Jun 16, 2011

Debate and Switch

Guest contributor

The second Republican Presidential held Monday June 13th in New Hampshire began revealing some interesting information about the candidates.

For the first time, the field of seven Republicans, which now includes Minnesota Rep.  Michele Bachmann, were put on the spot about everything from the economy to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

And in this group, there were plenty of surprises.  About an hour into the discussion, CNN's John King launched into a series of questions about marriage, specifically, whether these seven would support a federal amendment protecting it.  "Are you a George W. Bush Republican, meaning a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, or a Dick Cheney who... [thinks] this decision... should be a state's decision?"

Herman Cain was the first to answer.  "State's decision," he said flatly.  Gov. Tim Pawlenty disagreed.  "I support a constitutional amendment to define marriage between a man and woman."  Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) went out on a limb claiming, "the federal government shouldn't be involved" at all. But if it were, he wouldn't support a federal marriage amendment (FMA) anyway.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich told King that his position hinged on the Defense of Marriage Act.  "I think if that fails, at that point, you have no choice except to [pursue a] Constitutional amendment.

That left Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Rep. Bachmann, all three of whom have never shied away from the marriage debate.  And they didn't stood firm in this debate.  Each one threw their support behind a Constitutional amendment.

To Cain's point that this is a state issue, Sen. Santorum had the best response.  "Three-quarters of the states have to ratify a Federal Marriage Amendment.  So the states will be involved in this process."

Santorum is exactly right.  A federal marriage amendment is hardly in conflict with the states.  It protects the majority that do have amendments (31) – making it the most pro-states' rights position of all.

Later, the candidates weighed in, very gingerly, on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal.  Again Cain and Paul lined up against social conservatives, saying that although they didn't favor repeal, neither would reinstate the policy.

Pawlenty and Gingrich seemed to lean toward banning open homosexuality in the military, but both responded that they would have to confer with military officials first.

Santorum was the strongest on the issue, stating unequivocally, "The job of the United States military is to protect and defend the people of this country. It is not for social experimentation. It should be repealed."

For his part, Romney shrugged off the question.  "[G]iven the fact that you're insistent," he told King, "the answer is, I believe that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' should have been kept in place until the conflict is over."  Still, he pushed, "we ought to be talking about... jobs."  As far as two and a half million American soldiers are concerned, this is about jobs.  They're the ones working 24-hour days, sacrificing everything to defend us.  And, as Marine Commandant James Amos told Congress, nothing could impact their performance more than forcing the military to embrace homosexuality.  This is an extremely risky proposition that will not only cost jobs, as some people leave the military, but lives as well.



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