With one exception, which I will get to later, the questions posed by workaday Americans in the Fox News-Google GOP Presidential debate in Orlando, FL, were much more on-point and of interest to Republican voters watching a Republican debate than the biased (if not outright hostile) and “gotcha” questions the media insist on asking.
The questions included one asking how the candidates would incentivize small business owners to hire new employees in this “troublesome economic environment” and another asking “Out of every dollar I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?." Other people asked about:
† a federal right to work law;
† the tension between federal pre-emption vs. states’ rights;
† which federal government the candidates considered expendable;
† federal education mandates that interfere with how and what teachers teach;
† whether the candidates would mandate across-the-board use of E-Verify and impose penalties on employers who continue to hire illegal workers;
† what U.S. should do to support Israel considering “the existential threats it faces from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and now the Palestinian Authority?”;
† why the U.S. keeps sending gobs of taxpayer money to “countries that hate us”; and
† how repealing ObamaCare will affect people who are uninsurable because of a pre-existing condition.
Without a doubt, one of the most original, thought-provoking – yet entertaining – questions ever asked in a presidential debate was this one from a voter in Richmond, VA: “If you had to choose one of your opponents on the stage tonight to be your running mate in the 2012 election, who would you choose, and why?”
Perhaps because these questions came directly from potential voters, the candidates were more likely to answer them (Romney was the exception; he refused to quantify the income level at which someone can be regarded as “rich” and refused to state whether he considered Obama a “socialist.”).
The media seem to think that Repub voters are ignorant boobs, but this audience was well-informed – much to the surprise of Chris Wallace, when former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain was asked to explain his 9-9-9 plan the crowd already knew the particulars. And the quality of the questions that were posted on You Tube suggest that the voters who planned to tune in to the debate were also well-informed (that that, Jon Stewart!).
One question that was booed – and to be clear, it wasn’t the questioner being booed, as some have claimed but the self-indulgent question itself – was posed by a gay soldier serving in Iraq:
In 2010, when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I'm a gay soldier, and I didn't want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?
Although the question was seemingly directed to all the candidates, moderator Megyn Kelly asked former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to respond – no doubt since he is considered hostile to gays by the media, gay activists and some Republicans. Santorum pointed out that fraternizing is forbidden in the armed forces (“any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military”) and that ending the don't ask/don't tell policy “inject[s] social policy into the military. And the military's job is to do one thing, and that is to defend our country.” Pressed by Kelly about “what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill?,” Santorum said he would reinstate the policy because a person’s sexuality “should not be an issue … keep it to yourself, whether you're a heterosexual or a homosexual.”
The question smacked of Brian Williams asking Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) in a previous debate how he could sleep at night with his state having executed 234 inmates during his tenure, and was both irrelevant to the audience and disrespectful of their time.