Ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, the remaining Republican contenders in the presidential race (bye, Bachmann) debated in a weekend doubleheader. In two debates, a mere 12 hours apart on Saturday night and Sunday morning, the candidates fought for their political lives in the election’s first primary. ABC News and WMUR broadcast Saturday’s debate at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, and Sunday’s NBC News/Facebook debate in Concord, N.H., aired on Meet the Press. Here are the top moments.
1. Paul vs. Gingrich in “Chicken Hawk“ Smackdown
Despite Mitt Romney’s status as the New Hampshire front-runner, in Saturday’s debate his challengers mostly left him alone and beat up one another instead. When Ron Paul doubled down on calling Newt Gingrich a “chicken hawk” for not serving in the military, their heated exchange went a little something like this:
Paul: I think people who don‘t serve when they could, and they get three or four or even five deferments, they have no right to send our kids off to war … I‘m trying to stop the wars, but at least I went when they called me up.
Gingrich: Well, Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for deferment. I was married with a child. It was never a question.
Paul: When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went.
2. Perry Wants to Go Back to Iraq
The last American troops left Iraq before Christmas, but on Saturday Rick Perry explained why he thought the war was so nice, he wants to fight it twice:
I would send troops back into Iraq … The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure — both in blood and money — that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal, leftist base and move out those men and women. He could have renegotiated that timeframe. I think it is a huge error for us … [Iran is going] to move back in, and all of the work that we‘ve done, every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing because we‘ve got a president that does not understand what‘s going on in that region.