September 12, 2007

Brody: Update on Huckabee vs Thompson Debate

David Brody of wrote the leading story on Fred Thompson's refusal to debate Huckabee one-on-one. In his article he wrote, "To be fair to Thompson, when he said on The Tonight Show that he backed Newt Gingrich’s debate plan, that plan was for the General Election, not the primaries."

After several comments by readers (including Brett and myself) setting the record straight, Brody proved why he has been one of our favorite political commentators in the race thus far, removing that mention from the original article and posting the following update:

Yesterday I reported that Fred Thompson’s campaign rejected Mike Huckabee’s one on one debate proposal. I then went on to say the following:

"To be fair to Thompson, when he said on The Tonight Show that he backed Newt Gingrich’s debate plan, that plan was for the General Election, not the primaries."

Well, A few Brody File readers have pointed out to me that during an interview with Sean Hannity, Fred Thompson DID call for one on one debates in the context of the GOP primary.

Here’s the transcription of that:

Sean Hannity: When you look at the other current crop of candidates, Republicans, where is the distinction between your positions and what you view as theirs?

Fred Thompson: Well, uh, to tell you the truth, uh, I haven't spent a whole lot of time, uh, going into the details of their positions. I will be doing... I... I mean publicly. I obviously know where they stand and what they've done and what they've written. And there will be a time when we will need to have a good, uh, debate, if they're interested in debates, and we'll do it one-on-one and we'll do it in a big group, and I really want to do it, and we'll get into that.

Now, earlier in that interview, Thompson said the General Election would probably be the better time to do it. Read below:

HANNITY: You don't think much of the debate process now, why?

THOMPSON: It is not designed really to illuminate people's thoughts and feelings. Thirty-, 40-second sound bites, you know, to questions that hopefully will elicit some kind of a comment about one of the other participants, something like that, to make a little story, that sort of thing.

I kind of think that Newt's idea of going back to the Lincoln-Douglas debate-type format, where you have two people sit down or stand up and, you know, take an hour or so, and maybe an hour-and-a-half and discuss maybe one particular category, one particular topic, and get in-depth and go back and forth on it.

That is the way that you find out how somebody really thinks. I know it is difficult when you have that number of people running. And I don't know the answer to it in the primary. But I think certainly in the general election, something like that would be something I would gravitate to.

You can watch the video of the interview here. It’s pretty clear that Thompson was unclear in his answer to the debate question. He was saying two different things during that interview.

Thanks to Brody File readers for pointing this out.


Jeremy said...

Nice job, guys.

Beth said...

Excellent job! Keep this story on the republican websites (don't forget They're really crazy about fred over there - they should rename the site

The fredheads over at FR don't want anything bad to be said about their t.v. idol, and if you do, you'll get called names and they will bite your head off.

I think the true social conservative is huckabee and who knows, maybe this whole thing will show Fred up to be the empty "sunday-going-to-meeting" suit that he is and bring huckabee into the top tier.

Personally, I support Romney, but I think they're both very good.

I've heard that Huckabee's a little liberal on economic issues, though. That bothers me.

Someone enlighten me.

Spunky said...

"I've heard that Huckabee's a little liberal on economic issues, though. That bothers me.

Someone enlighten me.

It bothers me too, Beth. That's why I can' jump on the Huckabee bandwagon just yet. I can't promise to enlighten you, but here's a few things from my research that may provide you with insight about why some are cautious about his 'brand' of conservatism.

1. Club For Growth has begun calling him "Tax Hike Mike." and demonstrate that he is more of a moderate/liberal when it comes to taxing the people for government programs and services.

2. The Cato Institute reports on the 50 Governors every two years "based on 23 objective measures of fiscal performance. Governors who have cut taxes and spending the most receive the highest grades. Those who have increased spending and taxes the most receive the lowest grades."

Huckabee received an "F" in 2006, down from a D in 2004. He is leaving office with a "D."

Lastly, as his education policies as governor demonstrate that he has adopted proposals similar to that of most of the democrat leadership regarding federal control and federally mandated standards.

A recent editorial in the Arkansas Leader observed that there was little difference between Governor Huckabee and Hillary Clinton's education and health care agenda while she was in Arkansas, "It would be hard to separate the former Arkansas governor and the former Arkansas first lady on those issues, based on their Arkansas records. It was on education and health care that as Arkansas first lady she made a lasting imprint."

I can't speak to the similarities in health care, but I follow education policy closely and I have studied Huckbaee's education policies as governor and I have to agree, they are structurally very similar to the policies inspired by Hillary Clinton's close advisor on educational issues, Mark Tucker. Mr. Tucker is now head of NCEE and a driving force behind federal control and national standards in education. His initiatives are being implemented in many states, including Arkansas under the leadership of Gov. Huckabee.;jsessionid=ahBgdfQbwZad?setProtocol=true

Huckabee's sweeping education reforms passed as Governor of Arkansas in 2003, are modeled after those reforms. He also called No Child Left Behind "the greatest education reform effort by the federal government in my lifetime," (Washington Times 03/01/05) NCLB is the the reforms of Mark Tucker repackaged by our current President. We are watching the federalization of education from preschool through college at the hand of a Republican President and many Republican Governors.

I'm not suggesting that Huckabee is not a social conservative or that voters reject him, but to understand exactly who Huckabee is. Just because he has many appealing strengths doesn't mean we ought to give his obvious weakness in fiscal policy a pass. We did that when we elected a "compassionate conservative" in the last two election cycles. A compassionate conservative is just a fiscal moderate/liberal who is against abortion and homosexuality. I'm against those as well, but I won't vote for a man simply on that alone and let him walk into the White House without explaining himself on the fiscal issues.