Were Huckabee and Paul in the Debate?

This is from the CNN website:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, winner of the Iowa caucuses, hoped to position himself well among evangelicals and other conservatives to turn around several consecutive losses since Iowa. Long-shot candidate Ron Paul, a representative from Texas, also participated in the debate. CNN

Is it fair to say that Ron Paul, of Mike Huckabee for that matter, actually participated in the debate? Almost all of the questions were directed to Romney and McCain while Huckabee and Paul sat on the sidelines waiting to be asked a question or invited to respond to a McCain or Romney answer.

It was obvious to me from the start that CNN was determined to form the debate around Romney and McCain and provide America with who they believe to be the top choices rather than allowing the viewers to see all the candidates to take a decision. At one point Huckabee informed the moderators that he was part of the process as well and the barrage of questions they promised turned out to be one. Ron Paul stated he wanted to elaborate on something he was not permitted to discuss earlier and Anderson Cooper cut him off and promised him that in a few minutes he [Paul] would get a chance. More than five minutes passed as Romney and McCain were asked question after question while Paul was ignored.

It is also fair to say that Huckabee and Paul (even more so Paul) were kept on short leashes and not given anywhere near the time the other two received to address issues and attack each other. When Huckabee answered he was more thoughtful and expressed cogent thoughts without attacking anyone and Paul actually seemed like the adult on the stage. At one point McCain and Romney spent nearly ten minutes arguing about who said what regarding timetables. When Paul finally got to speak he said that they should be addressing the issues rather than arguing about petty stuff like who said what and when:

I don’t even think they should have gone [to Iraq], so keeping them for 100 years, where’s the money going to come from? (APPLAUSE)

You know, the country is in bankruptcy. And when I listen to this argument, I mean, I find it rather silly, because they’re arguing technicalities of a policy they both agree with.

They agreed with going in; they agreed for staying, agreed for staying how many years? And these are technicalities. We should be debating foreign policy, whether we should have interventionism or non-interventionism, whether we should be defending this country or whether we should be the policemen of the world, whether we should be running our empire or not, and how are going to have guns and butter?

You know, the ’70s were horrible because we paid for the guns and butters of the ’60s. Now we’re doing the same thing. And nobody even seems to care. The dollar is crashing, and you’re talking about these technicalities about who said what when?

I mean, in 1952, we Republicans were elected to stop the war in Korea. In 1968, we were elected to stop the war in Vietnam. And, tragically, we didn’t stop it very fast: 30,000 more men died.

So when I talk about these long-term stays, I think, “How many men are you willing to let die for this, for something that has nothing to do with our national security?”

There were no Al Qaida there. It had nothing do with 9/11. And there was no threat to our national security. They never committed aggression. It’s unconstitutional. It’s an undeclared war.

And we have these silly arguments going on about who said what when. I think it’s time to debate foreign policy and why we don’t follow the Constitution and only go to war with a declaration of war. CNN

I have to agree with Paul on this one (with regard to the debate). These guys spent a lot of time arguing about who said what on an issue they both agree with. No matter what one says about Paul, he makes sense on some of the issues and he is right that the issues matter more than who said what and when especially when they both agree with the policy.

Huckabee and Paul were ignored through a large portion of this debate. It almost seems that they received as much attention on stage as they would have if they had been in the audience. Governor Schwarzenegger got more face time than they did and he was sitting in the crowd.

Big Dog