Presidential campaign debates show Republicans' differences and one hopeful's forgetfulness
Read an article about the presidential campaign and tell what you learn.
Now find an opinion or news report on any political issue -- local, state or national -- and examine the word choices. Is the language neutral or does is show the writer's point of view?
Find a photo of President Obama or any of the eight Republicans who want to run against him and talk about how it makes the politician or politicians look. What two or three words come to mind?
The one-year countdown to Election Day 2012 began last week with a pair of nationally televised debates among eight Republicans fighting for their party's nomination to run against President Obama. They spoke about economic issues on Wednesday in Michigan and foreign policy on Saturday in South Carolina. What drew most attention was an embarrassing stumble by Gov. Rick Perry of Texas in the week's first debate near Detroit. While talking about three federal departments he'd abolish, the candidate had a brain freeze. "I would do away with Education, the [. . . pause . . . ] Commerce and, let’s see, I can't. The third one I can't," Perry said as he fumbled with his notes before adding: "Oops." His other target is the Energy Department. "I'm glad I have my boots on because I sure stepped in it tonight," the Texan joked afterward.
No one slipped that seriously in the week's second discussion, the Republicans' first debate on national security and foreign affairs. Each criticized President Obama's international and military leadership. Some differed sharply over how to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions, how to deal with Pakistan and whether to use torture in the war on terrorism. "Look, one thing you can know," said Mitt Romney, who leads his Republican rivals in opinion polls. "And that is if we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon." Michelle Bachman, a Minnesota congresswoman and the only female candidate, came closest to a gaffe by seeming to admire the economic system run by China's Communist Party. "They don't have food stamps. They don't have the modern welfare state, and China's growing," she said.
Perry remains under pressure to recover from his face-plant. "Strategists at all of the campaigns, including Mr. Perry's, agreed that his embarrassing memory lapse on Wednesday intensified questions about his political viability," The New York Times reported Sunday. Herman Cain, a businessman running for president in his first campaign, also has a challenge. He's working to deflect accusations that he harassed four women when he was the chief executive of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s.
Perry campaign says: "While the media froths over this all-too-human moment, we thought we would take this opportunity to ask your help in doing something much more constructive: Write us to let us know what federal agency you would most like to forget." – Message to supporters a day after Michigan debate
Political scientist says: "He confirms every criticism, every aspect of his candidate subtext, with a moment so painful and embarrassing that it is hard to watch, even if you don’t like Perry. We were all transported back to high school, when a classmate choked in front of the class and couldn’t recover, yet remained in our midst all day until he could finally slink home." – Larry Sabato, University of Virginia professor and campaign specialist
Blogger says: "Mr. Perry looked, again, like maybe he wasn’t the sharpest butter knife at the tea party." – Matt Bai, New York Times politics writer
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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