YouTube Debate Puts Focus on Romney

Mitt Romney weathered attacks from all sides — on immigration, abortion and torture — in Wednesday's CNN/YouTube debate.

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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

ALISON STEWART, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We bring you news, information, and, today, a little Indie funk soul. It's Thursday, November 29th. I'm Alison Stewart.

And what's your name again?

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LUKE BURBANK, host:

When I got in the elevator this morning, I actually had to take a moment to remember that this studio is on the 19th floor of this building. I actually forgot what floor the joint's…

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BURBANK: I'm Luke Burbank.

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BURBANK: And let me tell you, if getting up at 3 a.m. is wearing you down BRYANT PARK staffers, I think the best remedy: take about six weeks off, or however long it's been. I feel fresh as a spring daisy, and I'm here to tell you all about today's show.

By the way, Ali, before I do that, good job yesterday covering for me.

STEWART: Thanks.

BURBANK: Alison "Iron Bladder" Stewart doing a good two-hour show.

STEWART: I got to be the queen of all media for one day.

BURBANK: By herself.

STEWART: Coming up on the show today, the government of Abu Dhabi - I know it always sounds like it's not a real place. Oh, trust me it is. And it has a lot of money, buying a seven and a half billion dollar stake in Citigroup. We're wondering - we know we should care. We're not only sure why we should care. So we've got a guy who's going to make us care.

BURBANK: We're also going to talk to Director Noah Baumbach this hour. He's got a new movie out. It's called "Margot at the Wedding." You may remember his previous offering that got a lot of buzz last year, or roughly a year ago, "The Squid and the Whale." He also put out "Kicking and Screaming." Not the Will Farrell soccer movie. Although, by the way, that Will Farrell soccer movie -less bad than people thought. Anyway, Noah Baumbach's going to be with us this hour.

STEWART: And music producer Mark Ronson is here to talk about turning pop music - new and old - into soul and funk.

We'll also get to Rachel Martin for today's headlines in just a minute. But first, here's the BPP's Big Story.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: It was debate time 2.0. Republican candidates squared off in Florida last night in a debate sponsored by CNN and YouTube. The GOP presidential hopefuls fielded the video questions chosen by CNN out of the 5,000 submitted by YouTube users from around the country. CNN and YouTube tried this once before with the Democrats, but this time, moderator Anderson Cooper promised there wouldn't be any questions from snowmen.

(Soundbite of Republican debate)

Mr. ANDERSON COOPER (Host, "Anderson Cooper 360"): Don't worry. We've tried to keep out most of Abe Lincolns and Ben Franklins, and all the animals, both stuffed…

Unidentified Man: My name is Sparky.

Mr. COOPER: …and real.

Unidentified Woman: Schulpsy(ph) here, with a question for the Republican candidate.

BURBANK: Of course, that didn't stop some people from trying a few little stunts to get the candidates' attention.

(Soundbite of Republican debate)

(Soundbite of gun firing)

Mr. JAY FOX: Hi. I'm Jay Fox, lifetime member of the NRA. Now, I'm from a small town. And as in any small town, we like our big guns. So my question to you is what is your opinion of gun control? And don't worry…

(Soundbite of gun cocking)

Mr. FOX: …you can answer however you like.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Perhaps it was the whole Internet attitude. Perhaps it was the casualness of the moderator.

(Soundbite of Republican debate)

Mr. COOPER: Senator Thompson, what's up with that?

STEWART: Perhaps it was the fact that the…

BURBANK: What's up indeed?

STEWART: Perhaps it was the fact that the Iowa caucus is just five weeks away. But the candidates, they got scrappy last night. Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani threw the first punches early on. The topic: illegal immigration. Romney accused Giuliani of making New York a haven for illegal immigrants, while Giuliani accused Romney of having hired illegal immigrants to work at his house.

(Soundbite of Republican debate)

Unidentified Group: (unintelligible)

Mr. COOPER: (unintelligible) ask him the questions, let him respond, and we got to move on.

Mr. GIULIANI: If you're going to take this holier-than-thou attitude that your whole approach to immigration was so…

Mr. MITT ROMNEY (Former Republican Governor, Massachusetts; Presidential Candidate): I'm sorry. The immigration is not holier than thou, mayor. Grow up.

Mr. GIULIANI: If you're going to take this holier-than-thou attitude that you are perfect on immigration.

Mr. ROMNEY: I'm not perfect.

Mr. GIULIANI: It just so happens you have a special immigration problem that nobody else up here has. You are employing illegal immigrants.

BURBANK: Other moments that were worth noting, John McCain and Mitt Romney got into it after Mitt Romney declined to label waterboarding as torture. Also, Ron Paul and John McCain debated an Iraq withdrawal, and then there was a question from an openly gay veteran.

(Soundbite of Republican debate)

Brigadier General KEITH KERR (U.S. Army, Retired): I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.

BURBANK: Some hitch in that. I guess, people later learned that that veteran -his name was Brigadier General Keith Kerr - he's actually worked for Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: And that's the BPP Big Story. Now here's Rachel Martin with even more news.

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