Sioux City Debate Part IV: getting the facts right

The final half hour of the debate featured another Gingrich versus Bachmann showdown.

Romney, in the debate’s last segment, was pressed by debate questioner Chris Wallace on abortion, gun rights and gay marriage.  “I am firmly pro-life,” Romney said, adding he had “through his career” opposed same-sex marriage.

Santorum was asked if he was “persuaded” by Romney’s answer and Santorum accused Romney of failing, as governor of Massachusetts, by going “along with the (state) court” that ruled gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts.

Romney called that “a very novel understanding” of what happened in Massachusetts, adding that he had “fought” to lead the effort to put in place a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Bachmann was invited to revisit the questions she’s raised about Gingrich’s pro-life record.  She said Gingrich, when he was speaker of the house, had “an opprotunty to defund Planned Parenthood and he chose not to take it.”  She also criticized Gingrich for saying he would campaign for Republicans who supported abortion rights and the “barbaric procedure” of partial-birth abortion.

Gingrich shot back with the same bullet he used earlier in the debate. “Sometime Congresswoman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts very accurate,” he said.

Bachmann was direct in her reply: “I think it’s outrageous to continue to say over and over…that I don’t have my facts right when, as a matter of fact, I do.”

Gingrich, clearly miffed, said as speaker, he had decided not to “go out and try to purge” the Republican Party of candidates who favored abortion rights. “I don’t see how you’re going to govern the country if you’re running out and deciding who to purge,” he said. 

The final question of the night was about the negativity the candidates are tossing at one another. Santorum said the candidates “have a responsibility” to find out who among them can “stand up” to scrutiny.  Perry quoted an NFL player who said something about getting your behind kicked every once in a while meant you were playing hard, and Perry thanked his opponents for “getting me to play at a high-enough level.”

Romney said of the attacks: “We can handle it. There’s nothing that’s been said…that I’m not going to hear from President Obama.”

Gingrich repeated his vow of positivity, then said of his Republican rivals:  “These are all friends of mine.”

Paul said the media has been “messing up” and failing to expose the candidates for “their flip-flops” and that’s why he’s running negative ads, to “get this information out.”

Bachmann referenced the ‘are you better off than you were four years ago?’ line, and suggested the country’s worse off now, under Obama, than it was under Jimmy Carter.  Huntsman said the debates and the campaign chatter “elevates the trust” of the American people in their elected leaders. 

The end.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.