02.23.12 2:33 AM ET
Best Moments From the CNN Republican Debate in Arizona (VIDEO)
Paul: Santorum's a 'Fake'!
When moderator John King pressed Texas Rep. Ron Paul on why he put out a commercial calling former senator Rick Santorum a "fake," Paul responded in just four words: “Because he’s a fake!” Paul railed against politicians who say one thing when they’re running for office and then vote another way once they’re elected. “The record is so bad with the politicians,” Paul said. “It loses credibility.” Santorum responded that he was rated as one of the most fiscally conservative members of the Senate during his 12 years as a legislator.
Gingrich: Government Is 'a Disaster'
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich wants to radically change the structure of government. “Everybody talks about managing the current government,” Gingrich said. “The current government is a disaster.” His example? Why can’t the federal government fix the problems at the border? “It is utterly stupid to say that the United States government can’t control the border,” he said. “It’s a failure of will.” Gingrich said that “instead of suing Arizona” over its immigration law, the federal government should work with Arizona to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing into the United States.
Romney Goes After Santorum on Earmarks
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Santorum mixed it up over earmarks. After Santorum attacked Romney for asking for earmarks to support the Salt Lake City Olympics, Romney retorted that Santorum voted for thousands of earmarks. “You voted for the bridge to nowhere,” Romney said. “When I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere.” Romney said he would ban earmarks because the process is broken and the money is being used inappropriately.
Gingrich: Obama Paid Off Car Unions
The Detroit auto bailout has been a major issue in the Republican primary, with all of the remaining candidates opposing it. Romney has taken some heat for a piece he wrote assailing the federal government’s decision to spend billions to save the car companies from bankruptcy. Moderator John King posed the question to Gingrich, saying it was a tough situation. But Gingrich wasn’t persuaded. “It’s not tough,” the former speaker said. The companies should have had to go through a "managed bankruptcy," which would have forced the United Auto Workers and the management to change harmful practices. But instead President Obama cut a deal “to pay off the UAW at the expense of every bondholder.”
Santorum: Family Unit Is Fracturing
King asked Santorum to explain why he has said he wouldn’t be afraid to talk about issues like birth control. “What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture,” Santorum responded, adding that more kids are growing up in single-parent families and more teenagers are becoming sexually active. The family unit, according to Santorum, is fracturing because 40 percent of kids are being born out of wedlock. But make no mistake, this isn’t a problem for the feds to tackle. “Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want the government to fix it,” Santorum said.
Dukakis Makes a Rhetorical Appearance
Romney and Santorum kept at each other for most of the debate. Santorum landed the best punch of the night after Romney bragged that he balanced the budget for four years in a row as governor of Massachusetts. Santorum's rebuttal? It’s not such a great accomplishment when state law requires you to balance the budget. Then he brought up one of Romney’s liberal predecessors who unsuccessfully ran for president—and was often the butt of jokes. “Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years,” Santorum said. “Is he qualified to be president?”
Santorum Concerned About Women in Infantry
Santorum took some heat earlier this month when he said he wasn’t sure about women in combat. At Wednesday's debate, he was given a chance to clarify his stance. “I didn’t say it was wrong,” the former senator said. “I said I had concerns about certain roles … particularly in infantry. I still have those concerns.” But Santorum said the generals and civilian leadership should think about it more. “We should have sober minds looking at what is in fact the best, proper roles for everybody in combat,” he said.