Fiorina, Santorum and Huckabee Debate Security, Leadership and Morality

At 6:00 on Thursday evening, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Gov. Mike Huckabee debated issues ranging from the economy and ISIS to gun control and the American family. The event, held at the North Charleston Coliseum, was the sixth GOP debate so far. These three candidates were the lowest-polling among the Republican field, in addition to Sen. Rand Paul. Paul declined to participate in the debate after being bumped from the prime time line up.

The State of Our Economy 

The candidates were given 90 seconds to respond to each question, with one minute allowed for follow up. The first question asked the candidates to respond to President Obama’s optimistic assessment of the economy in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Carly Fiorina began by stressing that she is “not a political insider.” She condemned our current economy as “crony capitalism” which profits the rich. She named fellow Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton as two examples of people who benefit from the system, getting richer and more powerful. Later in the debate, Fiorina stated that government must be more supportive of America’s job creators; small businesses, new businesses and family owned businesses. Fiorina also quipped that “unlike another woman in this race, I actually love spending time with my husband.” Mike Huckabee wished he saw the country “the way the President presented it.” He decried the wage stagnation of the last 40 years and the fact that Americans must work long hours to make ends meet. “The government gets more of their second shift than they do,” Huckabee protested. Later in the debate, Huckabee rejected ideas to raise the retirement age and slash entitlements. He called those measurements punishments for working people. Rick Santorum pointed out that the Democrats bemoaning the bad economy during the campaign season have also had control of Congress for the past seven years. “The most important jobs are the ones that fill the middle,” said Santorum. He praised the state of South Carolina, observing “your team has done an amazing job of bringing manufacturing jobs back to South Carolina. You’ve strengthened the center of your state.” Santorum criticized President Obama for paying more attention to global climate change than to the creation of manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Commander in Chief 

Carly Fiorina answering questions after the first round of the Fox GOP Debate in North Charleston, S.C. on January 14, 2016 (Photo by Michael Wiser)

Carly Fiorina answering questions after the first round of the Fox GOP Debate in North Charleston, S.C. on January 14, 2016 (Photo by Michael Wiser)

The next question asked the candidates to express their understanding of America’s role in the world today. Fiorina warned that “when we do not lead, the world is a more dangerous and tragic place.”  She accused Clinton and other Obama administration officials of refusing to respond to global threats, giving terrorists the message that “it’s open season.” She referenced aggression on the part of Iran and asserted that if we don’t respond to provocation and bad behavior we will only get more of the same. “I will be a Commander in Chief who leads,” she states. Santorum also referenced Iran, declaring that the first thing any new President should do in office is tear up the deal made by President Obama. He explained that Iran has already violated the agreement many times and the United States has “backed down” repeatedly. Santorum asked the Citadel cadets in the audience to stand up and addressed them. “If you choose to serve our country,” he said, “I will have your back. I will not let America be trampled on anymore by radical jihadists.” Santorum has two sons currently attending The Citadel military academy in Charleston. Huckabee began his answer with the controversial assertion that “when I went to Afghanistan I saw a land that looked like the land of the Flintstones.” In light of the Taliban resurgence in that country, Huckabee called for an American “military that’s the strongest in the history of mankind.” He stressed that the job of our military is not to build schools or pass out food, “the role of the military is to kill and destroy our enemies and make us safe.”

Refugees and ISIS 

The next question was directed to Fiorina and asked her to respond to the mass sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve. The assaults are said to have been perpetrated by a group of men of Middle Eastern or North African descent. “Of course I’m worried,” said Fiorina. “We cannot allow refugees into this country unless we can properly vet them and we know we can’t.” Fiorina attributed Americans’ uneasiness about Middle Eastern refugees to a lack of trust in the federal government. “This administration has now told us they don’t know who’s overstaying their Visas,” she said in reference to illegal immigration. “We can do better than this citizens.” The moderators followed up with Fiorina and asked if she would partner with countries like Russia or Iran in order to combat ISIS. Fiorina explained that in the fight against ISIS we need to be very clear about who is who. “Saudi Arabia is our ally and Iran is our adversary,” she stated. Taking aim at the Republican front runner, she added “despite Donald Trump’s romance with Vladimir Putin, Russia is our adversary…we can never outsource our leadership.”

Security in the Digital Age 

Rick Santorum answers questions after the Fox GOP Debate in North Charleston, S.C. on January 14, 2016 (Photo by Michael Wiser)

Rick Santorum answers questions after the Fox GOP Debate in North Charleston, S.C. on January 14, 2016 (Photo by Michael Wiser)

The debate then turned to technology, with the moderators asking Santorum whether companies like Facebook and Twitter should be required by law to take a more active role in combating terror. “If the government were doing a better job,” Santorum replied, “we wouldn’t need to ask the private sector.” He condemned the government bureaucracy for creating a culture of apathy. He stated that government’s emphasis has been too focused on defense and not enough on offense. “Technologists are not war-fighters,” Santorum asserted. While Facebook and Twitter can teach us things, “this is a very dicey area for the government to go in” and put requirements on an industry he said. Fiorina interjected, citing her strong background as CEO of Hewlett Packard. “We need someone in the White House who understands technology and sorry Mrs. Clinton, but you actually cannot wipe a server with a towel,” she fired back.

Gun Control 

Unsurprisingly given President Obama’s recent executive action on gun control, the next question addressed universal background checks. The North Charleston crowd booed heavily when the moderator read her question and stated that a majority of Americans support background checks, according to polling. Carly Fiorina reminded the audience that she is skeptical of polling data and accused Obama of enacting “yet another lawless executive order.” If he had been paying attention to enforcing the laws we already have, argued Fiorina, we could have prevented “a tragedy here in South Carolina.”  Huckabee criticized the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious program. He also asserted that most mass shootings occur in gun-free zones where law-abiding citizens are unable to defend themselves. Responding to a follow up, Huckabee accused President Obama of being “more interested in protecting the reputation of Islam than he is in protecting us.”

Infrastructure and Immigration 

Rick Santorum next responded to a question about our infrastructure as it pertains to national security. He explained the most “devastating” type of terror attack would be an electromagnetic pulse. The best way to prevent such an attack would be to prevent our enemies from acquiring nuclear weapons. “We’ve put Iran on the path to a nuclear weapon,” Santorum warned. He cited they’re burgeoning capabilities as the most serious threat facing our country right now. Santorum also blasted Obama on his jobs record, claiming that rather than creating new growth he has driven 2 million manufacturing jobs overseas. “We need to be the party that stands for working Americans,” Santorum declared, and an integral part of that would be cracking down on illegal immigration. He said he would send the illegal immigrants currently earning U.S. wages back to their home countries to “start a renaissance” in the “countries they were born in.”

Morality and Family 

Mike Huckabee answering questions after the Fox GOP Debate in North Charleston, S.C. on January 14, 2016 (Photo by Michael Wiser)

Mike Huckabee answering questions after the Fox GOP Debate in North Charleston, S.C. on January 14, 2016 (Photo by Michael Wiser)

Social morality issues dominated the last few minutes of the debate. Santorum decried the political correctness of society today. He urged leaders to stand up and use “the bully pulpit” to start a national campaign to fulfill every child’s birthright, “which is a mom and a dad who loves them.” Santorum also referred to his clashes with Hillary Clinton over abortion. “You want a winner. You want a fighter,” he stated. Mike Huckabee also referenced his fights with Clinton during the closing statements, pointing to his hard fought elections in Arkansas. Huckabee spoke about traditional Christian values, mentioning the Ten Commandments and prayer as possible solutions to America’s problems. He also condemned the “slaughter” of thousands of aborted fetuses every day. Fiorina echoed Santorum’s objection to political correctness. She said that the American people, like her, are tired of being told to sit down and be quiet about religion, guns and abortion. “I will not sit down and be quiet,” she declared.

Post-Debate with Mike Huckabee 

After the debate, CisternYard News caught up with candidate Mike Huckabee. Huckabee reiterated his views on front runner Hillary Clinton, saying “She’s been very dishonest about many of the things she’s done as Secretary of State.” In response to questions about fellow Republican Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run, he answered “It was never a concern of mine until I started reading the opinions of many Constitutional law scholars who made a very convincing and compelling case that this is problematic.” Lastly, Huckabee answered what continues to drive him on in a race where victory seems out of his reach. “What compels me on is the fact that so many people in this country feel like this country has stepped all over them.”

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Sigrid is the Editor in Chief of CisternYard News. Born and raised in D.C. (yes, actual D.C.), she spends all her time writing, studying, biking and failing at yoga. She is a senior majoring in English and minoring in Political Science and Film Studies.


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