Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy said he had to turn away another 300 who wanted to attend because there wasn’t room.
One of the questioners, political science professor Kerwin Swint, asked candidates about their foreign policy views. With Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt angry with the U.S., largely because of its policies toward Iranian nuclear power and the Syrian and Egyptian conflicts, and many allies no longer trusting the U.S., Swint asked what should be done.
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) was first to answer, revealing his low opinion of the Iranian government.
“This idea that you think you can talk (Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani down because you couldn’t a boisterous (former Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad is poppycock,” Gingrey said. “And I am fully in favor of the resolution being drafted in the Senate to enact further sanctions, even tougher at the end of this seven-month negotiation period when the Iranians once again just play us like puppets on a string, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”
President Obama, Gingrey complained, has no foreign policy.
“We are the strongest nation on the face of the earth,” he said. “We have an obligation not just to protect our own people on our own shore but every independent liberty loving individual across this globe. That’s our responsibility. This man has not taken it,” Gingrey said.
A rebuttal to Gingrey
Candidate Art Gardner of east Cobb, an attorney, said he disagreed with Gingrey about it being the U.S.’s responsibility to protect every person in every nation.
“That is not our role in the world,” Gardner said.
Like most Republicans, Gardner said he was “pro defense” but that doesn’t mean the U.S. should go to war at every opportunity.
“Part of the problem we have right now with Iran is that we don’t have Iraq to balance it out,” Gardner said. “Iran and Iraq are natural enemies and have been for a long time, but we wrecked Iraq and we left Iran as the dominate power in the region.”
Instead of invading Iraq, the U.S. should have first gone after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, he said.
Gingrey defended his earlier statement.
“I did not say that we should help every nation in the world,” Gingrey said. “I certainly didn’t say that we should give foreign aid to North Korea, to Iran, to these terrorist nation states, but you know, Israel gets $3 billion from us every year that all goes to their military and their missile defense system. They have never once asked us to put a U.S. boot or blood on Israeli soil, and I think we stand for them, and I will continue to stand for them.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens) said the U.S. should never go to war unless Congress authorizes it. Broun opposed any financial support to nations that burn U.S. flags and chant “death to America.”
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) called for peace through strength, “or as Ronald Reagan used to say, his philosophy on war was simple: ‘We win, you lose.’”
Kingston said he never wanted U.S. soldiers, sailors or airmen to engage in a fair fight.
“I want every conflict that we go into that the outcome is certain, and that again is we win,” Kingston said.
With national security, Kingston called for spying on “the bad guys and not you and not me.”
He also called for standing next to Israel and opposed cutting deals with Iran.
“If Israel thinks it’s a bad deal, it probably is one,” Kingston said.
Finally, “if you touch one of our ambassadors or an American overseas, we are coming after them, and then we’re coming after you, and if the United Nations has something to say about us, they can talk to us when we go back home,” he said.
Borrowing from China to protect Taiwan from China?
Candidate David Perdue, former chairman and CEO of Dollar General and cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, said he’s worked outside the U.S. much of his career, and it’s a dangerous time with President Obama confusing the world.
“It’s so crazy, guys, when you hear this loud talk you better be able to back it up,” Perdue said.
The problem Perdue sees is the U.S. borrows 35 cents of every dollar it spends.
“How long do you think this world is going to keep letting us do that?” he asked. “So when we tell Taiwan that we’re going to honor our peace treaty, that if China invades Taiwan, we’re going to borrow money from China to go to Taiwan to defend Taiwan against China, I’m sorry but that’s just not common sense,” Perdue said.
The key to a strong foreign policy is a strong military, and the key to a strong military is a strong economy, not one that borrows 35 cents on the dollar, he said.
“We bankrupted the Soviet Union in the 1980s with the strength of our economy and the power of our ideas, and now we’re doing the same thing to ourselves through our own foolishness,” Perdue said.
Former secretary of state Karen Handel said she opposed military intervention in Syria when Obama was considering such action because there was no end game. Candidate Eugene Yu, founder of Continental Military Services, Inc., a supplier of military grade armaments, answered Swint’s question by objecting to the $37 billion in U.S. foreign aid.
The U.S. doesn’t have the money to help other countries, Yu said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you cannot pay your home mortgage, you cannot help your neighborhood,” he said.
Yu objected to Iraq awarding China construction contracts to rebuild Iraq when so many American lives were lost there.
“That is our current U.S. policy,” Yu said. “And that money, when the Chinese make that money, they also loan the money to us. So you see how stupid we are doing?”
Where were the congressmen on NSA spying?
Candidate Derrick Grayson of Stone Mountain, a MARTA engineer, said he didn’t see much difference between Obama’s foreign policy and George Bush’s.
Grayson ripped the congressmen for allowing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans.
“Ask the guys that are in the room why didn’t they tell us that we were being spied on,” Grayson said.
Grayson suggested that Edward Snowden had the courage to alert citizens to what the NSA was doing while the congressmen did not.
“Oh, Snowden did the job for them, so he’s the one that’s on the run because they were afraid they might break the House rules,” Grayson said. “Our foreign policy won’t be much different from our domestic policy if we allow them to continue violating our Fourth Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights, which have been under attack forever and a day. So when they talk about foreign policy, don’t think that this just started with Obama. Obama continued the path that Bush set us on.”
If voters want a change in foreign policy, Grayson said, they need to accept a fact.
“We have bad foreign policy because we like to meddle in other countries’ business,” he said. “Our Constitution is clear. For the protection of our borders and we have treaties to deal with our allies.”
Following the debate, Dendy said he found the audience engaged by the amount of applause.
“It’s exciting to think we have that many people this interested this far out,” he said.
As for who won, Dendy said, “I’m sure that each one of them is going to go back and say that they won. So each one of them was a winner in their own eyes.”