First, a word about national security and foreign policy issues. They don’t drive many votes. Campaign professionals consider any day spent on foreign policy a lost day. Which is too bad given that whoever is elected will spend some part of every day as president on national security issues and often almost his entire day on dealing with America’s interests and problems abroad.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich had the most to lose in last night’s debate, given his current positions atop most polls. But he continued to display the talents that got him where he is now: clear thinking, experience and a matter-of-fact certainty about what he would do if he were president. If he keeps this up, there will be talk about an anybody-but-Newt movement instead of an anybody-but-Romney campaign.
Yet the GOP universe is buzzing about the fact that Gingrich said America would not deport the 11 million illegal aliens already living here. Gasp! Is he pro-amnesty? Is he pro-illegal immigration? Of course not; Gingrich was simply telling the truth. We will not deport a population as large as the state of Ohio’s, and any candidate who says otherwise is either ignorant or a hypocrite, and should be penalized, not rewarded. Those candidates would need to tell us how their deportation plan would pass Congress and then how it would be implemented. We would need to know about the holding pens, the roundup procedures developed for law enforcement and how we would deal with families that have both legal and illegal members.
Gingrich may not win the Republican nomination, but surely it won’t be because of this issue. I hope the other candidates resist the urge to be dishonest or delusional enough to try to capitalize on what he said.
Mitt Romney was steady in the debate. No mistakes, but also no breakthroughs. This debate didn’t lend itself for much upside because, again, so few voters are primarily concerned with foreign policy issues, which may explain why Romney was so careful. Everyone else did more or less fine.
Now it’s time to get back to the real campaign, which should be about the economy, jobs and President Obama.