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The GOP field, shown before a debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley on Sept. 7. (AP photo)

How about getting some substance in those GOP presidential debates?

ASK THIS | October 05, 2011

Bob Giles says the moderators have been letting the candidates get away with scripted answers. He urges Bloomberg and the Washington Post, partial sponsors of the next debate, to do better on issues, ideas, solutions, and follow-up, and he offers ten solid questions of his own for them to consider.

By Robert H. Giles

So far, the Republican Presidential debates have demonstrated five things:

  • Each of the candidates is playing to the hard right base of the party.
  • None of the candidates has offered details of how they would address the financial crisis and create jobs.
  • All blame for the country’s problems is laid to President Obama with no acknowledgment that the Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars are major contributors to the crisis.
  • No fresh thinking has been voiced toward addressing the burden of the nation’s entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
  • Candidates who would repeal the Affordable Health Care Act have not offered detailed alternatives.

Moderators of the televised debates, journalists all, have failed to ask probing questions that focused on issues, ideas, possible solutions. When thoughtful questions were asked, the moderators did not press the candidates, allowing them instead to rely on scripted, ideologically based replies that offered little information about what they might do as president. When Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race and quickly became front-runner, the moderators encouraged combative exchanges between Perry and Mitt Romney, to the near exclusion of other candidates and without challenging misleading or inaccurate responses.

The next debate, October 11 at Dartmouth College, will be sponsored by three news organizations, Bloomberg, The Washington Post and WBIN-TV. This is an important debate. The GOP field of candidates is now set and it is time for voters to begin to learn what the contenders would do if they were president. This is the moment for the moderators to press the candidates for details on how they would address the country’s major problems.

Here are 10 questions they might consider asking:

  1. America’s infrastructure is deteriorating. Bridges are structurally deficient. Leaky pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water every day. Aging sewage systems send billions of gallons of untreated wastewater into the nation’s waterways each year. America’s roads are in bad shape. As president, how would you address the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure?
  2. As president, what specific changes would you propose in the Affordable Health Care Act that would insure health care coverage for all Americans?
  3. What specifically would you propose to lower the cost of health care?
  4. Republican candidates claim that businesses are afraid to expand and create jobs because they fear costly regulations and higher taxes. What is the evidence to support this claim?
  5. As president, how would you reform the federal tax code?
  6. What is the justification for taxing income from investments at a lower rate than income from labor?
  7. What are your specific ideas for resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians?
  8. Major changes are taking place in Cuba to turn around the country’s struggling economy. What are your ideas for ending the embargo and opening a major market for United States export goods?
  9. What policies would you implement as president to reduce changes in the climate as a result of human activities.
  10. What steps would your administration take immediately to create jobs and reduce unemployment?

And keep in mind, in the rush of the give and take, follow-ups to evasive answers are as important as the questions.


Posted by Larry Blucher
10/05/2011, 10:18 PM

A good start would be to stop forcing Perry and Romney down viewers' throats. By giving those two substantially more time than other candidates, the moderators are in essence determining the "front-runners" themselves. Now, Bloomberg/Washington Post have decided that Gary Johnson's voice should be silenced. He's not allowed to participate, while Rick Santorum, who has embarrassed himself in every previous debate, is allowed to take up valuable time? I'm tired of seeing the mainstream media constantly and blatantly exerting its influence on elections. Check out the previous debates and notice how much time Ron Paul was allowed to speak, as opposed to Romney and Perry. The fix is in. Let Gary Johnson be heard and let the people decide for themselves. I've heard him and I think he makes a lot of sense with his economic policies, his job creation plans, and his foreign policy. Let the viewers decide!

Posted by Taikan
10/06/2011, 05:03 PM

Some of the proposed questions are flawed because they make assumptions that the candidates might not be willing to accept. For example, # 2 assumes that the candidate believes health care coverage should be ensured for all Americans, # 8 assumes the candidate intends to change federal policy toward Cuba, and # 9 assumes the candidate agrees that climate change is the result of human activities. More "neutral" questions would be:

2. Do you believe all Americans should be guaranteed health care coverage regardless of income? If not, why not?

8. Do you believe government restrictions preventing US companies from doing business with companies or the government in Cuba should be eliminated? If not, why not?

9. As President, would you implement any policies to reduce climate change or the impact of climate change on Americans? If not, why not? If so, what policies would you implement?

Posted by ACitizen
10/11/2011, 02:02 PM

I do not believe for one minute that the Republican Party wants a Republican President. Obama still has the clean up on isle three (by himself). Republicans will run someone for show just like the Democrats did with Kerry, thinking after Bush's eight year debacle it would be Hillary in a walk.

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