Questions for the Republican candidates

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On Jan. 14 and 28, and Feb. 6, the Republicans will have the final three debates prior to the New Hampshire primary. Although Fox Business, Fox News, and ABC will host the debates, in my fantasy world, these are some of the questions I’d like to see asked of the remaining Republican candidates. I hope the debate moderators feel free to crib a few of these.

To Chris Christie: President Obama has been roundly criticized by Republicans for treating Islamic terrorism as a “law enforcement” problem rather than as an existential threat. You have touted your experience as a US attorney as your primary qualification for being Commander-in-Chief and handling the war on terror. Does this mean, as a former law enforcement official, you agree that terrorism is primarily a law enforcement problem?

To Jeb Bush: I know you hate process questions, Jeb, but current polling has not been favorable to you. You have been a vocal critic of Donald Trump, who is leading the polls. Isn’t there a risk that the longer candidates such as yourself stay in the race, the harder it will be for any one of you to gain the momentum necessary to stop Donald Trump? Will you agree to free up your financial and political supporters to stop Trump, even by supporting another candidate, if you do not finish among the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire?

To Donald Trump: In your view of presidential authority, can a president demand tax payments of 25 percent of domestic profits from the Keystone Pipeline in exchange for regulatory approval, as you have suggested you would?  Why or why not?

To Ted Cruz: You have opposed raising the federal debt ceiling. As president, would you threaten to veto any bill to increase the debt ceiling, whether or not a government shutdown or default would result?

To Marco Rubio: It has been reported that you favor subsidies of the sugar industry, much of which is located in your home state of Florida. Please explain your support of such subsidies and explain the criteria you would apply to decide when the free market should be allowed to operate and when government intervention and price supports are a good idea.

To Ben Carson: Several senior advisors, including your campaign manager, have resigned from your campaign.  You have raised questions yourself about how the substantial amounts of money that have been raised by your supporters has been spent. Although not necessarily the most important criteria for a president, shouldn’t voters be concerned about your management skills in light of the turmoil surrounding your campaign?

To Rand Paul: You have been a champion of the libertarian wing of the Republican party, and particularly vocal about the role of the NSA metadata collection program. Many public commentators described the NSA data collection program as the government “reading your emails” or “listening to your cell phone calls” without a warrant, but this isn’t true, is it? Will you please explain why you think it is an invasion of privacy for the government to access a database of phone numbers that have connected by call or text, similar to the information that appears on your monthly bill?

To Carly Fiorina: The Democrats successfully attacked Mitt Romney, by all accounts a competent, successful businessman, as well as a former Governor, as an out-of-touch elitist who did not care about the average person.   Your résumé is that of a successful business woman, whose company, like many Governor Romney was involved with, laid off workers to maintain profitability. Were you the nominee, why wouldn’t the result for Republicans be the same as it was with Governor Romney?

To John Kasich: You have explained your support for Ohio’s Medicaid expansion under Obamacare by referencing your obligation as a Christian to care for the poor. Can you explain why such an obligation wouldn’t compel an expansion of food stamps, raising the minimum wage, and acceptance of virtually all foreign refugees, who, after all, are children of God as well and much less well-off than the average American?

To Mike Huckabee: It doesn’t matter what I ask, because you’ll talk about the need for moral renewal in this country, so go ahead. As a follow up, if we promise to renew your Fox News show now and the price is right, will you drop out right now? We’ve got Roger Ailes backstage with a contract.

To Rick Santorum: Please explain how a former Senator who got wiped out as an incumbent in a swing state by historic margins makes sense as a nominee? As a follow up, please let us know how you support all those kids, some of who are approaching college age, living in expensive Northern Virginia, having been a full-time presidential candidate for the past five years? We are in awe.

To Jim Gilmore: Wait, you’re still here?

Robert N. Driscoll is a native of the Boston area who currently practices law in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this column are his own and not those of his firm. Nor are they the views of his wife, daughters, or greyhounds. Read his past columns here.