Elephants On Parade

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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The stage is set for the NPR Debate! Scott Cameron hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Cameron

Sometimes you throw a party and nobody can come. In this case, we threw a debate and the whole party couldn't make it. We had hoped to bring you a Republican presidential debate today, but no dice — these are some busy guys. (NPR is trying to reschedule, FYI). We will bring you Democratic hopefuls tomorrow, but this hour, we're going to focus on our absent Republican friends. Especially here in Iowa... The people who attend the Republican caucuses one month from today are elephantine in influence. So, if you're an Iowa Republican, do you plan to caucus? What are the issues that matter most to you?

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I would like to know if the candidates believe the words of the bible, how do they feel about the passages that preach forgiveness and say to "turn the other cheek" when struck. This especially in contrast to the US response to a few renegades from the middle east who "struck" the US on 9-11

Sent by Dwight in Cleveland | 2:06 PM | 12-3-2007

I get tired of conservatives feeling they have the corner on what it means to be a Christian. I consider myself to be a devout Christian but I'm socially progressive and pro-choice. There are many other Christians out there who do not vote Republican. I'll be voting for Barack Obama in NH next month.

Sent by Karen in New Hampshire | 2:28 PM | 12-3-2007

It would be refreshing if any one of these right wing "faith based" politicians made an attempt to answer the question: How can you be pro war, pro police state, pro making the rich richer and the poor poorer, etc etc and still call yourself a "Christian"? Maybe they read a differant Bible than I did. Of course when you ask them that they do interpretive summersaults to prove that Jesus was indeed a Republican. They are all for a literal interpretation of the Bible when it suits them but when it comes to "blessed are the peace makers" or "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven" they kinda forget what literal means.

All of these war mongers and hate mongers who call themselves christians better hope that the atheists are right because if there is a hell I am sure they have a stamped one way ticket.

Sent by George from Oregon | 2:34 PM | 12-3-2007

The Iowa caucus supports a two party system nicely - it's cost effective and reduces local candidates and/or a parliamentary system that requires multiple parties to agree.

It also supports Candidates from making mistakes - one in depth inquiry is rarely enough to see how one person thinks about a subject. Having them think things through from different people would help a lot.

I wish that those that believe in a two party system would stop fighting each other long enough to realize we're doing ourselves a disservice.

Sent by Bob | 2:36 PM | 12-3-2007

(Liberal Democrat typing here) Considering the number of candidates and supporters who say taxes are too high, what would be a tax level that individuals would view as fair? What government services would they be willing to give up for an equitable tax rate? I hear regular critiques of the current system, but most government expenditures are in place because of broad political support.

Sent by Daniel Peterson | 2:37 PM | 12-3-2007

I urge Neal Conant to avoid the distinctly Republican terminology on the issue they call "life" or "pro-life." He has echoed it in one or more of the interviews so far, but there's no need to do so. Much clearer, and politically more neutral, is "abortion rights," "banning abortion," "legalization of abortion," "public funding for abortion" etc.

Sent by David Herrmann | 2:44 PM | 12-3-2007

I don't care what you ask the candidates, just please make sure they actually answer each question in a meaningful way.

Sent by Greg Jerome | 2:45 PM | 12-3-2007

One thing that brings people together is a common language. What do the candidates feel about making english the official language?

Sent by BJ | 2:48 PM | 12-3-2007

Daniel, I agree with your point. People who complain about taxes rarely complain about all the services they get (like the howmanybillions spent on this war). However, I am interested in the potential of a consumption tax, like Huckabee supports. I think getting rid of loopholes on luxury taxes might do a lot for the tax purse. I have seen a little bit about it and I think it could be an inherently fair and potentially very productive form of tax. I just wish a progressive candidate would talk about it. I can't support a social conservative. I really don't have an issue with them in general, and if one would respect the Constitution and legal precedence and common human decency enough to keep their personal beliefs out of their politics, then I'd consider voting for one. But, I can't support the formation of a Christian Theocracy. God is not the government here, I am.

Sent by pw | 2:53 PM | 12-3-2007

I would like to have the Democratic candidates answer the following questions, in the following order: To what extent do you feel the threat of world-wide Islamofascist terror, responsible for 9/11, jeopardizes western civilization? Using specific policy initiatives, how would your conduct of foreign policy reflect your answer to the pevious question.

Sent by Gerald K. Masters | 2:57 PM | 12-3-2007

I caught part of this show as I took a short car trip. A caller questioned the front-loading of the primaries. This reminded me of a New Yorker magazine article about it and the bi-partisan Delaware Plan. That plan grouped small states together and early, medium states six weeks later and the big states six weeks after that. The plan make great sense to me. Is anything happening along those lines of making the voting process more sane and accessible to those candidates without huge financial war chests? I'm sure issues would be discussed in more than sound-bites.

Sent by Paul Corr | 2:59 PM | 12-3-2007

There's too much hate in this world. Everyone seems not to like someone else. I was undecided up until the last republican presidential debate when I heard Mike Huckabee. I believe of ANY candidate, Mike has the ability to bring people together - and maybe the world. I believe of the Democrats, Obama and Richardson are the most humble. Our current President (Bush) and Hillary are WAY too Arrogant. A polarizing President is NOT something America needs right now.

Sent by l. gander | 8:34 PM | 12-3-2007

Being Republican, I am dismayed how my party has botched the fiscal part of governing our country over the past 7 years. How do voters make sense of each candidates spending initiatives when there is no independent source to price the programs they advocate? The same goes for the level of tax revenue received by restructuring the tax code. A good first step would be to have the General Accounting Office review each proposal and set cost ranges in addition to forecasting income from new proposed taxes. As voters, we should demand their involvement to add credibility to the debate on how we tax and spend.

Sent by Steve Tyler | 9:01 AM | 12-4-2007

The one thing that stood out from the discussion was the caller who thought the great good of the caucus system was exemplified by having had a chance to talk in length with candidate George W. Bush before his election. To me that seems to show the weakness of this system. The caucus system allows the candidates to tailor their message to the audience and hone their skills. Is that a good thing? Anyone who spent one-on-one time with George W. Bush and came away with the idea that he was the best this country could do obviously didn't get a true understanding of the man. We'd do better to do the research, dig into what a candidate has done and said before they started running; look at their record. As Lord Kenneth Clark said, if given the choice of an official's report about a building and the building itself, he would believe the building.

Sent by JKB | 9:57 AM | 12-4-2007