CNN’s Republican presidential debate focusing on foreign policy and national security lacked the fireworks of some previous GOP showdowns, but here’s what it did include: Mitt Romney getting his own name wrong, Newt Gingrich being nice to illegal immigrants, and Jon Huntsman getting sassy for once. As a service to you, the busy/somewhat indifferent reader, we have neatly summarized the highlights below.
Number of Times the Candidates Mentioned George W. Bush: Zero
Number of Times the Candidates Mentioned Ronald Reagan: Three
Candidate Least Likely to Get a Christmas Card From Muslim Americans This Year: Rick Santorum, who, asked whether he supported profiling by airport security, said, “Obviously, Muslims would be someone you look at, absolutely.”
Best Amateur Cartography: “Remember, when you talk about attacking Iran, it is a very mountainous region.” —Herman Cain
Biggest Insult: Being called “highly naïve” by Michele Bachmann, as Rick Perry was during a debate over foreign aid to Pakistan.
Most Inexcusable Inaccuracy: After Wolf Blitzer quipped that “Wolf” is his real name, Mitt Romney replied that his first name really is Mitt, which is not true. It is Willard.
Other Most Blatantly Inaccurate Statement, Aside From Mitt Romney Misstating His Name: “Almost every decision that the president has made since he came in has been one to put the United States in a position of unilateral disarmament, including the most recent decision he made to cancel the Keystone pipeline.” —Michele Bachmann. Obama did not cancel the pipeline, he delayed it while an alternate route is investigated.
Most Over-the-Top Criticism of President Obama: “This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU.” —Michele Bachmann
Most Nonsensical Hyperbole: “This is more than an existential threat.” —Michele Bachmann
Most Misused Term: Blank check, which is allegedly what we’re giving to Pakistan in foreign aid. In reality, we are giving them finite amounts of money.
Worst Filter: Michele Bachmann may have leaked classified information on terrorist attacks against Pakistani nuclear sites. Or she might have just made it up.
Meanest Comment About Pakistan: “We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st century — or the 20th century, for that matter.” —Mitt Romney
Best Way Wolf Blitzer Addressed Herman Cain: “We’re going to come to Congressman Cain in a moment.”
Most Condescending Newt Gingrich Moment: The discussion taking place about whether to withdraw from Afghanistan was too “narrow” for Gingrich to participate in.
Most Awkward Wait:
Best Retro Phrase: “This is not time for America to cut and run.” —Mitt Romney, on Afghanistan
Worst Geography: “Africa was a country on the brink.” — Rick Santorum
Most Cynical and Pessimistic Description of Foreign Aid: “You take money from poor people in this country and you end up giving it to rich people in poor countries. And they’re used as weapons of war so you accomplish nothing.” —Ron Paul
Number of Times Jon Huntsman Suggested Recognizing Realities, or Being Real About Something: Seven. (“Let’s face the economic reality,” “Let’s face the deficit reality,” “Let’s be realistic about this,” “Let’s face the reality that we have a counterterror threat for as far as the eye can see,” “We’ve got to prepare for the reality that counterterrorism is here to stay,” “We need defense spending that will match the realities of where we find ourselves,” “It must be consistent with recognizing the reality on the ground.”)
Best Response to the Idea That We Can’t Leave Afghanistan Until the Generals Say So: “At the end of the day, the president of the United States is commander-in-chief, commander-in-chief. Of course you’re going to listen to the generals. But I also remember when people listened to the generals in 1967 and we heard a certain course of action in South Asia that didn’t serve our interests very well. The president is the commander-in-chief and ought to be informed by a lot of different voices, including of those of his generals on the ground.” —Jon Huntsman
Best Part of Newt Gingrich’s Risky “Don’t Deport Every Single Illegal Immigrant” Position: “I don’t see how the — the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century. And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.” —Newt Gingrich
The Worst Part of Newt Gingrich’s Risky “Don’t Deport Every Single Illegal Immigrant” Position: “If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.” —Newt Gingrich, implying that religious, church-going illegal immigrants should have a better shot at staying in the country than non-religious illegal immigrants
Biggest Question Mark: Will Gingrich face a backlash over his amnesty-ish position on illegal immigration?
Worst Reason China Is a National Security Threat to the United States: Because, according to Rick Perry, they perform “35,000 forced abortions a day.”
Most Invisible: Herman Cain
Dumbest Demand: “If [Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta is an honorable man, he should resign in protest [of cuts to the defense budget].” —Rick Perry
Winners: Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman
Losers: Herman Cain, Rick Perry