestyle, personal activities, and interactions with other people. But my oath of office and the laws which bind me are what impact my political decisions.

Romney: Paul is right, though I would seek the Guidance of Providence (TM) also.

Observation from wife: WHY IS GINGRICH BRINGING UP THE IDEA OF BEING "TRULY FAITHFUL"?

Santorum: The Constitution is the "how" document for America. But the "why" is clearly based in religion. I believe in faith and reason, and understanding that rights don't come from government, but government is there to protect rights. [Excellent sentiment and observation, but no mention of following boundaries set by the Constitution.]

Paul: I can beat Obama because the freedom message and the Constitution is appealing to everybody. Obama lies. My message totally undermines his empty promises. Protect civil liberties, understand monetary policy, and sane foreign policy. My record demolishes Obama.

Romney: My experience makes me different from Obama, and this is really important. I understand private sectors. We need somebody very different from Obama. I'm that guy. [No, you're not.]

Gingrich: This is a BIG election. We need to have two different choices. I'm running for my grandchildren, so I can look them in the eye and actually give them a good country to live in. I'm the best "different" choice. [No, you're not.]

Santorum: The previous two guys are wrong. [No word on Ron Paul.] They voted for big government, not the people, when push came to shove. [True.] Not those other two guys, but *I* am the best choice. [Not really.]

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Ron Paul 2012!



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I laughed my

butt off at some of those exchanges. My side hurts. Thanks