Univision/ABC News hosts presidential town hall interviews

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives on stage to take part in Univision’s show ‘Gran Encuentro’ with moderators Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas in Miami on September 19, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this week the Spanish-speaking television channel Univision partnered with ABC News to host a series of interviews with both presidential candidates.  “Gran Encuentro” moderators Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas interviewed GOP candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday and President Obama on Thursday.  Although the crux of the questions centered around policies most concerning to the Latino population, the hosts did not deter from “grilling” the candidates on other prominent subjects.

Romney was first asked about his controversial video, released earlier in the week, by Mother Jones Magazine.  In the video, the candidate made disparaging remarks on the 47% of Americans who receive some form of government assistance.  He grouped these Americans as “victims.”  In my previous blog “Mother Jones Magazine releases Romney video exposing political pandering,” I denote the fact that these Americans are only “victims” of our failed political system.  Political factions that are more concerned with arguing with each other as opposed to solving our social and financial problems.  Maybe if our issues were not only addressed but solved, Americans wouldn’t have to depend on government assistance.  Romney responded to the question by saying he will work hard for “100% of Americans.”

When asked what he’d do with the issue of illegal immigration Romney reiterated he wouldn’t pursue policies of government-mandated deportation.  Romney has advocated for self-deportation policies.  He states that as president he’d pass legislation in which businesses would be held accountable for employing illegal immigrants.  Each worker would be given a card verifying their legal eligibility for hire.  In addition, he would endorse “paths to citizenship” through enrollment in the U.S. Military or National Guard.  He opposes the “Dream Act” which in essence would provide government assistance for college-seeking illegal immigrants.

Furthermore, Romney was asked what he’d do if his grandson revealed to him that he was gay.  The governor responded that he’d still love him and believe that he should be able to have a family with his partner.  He indicated that marriage is between a man and woman.  As I argue in my blog post “Solution to the gay marriage debate,” the best solution is for gay couples to garner equal rights, but institute a different legal name for the union.  It’s unconstitutional to deny American citizens rights because of their sexual preferences.

President Obama was also asked about illegal immigration.  Then Senator Obama promised to pass legislation on compassionately resolving the problem in his first year of office.  President Obama retorted that resistance from the GOP has hindered his ability to pass substantive legislation on the issue.  What he fails to mention is that he maintained control of all three factions of government in the first two years of his presidency.  So in fact, he could have passed any legislation he so desired.  At some point you have to take ownership for your failed promises.  Granted I will not blame the entire economic situation on the president.  There is however no doubt he is partly to blame for the country’s inability to improve in so many important categories (unemployment rate, escalating debt, etc.).  I’m tired of the “blame game” from both sides.  Get the job done already.

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN.

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another prominent issue asked by the moderators was on the recent deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  On Sunday, Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, visited numerous morning talk shows to defend the administration and share the current assessment of the consulate attack.  Jake Tapper, ABC news correspondent, asked Rice why the U.S. is “impotent” in calming anti-American sentiments in the Middle East.  President Obama had assured the American people his election would begin the “healing” of our image in the Middle East.  Rice became indignant that the administration is not “impotent.”

She further maintained the attacks were not pre-meditated, but more a result of protests stemming from the YouTube release of the controversial movie “Innocence of Muslims.”  The Libyan government fervently maintained that the attack were an act of terror from Al-Qaeda.  Yesterday, the U.S. Foreign Council Committee finally admitted to the fact that the attack on our Libyan consulate on September 11th was an act of terrorism.  It’s unfortunate and sad when Libyan intelligence is more accurate than our own.  Sad when they are more transparent to their people.  The truth is the administration is hesitant to admit that America was in fact attacked by Al-Qaeda.  It would be an admission to a weak military leadership.  Furthermore, the administration has no answer to why security wasn’t increased on the anniversary of September 11th; especially in a country who had recently toppled its old regime and thus became unstable and unpredictable.

It’s refreshing that some journalists are keeping our politicians accountable for their actions and promises.  In an ever-growing partisan, political system, this effervescent journalism might translate to actual progression as opposed to political malnutrition.

I remain ever optimistic that the American people will enact real change we can believe in.

Email: realtalkdebate2012@gmail.com

Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate

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About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

7 responses to “Univision/ABC News hosts presidential town hall interviews”

  1. Kamil Zawadzki says :

    In our hyper-partisan political atmosphere, though, it’s no longer enough to just boast that you have a majority in both houses. If you can’t secure 60 or more votes in the Senate, the other party will block anything and everything.
    If you can’t hit that magic number of 60 votes, you ultimately will not be able to get anything done, no matter what party you’re in.
    Especially not with the “all or nothing” mentality that’s pervasive in Congress now, where no compromise is permitted if you want to have a chance at keeping your seat for the next election.
    Senate Republicans ramped up their filibuster efforts especially toward the end of the 111th Congress. Anything if it meant denying Obama and the Democrats any chance to claim success in the waning days of their rarely-filibuster-proof majority in that chamber.
    And I would not be surprised if this continues regardless of who wins the presidency and who becomes majority party in the Senate, for instance. If the Democrats hold just enough seats in the Senate even as Republicans win the presidency and the House, I can bet you anything it will be their time for sweet revenge. Because, again, unless you have those 60 votes, good luck and godspeed getting anything through. It doesn’t help us as a nation or our government, but tit for fucking tat, is what they’ll say in response, I’m sure.

    The way Congress has begun to function, unfortunately, you’d think we had a parliamentary, not presidential, form of government.
    Whoever the opposition group is now seems to think that if they prevent just enough bills from becoming law in one or both houses, that will magically translate into a vote of no confidence and force an early election for a new head of government which they can then use to take the reins of power away from the ruling party.
    But that’s not how our government works. Regardless of how many times you stop the other guys from pushing their agenda through your chamber, that election still won’t come sooner than scheduled.
    And stalling votes and rejecting bills just to deny the ruling party any bragging rights just perpetuates gridlock and is not productive legislating.

    If our government is broken, it’s not simply because of the Democrats or Republicans alone. Both share that blame. And the president himself, whoever he is, can only do so much in such an atmosphere. That’s a harsh reality Obama’s been bitch-slapped in the face with, and if Romney wins, he’ll learn that pretty quick, too.
    When our senators and representatives legislate based on what’s good for their own faction or party, and not what’s good for their country, what else can we expect? And we are the ones who elect these people, some of whom let us know how toxic they are long before they even set foot on Capitol Hill. So perhaps we don’t really deserve better, anyway.
    That kinda sucks.

  2. Kamil Zawadzki says :

    I should add to the bit about the filibuster, that all of that still does not account for the fact that both parties are big-tent groups with a couple of different factions jockeying for influence within them. That doesn’t just include Tea Party or libertarian and moderate Republicans but also conservative and leftist wings of the Democratic Party.
    That just complicates things within your own party further, much less trying to overcome an opposition filibuster.
    Another hard lesson whoever the next president is – be it in 2013 or in 2017 – will learn quickly.

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      You make a good point. However, after reviewing the party affiliations I believe he had a 59 democratic senate. If you can’t get one more vote or a couple more (not all dems vote the same) then that’s failed leadership. Bill Clinton did it when he lost control of the house. I’m tired of politicians of both parties stating that the other side hindered them from accomplishing their promises. These people don’t even want to talk to each other. In addition, President Obama didn’t even draft any type of legislation specifically for illegal immigration. No bill was presented. The Dream Act wasn’t a bill to end illegal immigration. Romney has stated that in order for him to get everything he wants he needs the senate as well.

      Btw what’s your impression on how the administration has dealt with the Libyan consulate attack?

      • Kamil Zawadzki says :

        Were there missed or botched opportunities to hammer through the Democratic administration and party’s agenda’s during the 111th Congress? Absolutely. But was it failed leadership? I think that’s stretching it a bit. There is a number of landmark legislation passed even despite not having that uber-secure 60-vote mark in the Senate, including ARRA, Lilly Ledbetter and Obama’s signature health care reform act. I’ve seen detractors that criticize the Democrats’ record but only by way of ignoring these successes merely because they disagree with the spirits, goals and/or implementations of such legislation – but just because a person doesn’t like something does not mean they can legitimately ignore its success.

        DREAM Act wasn’t presented as a bill to end illegal immigration – and I agree that there was little to no focus on prevention in both the 111th and 112th Congress sessions. But DREAM sought to tackle a very real and just as important issue – what do we do with those that are ALREADY here and are here to stay? Who cares if you prevent further illegal border crossings if you still don’t even know how you’re going to deal with those who have already crossed and aren’t going anywhere? And on that note, even though little attention was given to coming up with best practices as far as preventing further illegal crossings, you do have to admit that Obama has not exactly been soft on illegal immigration. His administration has recorded more deportations than any year under the Bush administration, for example. So prevention may not have been advanced, but enforcement was maintained if not stepped up.

      • Kamil Zawadzki says :

        As far as the consulate attacks go, I think the administration has done well. It is important just for basic P.R. purposes for our government to make clear that it even if making such a hateful (not to mention crappy-ass quality) film like “Innocence of Muslims” is guarded under freedom of speech, it does not condone the message conveyed by the smut. Perception is reality. And speaking out against hate is not the same as speaking out against free speech.
        And it was only after the administration applied pressure on Egypt’s government that its Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president finally moved to criticize the violent protests, even if half-heartedly and with a heavy heart.

        I do agree that the government has been hesitant to acknowledge that al Qaeda affiliates in the region were behind the consulate attack in Benghazi. But at the same time, they acknowledged that it may indeed have been pre-planned days ago. And you can’t rush to judgments and assumptions. We know how that worked out for Romney with his bullish rants against an apology that never happened. It’s not just bad press, it’s bad policy. And opens the door for knee-jerk reactions and more holes as far as our intelligence and security goes.

        Security should have been stepped up for that day as it was a symbolic day and clearly not just for the U.S. Especially in places like Libya that just had a revolution. That, I agree with. But it wasn’t. Nothing we can do about that now except learn our lesson – on that day, it was a failure, but it only becomes a long-term failure if our government (no matter who leads it) doesn’t learn from that mistake in the future.

        As far as weak military leadership? No, I don’t think it signifies military failure. At least not in Libya – where we had no boots on the ground, barring some Americans that voluntarily headed there of their own volition as private citizens, not representatives of the government or military. Instead, it’s just one of the more negative of the ripple consequences of the successful overthrow of a longtime dictator, in great part thanks to NATO aerial aid. Keep in mind that unlike Egypt or even Tunisia where there was at least some form of civil society functioning – and in Egypt, the Muslim Brothers have long provided neighborhoods with basic services – and at least cosmetic, though never truly free nor fair, elections, Libya had literally none of that. When the revolution began in Benghazi and the fight started, the opposition literally had to crawl out of the woodwork to make its presence known.

        Among the consequences of overthrowing a dictator like Gaddafi who made sure to crush almost completely any semblance of civil society throughout his rule is that the void has to be filled and can be exploited. But still, remarkably, in its elections earlier this year, for the party-list seats, at least, the Libyan Islamists were trounced by moderate and liberal groups – unlike in Tunisia where the moderate Islamists rule in coalition with liberals and Egypt where the Brothers pretty much got a clean sweep. The consulate attack may have been pre-planned, and the YouTube clip a convenient excuse to get shit stirred up, but it does not necessarily mean that al-Qaeda is back at the top of its game (a better indicator of that might be the Tuareg uprising that has essentially split Mali in half with the north now ruled by hardline theocrats – but while that, again, may have been exacerbated by the Libyan conflict which brought arms out in the open and sent some Tuareg’s heading south after Gaddafi lost, as far as I know, we have no military presence in Mali). There are more issues at play than just the U.S.’s military might and its effective or ineffective application.

        And you could argue that the whole concept of the “war on terror” is futile and sets us up for failure regardless because it’s like playing a game of whack-a-mole – you knock one out and then another will pop up and you gotta catch it quick. And then another one comes up again in another hole. Countries can be defeated militarily; but non-state actors like terrorist groups? That is a much tougher nut to crack. Bush found that out. Obama’s finding that out. Whoever succeeds Obama – and WHENEVER they follow him – will find that out, as well.

        The ability of a few radicals to incite an angry mob to turn into violent rioters is hardly new, and hardly limited to the Islamic world.

        And what we didn’t see as much in the news was the demonstrations in Benghazi the next day, where people held up signs apologizing for the senseless violence of a senseless few. (And just yesterday a pro-democracy protest ended up storming the HQ of one of the radical Islamist groups in Libya that claimed responsibility for inciting the murderous rage.) We also didn’t see in the news the MANY other people in those countries who simply went about their day. Why? Because who wants to watch a broadcast of people working or shopping when there’s a protest a few blocks away? Perhaps rightly so, as they weren’t exactly newsworthy by just doing their daily routine, but we don’t hear any mention of how many people were rioting vs. how many people were NOT rioting.

        When people get mad, they’re gonna say something. When they get enough people to join them, they’re gonna protest. When some extremist or crazy in the crowd is able to shout louder and get them even more riled up, they’re gonna riot. And at some point, someone’s going to get violent enough to start looking for blood to be spilled or property to be destroyed. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the successes or pitfalls of U.S. military policy.

      • realtalkrealdebate says :

        Although it may not be fair to call it weak military leadership, the attack does expose weak foreign intelligence and lapses in strategic planning. The fact the president proceeded with his fundraising event in Vegas hours after the attack wasn’t something I condone. Clinton’s adamant speeches on our government’s disdain for this video is practically the only good thing the administration has done on this issue. If our intelligence officers hadn’t concluded their investigations then Susan Rice shouldn’t have gone on the Sunday morning circuit adamantly stating this attack a consequence of the video’s release. She continued to reassure the public that terrorism wasn’t a factor. As did Jay Carney earlier this week. Now I am not one to blame everything on the administration. On this issue alone, I think they have not performed admirably. And had this been a Republican presidency the general consensus would have been of complete failure. The president still cannot explain why security wasn’t upped on 9/11 in a country with so much political and social unrest.

        You do make some good points though. This attack isn’t an indication of a strong Al-Qaeda. It is a result of a highly, disorganized terror group which is desperate to inflict any damage. Hopefully we learn from this unfortunate lesson.

        Thanks for the comments.

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