The debate starts (and I'll try to follow it....)

Tavis Smiley's opening remarks castigated the missing Republicans in no uncertain terms:

Finally, some of the campaigns who declined our invitation to join us tonight have suggested publicly that this audience would be hostile and unreceptive. Since we're live on PBS right now, I can't tell you what I really think of these kinds of comments.... When we meet the six candidates who are here tonight, I know you will join me in showing them your respect.

Fortunately, there are some in the Republican Party who do understand the importance of reaching out to people of color.....

There was also discussion of Jena by Tom Joyner who argues that it evokes the struggle in Little Rock exactly 50 years ago.

No word from any of the candidates yet.

Tavis Smiley poses an initial question for the candidates, "What's the depth of your love for everyday people and what will be the quality of your service to them?" and introduces two of the original Little Rock Nine.

And now it's Michael Steele.

9:10: Steele talks about Little Rock, and what it means. Says Republicans have an opportunity, and goes on to the candidates.

Huckabee, Ron Paul and Sam Brownback are introduced to warm cheers, as are Tancredo, Hunter and Keyes.

Question -- opening statements.

9:15: Huckabee: "I am embarrassed." Says he got 40% of black vote in Arkansas

Ron Paul: Freedom and emphasis on Constitution, fruits of labor. Bring troops home.

(Loudest applause yet.).

Brownback says it's a disgrace they're not here. They talk about the base and this would be the way to broaden it. Suggests that black voters show their clout by registering and voting "for one of us" (meaning those who came to the debate.) This draws applause.

Tancredo then draws applause by reminding audience that he was the only Republican candidate at the NAACP.

9:18: Hunter says he wants to talk about Iraq and the U.S. border. He wants their vote, but doesn't draw as much applause.

Keyes gets in a dig at the candidates for not showing up at the values debate. (Which was the first debate he was included in) Says he was barred from the debate in Michigan. "At least one black person they're afraid of." Applause.

Smiley cut him off before he finished.


Huckabee -- reminds voters that Eisenhower was president during Little Rock. Talks about the unfairness of drug sentences, and health care.

Ron Paul -- a freer society equal justice, repeal of unfair drug laws, prosperity means property rights, stopping military industrial complex. (Loud applause.)

Brownback -- rebuild the family, pushed that in DC, symbols are important. Would open African American Museum on the Mall. We need to pass an official apology for slavery and segregation.

Tancredo -- destructive to talk only about race. Bad for all. Dscusses need to reduce immigration.

Hunter -- reminds audience of Eisenhower. Need of all Americans to be shielded from pornography, but then says we need less regulation. (That's what he said.)

Keyes -- there is no deep divide between blacks and whites. The moral consensus is that we are all created equal by God. We need to restore God, faith values. Raises voice and gets a bit emotional about need to restore moral values (he's again cut off)

9:29: Cynthia Tucker asks about high unemployment rate in black community.

Huckabee -- there isn't equal opportunity. Those who try to lift themselves up get a heel on their back.

Ron Paul -- prior to minimum wage laws there wasn't such inequality. Minimize taxes, wise foreign policy. No payroll taxes. Give them a chance to get ahead.

(It sounds as if Ron Paul has paid applauders.)

Brownback -- there are great inequalities and a lot of racism. Stimulate growth where it is needed.

Tancredo -- cannot agree with race baiting comments about why we have these problems. Blacks were moving up the ladder in the 1950s. What happened? One, the welfare state, and two, the importation of millions of low income workers who depress wages.

Hunter -- Republicans reformed welfare, forced it on Clinton. Average incomes went up. 32% increase in employment. Did very well by breaking the cycle of welfare. (He's cut off)

Keyes -- most important factor was the destruction of moral values. Black men find values in prison. Upbringing of children. Culture of promiscuity and selfish hedonism Marriage the most important thing. Keyes is yelling again, and he's cut off. (He's coming across as very shrill.)

Immigration question What to do about the 12 million.

Ron Paul -- don't just round them up; get rid of welfare state.

Brownback -- (feed is getting lost) Americans want border secured. Workplace enforcement. No new paths to citizenship.

Tancredo -- main question is what to do. Simply enforce the law.

Hunter -- build the fence. Extend it.

Keyes -- border is matter of security. Remember why we lost control. Corporate interests want cheap labor. Black Americans hurt the most.

Huckabee -- put a penalty on employers.

9:45: Juan Williams' question: criminal justice system. Mentions Jena 6. Name one criminal justice reform to ensure that young black and Latino Americans have equal justice.

Brownback -- his bill would help.

Tancredo -- too many criminal statutes (especially drug laws). It should be at the state level. (Actually sounds quite sensible.) Welfare state is a problem too.

Hunter -- rules of law, accountability. Criminal accountability in Jena. Learn from the military. (Reminded that the question was not answered.) Trial by jury is the best system of justice.

Keyes -- restore real local self government. Justices of the peace who live in the community. Young people not necessarily crooks. Make sure that communities agree to take prisoners back before they are released.

Huckabee -- drug or alcohol problems. We have incarcerated people who need rehab. (He's right!) Quit locking up all the people we're mad at and lock up the people we're afraid of. More drug courts, a lot less incarceration.

Ron Paul -- inner cities punished unfairly in war on drugs. 63% of prisoners. REPEAL WAR ON DRUGS! IT ISN'T WORKING! (Loud applause.) This is a disease.

Cynthia Tucker asks about voting rights, DC statehood, and voter ID. Would it hurt minority voters?

Tancredo -- no statehood for DC. Voter ID is not asking too much. (He gets applause.)

Hunter -- would be more open for statehood if they allowed DC residents to own guns. Aliens are voting.

Keyes -- DC belongs to nation. Maintain that symbol. Preserve it the way it is.

Huckabee -- DC should be allowed to be a state. Photo ID needed.

Ron Paul -- Thinks ID needed, but no national ID card.

Brownback -- amend the Constitution for DC voting rights.

9:59: Health care issue.

Hunter -- discrepancies should be addressed. Bring back family doctor, cut back on malpractice claims.

Keyes -- Bring back the family. Support and encourage marriage and two parent household. Mental and physical health would improve. Health care linked to employment. Encourage entrepreneurship.

Huckabee -- too much focus on intervention. Need to focus on prevention. Costs need to be controlled. Portability and privacy of records.

Ron Paul -- managed care hasn't worked well. Too much corporatism and monopoly. Get the government out. LOUD APPLAUSE AGAIN.

Brownback -- more markets, not more government.

Tancredo -- look to selves, take responsibility, more individual freedom.

QUESTION from Juan Williams. First he introduces Vernice Armour -- "first female black combat pilot in U.S. history."

Asks What about Iraq? (Says blacks oppose it.)

Keyes -- effort to defend all Americans. Our rights come from God. Goal is security.

Huckabee -- not helping veterans. Need Veterans Bill of Rights. Veterans should get their benefits paid.

Ron Paul -- shouldn't have war unless it is declared. False pretenses, no WMDs, attackers were Saudis. All the money is going overseas. We'll be bankrupt! (HUGE APPLAUSE.)

Brownback -- we voted to go to war. Military is doing a great job, but the political situation in Iraq is terrible.

Tancredo -- can't micromanage war from Congress.

Hunter -- we can win and will leave Iraq in victory. Key to security is reliable Iraqi army. Make sure all Iraqi battalions get full tour, then return home in victory.

QUESTION by Cynthia Tucker about Darfur genocide

Huckabee -- talks about genocide of abortion.

Ron Paul -- we have no moral authority. Food goes to enemy military. Come home from everywhere.

Brownback -- I couldn't disagree more. We need to stand up against genocide. Can't repeat Rwanda.

Tancredo said something, but I missed it

Hunter -- troops get there late in Darfur. Teach villages self defense.

Keyes -- we can't turn our backs on the universal mission of humanitarian and military order.

10:18 QUESTION about death penalty. Is it carried out justly?

Ron Paul -- no longer believe in federal death penalty. Only the poor get it, not the rich.

Brownback -- we need a culture of life. Difficulty with death penalty. Should be used very sparingly.

Tancredo -- death penalty is a state issue, but supports it for treason.

Hunter -- death penalty is a deterrent for some people.

Keyes -- supports death penalty. Basis in universal justice. Respect for life.

Huckabee -- dislikes death penalty. Had to carry it out. Sounds very sincere. It is not easy. Necessary part of criminal justice system, but needs to be administered with conscience.

10:24 Question from Juan WIlliams about intergration and Brown v.Board of Education.

Huckabee -- supports integration.

Tancredo -- likes charter schools and voucher.

Out of time! (Missed the last answer; the last question did not give time for anyone to answer fully.)

Debate ends.

Well, this is the first time I've done this, and while it's not my shtick, at least I can now say that I've done it.

My feeling is that Huckabee did the best job. His sincerity was obvious, and he was very articulate as he spoke from the heart. Brownback came in second, and the rest, well, Hunter was sorta OK (although his pornography remark sounded almost bizarre), as was Tancredo, while Keyes and Paul sounded desperate and shrill. (I thought Keyes would be a little more articulate and reasoned, but he sounded almost defensive, and really seemed to be yelling.)

Anyway, that's my fix on the evening.

Again, it's a pity that the big guys were all no-shows.

(Please forgive the typos that I know run all through this post!)

posted by Eric on 09.27.07 at 08:56 PM


Jena is Little Rock??? WTF?

What does that make Nifong? Or the "probation only" given to the "youths" that beat up the 3 young women last Halloween in Long Beach (one of them permanently disfigured?)

KEEERIST. No. No hostile race-baiting there.

Darleen   ·  September 28, 2007 12:23 AM

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