To Romney: Your behind in the polls. Is Hillary fit to be Commander in Chief? How do you actually plan to beat Hillary? His answer–No. I was busy finishing up the previous post, so I missed the substance of his reply, but it was very well received.
To Giuliani: You agree with Hillary on some things. How are you different? Giuliani has a great response: “You have got to be kidding. I agree with Hillary on two issues. We’re both Yankees fans, and when she says ‘I have a million ideas, but this country doesn’t have enough money for them,’ I agree.”
To Huckabee: Was it a mistake for Republicans to skip the debates about ethnic issues? His response is that Republicans need to be the most inclusive party. Oh, and by the way, he points out quite seriously there is nothing funny about Hillary being President. More significantly, he comes down strong on the war and national defense, repeating his line that Islamofascism is the greatest threat that America faces, and pointing out that the army will suffer. It’s clear Huckabee got the memo that some people thought he was soft on the war, and he’s working diligently to correct that impression.
Aside about Thompson: the energy in the room (there’s a lot of energy in the room!) is apparently catching. He actually spoke with enthusiasm!
Everyone talks social security for a few minutes. Here is where they stand:
Giuliani: We have to establish a private market for savings, which will start to solve these problems with costs that are sustainable.
Romney: I’m prepared to be bold, but I’m not going to cut benefits for the elderly. We’ll grandfather young people into the new program. Private accounts are a great idea, but the main point is that this is a solvable problem. If we work hard on it, think hard about it, we can find unity.
Huckabee: Bush had the right idea, but used the wrong word. “Personalization” (I’m not sure what the difference is). Huckabee then offered a plan that would allow seniors who hit the social security age to have option to have a one-time buy out, put the money in an indexed annuity (tax free) and remove the ongoing liability from the federal government. I haven’t heard that before, but that’s a fascinating idea. Plus, he got a great laugh line in–“The actuary tables were designed for people who would die at 67, and people aren’t dying at 67. That’s a problem, unless we finish them off, and that’s a bad idea.”