Washington — Howard Dean let out a familiar primal scream while debating Newt Gingrich Tuesday night at The George Washington University.
“Why do you still have to be a second class citizen?” Dean said, becoming red-faced and excited while responding to Gingrich’s claim that Democrats were using the immigration issue to score political points.
Dean stood and walked to the front of the stage, then asked students to raise their hands if they had Native American descendants. When only a few raised their hands, Dean shouted, “Everyone is an immigrant.”
Gingrich responded, “It was an emotional speech. I was personally moved by it, but it’s factually inaccurate.”
The university’s College Democrats and College Republicans sponsored the debate between Dean, a former governor of Vermont, Democratic National Committee chairman and 2004 presidential candidate, and Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and potential 2012 presidential candidate.
The debate had its laughs, but the students and speakers were serious when it came to the designated topics.
Dean said that the “biggest problem with health care is that there is no cost control” and that “the system that we have doesn’t work, but it’s a plan and you got to have something to replace it.”
Gingrich added that “Obamacare” has required the opening of 159 new federal offices, the issuing of “1,968 grants of authority to Washington bureaucrats to manage our health care” and lists of things to complete by 2020.
Both agreed on the need to reform the current health care plan and it’s spending. “The fact that former Governor Dean says that things aren’t free marks him far from the Democrat party,” Gingrich said.
With the topic of government spending on the table, proctor Derek Malone-France, professor of religion and political science, changed the topic to the nation’s economy.
“The deficit is bigger than the entire government,” Gingrich said. He went on to tell a story about how the heads of DELL and IBM said if the federal government ran like a corporation, $1 billion would be saved a year.
“You want to be smart, not cheap,” Gingrich said. “They should start with jobs. They should pass very bold and very dramatic bills.”
Dean said it was important to understand that 60 percent of the deficit was caused by former Pres. George W. Bush’s tax cuts. At the first mention of Bush, the crowd applauded.
However, Dean went on to say that he supported both former Pres. Bush and Pres. Obama on their respective bailouts. “If we hadn’t of done it, we would have all been a lot worse off,” Dean said.
Dean then moved on to the current Congress. “I don’t think these Republicans are hawks,” Dean said. “[They give] tax breaks to people who make millions of dollars a year by cutting social security to little old ladies.”
After their remarks and a quick cheer, the room fell silent and heavy when Dean began addressing Guantanamo Bay.
“I was very proud of the president when he said during the campaign that he would close Guantanamo,” Dean said. “He is President Obama, not candidate Obama. We got these 150 people…we have to out the entire Afghan intelligence program—now what do you do?”
“I will cut the president some slack even though I think Guantanamo is a terrible symbol…I wish it had never been started,” Dead said. “I believe we should have never gone to Iraq.”
Gingrich issued a warning. “We are losing the war because the network of terrorists is bigger, not smaller, Turkey is sliding away, because of Pakistan—a governor trying to be moderate was killed by his own bodyguard, Egypt will join Iran and Gaza,” Gingrich said. “I think we have to understand how serious it is.”
Gingrich went on to tell the tale of Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born U.S. citizen who attempted to set off a bomb in Times Square in May 2010. Gingrich then linked all domestic and Middle East terrorist attacks to radical Islamists.
“Radical Islam singles out a whole bunch of people who I don’t think are radical,” Dean said.
“I’m real uncomfortable with the notion of radical Islam . . .what radicals do is they polarize people to get this type of reaction,” Dean responded. “Intolerance breeds intolerance. I don’t think we can fight intolerance with intolerance.”
While Dean got a quick cheer, Gingrich waited to respond.
Gingrich went on to talk about how the Muslim Brotherhood wants to be a part of Egypt’s future. The Brotherhood’s goals are “to raise jihad, to opposed Israel, and to defeat the United States,” Gingrich said.
He said that in schools of radical Islamists, students are taught that “three Jews plus three Jews equals six people to kill.”
“I am saying we honestly have to talk about what the problems are and what it’s going to take to win this,” Gingrich said.
When asked about why Republicans haven’t supported or passed comprehensive immigration reform, Gingrich responded, “I love the way these things get set up … I find it fascinating that we have the problem.”
“I think it’s impossible to pass a single immigration reform bill. What we should have is a series of steps. We want legality, we want control of the border, we want easy deportation of felons and gang members…English as the official language.”
He went on to tell the tale of a 19-year old man in Dallas who was brought to the U.S. at age three and is now facing deportation.
This is when Dean got passionate.
“What reasonable person would kick someone out?” Dean said.
“The Tea Party, they didn’t quite like it when they read the Constitution again and they thought to get rid of the 14th amendment—it ain’t the Democrats calling for constitutional changes,” Dean said.
“Every American family has a narrative… and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren got to go to George Washington University,” Dean said.
Closing question and answer
A GW student in a pink cardigan waited patiently at the microphone to ask Gingrich about his role in passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. “Tell myself and all of my friends here at GW why we don’t have the right of marriage,” she said.
“I come out of tradition that is several thousand years old. I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I think I have as much right to my belief as you have to yours,” Gingrich said.