I will be liveblogging the presidential debate in New Hampshire that begins tonight at 8 PM EST. Of course, a full slate of Republican candidates won’t be there, but it will feature the following candidates…
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann
Businessman Herman Cain
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
Texas Rep. Ron Paul
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
Fun, fun, fun…..sigh… oh, who am I kidding? It will be tolerable if you’re a political junky. If you’re going to watch, head on over to RWN and enjoy the liveblogging!
7:54: It’s almost go time and many questions remain to be answered! Who’ll be the first candidate to mention Ronald Reagan? Which candidates want to reduce the debt? Who’ll take the first shot at Romney? It’ll be a blast!
8:02. Michele Bachmann looks FOXY. She had 5 kids and 23 foster kids? Wow.
8:03. Mitt Romeny wants America to continue to be known as “The hope of the earth.” Haven’t heard that phrase before. Thinking about it. I like it.
8:07: The whole “no buzzer” thing is already failing.
8:08: “We’re not the same as Portugal.” — Tim Pawlenty. Score! Liked that line.
8:10: First Reagan mention goes to Newt!
8:11: Michele Bachmann announces she’s officially running.
8:12. “Has Obama done one thing right in regards to the economy?” — Ron Paul: “Boy, that’s a tough question!” — Funny.
8:15: I will repeal Obamacare. Then he goes into his unconvincing explanation of why Romneycare isn’t the same as Obamacare, despite the fact that it is mostly the same thing.
8:17: Pawlenty stumbled a lot when he was asked why Romney’s plan was like Obama’s. He sounded unprepared, which is unusual for him.
8:20. Translated question: “I’m a RINO. Reassure me that I can vote for you and not be embarrassed at cocktail parties!”
8:23: Bachmann shows a little fire there! Gets some applause.
8:25. T-Paw was in a union for a few years. He’s for fair trade and he’s not for being a “chump” on trade. I met a guy who’s moving his whole company out of the country because of Obamacare.
8:28: So far, this is actually an informative, on-point debate.
8:29: 5 year capital gains tax cut to zero for manufacturers — Santorum.
8:30: T-Paw. We live in the United States of America and nobody should be forced to join any organization, including a union. Applause. The gov’t doesn’t tell us what to do; we tell them what to do.
8:31: Newt: Defund the labor relations board.
8:32: We’re 30 minutes in and the good news is NOBODY has sounded bad.
8:33: Santorum doesn’t watch Leno or Conan.
8:34: This debate would be better if the candidates had a little more time to talk and expand on their ideas. 30 seconds really isn’t that long.
8:37: There shouldn’t be any government assistance to private industry. — Ron Paul. Applause line.
8:39: Herman Cain explains his Tarp fudge.
8:39: Was the bailout program a success? Mitt: No. We wasted 17 billion dollars. We should have gone through bankruptcy. They went through bankruptcy anyway, we wasted 17 billion anyway, and they gave the UAW the company.
8:40: Santorum. No TARP, no auto-bailout.
8:43: What role should the government play in space exploration? Good question.
8:43: Newt — NASA has wasted an incredible amount of money. If the money put into NASA went into private industry, we’d have been in much better shape.
8:44: T-Paw: He’s the only candidate who thinks we shouldn’t be ending the manned space program. After T-Paw steps up, Newt jumps in, too.
8:46: What do we do to right the housing ship? T-Paw. Congress created the problem. We’ve got to get the economy going again.
8:48: Are there people who don’t think the federal gov’t should be doing food safety inspections?
8:49: Mitt. Moving from the federal level to the state level is good. Moving to the private sector is even better. Good answer from Mitt.
8:54: So far, no stupid liberal gotcha questions.
8:54: In your lifetime for a couple, you’ll have paid in 140k and you’ll take out 30 times that much. Why can’t we opt out of Medicare?
8:56: Right now, the money going into the plan is paying only half the price of it.
8:58: John King’s “uh” ing in the background is ANNOYING.
8:59: Ok, you have 30 seconds. Give us a detailed explanation of your Social Security plan. Sure, that’s plausible.
9:03: Everybody has different ideas. Where are the President’s ideas? He’s not leading. — Mitt Romney
9:06: I love hearing Republicans say, “Obama has failed in leadership.”
9:06: Pawlenty, the 1st Amendment is designed to protect the people from the government, not the government from the people. (Applause)
9:08: Congress should never prohibit the expression of faith in a public facility. — Ron Paul. Good line.
9:10: Herman Cain really sounds terrible on the question about having Muslims in his cabinet.
9:17: Bachmann, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but it wouldn’t be my role to go into New Hampshire and tell it what to do.
9:20. Herman Cain — I wouldn’t have overturned Don’t ask, Don’t Tell, but I wouldn’t go back and overturn it. Good answer.
9:21. Pawlenty. I would talk to the commanders and see what they say. Good answer.
9:24: Santorum — A lot of people talk about being pro-life and then shove it to the back. I wouldn’t do that.
9:27: I love the fact that we have a legalized immigrant asking how to stop illegal immigration.
9:28: Santorum — No gov’t services for illegal immigration.
9:29: Ron Paul’s immigration answer is a little incoherent.
9:31: Herman Cain: His best answer of the night on illegal immigration.
9:32: The problem with our elites is that we set up two catastrophic alternatives and try to force people to choose. We’re not going to get comprehensive immigration through. Obama couldn’t pass it. They won’t pass it. Newt KILLED on his immigration answer.
9:38. This is the part of the debate where we pretend ethanol isn’t wasteful crap because we have to campaign in Iowa.
9:43: Ehr, Hand the country over to the Taliban military? What is this? Did Mitt think he was at a Democratic debate for a moment? He did correct.
9:43: This is the part of the debate where Ron Paul flakes out and goes all Charles Lindbergh.
9:46: Bachmann — We shouldn’t be in Libya. The President deferred leadership to France. We don’t even know whom we’re helping in Libya. We may even be helping Al-Qaeda.
9:47: 10 years after 9/11, we have no idea what percentage of the Libyan rebels are Al-Qaeda. — Newt Gingrich
9:51: Our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t respect us — Santorum
9:56: Biden has been wrong about every major issue. Palin is a remarkable leader. She’s equally or more qualified than Biden. — T-Paw.
9:56: Mitt — Anybody on this stage would be a better President than Barack Obama. — Mitt
Summary: Overall, CNN did a pretty decent job on the debate. John King was a little annoying, but most of the questions were substantive.
Ranking the candidates.
Winner: Michele Bachmann. She sounded great, she looked fantastic, she was strong on every question and she had several impressive answers.
Runner-up: T-Paw blew a chance to tee off on Romney, but he had a lot of good answers and for a guy whose biggest weakness is supposed to be a lack of charisma, he sounded pretty charismatic.
The news grouping: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, & Newt Gingrich. They all had their moments, but I think Pawlenty was a LITTLE stronger and also benefits from low expectations.
Next to last: Ron Paul. He sounded generally good on economic issues, but on foreign policy, he went back to his standard isolationist position that so many conservatives find to be untenable.
Last place: Herman Cain. Cain sounded good overall, but his comments on not allowing Muslims in his administration were cringeworthy. It was something he never should have said in the first place and he sounds AWFUL explaining it.