Primary Debates and Forums

CBS/National Journal Foreign Policy Debate

screen grab
Saturday, November 12, 2011 in the Benjamin Johnson Arena at Wofford College
in Spartanburg, SC from 8:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET.  1, 2

Sponsors:  CBS News and National Journal with the South Carolina Republican Party.

Candidates:  Rep. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Moderators:  Scott Pelley, anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley; and Major Garrett, congressional correspondent for National Journal.

Audience:  About 1,400 people.

Broadcast:  First hour broadcast live (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/5:00-6:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.  Portions  broadcast on FACE THE NATION,, and available to CBS affiliate television and radio stations.

Format:  Focus on national security and foreign policy.  90 minutes.  One minute to respond; 30-second follow-ups and rebuttals.

Overview:  This debate, the first to focus on national security and foreign policy, was also referred to as the Commander-in-Chief debate.  It covered a broad range of subjects including Iran and nuclear weapons, the war in Afghanistan, relations with Pakistan, foreign aid, torture and waterboarding, China, the Arab Spring and Syria.  In addition to questions from the moderators and the audience1, the state's two U.S. Senators each asked a question in the closing half hour.  Former Gov. Huntsman touted his foreign policy experience going into the debate, but most of the others on the stage had some foreign policy credentials, whether former Speaker Gingrich, former Sen. Santorum, Reps. Paul and Bachmann through their service in the military or Gov. Perry as a border governor.  Herman Cain was seen as weakest on foreign policy, but he has assembled a credible foreign policy team and has clearly been doing a bit of homework.  Following his brain freeze episode in the Michigan debate, Gov. Perry needed to do well, and he did get off a humorous rejoinder (Pelley: if you eliminate the Department of Energy--  Rick Perry: Glad you remembered it.  Scott Pelley: I've had some time to think about it, sir.  Rick Perry: Me too.)  Rep. Paul had the least speaking time of the candidates2 and his campaign complained.  All in all this was a solid, serious debate.

Wofford College debate page.

1. On audience questions, note this:
There are four ways to participate by submitting questions:

(1) Debate questions can be submitted on Facebook, via the CBS News Facebook page or on the Political Hotsheet Facebook page. Starting today, we'll be soliciting questions on a variety of topics relating to national security and foreign policy.

(2) On Twitter, you can submit debate questions by Tweeting. Submit your questions as a Tweet, and simply add the hashtag #CBSNJdebate to your submission.

(3) We're accepting debate questions via e-mail. E-mail your debate questions to, and be sure to include your full name and location.

(4) Viewers can also submit debate questions in the comments section of this blog post. Also be sure to include your full name and location with you question.

IMPORTANT: By submitting a debate question via any of above methods, you consent to have your name and question presented on-air during a national television broadcast.

2. Dawn of the Weak (Wes Hemings') analysis of the first hour of the debate, which was televised, found 34:44 of total talk time for the candidates: Perry (6:53), Cain (6:19), Romney (5:52), Santorum (4:46), Huntsman (3:22), Bachmann (3:03), Gingrich (3:02) and Paul (1:27).  The analysis found Cain had the most speaking times, 10, and Paul the fewest, two.