Republican hopefuls debate through the night
Seated in front of an airplane with “United States of America,” painted across the side, Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Congressman Ron Paul were given one last chance to clarify their positions before the highly anticipated caucuses and primaries of Super Tuesday.
The last Republican debate before Super Tuesday was held on Wednesday night in the Reagan Library.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Los Angeles Times congressional correspondent Janet Hook, and executive editor for the Politico Jim VandeHei asked the candidates questions.
Students said the debate focused too much on Romney.
“I was surprised by the amount of time that was given to Gov. Romney,” said Mark Denniston, a graduate political science major. “I would have liked more time for [Mike] Huckabee.”
The grilling ran the gamut from Iraq to immigration, but McCain and Romney dominated much of the discussion with arguments.
A hot point of contention emerged over Romney’s earlier position on withdrawing from Iraq during an argument in which Romney accused McCain of “Washington-style old politics.”
“I didn’t come here to umpire a ball game between these two,” Huckabee said of Romney and McCain’s arguing.
Huckabee spoke little but delivered a conservative message, referring to himself as pro-life and stressing the need for a fence on the border with Mexico.
Romney and McCain responded differently when asked the hypothetical question if Ronald Reagan would endorse them.
“Ronald Reagan would look at the issues right here and say, one ‘we’re going to win in Iraq’, and I wouldn’t walk out of Iraq,” Romney said.
McCain was asked the same question.
“Ronald Reagan would not approve of someone who changes their position according to what the year is,” he said, referring to the earlier argument over Iraq.
Students said the responses from Romney and McCain were dissatisfying.
“I just like [Huckabee’s] openness . . . he takes the question, seems to address it,” said Denniston, who identified himself as a Republican and a Huckabee supporter. “Compared to Romney, Huckabee has a more straight approach. Romney’s particularly calculating in trying to capture the nomination.”
However, Denniston said he agreed with Romney on the issue of withdrawal from Iraq, saying he thought McCain was “grasping at straws” in his argument.
Students also noted the differences among the Republicans’ stance on withdrawal from Iraq.
“They had very different views,” said UCSU School of Education Sen. Joshua Childs. “Ron Paul was of course the more ‘let’s get out of Iraq now’. You saw [the candidates] try to differentiate themselves from the other candidates,” Childs said, adding that his statement didn’t mean he liked Paul.
Paul spent much of his time criticizing U.S. foreign policy and the decision to go to war in Iraq.
“I don’t think we even should have gone [into Iraq],” Paul said.
Students said they were glad that they watched the debate.
“Overall I thought the debate was very informative,” Denniston said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Sam Dieter at email@example.com.