Ed Meese: GOP Primary Should Be 'Vigorous Debate' Not 'Slug Fest With Personal Attacks'

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 13, 2012 | 3:08 PM EST

President Reagan meeting with Edwin Meese in the Oval Office on Oct. 16, 1981. (Reagan Library)

(CNSNews.com) - Edwin Meese, a longtime adviser to Ronald Reagan who served as attorney general in Reagan's administration, told CNSNews.com on Thursday that the Republican presidential candidates should have a "vigorous debate" on the issues during the primary campaign but that it should not be a “slug fest” that includes personal attacks and character assassination.

“I think there should be a vigorous debate,” Meese said, appearing on “Online With Terry Jeffrey.”

“But I think the debate ought to be on issues, on differences between the candidates on various issues, on differences in how they would act as president, on various program differences from what’s going on now,” said Meese.

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“Those are the things that ought to be debated, so people can understand what the views of the various candidates are,” said Meese. “But it should not be a slug fest with personal attacks, with exaggerations of people’s past conduct which tend to harm them personally, which assassinate their character.

“I think that is a big mistake,” said Meese, “particularly when what they are doing, really, is abandoning what they ought to be doing, which is looking at the potential opponent, the sitting president, who has such a vacant record which deserves to be revealed to the American people--a record of indecision, a record of faulty judgment, a record of wrong policies, a record of incompetence in handling of the economy. All of these things ought to be what’s being discussed now, rather than, in a sense, the slander of each other’s opponents.”