- CRITTER TALK
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When asked how he would deal with the spikes in violence in Afghanistan, Huntsman explained that he takes a different approach to that conflict. “It’s time to come home,” he said. “This nation has achieved its key objectives in Afghanistan.” Then he added: “This nation’s future is not Afghanistan. This nation’s future is not Iraq. This nation’s future is how prepared we are to meet the 21st-century competitive challenges, that’s economic and that’s education … We are either prepared for that reality or we’re not.”
At least he has a good sense of humor about his mistakes. During a discussion of Iran’s nuclear energy program, when moderator Scott Pelley mentioned the Department of Energy, Perry remarked, “Oh, you remembered it.” Pelley replied, “I have had some time to think about it, sir.” Perry responded, “Me too.” Later, when discussing his plan to start foreign aid at “zero dollars” per year, he said that some of the countries he forgot should be put on the same plan.
Herman Cain’s stance on torture sounded a bit, well, tortured. “I do not agree with torture, period. However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture.” When asked if he considered waterboarding to be torture, Cain said he believed it was an “enhanced interrogation technique” and that he would certainly “return to that policy.”
As discussion turned to whether or not Pakistan is a friend or a foe, Rick Perry suggested that cutting off foreign aid would be a great place to start. He said, “The foreign aid budget should start at zero dollars … Pakistan is sending a message that it does not deserve our foreign aid.” He elaborated that politicians are not in charge of the country and that it is in the hands of the military and the secret service. “I don’t trust ‘em,” he added.
Newt Gingrich was taken to task on his refusal to negotiate with the Taliban. When asked how he would achieve peace without such a negotiation, he replied, “I don’t think you do.” He added: “This is going to be so much bigger and deeper a problem than we have talked about as a country. We don’t have a clue how hard this is going to be.”
Does the Republican primary really need more drama? The moderators gave Newt Gingrich the opportunity to repeat statements he had previously made that Mitt Romney does not think outside the box. But Gingrich declined, saying, “No, no,” adding that he only made the comments because he “was on a national radio show.” Instead of a dramatic confrontation, Gingrich said that anyone on the stage would be “better than Barack Obama,” and that Romney, as a great business manager, would be an “enormous improvement over Barack Obama.”
Michele Bachmann said that as Iran develops its nuclear program, it is working through proxies like Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas and that “it seems the table is being set for worldwide nuclear war against Israel.” She then took the opportunity to take a shot at President Obama, arguing that while he has been “more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street, he hasn’t been willing to stand with Israel.”