9:50 p.m.: That’s it. The debate is over. Not much new came out of it. I watched it so that you didn’t have to. The one surprise that I had was the amount of unanimity among the candidates. The only real disagreements were over Romney’s healthcare plan (basically everyone on stage agreed that Romney’s plan sucks) and the use of the military. It’s interesting to see people like Michele Bachmann as vociferous opponents to a limited military role in Libya (a successful mission at that) when they were cheerleaders for the war in Iraq.
9:48 p.m.: Ron Paul gets asked whether he supports nutrition programs in schools, like those pioneered by former President Lyndon Johnson (and fellow Texan). He says that as long as it is done with local support, he’s fine with it. He goes on to say that the federal government has never fed people, that it’s “the market” that looks out for people. That would come as a surprise to people on Social Security, unemployment insurance, and food stamps. Where do you think their food is coming from?
9:43 p.m.: Brian Williams noted that Texas has executed over 200 death row inmates during Rick Perry’s tenure. The crowd cheers. So much for “pro-life”. Disgusting people. Death isn’t something to celebrate, especially state-sponsored murder.
9:38 p.m.: Michele Bachmann stands by her comment that the U.S. should drill for oil in the Florida Everglades.
9:36 p.m.: Rick Perry says that the verdict is out on climate change. “The fact of the matter is the science is not settled,” Perry said. This, of course, is blatantly false. The UN and other organizations comprising hundreds of scientists have stated that climate change is not only real, but caused by man. The only people casting doubt on the science are those with an economic interest to see nothing be done.
9:35 p.m.: Jon Huntsman makes the argument that Republicans can’t run away from science in the way that most Republican candidates on the stage have. “98 percent of climate scientists” agree on climate change and comments that “don’t reflect the reality of the situation” will “turn people off”.
9:30 p.m.: Perry says that he doesn’t support military adventurism, but is unwilling to criticize President Bush for getting America into an 8 year long war in Iraq and 10 year long war in Afghanistan.
9:26 p.m.: Jon Huntsman says that it’s time for America’s troops to come home from Afghanistan. Amen to that!
9:24 p.m.: Rick Perry joins every other Republican presidential candidate in saying that he would oppose a 10-to-1 spending cuts-to-tax increases debt ceiling deal.
9:23 p.m.: Mitt Romney won’t say whether he’s a member of the Tea Party.
9:20 p.m.: Jon Huntsman seems to have a Rudy Giuliani problem. Being a social moderate didn’t work for Rudy in 2008, it’s not going to work in 2012 with a Republican Party further to the right.
9:17 p.m.: Ron Paul falsely states that undocumented immigrants qualify for welfare. He sees a conspiracy behind the fence as being used to “keep us in”. At least he makes a good point that it is un-American to have a border with machine gun turrets facing our southern neighbor.
9:13 p.m.: Rick Santorum says that immigrants come to the United States to leach off of the government. I know they don’t have a lot of Latinos in Pennsylvania, but that’s a woefully uninformed statement.
9:12 p.m.: Newt Gingrich says that immigrants should come to the U.S. and learn American history. Apparently he doesn’t know much about immigration, because that’s already the law.
9:11 p.m.: Mitt Romney wants a border fence along the nearly 2,000 mile long border. Great way to create jobs, Mitt! Let’s build a new Berlin Wall. Shows how much of a welcoming country the U.S. will become under a Republican president. He also wants to end in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.
9:04 p.m.: Williams points to billions in cuts to education in Texas, despite some of the lowest graduation rates in the country. “When you share the border with Mexico…. we have a unique situation in our state.” Interesting way to unload your failures onto Latinos.
8:59 p.m.: Newt Gingrich seems to think that he developed everything since the wheel.
8:50 p.m.: Mitt Romney says he would not call Social Security “by any measure, a failure”.
8:48 p.m.: Rick Perry repeated his line that Social Security is a “Ponzi Scheme”.
8:40 p.m.: Ron Paul does a no-no among Republicans: criticizing Ronald Reagan in his own presidential library. He says that his message was great, but that the country greatly increased its deficit during the Reagan years. Of course that’s true, but it’s not a popular line among conservatives who like to pretend that the Reagan years were the golden years for America.
8:37 p.m.: Ron Paul says that he supports eliminating the minimum wage – and that it would help the poor.
8:34 p.m.: Michele Bachmann says that she would like to see the government pull back its regulation on energy production. I assume that means she supports another Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
8:30 p.m.: Rick Santorum calls government assistance for poor people a “culture of dependency”. No mention of how to ensure that people have jobs or whether to provide unemployment insurance.
8:27 p.m.: Newt Gingrich is carrying Rick Perry’s water for him saying that the news media is attempting to get Republicans to attack each other. I understand why Romney would not like to address the fact that he supported the individual mandate and Rick Perry’s unwillingness to address 25% uninsured in Texas.
8:25 p.m.: The GOP healthcare plan is to repeal the Affordable Care Act without any solution to cover the 50 million Americans without health insurance.
8:23 p.m.: Massachusetts has nearly universal healthcare, while Texas ranks 50th with a quarter of its population uninsured. Perry doesn’t have an answer for Texas’ horrible healthcare system. He blames the federal government. Pathetic. Take some responsibility, Governor Perry.
8:21 p.m.: Mitt Romney says that he would grant a waiver to states from the same national law that was modeled after Romneycare. Nice try, Mitt.
8:15 p.m.: Ron Paul claims that government isn’t needed for air traffic control, drug safety, etc. Just let “the market” regulate itself!
8:10 p.m.: Herman Cain wants to tax corporations at a 9% rate, a flat tax rate of 9% on incomes (a giant tax cut for millionaires, essentially) and a 9% national sales tax (a huge tax increase on the poor and middle class). Herman Cain isn’t alone on flat tax. Jon Huntsman and other Republican candidates also support it.
8:09 p.m.: “Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt.” -Rick Perry to Mitt Romney
8:03 p.m.: Brian Williams didn’t pull any punches. He points out that Texas is a leader in minimum wage jobs and has some of the worst schools in the nation. He turned to Mitt Romney and noted that Massachusetts ranked 47th in job creation during his term as governor.
8:00 p.m.: I love the positioning of these candidates in each debate. Romney and Michele Bachmann are always in the middle of the stage (Rick Perry joins them there tonight). Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum are left nearly falling off the stage.
7:56 p.m.: Speaking of Al Gore, just saw Ron Paul’s anti-Perry ad on MSNBC.
7:47 p.m.: While we wait for things to get started, be sure to check out the article I wrote about a potential weakness that Rick Perry might have – the fact that he supported Al Gore for president. Not exactly the best selling point for a far-right conservative to have.
7:40 p.m.: I’m going to be liveblogging the Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in California. The debate begins at 8 p.m. on MSNBC and MSNBC.com. It will be the first debate featuring Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has quickly taken the lead in both national and state polls among GOP contenders.