Iowa State University played host to the third Republican debate on Thursday, August 11, 2011.
Unlike the recent unprofessionalism found in CNN’s debate, this particular debate exuded more seriousness with sponsors Fox News, the Washington Examiner, and the Iowa Republican Party.
The moderators included Special Report host Breit Bair, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, and Washington Examiner’s Byron York and Susan Ferrechio.
Eight candidates participated in the event, excluding Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. Also absent were Texas governor Rick Perry and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Most political debates are perceived as rigid and unexciting. Nevertheless, this Republican debate defied the odds and provided some entertainment for voters.
Arguably, the defining moment of the night came when Bachmann and Pawlenty squared off against one another.
Fox News highlighted their exchange:
“The two Republican presidential candidates hailing from Minnesota exchanged fire Thursday in a high-stakes debate that could separate the contenders from the pretenders.
“Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty dismissed Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s record of accomplishments and results in Congress as ‘nonexistent.'”
Chris Wallace threw a decidedly hardball question to former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty about his statements regarding Bachmann’s inexperience.
Wallace remarked, “Is she unqualified, or just beating you in the polls?”
What later unfolded was spectacular and heated.
Pawlenty first remarked, “We need someone who can contrast with Barack Obama in terms of accomplishments.”
Bachmann bit back, saying, “When you were governor in Minnesota, you implemented cap and trade in our state and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandate … You said the era of small government is over. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama if you ask me.” By contrast, she said she fought Obama, and “led against raising the debt ceiling.”
This exchange was joined by other noteworthy comments Thursday night.
Here is a compilation of the best statements made by some of the Republican candidates:
“In fact, I’ll offer a prize tonight to anybody in this auditorium or anyone watching on television, if you can find Barack Obama’s specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook you dinner.” – Tim Pawlenty
“I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food!” –Mitt Romney
“Actions speak louder than words. When I was fighting against the unconstitutional individual mandate in healthcare, Governor Pawlenty was praising it. I have fought against irresponsible spending while Governor Pawlenty was leaving a multi-billion-dollar budget mess in Minnesota. I fought cap-and-trade. Governor Pawlenty backed cap-and-trade when he was Governor of Minnesota and put Minnesota into the multi-state Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. While Governor Pawlenty was praising TARP — the $700 billion bailout in 2008 — I worked tirelessly against it and voted against it. I have demonstrated leadership and the courage of my convictions to change Washington, stop wasteful spending, lower taxes, put Americans back to work and turn our economy around. I’m a hard worker who exhibits that courage in the halls of Congress and will take that same conviction to the White House.” – Michele Bachmann
“I am in favor of saying to people, ‘If you’re not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.’”- Newt Gingrich
“Stop playing Mickey Mouse games!” – Newt Gingrich
“I’m a conservative problem solver.” – Jon Huntsman
“Iran is not Iceland, Ron … Iran is a country that has been at war against us since 1979.” – Rick Santorum, countering Ron Paul’s statement that Iran poses no threat.
“I respect my husband. And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other.” – Michele Bachmann, responding to Byron York’s question about submissiveness.
The race to November 2012 has officially begun! Hold on, it is going to be a bumpy ride.