GOP Candidates Get Personal at the Thanksgiving Family Forum
It was one of the most unusual of the GOP debates—and also one of the most serious. Michael Tomasky and Jill Lawrence weigh in. Plus, watch video of the best moments.
This was a pretty fascinating debate—no stupid gotcha questions, six participants (no Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman Jr.), and candidates actually speaking, on occasion, from their hearts about important moments in their lives.
I was struck by one of the last questions, when a woman asked them if they believed in the concept of the common good. That’s a liberal idea! You can read about it here, where you will see that yours truly is associated with the phrase. Anyway, how’d she sneak in there?
The question got tossed to Newt Gingrich first. As a Catholic for the last 15 minutes or so of his life, Gingrich presumably knows what “common good” means, since it is in no small measure a Catholic idea, and a liberal, social-justice Catholic one. You could see in his eyes that he didn’t like this business.
Iowa, Iowa, Iowa. Only in the assertively Christian land of the first presidential caucuses would there be a Republican candidate forum that gave us grown men in tears, a moderator who said he felt like Dr. Phil, and a prospective female commander in chief filling the water glasses of all the males onstage. Not to mention lectures on values and morality by one candidate whom four women have accused of sexual harassment and another who has admitted to cheating on not one but two wives.
None of this appeared to faze the 3,000 people gathered in the First Federated Church in Des Moines for the Thanksgiving Family Forum. This is, after all, Iowa. Nearly half of likely caucusgoers said in 2008 that they were born-again or fundamentalist Christians, and Mike Huckabee—a Baptist pastor—ended up winning the night.
The two Mormons in this year’s race—Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman—were conspicuously missing