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  • Morning Bell: Debate Night

    Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, eight Republican presidential candidates will take the stage at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., to tell America where they stand on foreign policy and national security in a special debate hosted by The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, broadcast on CNN and moderated by Wolf Blitzer.

    The debate marks the first time that either Heritage or AEI — both nonprofit, nonpartisan research institutes — has sponsored a presidential debate. Businessman Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Representatives Ron Paul (TX) and Michele Bachmann (MN), former Governor Jon Huntsman (UT), and former Senator Rick Santorum (PA) will square off, addressing an issue that should be central for these contenders for the White House: Which presidential candidate will best protect our nation and amplify American leadership, and how will they do it?

    That question is vitally important for the eight candidates in the spotlight this evening. Ensuring our country’s defense is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government, as set forth in the Constitution. And it is up to the President to take the lead in crafting American foreign policy while also serving as commander in chief of the armed forces.

    Over the past weeks, Heritage has highlighted some of the central foreign policy and national security issues confronting America today: the threats to defense spending, a continually rising China, the war in Afghanistan and against terrorism, the failed attempt to “reset” relations with Russia, and the increasingly dangerous, hostile, and emboldened Iran. Each issue poses serious questions and choices for the man or woman who sits in the Oval Office.

    This week in particular, defense spending has been in the headlines. Yesterday, the congressional “super committee” that was charged with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.2 trillion announced its failure. As a result, funding for our military could be in jeopardy, with automatic cuts that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described as “devastating.” President Obama has already slashed military spending, and Congress cannot solve the overspending problem by gutting defense. How the federal government funds our men and women in uniform is a vital issue that deserves attention.

    That funding is necessary for America to adequately guard its interests at home and abroad. But spending is not the only issue. Building the right strategy is just as important to confront America’s challenges abroad. China has increased its defense budget by double digits every year for the last 20 years, while the United States is winding down its defense budget at a similarly rapid pace. Terrorist threats continue to emerge, and the International Atomic Energy Agency recently released a report confirming that Iran has made substantial progress in its nuclear weapons program. Though Osama bin Laden is no more, the gains the United States has made in waging the war in Afghanistan could be squandered if we continue on our plotted course. Likewise, our current posture toward Russia has failed because we have expected more from the Russians than they are willing to give under any circumstance.

    Tonight, the eight Republican presidential candidates will have an opportunity to address questions surrounding these issues and how they would conduct American foreign policy and national defense. Join us as we watch the debate tonight at 8 p.m ET. Learn more about the issues and read our post-debate reaction and analysis at our blog, Foundry.org. Follow our Twitter account (@heritage) for real-time updates about the debate and the issues. Throughout the day and during the debate, join the discussion on Facebook with our more than 388,000 fans. We want to hear from you and what you think.

    The U.S. Constitution creates a government of the people to, among other things, “provide for the common defence.” The Founding Fathers believed this to be one of the fundamental responsibilities of the federal government, and they agreed that when America was threatened, the nation had to respond clearly and forcefully. It follows that the President of the United States must play a central role in executing this responsibility. We hope that tonight the eight Republican presidential candidates address the serious question of how they would carry out that duty, and we invite you to join us in watching and discussing this important debate.

    The Republican presidential debate will air nationally tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on CNN and CNN en Español and worldwide on CNN International, CNN Radio, and CNN.com.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    51 Responses to Morning Bell: Debate Night

    1. Ellis Peak says:

      I pray that all of the debaters will keep their remarks against Obama and not critisize each other!

      • sdfultz says:

        Well that certainly won't allow us to compare them and their different approaches to the situations they may inherit.
        I guess it's ok for them to slam Obama with the same ole party line, like robots, repeat, repeat, repeat.
        Heritage, I started laughing when I read your claim to being Non partisian.

    2. Rosco1776 says:

      This sounds more like an article by neo-con Dick Cheney? Defense is a lot different than offensive invasion of sovereign countries and creating enemies around the globe!

      "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world": it was George Washington's Farewell Address to us. The inaugural pledge of Thomas Jefferson was no less clear: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."

      "When asked about my intention to cut the U.S. defense budget, I am always quick to clarify that I want to cut military spending, not defense. I want America to be the most strongly defended nation in the world, but I oppose our current foreign policy that stretches our troops thin across the globe so we can play world policeman. This foolish endeavor costs us dearly in lives, and it has become far too expensive to sustain.

      In the past 10 years, overall military spending has more than doubled, which should be extremely troubling for those claiming to be fiscally conservative. Frankly, it is impossible that government does not waste any of the hundreds of billions we spend on defense yearly.

      My Plan to Restore America does not cut one penny of defense. But it helps make America more secure, and it brings our troops home to defend this country. Under my plan, America will retain the strongest national defense in the world, but we will end expensive foreign wars, overseas nation building, and foreign welfare."
      ~Ron Paul

    3. George says:

      Why CNN and why Wolf Blitzer?

      Are there so few conservative moderators that Republican Candidates have to subject themselves to liberal moderators with their "gotcha" questions?

    4. Karla, CA says:

      Here's hoping that each candidate will be given equal time–for a change!

    5. Dale says:

      Here is an idea, how about we stop all these silly debates? In my opinion, it is not helping anyone in the Republican field if the questions are being asked by a bunch of liberals who's only job is to ask questions that make the current so called "front runner" look bad and to try and make the candidates fight and argue with one another. The problem currently lives in the White House… Not on the debate stage.

    6. Deborah Luke says:

      Heritage is a wonderful organization. I am interested, however, why all the men listed for tonight's debate have their current titles or former titles listed before their name ("Texas Governor Rick Perry") while Michelle Bachman does not have her current position of "Representative" in front of her name.

    7. toledofan says:

      Super commmittee or not, you're absolutely correct, it's up to Congress, always has been, to step up and curtail the spending, develop a budget and do whatever it takes to keep us safe. This entire committee structure was a smoke screen to get the previous debt ceiling vote passed. So, it should be clear to everyone, how much of a leadership void we have in Washington and how important the 2012 elections really are.

    8. Daniel says:

      Why CNN? Why not CSPAN or some objective network? Wolf Blitzer is a partisan hack and his moderating will be slanted to embarrass the candidates. I never watch CNN, and I will not watch this debate for that reason.

    9. Kendra Riffe says:

      Please, please, PLEASE give Rick Santorum adequate air time tonight. He has so much to offer and is an oft-forgotten candidate. Even here in your Morning Bell, you listed him LAST after Huntsman!

    10. Fred DeSena says:

      I am more afraid of domestic issues and congress"s inability to function right now than I am of Iran. It is a non people's representation and ineffectual congress that has placed us at these very crossroads that you detail. If congress had been more direct rogue nations such as Iran would think twice before they proceed. It is the very climate in Washington as embodied by congress that emboldens such nations.It's time to get the special interest lobby groups out of Washington, stop pandering to the wealthiest 1% as if they are gods, remember that in a crisis all things are "on the table" and get back to business and put your nose to the grindstone. That is a country that the world can respect. One that has its house in order (so to speak),

    11. AlleyOops75 says:

      Was CNN and Blitzer your only choice….DUH!!!!

    12. Dwana townsend says:

      Questions should be asked about what to do about Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, and Korea. What to do about Iran's banks as it is now apparent that they are helping to fund terroist groups. Our CIA network has also been exposed, is there a better way to gather intellegence without having to pay our enemies?

      Recently a large tunnel was found on the Mexican border so we know a Fence isn't the solution, what do they recommend? What about Fast and Furious?

      How can we use our armed forces more effecitvely? We still have troops in Germany and other places in the world that are not a threat to us. What about missle defense?

      Give each candidate a unique scenerio and see how they would handle it? Don't make the questions easy.

      How does our monitary situation play into our ability to protect the US?

    13. Robert A Hirschmann says:

      I think ,if they let Ron Paul get involved tonight, he will come out on top.

    14. Big bob says:

      Why " Clinton" News Network and Wolf " Never Get It Right" Blitzer?

    15. MJF in CT says:

      Another night of in-fighting of the GOP candidates. Could we just debate what the GOP wants to do to beat the Obama, Democrat Machine? This constant in-fighting between the candidates is getting old an truly boring. At this point in time, we need to focus on beating Obama in 2012. We need to focus on the economy and how to release the shackles that are holding America's job providers hostage. We need to focus on getting the government smaller and leaner. We need to focus on putting the will of the People before the "needs" of the RINOS and the Good 'ol Boys. Can we just focus on getting America back from the Liberals!

    16. Mike Prunty says:

      I plan to watch this debate tonight, but with one overwhelming regret. That is, that Wolf Blitzer of CNN will be moderating it. But I suppose the most qualified entity to finally host a debate, being the Heritage Foundation, must concede something critical in order to get such an unqualified news network to broadcast it for them.

      The one thing that has irked me the most since all these debates began is that the American people continue to be manipulated, deceived, and even misinformed to some degree by the egos of so-called broadcast journalists. These debates are supposed to be for choosing a Republican nominee, yet we've turned over the entire process to a clutter of utterly biased and unqualified journalists whose credibility is wallowing well down below that of your average used car salesman. My apologies to used car salesmen.

      They choose which candidates to which they will ask questions, wile ignoring others. They choose what questions to ask, whether or not important, or even relevant. Do we therefore hear adequately from ALL the candidates?

      Of course not!

      Newt Gingrich nailed it when he shot back at them about "gottcha" questions. The petty and unqualified Democrat Party loyal journalist moderators are more interested in "showing off" for their liberal friends in the television audience than they are in extracting and contrasting the important views of the candidates on relevant matters of real importance to the country. Again and again they have demonstrated their true passion for the long-passed personal imperfections of whichever conservative candidate is currently at the top of the polls than they are in whether or not Iran has achieved a thermonuclear weapon, or what we should do about it.

      Mike Prunty
      Yorktown, Virginia

    17. ThomNJ says:

      WHO ARE THE FOLKS WHO WILL BE ASKING THE QUESTIONS? Will Blitzer be the only one? I certainly hope not.

    18. Joyce A. Luna says:

      Republicans do not like Ron Paul's Foreign Policy. In case you haven't noticed the one we have has never worked. We need to try something else. We could start by honoring our forefathers who wrote the Constitution, our ancestors who came here and sweated blood and tears in order to raise us, their children who could live in peace and be able to stand on their own two feet. In the past we have instigated Wars,
      we play cat and mouse with other countries untill they get so mad at up that they want to blow us off the map!
      Its up to our mothers to see that our loved ones are not sent into battle for no cause exept to make money for the greedy and powerful. Its up to the mother's of this nation to see that your son does not come home with his brains shot out, his legs and arms off, now I could go on for hours at the horrible aftermath of war. Why not try another way of good will and use common sense . We cannot raise our children in this type of thinking that war is all that really matters, because Freedom is peace and that is what I believe that Dr. Ron Paul is trying to achieve for this nation under God.

    19. Lloyd Scallan says:

      I'm totally amazed and disturbed that HF is actually teaming up with CNN and allow a leftist, Obama supporting member of the main streamed media such as Wolf Blitzer, to use the HF to add creditability what will be just another canidate bashing broadcast.

    20. Tommy M. says:

      I worry of the broadness of "Americas interests at home and abroad," which is not authorized in our Sacred Constitution. We may only defend against such aggressive usurpations and threats. The language Heritage uses worries me, that it would almost seem justifiable to go to war over Iran choosing to not sell America oil; clearly contradicting the Just War theory of Christianity. If Heritage could clarify this statement it would be most appreciated. Thank you.

    21. Mary says:

      How are the questions chosen and who writes them? Wolf Blitzer as moderator does not lend confidence for a clear and fair discussion of foreign policy. Mary

    22. stan says:

      Why does it seem to come down to only two choices- either keeping or expanding our huge military forces world wide, or gutting our defenses and thinning our forces world wide? If we can't afford to be the policemen of the world anymore, why not do what the framers of our constitution originally intended and bring our forces home to defend our own borders? All of those billions of dollars spent to maintain forces in hundreds of bases around the world, flowing into other nations economies could be better spent here. We could stop the flow of drugs into our country to near zero, terrorists sneaking across again to near zero and the same with illegal aliens.

      We've been artificially propping up the rest of the world for too long. If other countries really want their freedom they should fight for it and not always rely on us to do their work for them.

    23. Larry Busch says:

      Is the March 9, 1933 act signed by FDR still in effect as when Bush declared a national emergency after 911? If so what are its implications and what will each candidate do with the previous executive orders under that act still in effect? Attached to it is the removal of the gold/silver standard and the colateral now being in essence the American people? Does that make us the enemy of our own federal government? Obama's attitude suggests he would assume total power at the first opportunity and the implications of that are staggering.

    24. Jeff Dover says:

      The founding fathers believed that providing for the "common" defense was a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. That is because all of the states acting as one, through the federal government were a far greater force than any single state alone.

      Today's Washington — and many of our citizens — don't understand that role. It is not for Washington to decide whether or not oil can be extracted from this or that place within the fifty states. That is for the individual state to decide, if it's an issue. It's not for Washington to "provide for the common instruction on toilet heights and flush rates". That's for an individual state to decide, if it's ever a political issue.

      There is much, much and more which has to be changed to get this nation back on track. Are either Romney or Gingrich the men to lead in that change? I doubt it. We need real conservatives in leadership, not doctrinaire Beltway insiders.

    25. Carol M Kite says:

      Of course, Obama slashed the defense budget! Any move, that is hazardous to our military, is the route he'll take! Hopefully, all the debaters will show Obama the way to deal with foreign affairs & our country's security. He needs to follow every move China makes instead, but that would be common sense!
      This constant haranguing by Congress, super commitee or not, fits in with Obama's plan. It'd be smart to make very certain that the amount erased from the budget be over $4 trillion, more if possible, never less, a drop in the ocean. Get a balnced budget while at it! Show him how to be presidential!

      • GRACE E. PRATTI says:


    26. John Ames says:

      exactly what was your reason for not including Gary Johnson in your debate? He is a state governor with some good ideas. He is low in the polls precisely because he has not been included in most of the debates and polls.

    27. Mike says:

      When will we ever have a conservative moderator???

    28. A. Gross says:

      I am very disappointed that the Heritage Foundation is not having a Conservative moderator. Each debate seems to have a different agenda to it other than just the issues. We know that the liberals want to make these candidates look bad and also argue amongst themselves. Wolf Blitzer?????

    29. Gilbert Bond says:

      @We have a much biger problem, then just the Defense department. I have no fath in ether party. I wound stright answer to question, like you ask about cutting the sides of Goverment. What department or you going to cut. All I hope! But let me tell you that out of a houndred people only one knowes what is going on in this country , yust go out in the street and ask. I be willing to bet that most people can not tell you how was the first President of this Country.

    30. randydutton says:

      How would the candidates rank these threats in order of importance:
      national or regional EMP attack;
      Massive State sponsored Cyberattack;
      Biological weapon;
      Chemical weapon;
      Dirty nuclear dispersal weapon;
      Nuclear bomb.

    31. ThomNJ says:

      Mty question from a couple of hours back still didn't post; so I will ask again: I am curious to know who the questioners might be for the debate or will be Blitzer handling the whole shebang?

    32. Basia says:

      Have not enough of "we the people" stopped to think that perhaps Obama deliberately wants to gut the military and our superior standing in the world? Dessimating the military budget is his life long dream!
      Obama is setting us up to be "put in our place" and is as POTUS endangering our national security on purpose. We have the most anti-American president we have ever had in history. As he bows to our enemies, has a very strange affinity toward muslims and islam and wants to cozy up to the world's most brutal dictators, the rest of the world laughs at us. Wake up America!

    33. Patrick Henry says:

      AND, show how MILLIONS of Illegal alien "trespassers" are "Directly" related to our National Security AND our Economy.

    34. Stan says:

      We they all get equal time?

    35. Sylvia Brandfon says:

      I'm glad that the Heritage Foundation is sponsoring a Primary Debate. It should do more in this direction.

      But it should get a conservative moderator–not Wolf Blitzer. Please don't have any more liberals moderate the debate. Only FOX tries to be conservative. The Heritage Foundaton should be a leader in having a conservative moderator for its debates.

    36. Mark says:

      I hope there is an extended debate about the National Debt and the affect it has on our ability to defend America.

    37. Ben Franklin X says:

      EQUAL TIME TONIGHT!!! Ron Paul now firmly in FIRST place today in Iowa according to the new TeleResearch poll of 2,900 likely Republican voters! Our efforts are paying off. Keep up the good work everyone! http://www.revolutionpac.com/2011/11/new-iowa-pol

    38. Alan Alspaugh says:

      Are there going to be any questions about the united Nations Agenda 21?

    39. Marilyn says:

      I strongly believe that the GOP needs to invest enough money into a PR campaign that will re-educate the mainstream population about Obama's true socialist agenda. Obama has provided us with hours of TV video that only needs to be snippets of his failed policies. These messages should be broadcast repeatedly until mainstreamers start to question what they have been told by their "mainstream media". The GOP needs to show the weak Obama and show the strong GOP and list solutions outlined by republicans. Dems tell TV viewers that the Republicans are causing demise — GOP stand up and shout back. Quit being a wimp!!

    40. KC - NM says:

      My concerns are that we need someone who represents mainstream America. We can no longer afford to be governed by those at the extreme right or left nor by special interest groups. We are at a point where this great country is declining to a degree that it is in significant risk of oppression, riot, and terrorists due its economy, downsized military, poor education, and a media system that does not equally cover the issues. The debaters need a plan to restore this country to greatness. First action is to get rid of Obama, and 2nd to get rid of the far right and left members of Congress.

    41. The Farmer GR MI says:

      I completely agree, we need a strong defence, however had we not put troops on the ground in the Middle East we would be much better off, I was wrong to support the wars.
      We have the where-with-all to stop our attackers and for that matter destroy them before they would be able to kill our people on this side of the pond, and that is all we need do.
      If we left them to their own devises they would destroy themselves.
      If we put them on notice that if they venture to attack our friends they WILL be destroyed by our bombs, they are not likely to try anything after they taste our word on it.
      If we really care for any of them we would offer them "The Good News" that was so instramental in our becoming a land of oppertunity.

    42. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Focus on the ears…Forget about criticizing each other.

    43. Mike, Hickory, NC says:

      Regarding the "failure" of the "super committee", where's the surprise? And is what we're being told about "spendig cuts" really so? Well, as for the "super committee", question: What is done with such predictable results when a group of people want to avoid both responsibility for problems and actually remedying them? Answer: Appoint a committee. As for "cuts in spending", question: Is that as in actually reducing actual spending or is that as in merely reducing increases in automatic or proposed increases in spending (a.k.a. "current services baseline" or CSB) by any amount? Answer: The National or "Federal" government uses CSB, which means always spending more, which means not actually cutting or reducing actual spending. So now we should see how people being mised, and why we, the people, must know the true answers, and peaceably act accordingly now, before it's too late, precisely because current and subsequent generations cannot afford more of the same misleading, vote-buying, money and power-grabbing spending and taxing politics as usual.

    44. Grant says:

      Why is Gov. Gary Johnson not attending?

    45. KHM says:

      Ellis Peak made a good comment that he prays all 8 candidates will engage in good debate and argue against Obama's failed policies and not against their fellow Republicans. Since this is sponsored by Heritage at least some of the lower-polled candidates will get a more equal chance to be heard.

    46. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I'm not watching the debate.

    47. Tony says:

      Why are Republican debates always moderated by Liberal Democrats?

      Loveland Ohio

    48. Just finished watching the GOP Presidential Debate on Security. It Was Great! It gave me a good view of the primary idea's of each candidate. The time was used in a manner that permitted each question to be answered at the candidates pleasure. I want to thank CNN, AEI, and the Heritage Foundation. What a good team.
      Can hardly wait to read the post debate comments.
      Frank E. Vincent

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