The second Republican debate last night hosted by Fox news was marked by a lot of acrimony, interruptions, personal insults and jokes that didn't quite land, like Chris Christie calling an (absent) Donald Trump, "Donald Duck," and Mike Pence saying he's "slept with a teacher for 30 years" (his wife).
What it did not feature was an informed exchange on the land war in Europe that the United States is heavily invested in, to the tune of $113 billon dollars and counting, not to mention precious weapons, trainers, intelligence and political capital. Out of the tortuous two hours of the debate — which included of course, minutes-long commercials and a "game" at the end that they all refused to play — Ukraine was afforded all but 4 minutes and 39 seconds. This, before the rancor moved on — not to China, though that country took a beating throughout the evening — but to militarizing the border and sending special forces into Mexico to take out cartel-terrorists who are working with the Chinese.
Here is how the Ukraine conversation went (keep in mind this was recorded by a translation tool and most of this discussion was overwhelmed by interruptions from the other candidates, so this was edited for clarity and ellipses indicate crosstalk):
Florida Gov Ron DeSantis :
"It's in our interest to end this war. And that's what I will do as president. We are not going to have a blank check. We will not have U.S. troops. We're going to make the Europeans do what they need to do. But they've sent money to pay bureaucrats, pensions and salaries and funding small businesses halfway around the world. Meanwhile, our own country is being invaded. We don't even have control of our own territory. We have got to defend the American people. Before we even worry about all these other things. I watch these guys in Washington D.C. and they don't care about the American people. They don't care about the fentanyl deaths. They don't care about the communities being overrun because of this border. They don't care about the Mexican drug cartels. So as Commander in Chief, I will defend this country sovereignty."
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (0:52): "It's never been a territorial dispute!"
Senator Tim Scott:
"Ninety percent of the resources that we send over to Ukraine is guaranteed as a loan... at the end of the day, 90% of the money that we send over there is actually about Ukraine... is paid by the NATO or NATO allies ... our national vital interest is in defeating the Russian military, by degrading the Russian military, we actually keep our homeland safer. We keep our troops at home. And we all understand article five of NATO. ... So at the end of the day...we reduce if not eliminate an attack on NATO territory."
"We have to level with the Americans. We have to level with the American people on this issue. The reality is just because Putin's an evil dictator does not mean that Ukraine is good. This is a country that has banned 11 opposition parties so ...."
"A win for Russia is a win for China! A win for Russia is a win for China! A win for Russia ...."
"You'll have you'll have your chance in just a moment. The hurling personal insults isn't helping. China's the real enemy and we're driving Russia further into China's arms. We need a reasonable peace plan to end this. Especially this is a country whose president just last week was hailing..."
Vice President Mike Pence:
“Vivek, if you let Putin have Ukraine, that's a green light to China [to] take Taiwan!"
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:
"They're all connected. The Chinese are paying for the Russian war in Ukraine. The Iranians have supply more sophisticated weapons, and so are the North Koreans now as well, with the encouragement of the Chinese, the naivete on the stage from some of these folks is extraordinary. Look, I understand people want to go and talk to Putin. Guess what so did George W. Bush. So to Barack Obama, so to Donald Trump. And so to Joe Biden when he said a small invasion wouldn't be so bad. Every one of them has been wrong. And the fact of the matter is, we need to say right now that the Chinese Russian alliance is something we have to fight against, and we are not going to solve it by going over and cuddling up to Vladimir Putin. Well, Donald Trump said Vladimir Putin was brilliant, and a great leader. This is the person who is murdering people in his own country and now not having enough blood, he's now going to Ukraine to murder innocent civilians and kidnap 20,000 children. And let me tell you, if you think that's where it's going to stop. If we give him any of Ukraine, next will be Poland. This is a guy who in 1991 said that was the darkest moment world's history when the Soviet Union fell. Listen, everybody. He wants to put the old band back together and only America can stop it. And when I'm President, we will ...."
Fox Host Stuart Varney (4:39):
"Let's get to the governor of Oregon. He hasn't had a chance. I have a question I think you're going to really like or at least you have experience in it. And we need to talk about America's farmers because there is a foreign policy connection here, the U.S. and China and this fierce economic competition. It's hurting American businesses, and there is blowback against American farmers because China then targets them in retaliation. How would you as president protect American farmers and ranchers from that kind of retaliation from a foreign government like China?"
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