Tales from the Trail

Contraception question booed at Republican debate

A question about contraception caused a flareup in the culture wars during the last Republican presidential debate before next week’s Arizona and Michigan primaries and “Super Tuesday.”

The question drew boos from the audience and impassioned statements from the four candidates on the stage in Mesa, Arizona, last night.

“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?” was the question posed via cnnpolitics.com.

It sparked a lengthy discourse by the candidates on religious freedom, contraception, and family structure. None of the White House hopefuls directly responded to the question.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has taken on the media in previous debates, said it was legitimate to question “the power of the government to impose on religion activities which any religion opposes,” before questioning CNN moderator John King and zeroing in on Democrat Barack Obama.

Gingrich rejects “open marriage” question, blames media

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich got the Republican candidates debate in Charleston off to a lively start Thursday night with an angry denial of charges a former wife made in an interview that came two days before the South Carolina primary.

Here’s an excerpt from the debate on CNN:



Ex-wife Marianne Gingrich accused the former House Speaker of week of asking her
for an “open marriage” when he was having an affair.

Here’s an excerpt from her interview with ABC’s “Nightline.”

from Political Theater:

Five must-see moments from the GOP foreign policy debate

The Republican presidential candidates assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, last night for a primary debate, the first to focus entirely on foreign policy and national security. In a dialogue that spanned assorted geopolitical challenges -- including Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, America's strategic relationship with Pakistan, and trade with China -- the eight Republicans outlined the approaches they would take to diplomacy if elected head of state. Here are five of the most notable exchanges:

1. Is torture acceptable under any circumstances? And is water boarding torture?

"I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," wrote a veteran in a question submitted via email that was posed to the candidates. "I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?"

Perry freezes – normal guy or doomed presidential candidate?

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry drew a blank at the Michigan debate while trying to make a point about cutting government waste.

Afterwards, his campaign spokesman said it was an error of style not substance. Tony Fratto, former President George W. Bush’s spokesman, tweeted: “Perry can end his campaign right now.”

The affable Texas governor said he would eliminate three government agencies if elected president — but he could only name two.

Cain’s ’9-9-9′ plan in focus at Republican debate

The buzz word was definitely “9-9-9″ in Tuesday’s Republican debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that focused on economic issues.

During the debate, the catchphrase 9-9-9 was mentioned 25 times (including 16 times by the man who conceived it — Herman Cain).

“I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it,” said Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and former ambassador to China.

Tea Party flavors Republican debate in Tampa

Maybe it was the Tea Party Express influence or maybe it was just being in Tampa where Republicans hold their presidential nominating convention next year.

But the atmosphere at Monday’s  Republican debate had the festive feel of a major sporting event and the stars of the game were the eight candidates vying for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination.

The pregame show began with a video introduction of “tonight’s players”…

Perry says stimulus didn’t create jobs; CBO says it did

Texas Governor Rick Perry, front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said on Monday President Barack Obama’s  economic stimulus program  created “zero” jobs.

Not so, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan budget arbiter for lawmakers.

Congress in 2009 passed the $830 billion economic stimulus, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included both spending measures and tax cuts.

Perry vs. rivals in Republican debate

There were eight candidates in the first big Republican debate of the 2012 campaign season.

Two of them dominated the stage from the start in a contest over who has created more jobs.

And the winner is…..  Mitt Romney, according to his campaign.

“Mitt Romney won tonight’s debate because he demonstrated that he is the only candidate in the race who can return the country to economic prosperity. Career politicians got us into the mess and it will take someone with experience in the real economy to get us out,” the campaign’s communication director Gail Gitcho said in a statement released after Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley,  California.

Republicans warm up in Iowa debate

Things got a little heated between Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty during the Republican debate in Ames, Iowa.

Early on in the two-hour debate, the former Minnesota governor tried to knock the Minnesota congresswoman down a peg, saying her record of accomplishment and results “is nonexistent.”

Bachmann took aim at his record as governor, blasting his support for a cap and trade environmental plan and individual mandates in healthcare. “That sounds more like Barack Obama if you ask me,” she said.