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Edited to fix Thomas More College link.

So here is my encounter from an Ask Mitt Anything last night at Thomas More College. Romney actually received a lot of pretty tough, somewhat combative, questions.

So I asked a tough question….and Romney was textbook at dodging all parts of the question.

Erin: The Department of Energy and the Bush Administration have plans to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons, including the Reliable Replacement Warhead. Not only would this seem to undermine the purpose of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which we are a signatory, it would send the wrong message to the rest of the world with a “do as I say, not as I do” nuclear policy. As President, would you continue funding this project? If you would, how can you justify your response when the United States already has 10,000 nuclear warheads which scientists have deemed “reliable”?

Romney: I will not commit to weakening our nuclear arsenal, especially in a time of radical jihad. When we have countries like Iran, sitting on virtually endless supply of energy, pursuing nuclear technology with such haste – if we continue to allow them to pursue nuclear dreams it will encourage other countries to do so as well. We will not go outside our obligations to the NPT but I will not commit to unilaterally weakening our nuclear arsenal in a time like this.

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“After I became an American citizen, the thing that stands out so clearly in my mind is the Reagan/Gorbachev summit at Reykjavik,” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently. “The leaders of the two most powerful nations on earth were actually discussing the elimination of nuclear weapons. Such a breathtaking possibility. I still remember the thrill of it.” The occasion was a conference at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, led by the four authors of an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal last January. It called for “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” as championed by Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik, and its authors were George Shultz, Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan (Shultz was present at Reykjavik); William Perry, Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton; Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon; and former Senator Sam Nunn–four archbishops of the cold war nuclear priesthood, most of whom until now have dismissed the idea of nuclear abolition as undiscussably utopian and naïve. The four cited proliferation and the terrorist danger, and warned that the world is entering “a new nuclear era that will be more precarious, psychologically disorienting, and economically costly than Cold War deterrence.” Significantly, they invoked moral as well as practical reasons for their proposal, approvingly quoting Reagan’s opinion that nuclear weapons are “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization.” The conference at Hoover was the second in a series convened to explore concrete pathways to the goal of abolition. The group will eventually publish a book and hold an international conference to present their findings.

As Schwarzenegger self-deprecatingly observed, he knows more about weight lifting than throw-weights; yet he went on to speak compellingly of the new nuclear dangers. (It is a perverse pleasure to be able to quote Schwarzenegger, Shultz, Kissinger, Perry, Nunn and Reagan approvingly in a single article in The Nation, which normally does not keep company of this kind. The hopeful aspect may be that in our fractious time there are still some issues that can recall us to our common humanity.) And not only former weight lifters and nuclear priests but anyone who reads a newspaper can see that nuclear dangers are spreading like the brush fires that were sweeping through Southern California as the conference met. The United States has, of course, got itself stuck in Iraq in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and facilities for making them, including nuclear ones. In Iran the government is racing to produce nuclear power fuels that, with a few extra touches, could become nuclear weapons materials. To halt this development, many inside and outside the Bush Administration have favored a military attack on Iran, though a recent National Intelligence Estimate has declared that while Iran once had an active nuclear weapons program, it was suspended in 2003.

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One of our board members is interviewed by The Guardian in this video.

And speaking of Hillary, she was in Concord yesterday and was asked if she would take “the nuclear option with Iran off the table.” She responded “I think with the intelligence estimate we need to get to diplomacy and get talking about–”

Clinton was interrupted by the questioner who asked “will you take [the nuclear option] off the table completely.” Her response was “Um, well, we’ve had, probably–what?–ten presidents since the dawn of the nuclear age and it’s American policy not to talk about what is or isn’t on the table, so I’m going to stick to that policy.”

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New Hampshire Indy Media reports:

Edwards finally did take the stage, dressed in blue jeans and speaking of his common-man roots, not his current wealth and power. He showed respect for the audience’s intelligence and time, taking unusually specific stands in a concise way. He committed to an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, based on a carbon trading and auctioning system that would be used to fund alternative energies. He opposes any new nuclear power plants. He said that case-by-case efforts to limit nuclear weapons proliferation is good, but that we need to bring about total nuclear disarmament. He said there would be no permanent US bases in Iraq, and that he would start removing “combat troops” immediately. His central theme was confronting corporate influence in Washington (particularly over health care) and said he would not negotiate with the drug companies.

Take a look at the rest of the article.

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Michelle Cunha of Hill, N.H. works for New Hampshire Peace Action, and she landed in the spotlight Monday when she was asked to leave Mitt Romney’s campaign event at Insight Technologies in Londonderry.

Cunha said she has been making the rounds of both Democratic and Republican contenders’ campaign stops, handing out list of questions for people to ask of the presidential candidates.

She finished passing out the leaflets on Monday and was sitting down to hear Romney, who had not yet arrived, when a man and a woman asked who she was with, why she was passing out the fliers and who invited her to the event.

Cunha said part of the conversation went like this: “We support this candidate, which is why we invited him. These don’t support him.” Then the two asked her to leave, and she did.

It was ironic, she said, because she originally went to Insight’s other Londonderry location by mistake, and employees there were not only helpful but gave her a map to help her find the right address. She was never told that she needed an invitation to get in, she said.

Insight Technologies did not immediately return questions seeking comment. The employee who collected the leaflets did not want to be interviewed. She referred questions to the company’s human resources office.

Romney ended up answering the questions Cunha had handed out after Herbert Hoffman of Maine asked him how he felt about the peace activist being tossed from the event. Hoffman showed Romney the leaflet and asked if the questions were toxic to him.

“There is nothing toxic to me,” he said. “I was on ‘Meet the Press’ yesterday.”

The questions on Cunha’s leaflets asked candidates who support ending the Iraq War if they would have the troops out by the end of 2009. For candidates who want to keep the troops there, the question is how they propose paying for a long-term military presence.

For more click here, here, and here

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Paul in Bedford

Ron Paul Encounter: Bedford Village Inn 12-19-07  

Ron Paul spoke this morning at the Bedford Village Inn in a continuation of the Politics and Eggs Candidate Series. During his stump speech Paul spoke at length about the economic crisis facing the United States. While speaking about the Iraq war Paul gave his typical pitch to the unconstitutional nature of the war, the amount of lives and dollars that are being needlessly wasted, and also called upon his fellow Republican candidates to come out against a nuclear first-strike with Iran. Erin Placey, of the American Friends Service Committee, was able to ask Congressman Paul to expand on this allusion to nuclear weapons.

Erin: First of all thank you for calling on your fellow running mates to commit to a no-first strike policy. I would like you to speak a little about the connections between nuclear power and the spread of this technology in terms of the growing concern of nuclear weapons proliferation – and also our constitutional commitments to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty? 

Paul: I don’t believe that we should commit to just a not first nuclear strike policy, but also extend that to conventional weapons. I am for nuclear power. It is clean, it poses no real threat to anyone, and we should be using more of it. Government needs to get their hands out of the industry and let them regulate. Nuclear weapons are another matter. We are not following the NPT while forcing others to adhere to the terms. With the recent news that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 they are perfectly within the guidelines of the NPT by pursing peaceful nuclear technology.  Iran is actually following the NPT more closely than the United States. We need to commit to the same standards that we are imposing on other countries and I think that if Iran wants to have nuclear power we have no business telling them no.

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