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Mystery Debate Theater 2007

Why in the world did the Republicans hold their latest debate at eight o'clock on a Sunday morning? Shouldn't they have been in church?

The timing sure threw off the Beachwood Mystery Debate Theater team you've become familiar with by now: Andrew Kingsford, Tim Willette and Steve Rhodes. Unbeknownst to Steve and Andrew, Tim actually watched it live. He has weird sleep patterns, and he's geeky that way. Andrew joined me at Beachwood HQ for the 5:30 p.m. rebroadcast on C-SPAN.

Andrew's official debate meal: A box of Good & Plenty, two Heineken talls, and a mini Digiorno's pizza. After the proceedings he promptly fell asleep.

As usual, this transcript has been edited for length, clarity and sanity.

*

MODERATOR GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR NOW POSING AS A JOURNALIST WHILE OTHER JOURNALISTS ARE OUT OF WORK: You have also been drawing contrasts with Mayor Giuliani during this campaign. I want to show our viewers something you said about Mayor Giuliani on the Christian Broadcasting Network this spring.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: He is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage and anti-gun . . .

STEVE: The Democrats should nominate him!

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you stand by that? And what is it that you fear a President Giuliani would do on those issues?

MITT ROMNEY: I think Rudy Giuliani is a terrific American and a wonderful mayor. He wasn't a candidate yet. I think I have a better perspective on his views now . . .

STEVE: . . . that I realize I could be his running mate.

* * *

RON PAUL: This war is not going well because the foreign policy is defective.

ANDREW: It was probably made in China.

* * *

SAM BROWNBACK: I think the key missing element here is political resolve on the ground. We need a political surge . . .

ANDREW: 30,000 more politicians on the ground by fall!

* * *

JOHN MCCAIN:: A three-state solution - we just saw it when the Iraqi people joined together with Iraqi flags celebrating a victory in a soccer match.

ANDREW: We must win more soccer matches!

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Giuliani, is there any difference between you and Senator McCain on this issue?

ANDREW: He's nearsighted and I'm farsighted.

* * *


STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, are you, Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain all in the same place right now on Iraq?

ROMNEY: I think we're pretty much in the same place . . . I had to laugh at what I saw Barack Obama do. I mean, in one week he went from saying he's going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he's going to bomb our allies.

STEVE: So that's what Obama meant when he said he wasn't going to serve coffee.

ROMNEY: I mean, he's gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.

(LAUGHTER)

STEVE: Laughing at that line doesn't make you pro-Hillary, you know.

* * *

ROMNEY: And that is, while we are waking up here in the United States and thinking about our barbecue in the afternoon and what's on TV, what baseball game is on, there are lot of families in this country, hundreds of thousands of people, who are waking up wondering whether their loved one is still alive. We have families who made a huge surge of sacrifice to support this surge. And it's time, in my view, for the people of America to show a surge of support, including our leaders in Washington, for these families and for the troops. Let's get behind them and give them everything we have: our prayers, our encouragement, our funds, anything to make sure this surge is successful because it counts for America.

STEVE: Is that a surge in your pants or are you just happy to see us?

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

* * *

TOMMY THOMPSON: How will they ever decide three particular divisions? They've already got that country divided into 18 states that have been there since 1921. And if, in fact, you're going to elect people, why don't you a elect state leader, like you do in Iowa, like we do in Wisconsin, all over America? And those individual governments will be Shiite, Sunnis and Kurds. And it will stop the civil war. And split the oil revenue between the federal government, the state governments, and every man and woman and child, like we do in Alaska, and give those individuals the opportunity . . .

ANDREW: To spend, spend spend!

THOMPSON: . . . to build their country. That will make a stable Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, you get the last word on this round.

PAUL: I, of course, opposed the war a long time before it started. The neoconservatives promoted this war many, many years before it was started. It had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Just think of the weapons the Soviets had in the '60s and the '70s. And we did not have to go to nuclear war with them. There's no reason to go to war against these men in these Third World nations. At the same time, those individuals who have predicted these disastrous things to happen if we leave Iraq are the same ones who said, 'As soon as we go in, it will just be duck soup, it'll be over in three months and it won't cost us anything because the oil will pay for it.'

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Have you forgotten about 9/11?

PAUL: And at the same time . . .

ROMNEY: Have you forgotten about . . .

STEVE: Memo to Mitt: IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11!

* * *

MIKE HUCKABEE: You know, if you want to know how to fix it, I've got a solution. Either give every American the same kind of health care that Congress has, or make Congress have the same kind of health care that every American has.

STEVE: That's awesome, but how's he gonna do it?

HUCKABEE: They'll get it fixed. And the issue in this country is that we really have an incredible problem because our system is upside-down. It focuses on intervention at the catastrophic level of disease rather than really focusing on prevention.

STEVE: He used to be fat.

HUCKABEE: We're not going to fix it until we begin to address the fact that this country has put its focus not on wellness, not on prevention, not on health, but on sickness.

ANDREW: That's because there's no money in helping people. That's why they don't put money into prevention. It's bad for business.

THOMPSON: We've got a sickness, illness and disease society . . . on the uninsured, you could get one form, like we do on the 1040 for taxes, one form for the employment system, and you could save $137 billion. That would cover all of the uninsured in America without raising taxes, ladies and gentlemen.

STEVE: Huh?

TORPEDO TOM TANCREDO: It's not the responsibility of the federal government to provide womb-to-tomb health care for America.

STEVE: Isn't Womb to Tomb playing at the Double Door tonight?

TANCREDO: It is unhealthy to have a government health-care plan in America.

STEVE: So he'd get rid of Medicare?

TANCREDO: And not only that, but let's do something about the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in this country that are taking a large part of our health-care dollars.

STEVE: It always comes back to the aliens!

STEPHANOPOULOS: Gentlemen, I want to give this back to David Yepsen in a second, but I just want to clear something up first. Congressman Tancredo, I know you voted against the expansion of the children's health insurance this week.

TANCREDO: You bet I did.

* * *

DUNCAN DONUTS HUNTER: Let's get back to freedom.

STEVE: What is this, a Chevy commercial?

HUNTER: But you can't buy your health insurance across state lines like Americans buy lots of stuff across state lines.

STEVE: Like opium.

BROWNBACK: Do you think the solution to providing more and better health care is, one, that we should have more government solutions involved, or should there be more market-based solutions involved?

ANDREW: There's just not enough profit motive in health care.

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: Excuse me, Governor Thompson, I want to move on now to something that Governor Romney brought up just a little while ago, and that was the comments earlier this week of Senator Obama, where he talked about going into Pakistan even if President Musharraf didn't agree. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf will not act, we will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: Well, I believe that is an option that should remain open. I believe the senator didn't express it the right way. I think the senator, if he could just say it over again, might want to say that we would encourage Musharraf to allow us to do it if we thought he couldn't accomplish it.

ROMNEY: Yes, I think Barack Obama is confused as to who are our friends and who are our enemies. In his first year, he wants to meet with Castro and Chavez and Assad, Ahmadinejad. Those are our enemies. Those are the world's worst tyrants. And then he says he wants to unilaterally go in and potentially bomb a nation which is our friend. We've trying to strengthen Musharraf. We're trying to strengthen the foundations of democracy and freedom in that country . . .

ANDREW: And that's what Musharraf is all about, freedom and democracy.

STEVE: He's the Freedom General.

ANDREW: When you think of freedom, justice and democracy, you think of Pervez Musharraf!

TELEVISION: Aght! Aght! Aght!

STEVE: It's a tornado warning! For . . . Cook! Should we go in the basement?

ANDREW: [sneer]

STEVE: Let's check the Internets. Nothing on the Trib website. Nothing on the Sun-Times website. Here it is, on weather.com:

TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO/ROMEOVILLE IL 609 PM CDT SUN AUG 5 2007

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHICAGO HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR... CENTRAL COOK COUNTY IN NORTHEAST ILLINOIS... SOUTHEASTERN DUPAGE COUNTY IN NORTHEAST ILLINOIS... NORTH CENTRAL WILL COUNTY IN NORTHEAST ILLINOIS...

* UNTIL 645 PM CDT

* AT 600 PM...THE PUBLIC REPORTED A FUNNEL CLOUD AND RADAR INDICATED ROTATION NEAR ROMEOVILLE...MOVING EAST AT 20 MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR... HOMER GLEN... AND DARIEN BY 615 PM... WILLOW SPRINGS... AND BURR RIDGE BY 625 PM... ORLAND PARK BY 630 PM... PALOS HILLS......HICKORY HILLS... AND JUSTICE BY 635 PM... WORTH... AND CHICAGO RIDGE BY 640 PM...

TAKE COVER NOW! IF NO BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE...MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR. MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES SHOULD BE ABANDONED FOR MORESUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. AVOID WINDOWS!

LAT...LON 4176 8814 4158 8813 4158 8776 4175 8776

NEW: More detailed local map tracking!
Mark your exact location on weather.com radar maps - click here

STEVE: We can track it on radar! Hey, nice State Farm ad on here too, you know, in case you or your car doesn't make it!

* * *

ROMNEY: It's wrong for a person running for the president of the United States to get on TV and say, 'We're going to go into your country unilaterally.' Of course, America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in the best interests of America. But we don't go out and say, 'Ladies and gentlemen of Germany, if ever there was a problem in your country, we didn't think you were doing the right thing, we reserve the right to come in and get them out.'

STEVE: Mitt Romney and the politics of hope!

ROMNEY: We don't say those things. We keep our options quiet. We do not go out and say to a nation which is working with us, where we have collaborated and they are our friend and we're trying to support Musharraf and strengthen him and his nation, that instead that we intend to go in there and potentially bring out a unilateral attack. Recognize to win the war on jihad, we have to not only have a strong military of our own -- and we need a stronger military -- we also need to have strong friends around the world and help moderate Muslims reject the extreme. Because ultimately the only people who can finally defeat these radical Islamic jihadists are the Muslims themselves.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what I'm hearing is you keep this option on the table, but it is foolish to talk about it in public. Does anybody disagree with that?

HUNTER: Yes, I disagree with it.

STEVE: Figures.

HUNTER: George, let me tell you, Barack Obama didn't understand, there are now 100,000 Pakistani troops who have been moved to the border. They have moved two divisions to the border, in fact, one of them out of the high country on the Indian border. You right now have operations that are being taken in cooperation with American forces in Afghanistan. The last thing you do when you are trying to convince your allies all over the world to work with you is when you have one country which has taken 100,000 military personnel and moved them into that place - and we all know what the problem is. The problem is that you have the tribal chiefs in that strip in Pakistan accommodating the Taliban and al-Qaeda. When you have a country which is cooperating, you don't tell them you are going to unilaterally move against them, or you are somehow going to undertake this by yourself.

Those mountain ranges in Pakistan are 16,000 feet high. We need the Pakistani army to work that with American support. That's the right way.

* * *

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Huckabee, since then, since that speech, there have been free elections in Gaza; they elected Hamas. There have been free elections in Lebanon; they empowered Hezbollah. There have been free elections in Iran; they elected President Ahmadinejad. Has President Bush's policy been a success?

GIULIANI: Democracy is not necessarily immediately going to elections.

ANDREW: Especially when people we don't like win.

STEVE: Hey, is that a tornado in the backyard or the Blue Line? They say it sounds just like a train.

GIULIANI: First, you have to have a certain quality of life that allows you to be comfortable . . .

ANDREW: The iPods, the cell phones, the Diesel jeans . . .

STEVE: The ones they're making but

MCCAIN:: We fail to appreciate that elections do not mean democracy, that it is rule of law.

ANDREW: We have to ensure the right people win the right elections.

STEVE: Like our Supreme Court did here.

* * *

ROMNEY: We'd love it if we could all just come home and not worry about the rest of the world, as Ron Paul says. But the problem is, they attacked us on 9/11. We were here; they attacked us.

* * *


TANCREDO: My task as president of the United States is primarily to do one thing - by the way, not to make sure everybody has health care or everybody's child is educated - my task is to do one thing: to protect and defend this country.

ANDREW: And its business.

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Thompson, you get the last word on this round.

ANDREW: He has no neck.

STEVE: You couldn't make a Bobblehead of him because his head wouldn't bobble.

* * *

BROWNBACK: [blah blah blah]

STEVE: Is the tornado here yet?

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: Of course, the collapse of that bridge up in Minneapolis on 35 West, brought a lot of attention to our nation's infrastructure.

STEVE: The old joke in Minnesota is that the best thing to come out of Iowa is I-35.

HUCKABEE: Anybody who's flown lately - as I do pretty regularly in the commercial system - knows that we have a complete gridlock.

STEVE: Blame Daley for that.

ANDREW: We need an infrastructure surge.

HUCKABEE: We've got better navigation systems in our rental cars than we have running the airline industry today.

STEVE: United should get OnStar. Turn-by-turn directions on the way!

* * *

ROMNEY: There's no question but that the biggest source of revenue for this country, if you really want to make some money in this country, really get some money so we can repair our infrastructure and build for the future . . .

ANDREW: Is drugs. Crack cocaine. Smokable crack cocaine.

ROMNEY: . . . the biggest source of that is a growing American economy.

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we want to start out this half hour with a question that came in over the Internet. His name is Sean Kennedy. He's from Leesburg, Virginia . . .

ANDREW: And he's a Sagittarius, likes long walks on the beach . . .

STEPHANOPOULOS: And he had a question about Vice President Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN KENNEDY: During the Bush administration, there's been a growing controversy over the role of the office of the vice president. As a candidate for president, what authority would you delegate to the office of vice president? And should those authorities be more clearly defined through a constitutional amendment?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I really would do what some presidents have done in the past. A vice president brings a certain area of expertise and talent.

ANDREW: Like Dan Quayle.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So not as wide-ranging as Vice President Cheney had?

STEVE: Whose expertise is skullduggery.

ANDREW: Whose expertise is running the country.

THOMPSON: I believe that Vice President Cheney is criticized for a lot of things that he doesn't do.

STEVE: Let's check on that tornado.

Tornado Warning

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO/ROMEOVILLE IL
624 PM CDT SUN AUG 5 2007

ILC031-043-197-052345-
/O.CON.KLOT.TO.W.0009.000000T0000Z-070805T2345Z/
COOK IL-DUPAGE IL-WILL IL-
624 PM CDT SUN AUG 5 2007

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 645 PM CDT FOR NORTH
CENTRAL WILL...SOUTHEASTERN DUPAGE AND CENTRAL COOK COUNTIES...

* AT 618 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RADAR STILL SHOWS SOME
ROTATION IN THE LOW LEVEL WIND FIELD. BUT WE CANNOT SEE THE FUNNEL
CLOUD THAT WE SAW EARLIER. WE WILL KEEP THE WARNING ACTRIVE FOR A
FEW MORE MINUTES. THE FUNNEL CLOUD MAY HAVE TOUCHED THE GROUND SO
IT MAY HAVE BEEN A TORNADO.

LAT...LON 4176 8814 4158 8813 4158 8776 4175 8776

$$

WILSON

STEVE: Nice job, Wilson.

ROMNEY: Let me tell you, it's been very popular lately for people across the country to be critical of the president and the vice president. And I know they make mistakes. But they have kept us safe these last six years.

STEVE: From toy submarines.

* * *

Breaking News on chicagotribune.com: Tornado warning until 6:45 p.m. The time now is 6:36 p.m. Still nothing on the Sun-Times site.

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Iowa Republican Party has said the most important economic reform Congress can enact to win the fight against poverty is the fair tax. For our viewers, I want to explain what the fair tax is. It would eliminate the income tax, estate tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax. It would eliminate all those and replace it with a 23 percent sales tax. That's the fair tax.

HUCKABEE: I support the fair tax. No more illegals, no more gamblers, prostitutes, pimps and dope dealers will be able to escape the tax code.

STEVE & ANDREW: [look at each other quizzically]

GIULIANI: If we were starting off at the very beginning with taxation, the first argument I would make is let's not have any taxes.

STEVE: Let's reduce taxes to zero and really get this economy going!

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not for the fair tax now, correct?

GIULIANI: It would be too complex to get there. And somebody would have to show me how we're going to make that transition. And, also, the thought that there wouldn't be an IRS with the fair tax - well, who is going to administer the sales tax? And who's going to administer the people that are exempt from the sales tax? And who is going to administer what items might be exempt from the sales - maybe food would be exempt from the sales tax.

MCCAIN: I would find Alan Greenspan. I'd say, 'Give us your recommendations.'

STEVE: I thought Alan Greenspan was dead.

BROWNBACK: I think we need to move toward an optional flat tax.

ANDREW: The rich would pay it only if they wanted to.

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've got an e-mail question coming in. I'm going to ask every one of you to come in on this for 30 seconds. It comes from Adam Waldren from Pocatello, Idaho, and it starts like this: 'I have made several mistakes that have been defining moments in my life because of what I learned or was forced to realize. What is the defining mistake of your life and why?'

GIULIANI: To have a description of my mistakes in 30 seconds?

ANDREW: That pink dress, on Memorial Day . . .

STEPHANOPOULOS: Defining mistake, Mayor. Just one defining mistake.

GIULIANI: Your father is a priest. I'm going to explain it to your father, not to you, OK?

* * *

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have one more round. I also want to bring all of you in on this for about 30 seconds each. And I'm going to introduce it by showing everyone something that President Bush said at the Iowa straw poll eight years ago. It was his fundamental promise as president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I know this: Should I be fortunate enough to become the president of the United States, that when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of the land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW: And no nation-building.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Tancredo, that was the core promise of President Bush's campaign, to restore honor and dignity to the Oval Office. What will you restore to the Oval Office?

TANCREDO: Hope.

STEVE: It's Barack Tancredo!

TANCREDO: We can no longer afford political correctness.

STEVE: Bring back the N-word! Bring back Imus! Bitches and ho's, y'all!

GIULIANI: I would do the same thing that I did as mayor of New York City, and that is, I would restore hope.

STEVE: It's Barack Giuliani!

ROMNEY: I take my inspiration from my dad, from Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt, the Declaration of Independence . . .

STEVE: The Godfather and The Da Vinci Code.

ROMNEY: I want to strengthen our economy, keep our taxes down, become free of oil from foreign places, strengthen our economy so we have great jobs and a great future for our people. And finally, I want to strengthen the American family. In my view, families, a strong economy and a strong military - that combination of features is what makes this party so strong and accounts for our great success in the elections over the prior several decades and also is so critical to our future as a nation - a strong economy, a strong military, and strong families.

STEVE: 'Strong' tests well.

ANDREW: And it comes from drinking milk.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Huckabee?

HUCKABEE: I'd like to be the kind of president that's more concerned about the people on Main Street . . .

STEVE: Than Wall Street.

HUCKABEE: . . . not just the folks on Wall Street.

END

*

BEACHWOOD ANALYSIS: Giuliani won. He's completely comfortable with himself, projects leadership, and is an adult. Romney was a little slidey, but okay. He's very good at the pre-packaged stuff. Huckabee turned in his best performance. Thompson was improved. McCain is McCain. He's over.Tancredo and Hunter are nuts. Ron Paul is awesome in the debates, but if you dig into him a little deeper off-camera, he's nuts. Brownback is either nuts or just plain mediocre. Fred Thompson looks a lot better on paper and with his mouth closed than he will in reality. A Guiliani-Romney ticket? The conservatives will go nuts - a pro-choice New Yorker and a Mormon! Paging Chuck Hagel. Someone else could still emerge. Where is the Republicans' Al Gore? And are they angry that Bush didn't choose a vice president as heir apparent?

*

See the Mystery Debate Theater collection.



Permalink

Posted on August 6, 2007


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