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Gary Bauer / Sep. 18, 2015

Second GOP Debate

[Wednesday] night's Republican presidential debate — a three-hour marathon with 11 candidates — was quite a show. Preliminary numbers suggest that 20 million people tuned in. Prior to last night, CNN's highest rated presidential primary debate featured Obama and Clinton battling it out in January 2008 with just over 8 million viewers. That tells you something. There is a lot of energy among conservatives and interest in the GOP candidates. How much is due to Donald Trump's presence on the stage?

The Second GOP Debate

[Wednesday] night’s Republican presidential debate — a three-hour marathon with 11 candidates — was quite a show.

Preliminary numbers suggest that 20 million people tuned in. Prior to last night, CNN’s highest rated presidential primary debate featured Obama and Clinton battling it out in January 2008 with just over 8 million viewers.

That tells you something. There is a lot of energy among conservatives and interest in the GOP candidates. How much is due to Donald Trump’s presence on the stage?

All of the candidates had their moments [Wednesday] night and no one was seriously hurt. Trump was clearly dodging attacks from the rest of field thanks to CNN’s questioning, but I think he held up under the fire. It will be interesting to see what the polls reveal in the days ahead.

One candidate, however, clearly stood out.

Carly Fiorina delivered one of the most memorable moments of the debate when she combined foreign and domestic policy into a defense of America and the unborn. Watch it here.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio also performed well, demonstrating a clear grasp of foreign policy. In recent days, we have written about how the Obama/Kerry team was caught flatfooted by Russia’s moves into Syria. On that issue Rubio said:

“I have an understanding of exactly what it is Russia and Putin are doing, and it’s pretty straightforward. He wants to reposition Russia, once again, as a geopolitical force… What [Putin] is doing is he is trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East, and this president is allowing it.”

One of the candidates said something during the debate that left me with questions I didn’t have before.

Moderator Jake Tapper stated that Dr. Carson had opposed U.S. intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11. Dr. Carson didn’t really dispute that, which I found inexplicable.

He said he advised President Bush to make the U.S. energy independent and that the “moderate Arab states” would then eagerly turn Osama bin Laden over to us. But Afghanistan under the Taliban could hardly be considered “moderate.”

Our fight is not with moderate Arab states, but with the radical Islamists. I know Dr. Carson understands that, but energy independence isn’t going to stop the Islamists from trying to kill us.

During the “happy hour” debate, former New York Governor George Pataki suggested that he would have fired Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. Not only that, he compared her behavior to the radical clerics in Iran.

“There is a place where the religion supersedes the rule of law. It’s called Iran. It shouldn’t be the United States,” Pataki said.

This is an example of the fuzzy thinking we must be prepared to combat. In Iran, they don’t simply refuse to marry homosexuals, they hang them. There is a huge difference between Iran murdering people and America seeking accommodations for men and women of faith in government.

The Iran Deal

Foreign policy was a major focus of [Wednesday] night’s debate, and the candidate’s remarks over the Iran nuclear deal produced an interesting fissure. They are all opposed to the deal, but they differed on how they would handle it if elected president. That may seem minor but it is very revealing.

A number of candidates, most notably Ted Cruz, Rubio and Fiorina, made it clear that they would tear up the Iranian nuclear deal immediately upon taking office.

But John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul were speaking in Washington lingo suggesting that they would consult with allies — allies who are already running to Tehran to cut their own deals.

It sounded too much like the overly nuanced answers we often get on repealing Obamacare. Even before some candidates get into office, they are already talking about how complicated it would be to undo.

So let me translate for you: When they get into office — and the entire foreign policy establishment starts pressuring them — they won’t repeal it.

This issue is too important for half-answers. As we reported yesterday, Iran recently released five Al Qaeda leaders. We desperately need clarity on Iran from those who would be our next commander in chief.

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