This is going to come as a great disappointment to Candy Crowley, George Stephanopoulos and the rest of the network stars who had no doubt hoped to moderate GOP debates in the upcoming election cycle. Hugh Hewitt will be moderating one of the debates this September and it looks like the show will be a bit different this time around. In a radio interview this weekend, Hugh revealed less about what he would be asking candidates, and more about the sorts of ambush questions that won’t be on the menu.
Hugh Hewitt will not be asking questions about contraceptives at CNN’s Republican presidential debate.
In an interview with radio host Aaron Klein that will air Sunday night on New York’s AM 970 The Answer, Hewitt ruled out certain types of questions completely.
“I don’t care what people think about evolution,” he told Klein. “I don’t care. I never cared. I don’t care if they know how old the earth is and I just have never cared about personal religious beliefs.”
“[Article VI of the Constitution has] no religious test for public office,” Hewitt told Klein in the interview. “And that is our tradition. And that is why we are a strong, vibrant democracy is we have no religious test. So I really hate gotcha questions or trick questions that are designed to divide on religious grounds. They turn my stomach actually, so I won’t be asking.”
It will come as little surprise that the usual critics such as Charles Johnson are terribly disappointed that the anti-science party won’t be exposed because “all of the candidates are creationists.” (Really? Saying you don’t know for sure makes one a creationist these days, I suppose.)
To the horror of the Left and the benefit of serious voters who want to know where the candidates stand on the issues of the day, Hewitt said that the first priority would be foreign policy. I’m sure that sounds like crazy talk to folks like Stephanopoulos, who wanted everyone to say whether states should be allowed to ban contraception in 2012. (As the linked article notes, not one of them had ever suggested it.)
One thing that is missing from the interview with Hewitt, though, seems like it could leave an incorrect impression. He’s absolutely correct in saying that there can be no religious test as a qualification for office as per Article VI, but that only applies to potential legal barriers to being elected. (The only true legal barriers are being less than 35 years old not a natural born citizen, whatever that means this week.) This is not to say that a candidate’s religious beliefs and values are not valid concerns for voters to take into consideration, nor should they be completely out of bounds when they are questioned. And given Hugh’s own observations on the divine, I’m confident that’s not what he meant.
But Hugh is equally correct in noting that debates over the age of the Earth are not going to have any lasting effect on how well the next president handles ISIS or Vladimir Putin. (To be clear, if that’s one of your primary concerns, feel free to not vote for anyone who believes differently than you, but it’s simply not in the top ten of all voters across the nation.) Those questions have never been posed by liberal media moderators as a way to enlighten voters and help them make a well informed choice. They are only posed in an attempt to drive a wedge between the ranks of the GOP and damage Republican candidates. If Hugh Hewitt can put on a display of how debates should actually be moderated, perhaps the media can be allowed to run a few themselves some day in the future.