Liveblogging The GOP Debate

I’ll be liveblogging the GOP debate tonight at 9 PM EST.

9:01: Ok, almost time to rock and roll. The latest Florida polls seem to show McCain and Romney duking it out for the top spot with Romney closing the gap and in some polls pulling ahead, no doubt on the strength of Fred’s supporters who have came over to his side. Giuliani is in third, which isn’t good enough to keep his campaign going. Huckabee can survive a 4th place finish, but it will contribute to the sense that he’s wounded and sinking.

So, big debate.

9:02: Oh boy, Ron Paul gets to eat up precious minutes. He doesn’t have a chance to win overall and is at 4% in Florida.

9:04: Admittedly, I haven’t looked at Mitt’s plan or Bush’s plan in detail yet, but Mitt is doing a good job of selling his plan. On the other hand, I don’t support a stimulus plan at all.

9:05: Oh now, McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Well, better late than never, I suppose. No pork barrel projects. Cut the corporate tax rate. Like it. Allowing people to expense new people and equipment. Sounds good. Encourage savings, Good. Restrain spending. McCain did a good job of playing to his strengths there.

9:08: Rudy, we need major tax cuts, we need to encourage businesses to stay here. Sarbanes Oxley is overblown. This is a real change from the Democrats, whose philosophy is more taxes, the rich people screw everyone, yada, yada, yada.

9:09: Where did Russert get that quote from? If McCain said that, it sounds bad. On the other hand, McCain sounds good on this. His sober approach sounds good on this although he’s fudging a bit on the tax cutter issue.

9:10: Good for Huckabee there, not taking the bait and beating on Romney. Huckabee is speaking out against the stimulus package. Who is being stimulating the most? Us or China? I like it. Mike on infrastructure. He has given a very different answer here than the other guys, but I do like his answer and building roads with American products isn’t the worst idea I have heard.

9:13: Mitt doesn’t take the bait and attack Rudy and McCain. Good for him…wait, now he takes a shot at McCain. Then, he plays to his resume, I am a private sector guy, good, good.

9:14: McCain — I am sure the people who had to pay Mitt’s fees looked at them as taxes. Now, McCain goes back to fiscal conservatism, where he’s really strong. Also, it is true that McCain would restrain spending. I will stop the pork barrel spending, no more bridges to nowhere.

9:16: This is one of the reasons Ron Paul is such a lousy candidate. He gets a question that is perfect for him, right down his alley. Then, he’s all over the map, he’s on the war, he’s ranting on monetary policy, and empire. It should have been an A+ answer for Ron Paul and he turned it into a D- because he is so incoherent.

9:19: The moment Rudy start talking about giving that check back, half the audience probably rolled their eyes because they have heard it already a half dozen times. I think that’s a large part of why he has bombed over the last month and a half or so. He always sounds so, so, so stale.

9:21: McCain gives a good answer to a tough question. The Democrats will raise taxes, spending, won’t deal with entitlements. McCain will veto every big spending bill, he will impose discipline. The Democrats want to tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect. McCain sounds good on this.

9:23: Huckabee. I wasn’t there or we wouldn’t have screwed this up. The only guy at the UN without a headset? Mike is talking about healthcare, fuel, schooling. Trickle up impact with the economy. Mike understands everybody, not just the folks at the top. I guarantee you that the average person, not a political junky, would love the answer Huckabee just gave and think he sounded more in touch.

9:27: Mitt — When Republicans act like Democrats, we lose. I’m from outside of Washington. I will fix entitlements, immigration, etc. Mitt sounded great on that issue.

9:27: Rudy, Club for Growth likes my plan. Rudy has done this in a big economy.

9:28: Another magnificent question for Paul and again, he’s sort of incoherent. Once he got beyond the part that focused on his record of being against spending and tax cuts, incoherent.

9:29: McCain: Every military leader, including Petraeus says we can sustain it in Iraq. We are succeeding in Iraq. It’s not how long we’re there, it’s the casualties. Very true. I can’t stand McCain, but the man radiates gravitas on spending and foreign policy.

9:31: Why would we need a draft to increase the size of the military? It was much bigger that it is today in the eighties. Mitt taking a shot at the Democrats, I like it. Mitt, the Democrats made it clear that getting out of the war is more important than winning. That’s wrong. Excellent Mitt! Mitt, we must be successful. It’s outrageous that the Democrats are taking credit for success of the surge. General Hillary Clinton line was the best line of the debate tonight, so far.

9:34: I don’t particularly like McCain beating up Rumsfeld, but it’s a good political strategy. You attack Bush, people get angry. Rumsfeld, you can blame and get away with it.

9:35: Rudy slaps Hillary. I liked it.

9:36: Paul is just factually wrong. Al-Qaeda was in Iraq before we went in there.

9:36: Huckabee, we owe Bush not scorn, but thanks. When the President acted, the country was united. But, I hope we have the courage and resolve not to back away just because the polls say we should.

9:37: Mitt: I supported it then, I support it now, but it wasn’t well managed. Good answer for Mitt. He has done well tonight. The problem is, McCain is so strong on foreign policy and fiscal conservatism that it’s hard for anyone else up there to match up to him. Yet, we’re 38 minutes into an hour and a half long debate and McCain hasn’t really had to deal with his many, many weaknesses.

9:41: Incidentally, you notice how much more serious and realistic the discussion is here on the economy and the war? The Democrats sound like children compared to these guys — except for Ron Paul.

9:43: Every one of these questions better be for John McCain.

9:44: What a dumb question. It’s not that tough and it’s to Rudy, not McCain? What is Mitt thinking?

9:45: Ok answer from Rudy, he sounds fine, after he got done with the lame joke that he had to explain to everyone.

9:46: McCain’s turn and he goes after Huckabee, not Romney? I am scratching my head. I can’t complain about the question tho. Explain the fair tax, Huck.

9:47: One problem with making the Fair Tax a central part of your economic policy is that #1) It’s extraordinarily difficult to explain #2) It’s impossible to pass it. #3) It is not intuitive

Funny line about the pimps not being Republicans from Huck.

9:49: Ron Paul gets a question and he asks one for McCain. Good that somebody asked the guy something. What is this question?

What the hell has gone wrong with this question process? Great opportunities, all squandered.

9:51: Maybe it’s because of Paul’s speaking style or because I was typing, but I didn’t understand exactly what Paul was talking about and judging by the filler response McCain gave, I am not sure he understands what Paul was talking about either.

9:53: Huckabee goes after Romney with the only semi-tough question of the bunch.

9:53: Mitt never sounds good when he’s responding to being hit and this is no exception.

9:54: Now Rudy is going after Romney. Why does no one have a question for McCain? Well, Rudy is more of a sly dog than I thought. He is trying to dog out McCain and then give the question to Mitt. He’s also asking a question that Floridians will care about, because it’s a do or die state for him.

9:56: Mitt is tired of this question and moving on to health insurance. Rudy tries to pin him on mandates. My eyes are glazing over during this answer.

9:58: I am not sure if this answer is helping McCain in Florida, but I do at least like him shutting down a 200 billion dollar plan.

9:59: I am glad Rudy isn’t a global warming alarmist and that he talked about nuclear and clean coal before he got down to the near useless crap, solar, wind, switchgrass, etc. Also, it has to be done in a positive manner. We can’t let India and China run wild while we kill our economy.

10:01: McCain worships at the alter of the Goracle. If we are wrong, we hand our children a cleaner world — and a lot more regulations, and a less vibrant economy, and a competitive disadvantage with other nations. Ugh!

10:06: Awww come on, these horse race questions are lame. That’s not what they need to be debating.

10:07: Rudy: We’re going to come from behind and win!’

10:07: The Republican Party is going to have to hold its nose and pick my son, John McCain. Good question! How can McCain unite the Party together behind him? McCain, conservatives only care about radical Islam and spending — and no, we’re not concerned about climate change. Since when is McCain a big Israel supporter? McCain has a conservative record. Pffft. Oh yes, that’s what conservatives don’t like about him: because he went after Abrahamoff.

10:10: Mitt, Bill back in the White House with nothing today. Heh. Hillary is out of step with the American people. This is a good question for him and he is doing a good job of answering it. Hillary is exactly what’s wrong in Washington. She’s Washington to the core. !!! Very good. Mitt makes his pitch to the Reagan coalition. Very strong answer!

10:12: Mitt, I’ve raised more money than anyone else has. Raised more. Deft handling of the question by Mitt. Mitt, no one can say you owe me because I spent so much of my own money. I am concerned about the country so I am spending my own money. Mitt is on tonight. He displayed Huckabee-like skill in turning that around.

10:14: Now Mitt gets a Mormon question. 44% say a Mormon can’t unite the country. Mitt doesn’t buy that people will vote against him because he’s Mormon. People are un-American who would vote against him for being a Mormon. Well, that stopped his momentum.

10:16: Ron Paul — abolish Social Security! Ok. Paul doesn’t want taxes on Social Security, but he wants to abolish it? There are old people gasping in horror and throwing away their Paul bumper stickers all across Florida right now.

10:18: Huck gets a laugh at Mitt’s expense. And Huck’s solution to the entitlement problem is the Fair Tax? Ehr…He wants to stick to the Fair Tax and that’s his plan? Uh.

10:20: Here’s the honest truth: we will end up raising the limit of Social Security because the Democrats won’t agree to anything without doing that. No raise taxes, no anything else. Someone should have the courage to say that. Mitt’s other suggestions are fine.

10:24: I approve on running ads in Spanish, but Rudy didn’t do a great job of answering that question. On the Cuban question, Rudy’s answer was eh…

10:25: Heh. They’re asking about Norris saying he was too old. Huck makes it funny in his response. Huckabee says “no;” McCain isn’t too old.

10:27: McCain — I will send Sylvester Stallone to take out Chuck Norris. Laughs.

10:28: Rudy gets a great chance to slap the New York Times and doesn’t get as good a line off as he could have.

10:29: Romney changes position with the wind. Yeah, true. He is the most disliked candidate of the group. It’s because his campaign has been so negative. He runs negative ads constantly and they send negative releases on the other candidates from dusk until dawn. Again, Romney repeats his shtick. He is almost always weak when he’s hit.

10:31: McCain’s temper has been an issue for years. McCain gets a laugh. He is an incredibly thin skinned and cranky guy. McCain says some nice words about Rudy. Smart, because when Rudy goes out, his people will probably go right over to Rudy.

10:33: Huckabee always hammers questions about his faith out of the ballpark and this is no exception. He’s the Christian that they’re going after because of his faith, but he’ll stand up for his faith no matter what they say. Very good question.

10:34: Another third party question for Paul. They have asked him this a million times. Oh yeah, that’s what people are saying: Those Ron Paul people believe too strictly in the Constitution and freedom so we don’t like him. That’s the problem. What a tool.

Summary: So-so debate. A little dull and the questions were a little bit lame.

Ron Paul (Loser): 40% decent answer, 60% rambling and crap as per usual.

Rudy Giuliani: The magic is gone. The confident, funny Rudy of the original debates is long gone.

Mike Huckabee: Huckbee has slipped in the last few debates. He’s not terrible and he still gets off a few funny lines, but too much Fair Tax stuff and he was just a touch off.

John McCain: Has a lot of gravitas on security issues and fiscal conservatism. Shows energy and has a nice way about him. I generally think his performance in these debates is underrated.

Mitt Romney (winner): Mitt was very good tonight. He got off the best lines, said a lot of things that were pleasing to the conservative ear, emphasized that he was an outsider, and fortunately he didn’t get beaten up a lot (He’s not very good on the defensive). This was a very good debate for Mitt Romney in a crucial debate, before what looks to be a very close Florida election.

Who won the debate?
John McCain
Mike Huckabee
Mitt Romney
Ron Paul
Rudy Giuliani
Free polls from

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