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Mystery Debate Theater 2007

It was a little too soon for the Beachwood Mystery Debate team to bounce back from Sunday night's Democratic debate to cover Tuesday night's Republican debate - I mean, even we have our limits - so this is an edited and adapted transcript with commentary added this morning from Beachwood HQ. It's still pretty good.


MR. BLITZER: So let's meet the candidates. We've asked for no opening statements. However, I'd like to ask each candidate to -- in one short sentence, about five seconds or so, to introduce themselves to the voters of New Hampshire.

Let me begin with an example. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and I'm with CNN. (Laughter.) Let's start across the stage, and we'll begin with Tom Tancredo.

REP. TANCREDO: Hi. I'm Tom Tancredo.

Beachwood: And I'll only be in this race for two more months.

MR. THOMPSON: My name is Thompson, Tommy. I'm the candidate, not the actor.

Beachwood: Though I can play the conservative in this primary if you hand me a script.

SEN. BROWNBACK: I'm Sam Brownback. I was raised on a farm near Parker, Kansas. My wife, Mary, and I have five children. We live in Topeka. I'm a U.S. senator in my third term.

Beachwood: I like to take liberty with the rules.

MR. ROMNEY: My name is Mitt Romney. I'm a husband, a father, a grandfather, a neighbor and formerly governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Beachwood: A neighbor?

MR. GIULIANI: I'm Rudy Giuliani. I agree with the motto of your state, "Live free or die."

Beachwood: And that's why I'll die before I allow the president of the United States to tap my phones! Er, wait a minute . . .

SEN. MCCAIN: I'm John McCain. I've had the honor of serving my country all of my life.

Beachwood: And disserving it for half.

MR. HUCKABEE: I'm Mike Huckabee. For 10 and a half years, I was governor of Arkansas. I'm from the small town of Hope. You may have heard of it. All I ask you is, give us one more chance.

Beachwood: No way. I for one am not going back to peace and prosperity.

REP. HUNTER: I'm Duncan Hunter, four years chairman of the Armed Services Committee and in Congress 26 years. And I stand for a strong national defense, an enforceable border, bringing back American jobs.

Beachwood: And Lou Dobbs for president!

MR. GILMORE: I'm Jim Gilmore, the former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, former chairman of the National Commission for the United States Government on Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Beachwood: And let me tell you, that last job was pretty slack!

REP. PAUL: I'm Ron Paul. I'm a congressman from Texas, serving in my 10th term. I am the champion of the Constitution.

Beachwood: You're at the wrong debate.


MR. BLITZER: Gentlemen, thank you very much for those brief self-introductions. Let's begin our questioning right now, Tom Fahey of the New Hampshire Union Leader with the first question.

MR. FAHEY: Governor Romney, I wanted to start by asking you a question on which every American has formed an opinion. We've lost 3,400 troops; civilian casualties are even higher, and the Iraqi government does not appear ready to provide for the security of its own country. Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, the question is kind of a non-sequitur, if you will, and what I mean by that -- or a null set . . . [blah blah blah]

Beachwood: A null set?

MR. BLITZER: Governor, thank you, but the question was, knowing what you know right now -- not what you knew then, what you know right now -- was it a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I answered the question by saying it's a -- it's a non-sequitur, it's a null set kind of question . . . [blah blah blah]

Beachwood: We regret to inform you that your son was killed by a null set today. Or a non-sequitur, we're still investigating. It may have even been a friendly null set.

Beachwood: We regret to inform you that your candidacy is seriously wounded.

MR. BLITZER: Mayor Giuliani, same question to you. Was it -- knowing what you know right now, was it a good decision?

MR. GIULIANI: Absolutely the right thing to do. It's unthinkable that you would leave Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq and be able to fight the war on terror. And the problem is that we see Iraq in a vacuum. Iraq should not be seen in a vacuum. Iraq is part of the overall terrorist war against the United States.

The problem the Democrats make is they're in denial.

Beachwood: Okay, I don't think the American public is buying this anymore. Rudy Giuliani, you're in denial!

MR. BLITZER: Senator McCain, arguably, going to war is the most important decision a member of the Senate can make.

Did you read the National Intelligence Estimate, which included all the caveats, on whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

SEN. MCCAIN: I did not read that particular document. I received hundreds of briefings, tens and hundreds of hours of study and background and information on it.

Beachwood: Same answer as Hillary!

MR. BLITZER: Senator Brownback, you're also a member of the United States Senate. Did you read that classified National Intelligence Estimate?

SEN. BROWNBACK: I don't remember that report. I had a number of briefings. And I held a number of committee hearings. At that time, I was chairing the Middle East Subcommittee on Foreign Relations and we held hearings on this topic and what was taking place and what Saddam was doing.

Beachwood: Wow, have the Republicans just inoculated Hillary on this question?

Beachwood: I don't think he wants to advertise that he chaired committee meetings on Saddam and still got it wrong.

BROWNBACK: But the issue is, is that we've got to put forward now a political plan. And that's something I'm going to introduce tomorrow, a political plan to create a three-state solution in Iraq -- a Kurdish state, a Sunni state, a Shi'a state -- because Iraq is more three groups held together by exterior forces.

Beachwood: Hey, what's Joe Biden doing in this debate! That's his plan.

MR. BLITZER: Governor Gilmore, let me go to you. You chaired this commission. Do you think it was appropriate that members of Congress would authorize the president to go to war without reading that National Intelligence Estimate?

MR. GILMORE: Well, you know, I think the people who are in Congress who are responsible for sending this country to war, with the enormous dangers that it has geopolitically and strategically, ought to read at least that kind of material.

Beachwood: Snap!


MR. SCOTT SPRADLING: Senator McCain, we've just spent a few minutes looking back. I'd ask you to look forward now, if you will.

Since June 1st, there have been at least 17 confirmed deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. Approximately, 100 U.S. troops are dying there every month. If our top military commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, reports back to Congress this September that the surge hasn't significantly improved the situation on the ground, what then?

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, let me say, first of all, I know how frustrated and saddened all Americans are. This morning I was with the family of Matthew Stanley of Wolfeboro, who sacrificed his life, and our hearts and our sympathy goes out to all those who have sacrificed their lives in this conflict . . . [blah blah blah]

Beachwood: What if we come back in six months and your campaign hasn't significantly improved on the ground?

MR. BLITZER: The question was, if General Petraeus says -- (applause) -- it's not working so far in September, what do you do then?

SEN. MCCAIN: Then you have to examine the options. And I'll tell you the options. One is the division that Sam described. You would have to divide bedrooms in Baghdad, because Sunni and Shi'a are married to each other.

Beachwood: So now the Republicans want to intrude in Iraqi bedrooms too.

MR. BLITZER: Let me bring in Governor Thompson. Go ahead, same question to you. If General Petraeus says it's not working in September, what should the U.S. do then?

MR. THOMPSON: The first thing the president should do is demand the al-Maliki government to vote as to whether or not they want the United States to stay in Iraq . . . [blah blah blah]

Beachwood: Okay, this is the same thing he said last time. Not a terrible idea, but not answering the question.

MR. BLITZER: Let me bring in Congressman Duncan Hunter.

Congressman, if it's not working at that point, how much longer should the United States stay?

REP. HUNTER: Well, Wolf, you know, I read that NIE report, and I held the briefings before we made the vote to go in. I'd invited everybody, Democrat and Republican, to get the classified information.

Beachwood: And I still supported the war, so reading the NIE report is overrated. Or I'm just an idiot.

MR. BLITZER: Congressman Ron Paul, how much longer should the United States stay in Iraq?

MR. PAUL: The sooner we come home, the better. If they declare there's no progress in September, we should come home. It was a mistake to go, so it's a mistake to stay.

Beachwood: Channeling Dennis Kucinich. We should do a debate with all of 'em together, both parties. They could pair off.

MR. BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, do you have confidence in the government of Iraq, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that he's going to do what needs to be done?

MR. BLITZER: All right. Congressman Tom Tancredo, what do you say?

REP. TANCREDO: I'll tell you this: that if it comes to that point in time that you describe, that the surge -- is apparent that it is not working -- I did not support it. I hope to God it does work.

Beachwood: But they have a different God, so who knows.

REP. TANCREDO: However, if it is apparent that we cannot, then we have to do and tell the Iraqis the exact same thing that Benjamin Franklin said when he came out of the convention in 1787 and somebody said to him, "Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?" And he said, "A republic, if you can keep it." It is exactly that time and it is exactly that thing that we have to say to the Iraqi government.

Beachwood: Uh, that's not bad.


MR. GIULIANI: This war is not a bumper sticker. This war is a real war.

Beachwood: And that's why I have a "Rudy Supports the Troops" bumper sticker on my car.


MR. SPRADLING: You opposed the immigration reform compromise calling it, quote, "the worst piece of legislation to come down the pike in a long time."

REP. TANCREDO: What we're doing here in this immigration battle is testing our willingness to actually hold together as a nation or split apart into a lot of Balkanized pieces.

Beachwood: The next thing you know, we'll have a state called "New Mexico."


MR. BLITZER: Governor Romney, Senator McCain has accused you of flip-flopping on this issue.

What do you say to Senator McCain?

Beachwood: Wanna be my VP?


MR. GIULIANI: On September 11th, when we tried to figure out who was in this country, it took weeks to figure out who were the right people and who weren't, because there isn't such a database.

Beachwood: I mean, sure, the CIA and FBI knew, but still . . .


MR. BLITZER: Congressman Paul, I want you to weigh in on this as well.

I believe -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- you voted to support that 700-mile fence along the border between the United States and Mexico. Did you?

REP. PAUL: I did.

MR. BLITZER: What about Canada? Is there a need for a similar fence along the border between the United States and Canada?

Beachwood: An even bigger one, so socialized medicine doesn't sneak in.


MR. FAHEY: Governor Huckabee, at a previous debate, you and two of your colleagues indicated that you do not believe in evolution. You're an ordained minister. What do you believe? Is it the story of creation as it is reported in the Bible or described in the Bible?

Beachwood: Governor Huckabee, are you smarter than a fifth-grader?

MR. HUCKABEE: It's interesting that that question would even be asked of somebody running for president. I'm not planning on writing the curriculum for an eighth-grade science book. I'm asking for the opportunity to be president of the United States.

Beachwood: And the requirements aren't as stringent.


MR. BLITZER: Senator McCain, do you believe creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I believe that's up to the school districts. But I think that every American should be exposed to all theories.

Beachwood: Like the different theories of gravity, and the various theories of radical Islam.


MR. BLITZER: Congressman Paul, you ran for president once before as a Libertarian. What do you say about this whole issue of church and state?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think we should read the First Amendment.


MR. ROMNEY: Someone said to me -- Matt Simons, an investment banker down in Houston, he said our refineries today are rust with paint holding them up.

Beachwood: Hey, is that the same guy McCain talked to? Maybe he should be president.


MR. BLITZER: Is there anyone here who believes gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the United States military? If you do, speak up now. (Silence.)


MR. SPRADLING: Gentlemen, last night (sic) we asked Democrats, if they were elected, what role -- would they use former President Clinton. I'm not going to ask you that. (Laughter.) Governor Thompson, I'd like to know, seeing as how you were a member of President Bush's Cabinet as Health and Human Services secretary, how would you use George W. Bush in your administration?

MR. THOMPSON: I certainly would not send him to the United Nations.


MR. BLITZER: Congressman Hunter, do you think it would be appropriate for President Bush to pardon Lewis Scooter Libby, who was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for his role in the CIA leak case?

REP. HUNTER: You know, I think, Wolf, to make a determination on that, you'd have to look at the transcript. I'll tell you a couple transcripts I have looked it, and that's the agents, Compean and Ramos, who were given 11 and 12 years respectively for stopping a drug dealer bringing 750 pounds of drugs across the border. I've looked at their transcript; I would pardon Compean and Ramos right now.

And let me say -- (interrupted by applause) -- and let me say with respect to what Mike said, we got to bring back the Reagan Democrats to this party because we need the Reagan Democrats, Republican leadership to work, and we're going to have to get a good trade bill that brings jobs back to this country.

We're going to have to stop China from cheating on trade. Build the middle class, build jobs, Wolf. That's what strengthens the Republican Party.

Beachwood: Wow, that answer went on a long journey. Libby's sentence is almost up already.


MR. DOUG HALL: I know a business owner in northern New Hampshire who was on vacation in Spain last year for about three weeks. While he was there he had to buy refills for prescription drugs - brand-name drugs. And he discovered in buying those drugs that he could buy his refills there for $600 less than he could by them here in New Hampshire. So since then, he's said he is going to take a trip over to Spain and get his vacation paid for to buy his drugs

MR. GIULIANI: What I would do is change the whole model that we have for health insurance in this country. The problem with our health insurance is it's government- and employer-dominated. People don't make individual choices. It's your health; you should own your health insurance.

Health insurance should become like homeowners insurance or like car insurance: You don't cover everything in your homeowners policy. If you have a slight accident in your house, if you need to refill your oil with your car, you don't cover that with insurance.

Beachwood: Let him dabble in health care, but don't let him near the Constitution or the button.


REP. HUNTER: We need to be able to buy our health care insurance across state lines. Right now the same single policy that can be purchased in Long Beach for $73 costs $334 in New Jersey.

Beachwood: Not bad.


MR. BLITZER: Congressman Paul, what's the most pressing moral issue in the United States right now?

REP. PAUL: I think it is the acceptance just recently that we now promote preemptive war. I do not believe that's part of the American tradition. We in the past have always declared war in the defense of our liberties or go to aid somebody, but now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war. We have rejected the just- war theory of Christianity.


MR. BLITZER: Congressman Tancredo, would you advertise for your campaign in Spanish? Specifically, I'm referring to the highly publicized comment you recently made that Miami was like a third world country.

REP. TANCREDO: Right. Yeah, exactly. No, I would not advertise in Spanish.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, first of all, muchas gracias. (Laughter, applause.)

My friends, we know what we're talking about is the latest wave of migrants into this country. We have to stop the illegal immigration, but we've had waves throughout our history. Hispanics is what we're talking about, a different culture, a different language, which has enriched my state where Spanish was spoken before English was.

My friends, I want you the next time you're down in Washington, D.C. to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You'll find a whole lot of Hispanic names. When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you're going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background. You're even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they're willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation.

So let's from time to time remember that these are God's children. They must come into country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.

Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

Beachwood: McCain at his best.


MR. JOHN LEWICKE: In 2006, we saw the first -- the worst Republican defeat in living memory. If we do more of the same, why do we expect anything different? And I'd like to ask each of the candidates why their position is -- or how their position differs from the present administration's, so that we won't see a repeat of 2006 in 2008.

SEN. MCCAIN: Spending, spending, spending, spending, which led to corruption. We have members -- former members of Congress in jail as we speak because of this earmarking. We let spending get out of control, we presided over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society, and our constituents and our Republicans became dispirited and disenchanted. We've got to stop the earmarking. The bridge to nowhere, the 233 miles -- a $233 million bridge to an island in Alaska with 50 people on it was the tipping point.

I want to promise you, as president of the United States, I'll veto every bill that has a pork-barrel project on it, and I'll make the authors of it famous, and we'll get spending under control, and we'll stop the corruption in Washington. (Applause.)

Beachwood: McCain at his best.


MR. GIULIANI: Abraham Lincoln defined what an American is better than I'm going to be able to do it or Congressman Tancredo or anyone on the stage. Abraham Lincoln, who fought the know-nothing movement, said being an American is not whether you came over on the Mayflower or you came here yesterday. How much do you believe in freedom? How much do you believe in freedom of religion? How much do you believe in freedom for women? How much do you believe in the right to vote? How much do you believe in the rule of law?

Beachwood: So tonight, I'm announcing that I've become a Democrat.

SEN. MCCAIN: The question was just asked, "What is it to be an American?" It's to share a common goal that all of us -- a principle -- are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.

That means we go as far as our ambition will take us. That means we have a better life for ourselves and our children. And the lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door is still the ideal and the dream. Of course it has to be legal. Of course it has to be regulated. And 18 months, by the way, will go by while we fix the border before we do anything else on this issue.

But America is still the land of opportunity and it is a beacon of hope and liberty, and as Ronald Reagan said, a shining city on a hill. And we're not going to erect barriers and fences.

Beachwood: Turning into a good night for McCain.


SEN. MCCAIN: Protect the family, that's one of the questions earlier. Protect our American family, it's under assault in many respects, as we all know. And second, take the lead in fighting this transcendent issue of our time: the battle and struggle against radical Islamic extremism. It is a force of evil that is within our shores. Look at the events of the last few days at JFK, attempts at Fort Dix, the London suicide bombers.

My friends, this is a transcendent struggle between good and evil. Everything we stand for and believe in is at stake here. We can win. We will never surrender, they will. I am prepared to lead. My life and my experience and my background and my heroes inspire me and qualify me to lead in this titanic struggle which will not be over soon, but we will prevail.

Beachwood: And then, not so much.


Previously in Mystery Debate Theater:

- The Democrats: Episode 1.

- The Republicans: Episode 1.

- The Republicans: Episode 2.

- The Democrats: Episode 2.


Posted on June 6, 2007

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