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Gingrich and Santorum Defend Defense at GOP Debate

11:23 PM, Oct 18, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Las Vegas
In response to a question at tonight’s presidential primary debate from CNN moderator Anderson Cooper about whether the candidates would cut military spending, Republican candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum strongly defended defense.

“[T]he fact is, to say I'm going to put the security of the United States up against some arbitrary budget number is suicidally stupid,” Gingrich said of the budget deal brokered over the summer, which automatically cuts military spending if a supercommittee of six Republicans and six Democrats can’t find over a trillion dollars of savings from the federal budget.

“I mean, if you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of the supercommittee, which has now got a magic number to achieve,” Gingrich said. “And if it doesn't achieve the magic number, then we'll all have to shoot ourselves in the head so that when they come back with a really dumb idea to merely cut off our right leg, we'll all be grateful that they're only semi-stupid instead of being totally stupid.” 

Now, the idea that you have a bunch of historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget tells you everything you need to know about the bankruptcy of the current elite in this country in both parties.  The fact is, we ought to first figure out what threaten us, we ought to figure out what strategies will respond to that.  We should figure out what structures we need for those strategies.  We should then cost them. 

Santorum’s answer focused mainly on the president’s primary duty to America. “The first order of the federal government, the only thing the federal government can do that no other level of government can do is protect us,” Santorum said. “It is the first duty of the president of the United States is to protect us.”

Gingrich, however, indicated that he is not in favor of offering a blank check to the military. "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk,” the former speaker of the House said.

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