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Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Iowa and 2016

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Off to D.C. and broadcasting tonight from the Heritage Foundation studios, where I will be setting discussing Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit and the turmoil in Yemen and transition in Saudi Arabia with, among others, Meet The Press’ Chuck Todd and National Review’s Eliana Johnson. (Eliana had the scoop on the gathering of Team Romney in Boston today before anyone else did.)

I’ll be joining the Meet the Press panel this weekend.  Should be great fun.

Having spent most of the week quizzing 2016 candidates –audio and transcript of interviews with Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and John Kasich (conducted in that order) are below– in mostly domestic policy issues, I am hoping that Friday’s events in the Middle East may spark some refocusing in Iowa.  The role of the Supreme Court in the marriage debate, the domestic spending crisis, the Common Core controversy and energy policy inevitably attract the attention of conservative grass roots activists, but there is never much specific talk about America’s role in the world and our military preparedness. Governor Jindal dove into the topic this week and I am hoping the candidates gathering in Iowa all join him in starting now to establish the GOP as again the party of seriousness on national security as opposed to President Obama’s obliviousness and Secretary of State Clinton’s blundering.

I am also hoping to hear every candidate approach the allotted time and get some swings in at Hillary Clinton and not each other.  The debates many months down the road may be when sparks fly between the candidates, but for the next eight months at least, every Republican would-be nominee should be studying the Hillary Clinton “record” at State and sharpening the attacks on its awful details.  In every speech by every Republican, crowds should be able to play bingo using the words “re-set button,” “Egypt” “PRC,” “Libya,” “Syria,” “ISIS” and a string off other emenders of what Hillary in power versus Hillary in waiting means.  Tomorrow’s gathering in Iowa is a first chance for many GOPers to address an audience beginning to focus on 2016.  They should use it to underscore their ability and willingness to go toe-to-toe on the facts of her tenure with the almost certain 2016 Democratic nominee.  How they did will be a topic on Meet the Press Sunday and on my shows from Hillsdale College beginning Monday.

A final note for skeptics of Reince Priebus’ reforms of the GOP debates and in particular critics of the idea of including conservative media as debate moderators and panelists.  Run down the transcripts or listen to the interviews I diode with the four GOP candidates this week.  All get asked tough, specific questions of great interest to conservative Republican voters.  These are the sorts of questions that either don’t occur to some in the MSM or which, when presented, ares done so with an intent to generate a “gotcha” moment and not clarity for conservative and center-right Republicans about what the candidates actually think –at length and uninterrupted– about the issues on those voters’ minds.  By including “conservative media” in the new debate schedule, Priebus has assured the most interesting and productive primary debates will occur, when they should be occurring –this fall, and not the spring or summer.


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