The Republicans are back at it on Wednesday night on CNN. While I’m not a member of the elite political media, I’ve had my fair share of interviews with politicians. For the record, I’ve often found politicians to be considerate, thoughtful and much more open during interviews that aren’t in front of a video camera.
And debates have become something of a show, instead of substantive political discourse.
That being said, if I were one of tomorrow’s moderators, these would be the question I would ask.
1. (For every candidate) Everyone from both parties seems to be compelled to cite their undying love for the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. But let’s put the platitude aside. The Founders were a disparate group who disagreed on as much – or more – than they agreed upon. So which founders or which of their ideas do you find most troublesome.
2. (For every candidate) We here a lot about the threat Iran poses and the previous Republican president took us to war with Iraq. However, we know many of the Sept. 11 hijackers were of Saudi origin and there’s credible evidence Saudi Arabia had some involvement. How does the president put pressure on them to behave more like the allies they claim to be?
4. (For Gov. Jeb! Bush) More than any candidate on the stage, you’ve gotten the up-close look at the presidency. What lessons did you learn from your brother’s handling of Katrina and from your father’s handling of the first Gulf War?
5. (For Dr. Ben Carson) You’ve called for ending people’s dependence on government. You were born into poverty and made it out with the help of several government programs. Could you have become what you are today without those programs? And how do you cut back dependency without costing society the next Ben Carson?
6. (For Gov. Chris Christie) You’re the only candidate on this stage whose underlings – at best – took out political revenge not on a political foe but on the people you were elected to govern. How can we seriously think you won’t have underlings (wink) who won’t do that again?
7. (For Sen. Ted Cruz) Do you want to give up your spot to a serious candidate like Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore or Lindsay Graham, who all have more substantive resumes and understand the function of government.
8. (For Carly Fiorina) As a businesswoman, what can you tell us about the lobbying process? How would you change it from the inside?
9. (For Gov. Carly Fiorina) As the lone woman on the stage, what can you tell your nine competitors about life as a businesswoman in the U.S. that they’re not going to see from a focus group?
10. (For the male candidates) How will you balance your home life with being President?
11. (For Gov. Mike Huckabee) There are churches and synagogues in the that recognize same sex civil and/or religious unions. Yes or no, is banning gay marriage an assault on their religious freedom and why or why not?
12. (For Gov. John Kasich) Your response to a gay marriage question in the last debate opened a lot of eyes and ears. A couple of years ago, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the GOP had to stop being the stupid party. What can the party do, or what has it done, to accomplish that?
13. (For Rand Paul) No one doubts you’re a big fan of small government. You also have worked on prison reform. Is part of the problem with the prison system in this country that so much of it is privatized, where prison is used for profit and not for rehabilitation and protection of society?
14. (For Marco Rubio) As someone with a background in the senate, which has become far more partisan in recent decades, how could you as president breech that divide with either party?
15. (For Donald Trump) During the last debate, you talked about the broken system and how politicians would owe you favors. It was telling that, while some said you never specifically gave to them, none of the denied the premise that they’d been bought by big donors. Are you surprised at that? You’ve driven a lot of narratives during this campain, why didn’t you pounce on that nonresponse?
16. (For Scott Walker) Can you name one time when you told a big money donor you could not help them with a project because that project hurt the public good?
17. (For Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz) Each of you made comments during the 2008 election cycle that Barack Obama didn’t have enough experience because he was a one-term senator. Like him, none of you have completed your first time. How could anyone think you have more experience than he did?
18. (For all the candidates) All of you profess to being strongly “pro-life.” Many “pro-life” laws deal with restrictions to abortion. Would any of you support laws such as longer – and paid – family leave after a pregnancy, equal pay, a higher minimum wage o easier access to contraception in order to cut down on the number of abortions.
19. (For Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump) If you look at all 44 of our presidents, each has been previously either a senator, a governor, a general, a vice president or a member of the House of Representatives. How can you possibly expect to be able to handle being the president of the united states having never been a public servant in your life.
20. (For Donald Trump) Your recent comments about your military school experience as well as remarks about John McCain make it seem you don’t respect our military. Our men and women face huge obstacles when they come back from active duty, whether it’s finding a job, dealing with PTSD or homelessness or getting better benefits, how can you better serve our men and women if you are elected.
21. (For Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio) You’re often considered the establishment candidates. Is that a label you accept or reject and why?
22. (For all the candidates) If you had to renominate the supreme court justices, would you renominate John Roberts?