The Huckabee segment featured individual questioning of six of the declared candidates--former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick
Santorum, Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Paul, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The questioners were (from right to left on your television screen) Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi,
and Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt.
As someone who has spent his political career in Washington, Gingrich clearly wants to do big things once he gets his hands on the levers of
federal power. What, he was asked, about his proposal to empower local citizen boards to decide whether long-time undocumented residents of a
community should be deported or allowed to remain? Why shouldn't the states be making that decision?
Gingrich's answer ought to chill "Tenthers" in the unseen audience. "The Tenth Amendment actually talks about the states and the citizens,"
Gingrich said (check the text, he's got the wording
about right). Thus, the implication is, the federal government can reach over the head of the states and empower boards in cities and
towns--presumably made up of appointees by President Gingrich, not Governor Whoever--to carry out important federal programs. I'm about as
nationalist as they come, but even I never considered the Tenth Amendment as a source of federal power before.
Rick Santorum, also a Washington creature, wants the federal government to exercise pastoral authority over our safety and our sex and family
lives. Asked by Bondi whether any part of the Patriot Act was unconstitutional, he said, "no." When asked whether states or the federal
government should be defending marriage and the family, he said, "the president can lead a revitalization of marriage." Asked whether regulation
of abortion might be best left to the states, he said, "I support a constitutional amendment"--which would, of course, federalize the issue;
Santorum deceptively tried to claim that solution was state-oriented since the states would have to ratify the amendment. A marriage amendment is
needed too. "We can't have 50 definitions of marriage. Marriage is too important" to be left to the states.
Rick Perry really does believe the states should be free to have policies he dislikes. He had to back off that position early in the race, when he
said states that wanted gay marriage should be allowed to have it. Now he's firmly on board for the marriage amendment. He's
against a national "right to work" law: we need "to get the federal government out of making one size fit all even if it's for things that we thing
we would like." What if a state continually fails to provide and education for its children, should the federal government step in: "No. . . . If
you believe in the Tenth Amendment and you believe that the people in that state are going to impact those legislators they will do that."