Jake Tapper, the main moderator of Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate, is a fair and dogged journalist. He, and his team, have no doubt spent a good deal of time murder-boarding the interplay of 11 candidates. Because the political folks at CNN are pros — I've worked with many of them — they know that candidates will try to answer the questions they want to answer, not necessarily the questions that Tapper asks. This is why moderators often present stark scenarios, or offer two irreconcilable choices, because a candidate can't evade those types of answers without making an obvious end-around.
Tapper told a colleague Sunday that he's been overwhelmed with question submissions. "A lot of them are questions that would be really good on a one-on-one but are not necessarily debate questions. So, that's what we've been crafting."
The candidates each get a minute to answer a question and 30 seconds to respond if another candidate mentions their name.
Not to add to Tapper's burden, but here are 10 questions I'd like to see the Republicans wrestle with.
1. Why should someone who makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour support you? How will your presidency directly benefit them in ways that President Obama's has not?
2. If someone likes their health care coverage under ObamaCare, will you allow them to keep it? If not, why not? How will you reassure them that they won't lose their insurance if you transition to a new system?
3. The secretary of defense is part of the national command authority, a term that refers to the chain of command in the military and the ability to order the launch of nuclear weapons. If the person you're vetting to be secretary of defense confesses to you that he or she is a secret atheist, would it make you less likely to appoint him or her?
4. If Soviet combat troops enter Estonia, Lithuania, or Latvia, would you be willing to put American boots on the ground to defend our NATO ally?
5. If China attacks Taiwan, would you use the military to respond with force against China?
6. Was the cyber attack against Sony an act of war? If not, what was it? What's the difference between cyber terrorism and cyber war?
7. Under what circumstances would you lie to the American people?
8. Under what circumstances should people be allowed to ignore the Supreme Court? What religious exceptions are valid? Where is the line? Should Muslims in the U.S. who practice a conservative form of Sharia law be allowed to ignore rulings that go against their deeply held beliefs?
9. The U.S. currently spies on Israel, France, Germany and other allies, although it has recently significantly scaled back intelligence activities against these European countries. Will you promise not to spy on Israel if you're elected president? Should Israel change its declaratory policy with respect to nuclear weapons if it gains them a security edge in this new environment?
10. What are three things the federal government does now that it shouldn't be doing?