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Republican Presidential Candidates Debate in Iowa

Sunday, August 05, 2007

So what it really boils down to is this, Tom Tancredo hates everyone, every one is trying to be anti-gay, pro-war, and anti-abortion. It appears that Sen. Brownback (one of the biggest zealots in government) really doesn't like Mitt Romney's "liberal" politics. Oh, and who knew, George Stephanopoulos' father is a priest?

Shades of Difference on Iraq, Abortion Highlight Iowa GOP Debate

By Marie Horrigan, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY
Published: August 5, 2007

All nine of the declared candidates seeking the 2008 Republican presidential nomination participated in a 90-minute debate Sunday at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The event was broadcast by ABC and moderated by George Stephanopoulos, the host of the network’s Sunday morning news-talk show, along with veteran political reporter David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register.

The debate — in the state that is scheduled next January to hold the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses — was timed in part as a prelude to next Saturday’s Republican presidential straw poll in Ames. In a break with tradition, though, several of the GOP hopefuls have chosen not to participate in that straw poll.

Stephanopoulos worked to balance time between the nine candidates, despite the fact that three — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain — are recognized as forming a top tier in the current poll standings. The six other participants were Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback; Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, Ron Paul of Texas and Tom Tancredo of Colorado; former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, though regarded as a potentially serious contender for the Republican nomination, has not yet officially announced that he is running and was not invited to the debate.

The following is a roundup of some of the debate’s key highlights:

• Most Discussed Issue: Moderator Stephanopoulos said the war in Iraq was the top issue when Iowa voters were polled about what they would want to ask the presidential contenders, and a question about an exit strategy for the war provided for a lively exchange among the GOP candidates.

Paul, a libertarian conservative who stands alone in the field as an outspoken opponent of the war, drew applause when he called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. “Just come home,” he said.

Hunter — a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee who is seeking a niche as the most hawkish candidate for the GOP nomination — took an opposite view, said U.S. troops needed to stay in Iraq and turning his criticism on Democrats whom he described as competing to see “who could stampede for the exit the quickest.”

Huckabee said it was possible to find middle ground on the issue, saying that the United States needed to end its dependence on foreign oil and to build up the nation’s strength to become “free people,” which drew major applause.

McCain disputed charges by many Democrats and some Republicans that little progress toward a political solution is being made in Iraq. “Of course they are making progress and we are winning on the ground,” he said. He declared that combating Islamic extremism was the major national security of the day, and touted his military and legislative background in declaring himself the most qualified candidate to deal with this issue.

Giuliani said that Democrats are so concerned about “political correctness” that none of their candidates has used the phrase “Islamic terrorism” in any of their presidential debates; Giuliani said Iraq is a battle in the “overall war against us” that America needs to win.

Romney also said it is critical to win the conflict, and drew applause when he criticized Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s strongly stated warning to Pakistan, issued last week, that he would be willing to deploy the U.S. military unilaterally to go after al Qaeda and other anti-American forces hiding in remote areas of that nation if Pakistani leaders fail to use their own military to do so.

• Most Combative Moment: The debate opened with an argument over Romney’s stance on abortion. Stephanopoulos asked Brownback, a staunchly anti-abortion candidate, whether he stood behind an ad produced by his campaign that seeks to debunk Romney’s “pro-life” credentials. Brownback called the ad “truthful,” but Romney said that “virtually nothing in that ad is true.”

Referring to his advocacy during a 1994 Senate campaign of a position that upheld abortion rights — something he described later in the debate as his biggest mistake — Romney said he “was pro-choice,” but switched to a “pro-life” position while serving a four-year term as governor of Massachusetts that ended in January. Sharpening his tone, Romney added, “I get tired of people who are holier than thou, because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.”

• Most defensive moment: Tancredo, who has made his opposition to illegal immigration the signal issue of his longshot presidential campaign, went after Stephanopoulos early in the debate, alleging the moderator was exercising favoritism among the candidates. “There are nine of us up here,” he told Stephanopoulos right before he was called on to discuss his views on the war in Iraq.

Tancredo criticized the Bush administration’s planning for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, but continued to take a very hard line on Islamic extremism, defending a comment he made last week in which he advocated threatening to bomb Islamic holy sites in Mecca if terrorists were to use nuclear weapons against the United States. When Stephanopoulos asked about the State Department’s rebuke of that statement, Tancredo — echoing the anti-government sentiments among some conservatives — said he felt vindicated by the fact that the State Department disagreed with him.

But Tommy Thompson, taking the State Department’s line, described Tancredo’s threat as counterproductive, saying an attack on religious holy sites would unite 1 billion Muslims around the world against the United States.

• Best Line: “To have a description of my mistakes in 30 minutes? George, your father is a priest. I’m going to explain it to your father, not to you, OK?” — Giuliani, who is married to his third wife, told Stephanopoulos when asked to provide a 30-second answer outlining a defining mistake in his life. The moderator’s father is a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church.

• Second Best Line: “In one week, he went from saying he was going to sit down for tea with our enemies but that he was going to bomb our allies. He’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove.” — Romney on Obama’s recent foreign policy statements. Prior to his remarks on Pakistan, Obama said in a Democratic debate that he would not rule out meeting with leaders of so-called rogue nations such as Iran and Cuba.

• Top Point of Agreement: All nine of the candidates agreed they would oppose legislation that would expand coverage under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which passed the House and Senate (with the advocacy of popular Iowa Republican Sen Charles E. Grassley) this week but has drawn a veto threat from President Bush over its cost. Several candidates said the measure would increase government involvement in health care financing and stated their preferences for free-market approaches. Later in the debate, Thompson predicted that there would be media headlines portraying the Republican candidates as opposing improved health care for children and contended that is not true.

© 2006 Congressional Quarterly

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Bill of Rights is Dead!

Well the Bush administration, in collusion with the Congress of the United States, has finally achieved what they've wanted all along. The death of the American way of life. The Bill of Rights is officially dead. Congress has seen to that. They've decided that it's better to give Bush the power to wiretap and spy on American as he sees fit (more to the point as the NSA, CIA, and/or the FBI sees fit) rather than protect and uphold the United States Constitution. What follows is the oath of office required by the sixth article of the Constitution of the United States, and as provided by section 2 of the act of May 13, 1884 (23 Stat. 22), to be administered to Members, Resident Commissioner, and Delegates of the House of Representatives, the text of which is carried in 5 U.S.C. 3331:
I, Loyal Citizen of the Republic, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Can someone please so me where in those words it says "and to do what the President says to do?" Where does it say that it is quite alright to ignore the Constitution when it is convenient? Apparently to these people their oath means nothing. And once again, to quote Mike Malloy, "GOD I HATE THESE PEOPLE!"

The following story comes from Bloomberg.

Here is a list of supposed Democrats who voted for the destruction of the United States Constitution. I think they need to be kicked out of office for those who'll stand up for what's right.

Robert Cramer (D-AL)
Artur Davis (D-AL)
Mike Ross (D-AR)
Vic Snyder (D-AR)
Harry Mitchell (D-AZ)
Jim Costa (D-CA)
John Salazar (D-CO)
F. Allen Boyd (D-FL)
John Barrow (D-GA)
Jim Marshall (D-GA)
Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
Melissa Bean (D-IL)
Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Baron Hill (D-IN)
Ben Chandler (D-KY)
Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Tim Walz (D-MN)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Bob Etheridge (D-NC)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)
Brian Higgins (D-NY)
Zack Space (D-OH)
Charlie Wilson (D-OH)
Dan Boren (D-OK)
Jason Altmire (D-PA)
Christopher Carney (D-PA)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Lincoln Davis (D-TN)
Bart Gordon (D-TN)
John Tanner (D-TN)
Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
Nicholas Lampson (D-TX)
Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX)
Jim Matheson (D-UT)

Congress Enacts Bush's Anti-Terrorism Spy Measure (Update1)

By James Rowley

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. House completed congressional passage of anti-terrorist legislation that gives President George W. Bush more power to conduct electronic surveillance for the next six months.

The House voted 227-183 to let spy agencies intercept -- without a court warrant -- e-mails and telephone calls of foreign-based terrorists that are routed through U.S. telephone switching facilities. Just 41 Democrats joined 186 Republicans to pass the legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland were among 181 Democrats to vote against it.

Bush demanded approval of the temporary measure before Congress begins an August recess. It was approved by the Senate yesterday. The bill removes a legal obstacle that forced spy agencies to get warrants from a secret court that oversees electronic surveillance for national security.

``For six months our intelligence community has been blinded,'' said Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. ``They have had their hands tied behind their back.''

Bush said the measure closes an intelligence gap that was hobbling the ability of U.S. spy agencies to eavesdrop on terrorists.

No Compromise

The Senate approved the Republican plan late yesterday after negotiations between the Democratic-controlled Congress and the Bush administration failed to produce a compromise.

``If we leave Washington for the August recess without closing this gap in our nation's intelligence capability at a time of war, it will be quite simply a dereliction of duty by this Congress,'' said Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent.

Democrats accused the Bush administration of using scare tactics to steamroll Congress into passing legislation they said undercuts civil liberties. Republicans argued the measure would simply put a 1978 law in step with modern communications technology.

``There is not a huge gap'' in intelligence gathering, said New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt. ``Legislation should not be passed in response to fear mongering.''

``This bill makes Alberto Gonzales the sheriff, the judge and the jury,'' said Oregon Democrat David Wu, referring to Bush's attorney general.

Scaring Americans

California Republican Dan Lungren said Democrats are using ``rhetoric that scares the American people into believing that somehow we are tearing up the Constitution.''

Bush praised the Senate for ``giving our intelligence professionals the legal tools and authority they need to keep America safe.'' He urged the House to pass the measure ``without delay.''

In the Senate, Lieberman and 16 Democrats voted for the Republican plan, helping give it the 60 votes needed to pass. Twenty-eight senators opposed it. A Democratic alternative failed 45-43. The provision expires in six months, giving Congress time to consider a broader rewrite of surveillance law.

The threat of a possible al-Qaeda attack made the legislation to revise the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, more urgent, Lieberman and other lawmakers said.

Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, went to Capitol Hill late yesterday to urge lawmakers to act.

The Democratic alternatives would have required a court order to authorize interceptions of e-mails and phone calls of foreign-based terrorists routed through U.S. telephone switching points.

Limited Role

The measure that Congress approved assigns a more limited role to the secret court that oversees surveillance. The court would review the program to ensure it was adhering to guidelines drafted by the attorney general and the national intelligence director to ensure Americans' privacy is protected.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat, said the administration measure would let spy agencies eavesdrop on any person overseas, including U.S. citizens. ``We just can't suspend the Constitution for six months,'' he said.

Still, several Democrats, including Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bill Nelson of Florida and Dianne Feinstein of California, said either the Republican or Democratic measure would solve the problem.

Democrats and Republicans agree that surveillance of people overseas isn't regulated by FISA. The disagreement concerns how to preserve the privacy of Americans if their communications are inadvertently intercepted.

Civil Libertarians

Civil libertarians opposed both the Republican and Democratic measures. Caroline Frederickson, Washington director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Democratic majorities in the House and Senate ``bought into panic and hysteria'' created by the Bush administration about a new terrorist threat.

``This is not an appropriate way to make major revisions to FISA,'' Frederickson said. Such a change shouldn't ``be jammed through just because they want to go on vacation,'' she said.

Concern over another terrorist attack was renewed following release of a National Intelligence Estimate summary on July 17 that concluded the al-Qaeda terrorist network has regenerated some of its capability to attack the U.S.

Administration officials say the group's leaders are reestablishing operations in largely ungoverned tribal areas along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The threat has spread beyond al-Qaeda to other Islamic terrorist groups, and that will ``challenge current U.S. defensive efforts,'' according to the report summary.

To contact the reporters on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net William Roberts at wroberts@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: August 4, 2007 23:41 EDT

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