Top 5 Moments of Arizona GOP Debate

Blogging the Beltway: The candidates spar on birth control, Iran and naked political ambition.

Don Emmert/AFP
Don Emmert/AFP

After almost a month since their last debate (that’s like a year in campaign time), on Wednesday night the final four GOP candidates shared the stage in Arizona. From the Mesa Arts Center, and broadcast on CNN, here are the top moments.

1. “How dare you ask about birth control?!” says the audience and Newt Gingrich.

Despite the fact that GOP talking points have been knee-deep in contraceptives for weeks now, when moderator John King asked the candidates whether they were for or against birth control, the audience booed him roundly for bringing it up. Because no debate is complete without Newt Gingrich angrily criticizing the media for asking about things they say and do, he fired back.

I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide … If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. 

By the way, Gingrich’s claim about Obama? That would be false. 

 2. But while we’re on the subject, Rick Santorum argues that access to birth control leads to children born out of wedlock.

Eager to take a stand about “the dangers of contraception,” Santorum pitched an unconventional argument that the accessibility of birth control — and not a lack of birth control — leads to increasing numbers of children being born out of wedlock and teens being sexually active. 

What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use, and a host of other things when children have children. 

Santorum was sure to clarify, however: “Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.”