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Full debate recap; not much new in April 20 republican primary senatorial debate - Question 5

What follows is a full question-by-question recap of the April 20 debate between the five republicans competing for the right to hammer Brad Ellsworth in November. Read carefully and then check out the story about the debate being hosted by the Indianapolis Tea Party coming up on Saturday, April 24.

There will be no candidate introductions in this article. If you want to know biographical information, visit their websites. Links will be included for your convenience.

There are 10 questions. Each one will have its own article. This is question 5. The others will all be linked to here:

Question 1 – What does representative government mean to you and what is more important to how you will vote; the will of the people or your personal convictions?


Question 2 – What are you going to do about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington?

Question 3 – If you are elected, what would be the topic and purpose of the first piece of legislation that you draft.

Question 4 – Are taxes a viable way to get out of debt and do you think limited government can exist in modern day American?

Question 6 – What is your stance on assault weapons bans, concealed carry reciprocity and a national gun registry?

Question 7 – How will you go about cutting spending?

Question 8 – By what parameters would you decide to support a nominee for federal office?

Question 9 – What is your view on NAFTA and other free trade agreements that allow American business to send jobs overseas and get tax breaks?

Question 10 (Final) – What makes you exceptional over the four other people that makes you worthy of our vote?

This intro will precede each question.

The Scoring System
Each question will be shown, then the responses summarized in the order in which they were given during the debate. The best two answers will then be selected along with a worst answer award. Here are the criteria:

1. First and foremost, they have to actually answer the question. Recitation of talking points will be counted against the candidates.

2. Originality will play in as well. Obviously many candidates have similar views, but if they explain them in a clear personal manner they will score higher than if they rely on buzzwords like “Reagan” or resort to repetitive attacks on the latest health care bill.

3. Delivery is key. The senator we elect must not only vote the way we want, but they must be an advocate of our views. If the candidate cannot speak in a relatively non-hostile environment like this past debate without bumbling and tripping over their tongue, we cannot expect them to articulately advocate our views on the floor of the Senate.

4. Honesty is also critical. If the candidate’s response is disingenuous male bovine excrement or attempts to tactically skirt the truth of a candidate’s history on a particular subject, the candidate will be called out.

5. Last but not least, the quality of the politics behind the answer. Answers that pass the common sense test and will truly help America being the healing process from the disease that is liberalism will get the highest marks.

Disclaimer- Unless contained in quotes, the candidates’ answers are paraphrases. Also, this is my subjective assessment of the candidates’ performances. I am not working on the campaigns of any senatorial candidate and I am truly undecided as to who I will support. That being said, I have by biases against certain candidates on certain issues and those will come into play.

Question 5 – Would you support the recently signed treaty with Russia?

Dan Coats
– Said he would not support it until he had all the details. Criticized Obama’s foreign policy and quoted the Reagan philosophy of ‘peace through strength.” Reiterated that the treaty deserves scrutiny and that this is not the time to give up our nuclear deterrents.
Saying he needs more facts to decide if he will support the treaty could be ducking, but it makes sense on this answer. Saying that we cannot give up our nuclear deterrent in this current geopolitical environment is a good disclaimer. No treaty in today’s threat condition should call for us to disarm.

Marlin Stutzman – He bumbled a lot on this answer but concluded that freedom is guaranteed through military strength and that “weakening (our national defense) would be viewed as a weakness” and would make us a target.
Nothing that Captain Obvious said was wrong, it was just not well articulated and did not answer the question. Stutzman seemed uncomfortable and out of his element discussing the topic.

Richard Behney – Said unequivocally that he would not support the treaty. Changed the subject to Iran and said that we must be sending a message of strength to their regime. Closed by saying that regarding nuclear weapons, “we need to tell Iran that if you build it, we will come.”
Beyond saying that he would not support the treaty, he said nothing significant to make us think that he knew anything about the treaty specifically. It seemed like Behney had a prepared talking point on Iran and was desperate to get it out. That talking point concluded with a terrible bumper-sticker slogan. Terrible answer.

John Hostettler – Said unequivocally that he would not support the current treaty. Then he reasoned that we cannot disarm before we have a layered missile defense shield which seemed to imply that he would support disarming once a defensive shield was in place.
This answer scared me. A missile defense shield is necessary, but we CANNOT remove our nuclear deterrent and trade it for a purely defensive tool. The missile defense shield will do nothing to protect us from terrorist attacks. Hostettler’s history on foreign policy combined with this answer have be scared that he is much more of a isolationist-dove than he is letting on.

Don Bates Jr. – Opened with a full scale attack on Obama’s foreign policy, citing Obama’s “insulting our allies, apologizing for our greatness to our enemies,” and hitting the president on the broken promise that was the Polish missile defense shield pullback. Summarized that Obama is sending the wrong message – a message of weakness. Closed by saying that he would not support the current disarmament treaty.
This was clearly a preplanned talking point but it was well designed and skillfully deployed. He covered all the things that are wrong about Obama’s foreign policy and closed by definitively answering the question. I would have like to have seen him (or any of the candidates for that matter) actually address specific parts of the treaty, but with only a minute to reply, Bates made the most of it.

The Verdict
Top Answer: Don Bates Jr.
– Easily the best answer. I would have liked to have seen a little more, but considering the time constraints, Bates made the best use of his time and expressed clear and articulate opposition to the foreign policy mistakes of Obama.
Honorable Mention: Dan Coats – Not the strongest answer, but it is honest to say that he needs more info about the treaty and intends to scrutinize it. Saying that we cannot disarm with the threats that currently face us shows that Coats understands the concept of ‘peace through strength’ a little better than Hostettler.
Worst Answer Award: John Hostettler – Dangerous answer. You cannot trade nuclear deterrence for a completely defensive shield. Mutually assured destruction kept us safe for generations. That is peace through strength. Somehow assuring our enemies that their missiles will be shot down does not carry with it the same fear-based deterrent. Maybe it was simply a poorly worded answer, but given Hostettler’s isolationist tenancies I would tend to believe that this answer reflects his overall posture on foreign policy – duck and cover.

Check out the other questions by following the links at the beginning of the story!


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