The latest Republican presidential debate took place in Washington on Tuesday night, and the topic was national security. Inevitably, the focus was on defence spending and particularly the prospect of $600bn of automatic cuts being trigged by the failure of the Super Committee.
Apart from Ron Paul, the candidates seemed united over the question of whether defence spending should be saved from cuts. They lined up to warn that America would be left undefended if the proposed cuts go through. One of the only real points of contention was the use of foreign aid to improve security. Michele Bachmann was particularly critical of Rick Perry on the issue, arguing that Pakistan in particular us ‘too nuclear’ to fail.
It was interesting to hear some of Ron Paul’s arguments. He definitely stood out from the rest of the candidates, describing as ‘mythical’ some of the arguments they were putting forward. Security was always likely to be a strong subject for Paul, and he played his hand well. It’ll be interesting to see what impact his performance has on the poll numbers over the next few days.
In terms of performances, there were no outright winners. Ron Paul was far more combative, visible and memorable than in most previous debates, and made some good points. Michele Bachmann had some decent soundbites. Mitt Romney was uninspiring, adding to the perception that he’s just playing running the clock in this competition. Rick Perry was trying hard but not coming across too well. Herman Cain made no obvious mistakes.