Read on for the MoJo news team's instant analysis of Wednesday night's debate or jump to all the best tweets on the debate, as they unfolded in real-time, from Mother Jones editor @clarajeffery, senior editor @markfollman, reporters @adamserwer, @andrewkroll, @timothypmurphy, @garonsen, and other political junkies.
Presidential debates have never been particularly fertile ground for nuanced policy debates. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that at Wednesday's GOP presidential debate in Arizona—a state with an ever-increasing Latino population—the discussion of immigration consisted mostly of a back-and-forth on how long and how many layers the border fence should be.
Part of that blame, though, falls on the moderator, CNN's John King, who asked the candidates what they would do to satisfy Arizona's most famous sheriff, Maricopa County's Joe Arpaio, who was sitting in the audience. Mitt Romney responded by telling King, "You know, I think you see a model in Arizona."
Rick Santorum took it a step further, singling out the sheriff by name: "I think what we need to do is to give law enforcement the opportunity to do what they're doing here in Arizona and what Sheriff Arpaio was doing before he ran into some issues with the federal government, which is to allow folks to enforce the law here in this country, to allow people who are breaking the law or suspicious of breaking the law to be able to be detained and deported if they're found here in this country illegally, as well as those who are trying to seek employment."
Arpaio is a power player in Republican politics; he endorsed Rick Perry before the Iowa caucuses and met with Santorum for 20 minutes on Tuesday. He's also using the power of his office to investigate whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States (spoiler: he was). He'll release those results on March 1, and he told reporters on Tuesday that he briefed Santorum on the details on the inquiry.
As my colleague Adam Serwer reported, a Justice Department investigation in December found that Arpaio's department had consistently violated the civil rights of Latino citizens with no regard for their immigration status:
"We did not begin this investigation with any preconceived notions," said Civil Rights Division Head Thomas E. Perez at a press conference in Arizona Thursday. "We peeled the onion to its core." The conclusion? Arpaio's office "engages in a a systemic disregard for basic constitutional protections."
The report issued by the Justice Department says Arpaio's office undertook "discriminatory policing practices" through racial profiling, including "unlawfully stop[ping], detain[ing] and arrest[ing] Latinos." Perez also said that Arpaio's office unlawfully retaliated against critics of the Maricopa County Sheriff's office by arresting or suing them, and punished Latino jail inmates for being unable to speak English by denying them basic services. The report also describes the Sheriff's Office as responding to reports of people with "dark skin" or people who "spoke Spanish" rather than people actually committing crimes, and says officials exchanged racist jokes over email. Detention officers in Maricopa jails are described in the report as referring to Latinos as "wetbacks" and "Mexican bitches." The report says Arpaio's office "implemented practices that treat Latinos as if they are all undocumented, regardless of whether a legitimate factual basis exists to suspect that a person is undocumented."
At CNN's Arizona debate Wednesday night, surging GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum blasted President Obama and his administration for standing idly by during the 2009 popular uprisings in Iran, better known as the Green Revolution.
Santorum, the former US senator from Pennsylvania, accused Obama of cutting funding for Iranian dissidents and failing to step in to support the revolution, which was sparked by widespread accusations of fraud in Iran's 2009 presidential election. "We did absolutely nothing to help" the protesters and activists fueling the Green Revolution, Santorum argued. That echoed earlier attacks when Santorum said Obama "turned his back" on Iranian protesters.
Santorum's off the mark here.
As FactCheck.org has pointed out, President Obama repeatedly supported the right of Iranians to protest what appeared to be widespread voting irregularities in an election that saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claim 62 percent of the vote. "I think it's important that, moving forward, whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed and is not resulting in people being stifled in expressing their views," Obama said three days after the election.
Days later, Obama railed against the Iranian government's "violent and unjust actions against its own people." The United States, he said, "stands with all who…exercise" the "universal rights to assembly and free speech." And there were more supporting statements like these from the administration.
It's true that Obama didn't dive headlong into supporting the Green Revolution as some might have hoped, but for good reason: The president insisted he did not want to give a Ahmadinejad a "tool" to undermine the revolution. Even then, as FactCheck.org puts it, "The fact is Obama treated both cases similarly: condemning the government's use of violence against their own citizens and supporting the protesters' right to protest."
Toward the end of Wednesday night's presidential debate in Mesa, Arizona, when the conversation shifted to foreign policy, newly minted back-runner Newt Gingrich tossed out some tried-and-true applause bait:
As long as you're America's enemy, you're safe.
Gingrich was talking about the president's supposed proclivity for appeasing the United States' enemies abroad. Mitt Romney readily concurred.
That's one thought. Here's another:
Here are a few more:
Kim Jong Il didn't do too well during the Obama years, either, but we'll be fair and chock that one up to coincidence.
So there you have it: A whole bunch of America's enemies, now in a terminal state of not being safe.
My post debate analysis: Obama continues streak as luckiest politician ever. Also, banner year for @emilyslist— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
Who wants that two hours of their life back? #cnndebate— Gov. Buddy Roemer (@BuddyRoemer) February 23, 2012
Perry won. No mistakes, looked presidential.— Scott Conroy (@RealClearScott) February 23, 2012
The street party outside of the #CNNdebate is playing "Play That Funky Music White Boy."— Ari Shapiro (@Ari_Shapiro) February 23, 2012
Why are there so many debates anyway? I've seen better policy discussions on Two and a Half Men. #CNNdebate— Jen Quraishi (@the_hip_hapa) February 23, 2012
BREAKING: Very little of this matters if economy tanks/continues to grow.— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) February 23, 2012
RT @2chambers John King: "What's your favorite color?" Mitt Romney: "Hot dogs!"— Andy Kroll (@AndrewKroll) February 23, 2012
Romney on misconception question: STFU John, I'll answer your question in an entirely irrelevant way if I so choose.— Gavin Aronsen (@garonsen) February 23, 2012
Biggest misconception about Newt? Something about people not having the same view of Newt as Newt's view of Newt, I think.— Gavin Aronsen (@garonsen) February 23, 2012
Ron Paul, winner of zero states: biggest misconception about me is media myth that I can't win.— Gavin Aronsen (@garonsen) February 23, 2012
Biggest misconception about Santorum: Also entirely unclear.— Gavin Aronsen (@garonsen) February 23, 2012
I just want to trap those poor kids in janitorial jobs--Newt— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
Mitt: You can tell NCLB is good because unions don't like it and they're bad. That's an argument?— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) February 23, 2012
On foreign policy:
Wait, did Romney just say Syria is Iran's route to the sea? Or vice versa? They both touch water, according to, well, maps.— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 23, 2012
Note the time, 9:34pm, 94 minutes into the debate: the first time that a question was asked about Syria.— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 23, 2012
In fairness to Newt, I'm guessing a decent amount of people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia consider Obama pretty dangerous.— AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer) February 23, 2012
Obama is much tougher on Iran than any other Republican has been since the revolution in 1979. Just sayin'.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@Goldberg3000) February 23, 2012
Newt on Iran: "I'm inclined to believe dictators." #NowThatsSmartForeignPolicy— Mark Follman (@markfollman) February 23, 2012
Gingrich: "All of us are more at risk today than at anytime in the history of our country" @cnndebate— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 23, 2012
Mitt: We must stop the President from killing our enemies and ending our wars. #CNNDebate— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) February 23, 2012
Newt: These are scary times.I'm scared.I find the whole situation scary. Eeeek— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 23, 2012
King: Who are you, one word? Paul: Consistent; Santorum: Courage; Romney: Resolute; Newt: Cheerful #CNNdebate— Amy Davidson (@tnyCloseRead) February 23, 2012
Consistent, courage, resolute, cheerful. Which Dwarf would YOU vote for?— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 23, 2012
On immigration and self-deportation:
Note: Illegal immigration way down. That's what a shitty economy does, ya'll.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
What exactly is "self deportation"? This >> mojo.ly/wm9MgL— Mark Follman (@markfollman) February 23, 2012
"Arpaio's office 'implemented practices that treat Latinos as if they are all undocumented'" bit.ly/tHJXbb— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
SEND ARLEN SPECTER TO THE BORDER WITH SOME BIRTH CONTROL PILLS #ProblemSolved— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 23, 2012
Good discussion of Sheriff Arpaio's civil rights record on stage, very impressive stuff.— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
Here's the sort of model GOPer who's going to help these guys secure Arizona's border: huff.to/xaZjWI— Gavin Aronsen (@garonsen) February 23, 2012
On birth control, abortion, and religion:
RT @LisaMcIntireTitle X, signed into law by that filthy hippie Richard Nixon.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
Having acid flashback to the Personhood forum where the candidates discussed human-jellyfish hybrids: bit.ly/w3qn5S— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
We're going to need a morning after pill after this convo. #moveon!— Huntsman Daughters (@Jon2012girls) February 23, 2012
Fact check on Romney and Plan B in Mass. tinyurl.com/8yhzvnq— michaelscherer (@michaelscherer) February 23, 2012
This is the sound of GOP uniting Dem base.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
If you want less accidental pregnancies, by all means, don't let kids use contraception. #CNNdebate— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 23, 2012
What War on Religion? motherjones.com/politics/2012/…— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
Here's a CNN report about Obama and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act that Newt said nobody ever asked about youtu.be/QPZCXcTwZPY— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) February 23, 2012
Birth control #thingsbooedatthegopdebate— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
On earmarks (or, "On the fervent desire to stop talking about earmarks"):
That earmark conversation went round and round, leading nowhere.Crowd seems very sympathetic toward Romney. #cnndebate— David Gergen (@David_Gergen) February 23, 2012
this earmark debate is a hot mess.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 23, 2012
Pssst, John King: Regain control man. There are many more important things than earmarks. Eurocrisis, for one.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 23, 2012
Ouch: Santorum calls Ron Paul "one of the most prolific earmarkers in Congress." #cnndebate— Andy Kroll (@AndrewKroll) February 23, 2012
On the economy:
It's false. RT @AriFleischer: Newt's point on energy production is strong. Increasing domestic energy supplies should get more attention.— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) February 23, 2012
Mitt wants to link public and private salaries so govt "servants" don't earn more. What's the free-market logic there? #CNNDebate— Amy Davidson (@tnyCloseRead) February 23, 2012
Ron Paul on Santorum: "He's a fake." #cnndebate— Jim Roberts (@nytjim) February 23, 2012
"I'm real," says Santorum, in a clear tribute to Jennifer Lopez. #CNNdebate— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 23, 2012
Perry is in the audience. (The clown car needed a driver.) #cnndebate— Gov. Buddy Roemer (@BuddyRoemer) February 23, 2012
Rick Perry is like the Boobie Miles of this debate.— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
Hoping Herman Cain comes out as the half time act. #wemisshermansgoldtie— Huntsman Daughters (@Jon2012girls) February 23, 2012
Wake up @JohnKingCNN! We're all asleep, but you've gotta ref!— Huntsman Daughters (@Jon2012girls) February 23, 2012
Santorum is like that girl on How to Make it in America who has a hostile listening face. #CNNdebate— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) February 23, 2012
At the end of this round all the candidates will hold up the pictures they are drawing and audience will vote. #cnndebate— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) February 23, 2012
Santorum: "AKenyan, a Muslim & a socialist walk into a bar. And then he makes everyone have an abortion." #cnndebate— Andy Borowitz (@BorowitzReport) February 23, 2012
After Romney's Costanza joke, I'm doubling down on my snickers-with-a-fork theory.— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
Full debate coverage as always at MoJo. By which I mean @AndrewKroll and I will probably just end up writing five posts about Beezlebub.— Tim Murphy (@timothypmurphy) February 23, 2012
This is the 20th GOP debate. We've live-tweeted ALL OF THEM. #profilesincourage— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) February 23, 2012
Last 6 polls of Michigan have shown Santorum +4, TIE, Romney +2, Santorum +4, Romney +2, Santorum +3 nyti.ms/ygLshq— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) February 22, 2012
Ladies: to protect yourself from the misogyny emanating from your TV tonight, you may want to stuff aspirin into your ears.— delrayser (@delrayser) February 23, 2012