I recently had the honor of representing Oklahoma with a front-row seat at a Republican presidential forum. Along with attorneys general from Virginia and Florida, I was able to ask candidates face-to-face what they would do to limit the federal government and follow the law as prescribed by the Constitution.
Unlike any debate to date, our ability to interview candidates one at a time, without distraction or interruption, allowed real discussion on what our conservative representatives believe are the roles of the federal and state governments. Specifically, we worked to extract exactly how the candidates would lead when competing liberty interests are at play.
Until now, debates have filtered candidates' views through the lens of television antics that are unhealthy to the process. Equally distasteful has been the candidates' eagerness to lambaste each other. Republicans are ready to move beyond the infighting and get to issues of substance.
Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum offered differing views related to federalism and constitutional law, but as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee stated, any of these candidates would be better for the promotion of conservative principles than our current president. Let's not lose sight of that.
While I did not agree with everything the candidates said, I believe viewers came away with a better understanding of how they will address competing liberty interests and pressing issues.
There is no greater issue today than the appropriate role of the federal government. When an American government takes on characteristics that elevate the state above the individual, it must be vigorously opposed as a form of, or step toward, tyranny.