Republican Presidential Candidates Hone Their Messages At New Hampshire Forum
14 presidential contenders made their appeal to Granite State voters.
By BRAD MIELKE
August 4, 2015, 12:58 AM
• 5 min read
Manchester, New Hampshire -- The most crowded field of Republican candidates in history descended upon New Hampshire Monday to square off in a rapid-fire question and answer session at the Voters First Forum.
Eleven candidates came to St. Anselm College in Manchester, and another three joined via satellite. The result was a one-by-one parade of candidates across the stage, where they answered questions posed by a moderator.
For those hovering near the bottom of the polls, it was a chance to appear alongside the frontrunners. For those at the top, it was a chance to appear on a stage without Donald Trump. He walked away from the forum, organized by the New Hampshire Union Leader, over a lack of endorsement from the paper.
Only ten candidates will get to appear at the first officially sanctioned debate of the 2016 cycle on Thursday in Ohio -- and those looking to crack the top ten came out forcefully.
"China is cheating…we don't do a damn thing about it," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, promising he would offer China "a clenched fist or an open hand. You choose."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave Clinton a bit of a backhanded compliment saying "at least he's honest enough to call himself a socialist. Hillary Clinton, President Obama – they are no better. They're just not honest enough to call themselves socialists."
The only candidates not to participate in the forum were Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Jim Gilmore, who missed the deadline for inclusion.
Even with Trump out of the state, he still made news Monday. He's the new leader in WMUR's "Granite State" poll, leaping ahead of favorites like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush.
Asked if it was really possible to grow the economy by his promised 4.4 percent per year, Bush said "absolutely. And the fact that Paul Krugman says it's not warms my heart."
For as much infighting Trump has caused the past few weeks, the candidates were united on many fronts. Every person who was asked said they would de-fund Planned Parenthood. Every candidate hammered President Obama, on topics ranging from Iran to immigration to the economy. And every candidate spoke quickly – under the unique format, candidates could answer as many questions as they could within the time limit.
George Pataki found out the hard way. As he finished a thought, he tried to tack. "By the way, Jack," he began – before being cut off by the moderator.
Heath did offer a chance for Rick Perry to redeem himself – albeit it four years later.
"What specific government agencies would you cut or reform?" Heath asked, to the candidate whose 2012 was derailed by his inability to name the Department of Energy.
"I've heard this question before," said Perry, who avoided the urge to list specifics.