Liveblogging The YouTube Debate

by John Hawkins | November 28, 2007 7:30 pm

Tonight, I’ll be liveblogging the CNN/YouTube debate that starts at 8 PM EST.

PS: Since we have less than 5 weeks to go until the first primary and we have Rudy in first place nationally with 4 other candidates, for all intents and purposes, tied for 2nd place[1], this is going to be the most important debate yet.

PS #2: I don’t expect to see any snowmen or crazed rednecks asking questions because I’ve heard that some of the candidates, as a condition of participating, told CNN they didn’t want to take any ridiculous questions that demeaned the presidency. We’ll see how it plays out.

8:03: Oh boy! Pointless introductions!

8:04: Tom “Cancredo”? Wasn’t that what he said instead of Tancredo?

8:07: CNN basically says no questions from incredibly stupid sources. That’s a plus although it’s funny that they felt compelled to brag about it.

8:09: Oh boy! Some dork signing to start things off. Super!

8:10: Ok, it was a good song. Still, it’s 8:10 and we still haven’t had a real question.

8:11: Wow, Rudy is such a bald faced liar. We are not a sanctuary city, but we gave sanctuary to illegals who weren’t criminals. Does anyone buy this sort of thing?

8:12: Applause line because Mitt just nailed Rudy. Of course, there were sanctuary cities in Mass. under Romney, too.

8:15: Both Rudy and Romney stink on illegal immigration and they’re the ones debating it. Neither one of them is coming off particularly well here if you ask me.

8:16: Let’s see: Anderson Cooper has completely lost control of the debate, Rudy is an enormous jerk, and with Mitt, the lady doth protest too much.

8:17: Fred’s answer is outstanding. Fred now has to get in on the bashing of Rudy and Fred because that’s the only thing that gets covered. Fred had a good answer, but it was a little rambling.

8:20: Now Rudy has spent 10 minutes lying about New York being a sanctuary city and now we have John McCain lying about his amnesty plan. So, if he pledges no amnesty, but denies that his last plan was amnesty, how can you believe him now?

8:22: Anderson may be an even worse moderator than Wolf Blitzer.

8:23: It’s totally true that everyone wants to try to out Tancredo Tancredo.

8:24: I reject the idea categorically that there are jobs that no American will take. Bam! The first really killer answer of the night.

8:25: Good, right on target answer, from Duncan, but he has been saying this exact, same thing since about Jan of this year.

8:27: Now it’s Huckabee’s turn to lie about his record on illegal immigration. Huckabee, McCain, Giuliani, and Romeny all have horrible records on illegal immigration and now, because that’s unpopular, they have to pretend to be serious about doing something about it. Fred’s the only top tier guy who has a halfway decent record on it and is the only guy who gave a halfway decent answer. Tanc and Duncan are head and shoulders above all of them on the answers.

8:29: Now we git Mitt, who was a pro-illegal immigration pol pretending to be tough on illegals attacking Huckabee, who was a pro-illegal immigration pol pretending to be tough on illegals.

8:30: Mitt has gotten his behind kicked from one end of the stage to the other tonight, even though his message is better than Huckabee and Giuliani on the issue.

8:31: I love it! A NAU conspiracy question for Paul and he’s telling people he buys into it while trying to dodge the question to keep from saying that Bush is merging Canada with Mexico. Hah Ha! The eye raise McCain just gave behind him was priceless.

8:34: The first 34 minutes of this debate made the GOP look terrible with a few exceptions.

8:35: McCain does have a great record on fiscal conservative issues. Pretty good answer on fiscal spending issues.

8:37: Mitt and Giuliani did ok, too. Nothing special, but solid on fiscal conservative answers.

8:38: Fred is giving good answers, there is substance behind them, but he’s a little flat.

8:40: CNN really runs lousy debates. They waste time at the start of the debate, their moderators stink, and they allow the crowd to be too loud. All this booing and cheering really shouldn’t be going on.

8:41: Huckabee gave a nice answer, but it’s not plausible.

8:42: McCain just obliterated Ron Paul. Best moment of the debate so far.

8:43: A bunch of idiots shouting in the audience. Ugh. Also, Paul’s answer was silly, as per usual on foreign policy. He is an isolationist.

8:44: Ranking of performance at this point in the debate:

1) McCain
Duncan Hunter

8:46: This question shows you what happens when conservative principles meet political pragmatism. We shouldn’t have farm subsidies, but for political purposes, they can’t be honest enough to say that.

8:49: That commercial really doesn’t show that Tanc is ready for the main event. I sort of liked it, but it’s totally a web ad I wouldn’t want to run in an event like this.

8:50: Tanc gave a decent answer on China.

8:51: Duncan shoots and he scores with “Buy American!”

8:52: Ha! Fred’s campaign sent in an attack ad? Wow. That’s a brassy decision.

8:52: Funny answer. “I just wanted to give my buddies a little extra air time.”

8:53: Mitt doesn’t respond well to being hit. He didn’t in the last debate and he hasn’t in this one either.

8:54: Ehr…Huckabee isn’t out front, hence his joke is kind of lame.

8:56: From the comments section: “Romney’s hair is simply tremendous tonight. It owns the stage. It somehow is shiny and a light-absorbing jet black at the same time. Utterly dominant.” — Mike_M

8:58: That was a great moment for McCain and this short commercial doesn’t really capture it effectively. I would have gone with something else.

8:59: The only guy who is really interesting to ask a gun control question to is Rudy, because he favored gun control in New York.

9:00: Well, that hit Rudy on gun control — the written exam question is pretty weak tho given his record.

9:01: Someone attacks Rudy’s record on conservative issues and he goes on to talk about his record of fighting crime in New York. That’s so tired. If I have to listen to that all through 2008, I’m going to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. Also, if Rudy really believed that the 2nd Amendment applies to the individuals, then how is it that Rudy was a gun grabber in NY?

9:03: Fred Thompson slapped Rudy on gun control pretty well. Still, he’s a little off somehow? Maybe it’s no eye contact or something?

9:05: I really like this question about what guns the candidates have because it helps let you know where the rubber meets the road. Rudy doesn’t earn a gun and Mitt doesn’t have a gun either? No big surprise there.

9:05: Another great question. I want to know what the candidates will do about black on black crime, too.

9:06: Mitt is right that we need better schools and more moms and dad, but that doesn’t help black on black crime right now.

9:07: This should be Rudy’s issue — although, ironically, I am completely sick of listening to Rudy talk about crime in New York by now.

9:09: I will give Ron Paul a brownie point if he doesn’t mention the gold standard, neocons, or Iraq on this abortion question.

9:10: Hey, another applause line for Fred on getting rid of Roe v. Wade and how that should be our #1 priority. A little more energy on that question.

9:11: Interesting question about a Federal Ban on abortion, but it’s completely hypothetical.

9:13: Romney is giving a good answer on the abortion ban. I am surprised they didn’t give that to Thompson because he got in trouble over that.

9:13: What would Jesus do on the death penalty? Gag. Dumb question of the night so far.

9:14: Good answer from Huckabee on the death penalty. He comes across as very serious and giving it a lot of thought. Great answer on Jesus being too smart to run for public office. Funny, snappy. Great job by Huckabee on that one.

9:15: Tancredo did a good job on the death penalty. Not as good as Huckabee, but solid.

9:16: Huckabee took a nice little shot at Rudy, too. PS: I really love to see the Democrats asked if they believe in every word in the Bible.

9:17: Wait, Giuliani doesn’t believe Jonah was in the belly of a whale? Hmmm.

9:18: This is Mike Huckabee’s question although he is getting a little too preachy here. He sounds ok, but I want someone thinking like a President in office, not a preacher. You can be a former preacher, but I don’t I want you thinking like my church’s preacher when you are dealing with Al-Qaeda or China.

9:23: Pretty good Giuliani commercial.

9:25: Rudy was solid, but not spectacular on our relations with the Muslim world.

9:26: John McCain is stepping up and asserting himself on Iraq. He is coming across well on it, too. Plus, he’s hammering the Democrats. Al-Qaeda would be saying we beat America is the Democrats got their way. Good answer!

9:27: Sigh. Great answer from Duncan — but very old.

9:28: Mitt is being slippery here — but most of them probably will. I wish they would just say, yes, we will waterboard Al-Qaeda, it’s not torture, and I’m not sorry about it.

9:29: John McCain: defining torture down. I believe Pol Pot stuck people in prison, too. Should we not do that because Pol Pot did it?

9:31: Romney has really, utterly sucked tonight. Everytime slaps him, he’s like a deer in the headlights. His torture response to McCain was weak.

9:32: If you are not in favor of water boarding, I don’t think you’re serious enough about fighting terror to be Commander-in-Chief.

9:34: Thompson is invested in a scenario of victory. Another solid issue, but not spectacular.

9:34: Ron Paul: America is taking Iraq from the Iraqis and he’s actually using Vietnam as something we should be emulating? Ugh…

9:35: McCain gets to follow Paul: that’s a gift.

9:36: Al-Qaeda hit us on 9/11 because we were occupying “their” country.

9:37: Tancredo: I wish we were living in Ron’s world. Yes, it would be nice in theoretical isolationism land…

9:39: Is there anyone other than George Will who thinks Rudy is a conservative because he has brought that up a bazillion times.

9:40: Ok, idiotic Dick Cheney cartoon. Didn’t CNN say earlier they weren’t doing that sort of thing? They’re giving Fred “2nd Tier” questions tonight, I notice. I mean, the veep question? Are there really large numbers of people making their decision about who wins based on that?

9:41: Anderson Cooper was hoping McCain would tee off on Cheney there. He didn’t give him what he wanted.

9:42: Solid commercial from Duncan, but several months old.

9:46: Huckabee is starting to scare me a little bit. He reminds me a little of Jimmy Carter. He comes across as more like a pastor than a leader.

9:48: Ok, frank answer from Duncan.

9:49: Huckabee was ready to get off this question.

9:49: Mitt gets shifty and yes, he even flip flops on gays in the military.

9:50: What? How did the guy not get an answer? The flatly answered it. He might not like the answer, but he got an answer.

9:51: Is this guy getting in on the debate now? Why are they giving this give all day to talk? That’s a cheap shot from CNN.

9:52: McCain had the best answer on gays in the miltiary, but it was still sort of so-so.

9:52: Last election, the Log Cabin “Republicans” supported John Kerry. Mike Huckabee is giving a good answer on the question.

9:54: One of the things I would do for his generation is protect them from our generation. Great line from Fred on Social Security. Fred is so spot-on on Social Security. He is head and tails above all the other candidates on the issue, Democrat or Republican.

9:56: Will someone say that the deficit is more important than going to Mars?

9:56: Not Huckabee. Still, he gave a decent answer and the Hillary on the Mars flight was really funny.

9:57: Tanc nails it! Awesome! I didn’t think anyone would have the guts to say it! Applause!

9:58: Good question. Why don’t blacks vote Republican? Let the candidates speak on that issue. Put it out there — although Rudy doesn’t seem to have a lot happening with his answer. Oh geeze, you know he is reaching because he’s back to what he did in New York. Y-A-W-N!

10:00: Good answer from Huckabee. He got 48% of the black vote? Wow, that’s impressive.

10:01: Romney doesn’t want to discuss the Confederate flag, but the flag is bad, I think — or something? The flag shouldn’t be shown?

10:02: I like Fred’s answer. Nothing too exciting, but not bad. Some people see it as heritage and it’s ok if they want to fly it, but it’s better if it’s not over the Capitol Buildings because it’s divisive. That’s my position too.

10:04: An infrastructure question is good. Do we need to spend trillions on it though and is it the job of the Federal Government to do it all? States should do most of it although the Feds should help out on roads. Rudy did mention that states and local governments should work, too.

10:05: Rudy can’t even answer a question about bridges and infrastructure without going into Iraq. He’s may be the single most annoying Republican.

10:06: McCain takes a shot at Rudy and wants to send the money back to the states to fix infrastructure.

10:07: Rudy fought the line item veto to get pork, not for any noble reasons.

10:07: This really isn’t an appropriate question either. Ron will you run as a third party candidate? Ugh. Cheap from CNN.

10:09: Ok, let’s finish a horribly run debate with a stupid baseball question for Rudy.

Summary: First of all, CNN is completely incompetent. Anderson Cooper had minimal control of the debate, they allowed too much applause and booing, and their choice to let the gay guy in the audience babble on and on was completely ridiculous.

Also, this wasn’t a great debate for the GOP. It was a weak performance overall.

The Winner — John McCain: He generally has good debate performances that bloggers and columnists don’t give credit for because they despise him. His whole waterboarding is torture rap undercut his solid foreign policy performance though. If you’re not serious about waterboarding terrorists, you’re not serious about the war on terror.

2nd: Fred Thompson: He gave the best policy answers and was the most conservative, but seemed a little flat and has a bad habit of not looking at the camera.

3rd: Huckabee was generally smooth, but I keep having images of Jimmy Carter going through my head when I hear him talk. He just seems a little naive and seems to have a little too much of a preacher’s mentality to be a good President.

4th: Tom Tancredo: He had a good night and gave great answers.

5th: Duncan (who I used to work for) gave good answers, but he used a little too much canned material.

6th: Rudy Giuliani: He came off as a little mean spirited and petty. He also never shuts up about New York which is getting more annoying by the day.

The Loser: Mitt Romney — He has a glass chin. You hit him and he can’t respond very well.

Then there’s Ron Paul, who was at the wrong debate. Maybe he should be at the Democratic Party debate or the Libertarian Party debate, but he seemed very out of place despite getting in a few good lines amidst his usual idiocy.

  1. 2nd place:

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