Funt: GOP small talk
A woman named Diane Blondstein stopped me in the supermarket the other day. "Peter," she said. "I'm concerned about how well Americans really know the Republican candidates for president." Tears seemed to form in her eyes as she continued, "Sure we see polls and hear speeches, but when candidates tell heartwarming stories about meeting strangers in public, what are we to think?"
Right there in the produce aisle I vowed to help Diane and other concerned voters. Here are 12 statements from a recent GOP debate. Half are exactly as spoken in Milwaukee; half are fake. (Answers below.)
(a) Mike Huckabee: "I got a letter from a third grader in North Dakota. Her name is Reese. She sent six dollars from her allowance and said, 'I want to help you be president.'"
(b) Ted Cruz: "I received a donation of two dollars from a gentleman named Wesley Klaven, who lives in Montana. He said, 'I only wish I could give more to help you help us get America back on track."
(c) Donald Trump: "I spoke to a general two weeks ago. He said he was very up on exactly what we're talking about. He said, 'You know, Mr. Trump, We're giving hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment to these people, we have no idea who they are.'"
(d) Rand Paul: "I met a police officer in Knoxville, Tennessee, the other day and he said, 'Senator, we can't be the world's police force. We need to protect Main Street, not Rawdai Al Midan, and streets like that in Syria.'"
(e) Carly Fiorina: "I think about a woman I met the other day. I would guess she was about 40 years old. She had several children. And she said to me, 'You know, Carly, I go to bed each night afraid for my children's future.'"
(f) John Kasich: "I met a fellow recently, who appeared to be in his late teens. He told me he worries about his parents. 'Governor,' he said — he called me governor even though he lives in Iowa, not in Ohio — 'every morning I wake up wondering if mom and dad will be able to make it through another day.'"
(g) Chris Christie: "I was in New Hampshire last week and a woman approached me after a town hall meeting and she said to me, 'Governor, I'm really concerned.' I said, 'What are your concerns?' And she said, 'I don't quite know how to describe it, but every month when my bills come in I feel this awful anxiety in the pit of my stomach that I'm not going to have enough to pay them that month.'"
(h) Ben Carson: "I met a patient recently who had this pain in the pit of his stomach. He said, 'Doc, because of Obamacare I can't afford to pay for treatment,' and he left."
(i) Rick Santorum: "In the crowd here today is a gentleman who is a supporter of mine from Rockwall, Texas, Ed Grand-Lienard. He runs Special Products. And he tells me he has jobs open in every skill that he could possibly hire for in Rockwell, Texas, but he can't find people."
(j) Bobby Jindal: "A man named Bob Bendio stopped me in the French Quarter and he said, 'Governor, there are no jobs.' I said, 'You might try Texas.'"
(k) Jeb Bush: "I think of Jonathan and Reagan Love, who are supporters of mine. Jonathan has been deployed by the National Guard; he's in Oklahoma...When, if, they had this tax cut, what they told me was that with $2,300 of money in their pocket, they would go back to South Carolina and start a business."
(l) Marco Rubio: "As I walked on stage tonight, Jeb Bush whispered to me, 'Have you seen the movie "Truth"? Does it make my brother look bad?' And I said I don't go to movies."
Six of the statements are precisely as delivered in the debate: a, c, e, g, i, k. I'm sure there's not a Pinocchio in the bunch.
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker.