Campaign Buzz December 12, 2011: Gingrich-Huntsman Debate on Foreign Policy & National Security at St Anselm College, New Hampshire Emulates Lincoln-Douglas Style — Candidates Agree on Issues — Transcript Excerpts


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


Jon M. Huntsman Jr., center, and Newt Gingrich covered only half of the 10 topics they planned to discuss during their 90 minute Lincoln-Douglas-style debate.
Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., center, and Newt Gingrich covered only half of the 10 topics they planned to discuss during their 90 minute Lincoln-Douglas-style debate.


Live-blogging the Gingrich-Huntsman debate: Get updates from the Fix’s Aaron Blake and watch the Lincoln-Douglas style debate live…. WaPo, 12-12-11

“This is what we should have a lot more of. This is substantive. We’re a country in enormous trouble, and we need leaders who are willing to talk to citizens … We’re not going to solve things with, you know, what’s your solution on Libya in 30 seconds. This is not a Hollywood game, this is not a reality show. This is reality.” — Newt Gingrich

“We’re always looking for winners and losers in these things, but I think the winners might well be the American people.” — Jon Huntsman

Huntsman and Gingrich Square Off in Unmoderated Debate: In New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich and Jon M. Huntsman Jr. participated in a two-man unmoderated debate devoted to foreign policy and national security…. – NYT, 12-12-11

  • Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman agree on seriousness at debate in New Hampshire: The meeting of two presidential candidates here today was billed as a successor to the Lincoln Douglas debates, but turned out to be a festival of self-congratulation intended less to tease out differences between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman than simply signal their status as serious men.
    The 90-minute talk at St. Anselm College, moderated by local Republican operative Patrick Griffin, centered on national security and foreign policy, and the two men ranged widely across Asia and the Middle East. The debate showed a few of their differences – Huntsman, notably, favors a rapid withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan – but it lacked the animating point of the 1858 debates on which it was modeled: a core disagreement…. – Politico, 12-12-11
  • Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman square off in friendly debate: Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich and rival Jon Huntsman Jr. squared off Monday afternoon at a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate on national security and foreign policy.
    The event, sponsored by the St. Anselm College Republicans and hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library, was modeled after a series of seven debates that took place between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during their 1858 campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinios, in which one candidate spoke for the first 60 minutes, the second candidate followed with a 90-minute rebuttal, and then the first speaker had 30 minutes to respond.
    Monday’s debate lasted half as long and focused on half a dozen predetermined questions, but the candidates were allowed to answer without strict time constraints, which made for 90 minutes of what felt like a college seminar…. – LAT, 12-12-11
  • The Huntsman-Gingrich Debate That Wasn’t: The so-called “Lincoln-Douglas debate” between the GOP candidates at the top and bottom of the polls turned out to be an unenlightening lovefest
    Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich took a break from the campaign trail Monday to give a wide-ranging foreign-policy lecture at a New Hampshire university, where he was joined on the panel by a former ambassador to China, one Jon Huntsman.
    That’s what Monday afternoon’s supposed “Lincoln-Douglas debate” between Gingrich and Huntsman really felt like. The two flattered each other, recited a number of views that they mostly agreed upon, and filled the balance of the time with uncontroversial blather about the importance of foreign policy, the glories of the present event and, of course, the greatness of America…. – The Atlantic, 12-12-11
  • Gingrich, Huntsman Agree: Iran Is Scary GOP candidates exchange foreign policy views in New Hampshire debate: Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman engaged in a friendly, rather academic foreign policy debate today that saw more agreement than fireworks, the Los Angeles Times reports. Modeled on the Abraham Lincoln- Stephen Douglas debates of 1858—in which candidates spoke for long uninterrupted stretches—the two Republican contenders discussed issues including Iran, China, and Afghanistan at a college in New Hampshire. “I can see my daughter nodding off over there,” quipped Huntsman…. – Newser, 12-12-11


Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman Jr., left, and Newt Gingrich during a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester.

Republican presidential candidates Jon Huntsman Jr., left, and Newt Gingrich during a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester. (EPA/CJ GUNTHER / December 12, 2011)

Gingrich-Huntsman debate live blog (VIDEO)

Debate over (5:27 p.m.)

The debate has concluded.

We got through five of 10 planned topics in 90 minutes.

And the time-keeper closed with a zing for Mitt Romney, who is not there to defend himself.

Of Gingrich’s plan to challenge President Obama to similar Lincoln-Douglas style debates, the time-keeper, Pat Griffin, said: “I’ll bet you $10,000 he doesn’t show up.”

Huntsman digs at Trump (5:26 p.m)

“I can’t wait to compare and contrast this format with the Donald Trump debate,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman has passed on participating in the Trump-moderated debate, but Gingrich is taking part.

Gingrich says Chinese relationship most important (5:16 p.m.)

Gingrich said the Chinese will be the United States’ most important relationship for decades to come.

“The most important relationship of the next 50 years is the American people and the Chinese people,” Gingrich said, differentiating that from the relationship between the governments.

“If you don’t fundamentally rethink what we’re doing here, you cannot compete with China,” Gingrich added. “If we do the right thing here, China can’t compete with us.”

Huntsman says U.S. has interest in Syria, not Libya (4:52 p.m.)

Huntsman said he disagrees with the intervention in Libya because there was no national security interest there.

As for Syria, he suggested more should have been done.

“I couldn’t see a definable national security interest” in Libya, he said. “With Syria, I see it a little differently, because it is a conduit, a pipeline for Iran.”

Huntsman calls Iran the “transcendant threat” (4:44 p.m)

Huntsman says Iran poses a bigger problem than any other country right now, calling it the “transcendant threat” and saying all options are on the table in dealing with the regime there.

Huntsman said a nuclear Iran would lead Turkey and other nations to build nuclear programs.

“I think all options are on the table, and I do believe we’re going to have a conversation with Israel” when Iran goes nuclear, Huntsman said.

He also said the Obama Administration missed an opportunity to get a foothold in the region with the Arab Spring.

“We missed a huge opportunity with the Arab Spring,” Huntsman said. “Huge missed opportunity.”

Gingrich largely agreed on Iran. He has previously said the United States needs to be ready to join Israel against Iran and called Iran the “biggest national security threat of the next 10 years.”

Gingrich says United States not safer than 10 years ago (4:29 p.m.)

Gingrich said the United States might not be any safer than it was in 2001 when the war in Afghanistan began and before the war in Iraq began.

“It’s hard for me to argue that we’re any safer than we were 10 years ago,” Gingrich said, pointing to potential nuclear capabilities in Iran and Pakistan.

Huntsman says bring Afghanistan troops home (4:22 p.m.)

Huntsman said the United States has had success in Afghanistan, and that it should bring the troops home.

“I think we’ve done the best that we could do, but I think we’ve done all we could do,” he said, repeating his past statements on the topic, which differ from his GOP opponents. Huntsman said the time has passed for nation-building and counter-insurgency, and that the new mission should be focused on counter-terrorism.

Huntsman went on to say that the United States’ relationship with Pakistan is too “transactional.”

“Pakistan, sadly, is nothing more than a transactional relationship with the United States,” Huntsman said. “For all the money we put into Pakistan, are we in a better situation? The answer is no.”

Original post (3:44 p.m.)

Starting at 4 p.m. eastern time, The Fix will be doing a modified live blog of the one-on-one, Lincoln-Douglas style debate in New Hampshire between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman.

Check back on this post for regular updates on the key moments from the debate and everything you need to know about what’s said.

For now, see piece previewing the debate.

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