The debate among those running for the chairmanship of the RNC was moderated by Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Also participating was Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List. She was the self-proclaimed 'social conservative' representative. The mission of the Susan B. Anthony List is to promote pro-life candidates in politics.
The debate was live streamed via the Internet and broadcast on C-SPAN. The election is set for January 14.
An interesting nod to the virtual participant occurred when Tucker Carlson reminded those participants that the hash tag for the debate was #RNCDebate.
It wasn't much of a debate, per se, but more of a standard question and answer session.
The first shot was fired with the first candidate's opening statement. There is a need for some "tough love" according to Ann Wagner. Former co-chair of the RNC, and former chair of the Missouri GOP, as well as former Ambassador, candidate Ann Wagner has the broadest range of political experience of those hoping to oust current Chairman Michael Steele. And, just for the record, she wins the who-owns-guns contest, too. She and her family own 16, thank you. Plus the bonus of a son who is attending West Point and owner of an assault weapon.
Got all that? The woman is poised and articulate. She stays on message. As a former Ambassador, one would have to think she won't be the source of verbal gaffes. Right?
Next up was Saul Anuzis, former Michigan GOP Chair, and current National Committee member. His most memorable line was that the RNC Chair should "make the trains run on time." He used that line more than once. Anuzis ran for the position against Steele in 2008 and has been running ever since. He is very active on Twitter and Facebook. He spoke to the need for inclusion of all conservatives into the Republican party, as did Michael Steele.
Maria Cino was the third candidate to speak. She is a former Deputy RNC Chair and was Political Director for the 2000 Bush Presidential Campaign. She receives credit for the implementation of the 50 state victory program and also that she, as she said, "ran the national convention" of 2008. She is very strong in fundraising fundamentals and implementation.
Current Chairman Michael Steele was next. He described himself as a "glass is half full kind of guy" and took credit for the "we fired Pelosi" campaign success. He reminded the audience that there was not a state that didn't have GOP victories as he defended himself against the charges that the get out the vote program was not fully funded or as successful as it might have been.
Reince Priebus was the last to speak. Wisconsin GOP Chair and proud of the last election results in his state, he stressed that Republicans are not in competition with conservatives such as those in the Tea Party. "We are part of the conservative movement." A former supporter of Steele, now Priebus is quick to draw a line on inclusion into the party. He was clear that if you are not towing the party line then you are not a Republican. That is unfortunate at this point in time. The GOP needs to expand with all willing conservatives instead of encouraging small minded labels and in-fighting.
Other candidates were vocal in calling for RNC leadership that acknowledged the three pillars of conservatism - fiscal, social and strong national security. National security was basically ignored during this debate, however. The candidates were most interested in speaking to fiscal conservatism and yet the questions were centered around social conservatism at every opportunity.
All candidates agreed that Planned Parenthood should be de-funded of any tax dollars or government support. All proclaimed to be pro-life. All support the traditional definition of marriage. None claimed The Bible as their favorite book, which was refreshing. Michael Steele did incorrectly quote "War and Peace", is favorite book pick by using a quote from "A Tale of Two Cities" - "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." English lit majors noticed.
Kudos to the moderators who insisted that when candidates answered the "who is your favorite President" question, Ronald Reagan's name was not allowed. I like that Maria Cino answered Margaret Thatcher!
All said yes to the question of the possibility of Sarah Palin winning the general election in 2012. All quickly mentioned that it is the Chairman's job to promote and support a candidate, not choose the candidate. This was another waste of time question.
The RNC Chairman has no role in making GOP policy. This fact makes the insistence on purity on social issues a waste of time. There is no question that all of these candidates are good people who want to work to make the GOP successful. As a couple of them rightfully said, it is the job of the RNC Chairman to insure victories. And, raise money. All the other fussing is white noise.
Now more than in years past, the RNC Chairman must be a person who brings people together and into the party to pave the way for victory in 2012.