Voices: On the Jan. 16 GOP Debate

Juan Williams, Fox News: Speaker Gingrich, the suggestion that you made was about a lack of work ethic and I’ve gotta tell you my email account and my Twitter account has been inundated by people of all races who are asking if your comment was not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities … you saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black church in South Carolina by a woman who asked why you refer to Barack Obama as a “food stamp president.” it sounds like you’re trying to belittle people.

Newt Gingrich: first of all Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by barack obama than by any president in americanhistory. I know that among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable. Second, you’re the one who, earlier, raised a key point: the area that oughta be I-73 was called by Barack Obama a “corridor of shame” because of unemployment. Has it improved in three years? No. They haven’t built a road, they haven’t helped the people, they haven’t done anything. One last thing … so here’s my point: I believe every American, of every background, has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness, and if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job, and learn someday to own the job.”
- Video via The Grio

The growth partly reflects an increase in need, as millions of Americans have lost income and lost jobs or remain out of work. In addition, food prices have increased, eligibility has been expanded, and the 2009 economic stimulus law temporarily increased benefits.

Before Mr. Obama took office, food stamp participation was rising, in part because of federal policies that encouraged low-income people to seek aid for which they were eligible.

Nearly half of food stamp recipients are under age 18. Nearly 30 percent of food stamp households have earned income. Only 15 percent of such households have income above the poverty level ($18,500 for a family of three in 2011).

– Robert Pear, New York Times

“Do you see how these remarks might offend people?” Williams asked.

Newt replied, “No, I don’t see that.” He then defended his position, citing anecdotal accounts of young people who prospered as janitors, or as doughnut deliverers. Gingrich went on to say that he got the idea from a Joe Klein article about New York City schools, which is true.

“Only the elites despise earning money,” Gingrich said. But as Benjy Sarlin points out, if you hired 30 kids for one janitor contract, those kids wouldn’t be able to form an emotional attachment to earning money, because they wouldn’t earn very much.
- Jason Linkins, The Huffington Post


- Video via Buzzfeed

The audience at the South Carolina GOP debate interrupted a question to Mitt Romney that referenced his family’s ties to Mexico with an audible boo from what sounded like several people as the question was asked.

Romney’s father was born in Mexico, where his parents were part of a Mormon enclave that had moved temporarily from the United States.
- Benjy Sarlin, Talking Points Memo

In New Hampshire last Sunday, Romney mentioned that his father, George, was born in Mexico and came to the United States at age five. On Wednesday he took to the airwaves in Florida with a new Spanish-language ad entitled “Nosotros,” meaning “us.” The Republican National Committee got in on the act, too, announcing a beefed-up outreach effort to Hispanic voters.

But it may be too little, too late. Even before his DREAM Act comments, Romney faced an uphill battle with Latinos. A poll conducted by Latino Decisions for Univision in November found that among registered Hispanic voters in the 21 most Hispanic-heavy states, Obama held a whopping 67 percent to 24 percent lead over Romney.

While Romney could make up some ground among Latinos by selecting someone like Cuban-American Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as his eventual running mate, the GOP may have missed a golden opportunity to swing the 2012 election by earning the backing of Latino voters.
- Matthew Jaffe, ABC News

From the TV cutaways they seemed clean, well-dressed, and drug-free. And yet their reactions would scare off any sane, sensible person. In previous debates the right-wing GOP audiences booed a gay soldier. Someone shouted “Let him die!” in response to a question about an uninsured person.

But in South Carolina they took the cake. The crowd booed the mere mention of the name of the country of Mexico. Just the name. I might understand it if they booed, say, North Korea or Iran or Texas A&M—centers of evil. But Mexico? Good luck with that Latino vote in November, guys.

Then, when Ron Paul said the Golden Rule should guide our foreign policy, the crowd booed. They booed the Golden Rule. Apparently nobody told them that Jesus wrote the Golden Rule. On second thought, they’d have booed Jesus.
- Paul Begala, The Daily Beast

  • Anonymous

    This is depressing. Juan Williams may be a cultural conservative (of the Bill Cosby variety), but he needs to several all ties with Fox News as soon as possible. They’ve turned him into a punching bag.

  • Anonymous

    Quite a damning set of quotes and clips you’ve accumulated here. And the booing, well, that speaks for itself. I am teaching a Spanish class to heritage speakers this semester (as I did in the fall), almost all the students in it are of Mexican heritage, proudly Mexican, I might add. They will be horrified when I show them the clip of people booing at the mere mention of Mexico. (I know they weren’t watching the debate!)

    In this class we read a book about the impact of the Latino vote in 2000 and 2004, where the mere fact that Bush spoke Spanish in ads and Gore and Kerry did not, made a signficant difference. We look at the ads that the candidates are making this year, and we watch other youtube videos–thanks for these, I’ll show them in class. I help students register to vote too. Illinios (where we are) is a pretty solidly blue state, but I want them participating in local politics too, s0 it’s important they get into the habit of paying attention.

    While I agree with Town’s comment, the GOP’s ”us” is monocultural and clinging desperately to outdated notions, the facts are that they are fading in demographic representation. All the old folks are dying off and not being replaced with young voters in sufficient numbers to counterbalance the growth of Latinos. (Though the Santorums and the like are trying hard!) The big issue for me  is how many red states, with small populations, have managed to bully the rest of us into tolerating their agenda for so long.  

    But the tide is turning, and thankfully the GOP, in being itself, turns off all but the wealthiest of the Latino voters. That said, Obama, with his increased deportations and “secure communities” policy, will have to make serious efforts to get Latinos out to vote for him. He will have to campaign on the passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform…with a new congress, to motivate those voters.  

  • Anonymous

    The Republican message is simple: we have no ideas, but elect us because the other guy is black.  This election will be the most racist since Reconstruction.  These debates are just rich white guys screaming the n-word over and over again. 

  • Anonymous

    Look, this election is not about jobs, the economy, foreign policy etc.

    This election is about the discomfort many people feel about having a black guy in office, about people of different colors and religions being seen and heard and not just invisible serfs like before. 

    This election comes down to “Do you want that black guy representing US, or do you want US to represent OURSELVES?”

    OURSELVES does not include anyone who is non-white (unless they separate themselves from the rest of the non-white pace), OURSELVES does not include anyone who is not Christian, OURSELVES does not include anyone who is not straight and frankly OURSELVES does not include anyone with a vagina.