The lightning round begins: Who is everyone’s favorite Republican president? Reagan. Reagan. Reagan. Reagan. Reagan. And finally, from Ken Blackwell: “Ronald Reagan, who brought me into the Republican party.”
“Good,” says Norquist. “Everyone got that one right.”
Who’s everyone’s least favorite Republican president? Steele and Saltsman pass. Dawson suggests Warren G. Harding. Blackwell nominates Herbert Hoover, “who opened the door to big government.”
Next question: How many guns does everyone own? Blackwell owns seven, which he uses “very well,” and Saltsman rapid-fire lists the guns he owns, ending with a 30 ought 6. “And Ken, I’ll take you on any time.” He means hunting, not dueling, I think.
Steele takes a technology question and makes it rhetorical: What do we stand for? “My momma was a sharecropper’s daughter,” says Steele, “who watched her son become lieutenant governor of Maryland.” The GOP needs to be the party of ambition and individual freedom. A little later, Saltsman raises the same issue. “The Obama administration is going to decide whether you’re a winner or a loser,” he says, by becoming the party of entitlements and bailouts.
Before the debate began, Ron Paul supporters had found the web site where they could submit questions and deluged it. One of their questions gets in: What will the candidates do to keep the r3VOLution going? The candidates all pledge to try.
“We can’t just include people who pass our personal litmus tests,” says Steele.
“I saw the Paul movement in my state,” says Dawson. “We’re a party that needs excitement, and people painting their cars, and putting signs on overpasses.”
“I’ve been to their picnics,” says Anuzis.
“I personally have met with Ron Paul on two occasions,” says Duncan. “I have treated his foot soldiers with respect.”