With reproductive rights heating up the US politisphere and Super Tuesday around the corner, Mike Huckabee hosted a GOP forum for Fox News tonight on a more stolid political topic: jobs. Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum were the candidates in attendance (Ron Paul was busy campaigning in Washington state). Highlights included Romney showing—get ready—voice-cracking emotion, and Gingrich taking a hard line on gas prices and unemployment, the Washington Post reports.
- Romney appeared to get emotional when responding to a businessman who wanted to know whether his son, a veteran with PTSD, will be "taken care of." Romney said US troops "have a special place in our hearts. And we have to care for them. And the American people feel that." His voice seemed to crack on "that" ... and a Romney aide later said that, yes, it was real feeling.
- Citizen panelist Michael O'Machearley, who said his son died in Iraq, also asked Romney about veterans benefits. "One of the places I’m not willing to cut back is our military budget," said Romney. "And I certainly do not want to see us reduce our commitment to caring for those who need our care."
- Pressed by co-host Charlie Gasparino on gas prices, Gingrich said they could skyrocket to $9 under President Obama. But if Gingrich wins, “I think it will probably go below ($2.50). In a free market, you have fluctuating prices."
- O'Machearley went after Gingrich for the candidate's claim that people on unemployment "do nothing": "You have to look for a job ... which takes a lot of money and fuel, time, and then with what’s leftover you have to try and pay your bills." Gingrich replied that if a federal training program accompanied 99 weeks of unemployment, "Those folks would have ended up literally with the equivalent of an associate’s degree."
- Rick Santorum repeated his anti-bailout position, pointing to Pittsburgh (on his home turf of Western Pennsylvania) as evidence that economic diversity is the best response to a recession: “This is what has to happen when capitalism fails—to allow it to fall and come back up again stronger."
- Romney's emotional evening ended on a lighthearted note when, after his closing remarks, he didn't know it was time to relinquish the stage to Santorum. 'I'm not leaving!" he said, shaking Santorum's hand and gripping his shoulder.
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