Last night, the Republican candidates for governor held their second debate. The candidates were, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, Attorney General Mike Cox, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, and State Senator Tom George. Businessman Rick Snyder chose not to attend the debate. The debate was far less contentious thanMonday's Democratic debate most likely because the Democratic field includes only two candidates who were allowed to rebut each other far more often.
Before we start, lets meet the candidates.
Snyder is the only one not attending the debate. He usually touts himself as a businessman who will create jobs. If you live in Michigan, you have no doubt seen his adds billing himself as "one tough nerd." He is playing the business angle hard. He is is running in the style of Mitt Romney. Unfortunately for him, Mitt Romney has endorsed Hoekstra.
Hoekstra is the ultra right-wing Congressman from the Southwestern part of the state. He is my preffered opponent because of this.
Thats right. Five years ago, he went on Fox News along with Rick Santorum, and told the country that WMD had just been found in Iraq. He is leading the pack in most opinion polls.
Cox is the Attorney General. Some Republicans might be turned off because he is part of the executive brach under a Democratic Governor. That's not quite fair since he ran for the office and was not appointed. What will likely hurt him much more is the mess surrounding Detroit's imprisoned ex-Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. Cox cut off the investigation surrounding the infamous Manoogian Mansion Party and people have been asking why ever since.
Bouchard has been looking to hold statewide office for a while. He ran against Senator Stabenow last time and lost by a wide margin. He is doing fairly well in the polling, but is still well behind leaders Hoekstra and Snyder.
George is a State Senator and apparently a doctor. His campaign has been mostly ignored and he has been polling in the low single digits. Nevertheless, he is here and Rick Snyder is not, so people get to hear what he has to say.
With all of that, here is the debate.
Tom George: George says that government must mold the environment to create jobs. He says that he will reform government and call for a Constitutional Convention to restructure state government.
Mike Bouchard: He says he is not running because he doesn't love his job as a sheriff. He also talks about being experienced and not needing on the job training.
Pete Hoekstra: Gives a very clumsy statement. He talks vaguely about leadership and integrity and looking forward to the debate.
Mike Cox: Talks about being the son of immigrants. He criticizes the state government over the last sixty years. Touts his endorsements including an anti-abortion group and failed 2006 candidate Dick DeVos.
Question 1: What will be your number one priority in office? (Please be as specific as possible.)
George: Fix the structural problems in Michigan's government and fix healthcare by requiring recipient of government healthcare to take better care of themselves.
Bouchard: Says he will create new jobs by changing the environment. Says government doesn't create one job. He says he will cut spending even if it makes him a one term Governor.
Hoekstra: Starts by bashing Obama and then Granholm. Says he will streamline government, reform the tax code, and cut the bureaucracy.
Cox: He repeats the others' talking points. Talks about strong leadership. Says he reduced the size of his office while Attorney General.
Question 2: What would you cut from the budget?
Bouchard: Talks about the cuts he made as Sheriff. Says he will cut the food budget for prisoners.
Hoekstra: Three examples; cut the budget for prisons, cut the salaries for state employees, and "streamline government."
Cox: Cut public employee benefits. He then attacks Granholm and says we should cut her programs.
George: Bashes his opponents plans as not serious. He says the only way to balance the budget is to reform Medicare and Medicaid.
Question 3: Is cutting lifetime health benefits for state legislators a real fiscal plan or merely symbolic?
Hoekstra: Both. He adds that lifetime benefits undermines the idea of servant leadership. Not a bad point.
Cox: Both. Cites his own cuts as Attorney General. Talks about cutting pay and benifits for teachers and other state employees.
George: Supports changing the constitution to pay legislators per diem as well as change other structural aspects of government.
Bouchard: Supports cutting all benefits to legislators and tying public employee pay to the private sector.
Question 4: Do You support Granholm's targeted tax breaks to attract specific businesses?
Cox: Does not, wants to cut all taxes. What a surprise.
George: Calls tax cuts "Fiscal Fantasies." Criticizes other politicians for promising tax cuts and spending increases. Says we should not talk about tax cuts until the budget is balanced. Gives actual specifics on rule changes to attract businesses.
Bouchard: Illustrates the point that George just made by promising tax cuts paid for by streamlining government.
Hoekstra: Starts by bashing Granholm and the MEDC for picking and choosing what buisnesses to cut taxes for. "They have chosen poorly." More vague talk of creating a better environment for jobs.
Question 5: Would you urge citizens to "Buy American" first?
George: "Well, we should buy Michigan products and support the companies we have here, but unfortunately, Government can't make a law that [makes] its citizens do that." That was his entire answer.
Bouchard: Supports giving Michigan companies an edge in bidding for government contracts.
Hoekstra: Even more vague talk about creating a better environment for creating jobs.
Cox: Says he drove his Ford to Meijer to buy Squirt. (I did not know Squirt was made in Michigan) The most pandering answer of the night. Also, he will cut taxes.
George: In the only rebuttal of the night, he says that all tax cuts must be offset by spending cuts.
Question 6: What can you do to create jobs?
Bouchard: Shocking, more talk about fostering an "environment" to create jobs.
Hoekstra: Get government out of the way and lower taxes.
Cox: Allow more freedom for businesses and cut taxes.
George: Wants to repair and build new infrastructure and build new schools. He would pay for it with major changes to the structure of government and by reforming Medicare and Medicaid.
Question 7: How will you improve education quality?
Hoekstra: Empower parents and keep regulation out of state house. Supports home schooling.
Cox: Supports cutting pensions for teachers. He also supports home schooling and charter schools.
George: More funding for charter schools paid for by reforming healthcare for school employees.
Bouchard: Repeats his support for charter schools and home schools.
Question 8: What will you do to prevent the Asian Carpe from entering the Great Lakes from Illinois?
Cox: He will continue filing law suits against Illinois to force them to close locks. He talks vaguely about putting pressure on the Obama administration.
George: Fish don't care about our laws. Talks vaguely about a regional approach. He also opposes oil drilling in the Great Lakes.
Bouchard: Create dead zones in Lake Michigan as a barrier to the fish, ban the possession of living Carpe.
Hoekstra: Bashes Obama and Granholm. He says he would have a specific plan which he provides no specifics on.
Question 9: Should Michigan pass an immigration law similar to Arizona's?
George: Doesn't expressly oppose the law, but supports a guest worker program.
Bouchard: He starts by bashing Obama. He says Michigan needs to secure it's borders. (I'm not sure if he means Canada or Ohio)
Hoekstra: His worst answer of the night. He talks about being excited about participating in the upcoming immigration debate and vaguely refers to the Tenth Amendment. He was mostly treading water for a minute.
Cox: Touts his record of being anti-illegal immigrants. He then defends the Arizona Law. He is really getting his pander on tonight.
Question 10: What would you do to protect the unemployed?
Bouchard: Bashes Obama and Granholm. Again with the talk of creating an evironment that will attract new jobs.
Hoekstra: Attacks Obama and Granholm and then repeats the environment talking points.
Cox: Says he was a Marine and then unemployed. "I understand what it's like to be unemployed." He supports cutting unemployment benefits.
George: Goes back to talking about reforming Medicare and Medicaid. Barely made any effort to tie it in to the question.
George: I'm a doctor "Citizen Legislator," not a career politician.
Bouchard: Says he won't need on the job training. Is willing to be a one term governor.
Hoekstra: Says he will get government out of the way.
Cox: Talks about being a Marine and suing the government over the healthcare reform bill. The way he tells it, he was the first one to get the idea of doing it.
Nobody really won the debate. They spent much of their time repeating each other's talking points. Pete Hoekstra may have come off as a bit more conservative than the others, and so that could be called a win. Bouchard seemed pretty faceless. His performance was completely forgettable. He read the standard Republican answer and then left without anyone knowing anything more about him. Cox pandered the most and came off to me as being a bit slimy. George reminded be of Ron Paul at the Presidential debates. He was the only one who had his own answers to the questions, unfortunately, it was always the same answer. The winner tonight may have been Rick Snyder, who did a campaign event instead.