9:03: Bret Baier starts out by asking candidates not to use talking points and to instead speak from the heart. I had a laugh. 45 seconds later, Michelle Bachmann used her “ONE. TERM. PRESIDENT” line. >mfw
9:05 Romney’s turn now. He started out with making a “One…Two…Three…” list of things. Romney started talking about his support for cut, cap, balance, and then the “bell” went off. Baier grilling Romney right now. Romney said an awkward line about not wanting to eat Obama’s “dog food”.
9:07 Ron Paul’s turn. He is speaking very very fast. As if someone gave him “caffeine” before the debate. I can’t tell if it is distracting or if it makes him seem to have more vitality. Ron Paul stumbled for a few seconds talking about a divided Congress, but then added in a line about military draw down and drew some applause.
9:10 Herman Cain: “Make the tax cuts permanent” and stuff
9:11 The first question for Jon Huntsman was a little bitchy. He pivoted well, but its clear he doesn’t have a ton of gravitas in this setting.
9:12 Gingrich is getting his policy wonk on. And he’s actually using good pacing unlike most of the others. Solid opening, imo.
9:13 Pawlenty’s tur……………….sorry I dozed off. Kidding, but there isn’t anything noteworthy to mention. He offered a prize to the crowd for some sort of Obama scavenger hunt.
9:14 Pawlenty made some sort of joke about Mitt Romney. I didn’t get it.
9:15 Santorum’s turn. I don’t get why he keeps running for President. He mentions a “four point plan”. Everyone besides Bachmann basically has a # plan to present tonight, apparently.
9:16 Yikes, the moderators are trying to stir shit. Chris Wallace basically put a piece of juicy steak between Pawlenty and Bachmann and told them to fight for it.
9:18 Bachmann “responds” to Pawlenty by bringing up nothing related to the question. She is shitting on Pawlenty, and it isn’t playing well, IMO. She may come off as very shrill after this debate, if everyone else refuses to engage for the rest of the night.
9:20 Pawlenty saying Bachmann has a history of lying and misstatements. Bachmann “I was at the tip of the spear”. These two really want that steak. It’s beautiful, really.
9:21 Wallace about to ask Romney about Bain capital. These candidates are going to get ripped apart. If I was more cynical I’d assume Fox has decided that Perry is the only viable candidate, therefore tonight is “destroy the others” night.
9:27 Gingrich is lecturing Chris Wallace now, lol. For asking “gotcha questions”. It drew good applause. Wallace’s questions have all been legit, but then have seemed a bit harsher than anyone would expect this early (at least from Fox News in a GOP debate).
9:29 Wallace says to Huntsman “Some people have suggested you are running for the nomination in the wrong party”. Jebus Christ, Wallace is on the war path.
9:32 Cain brings up Sharia law. Not sure why. Drew applause though. His general folksy approach always makes me feel like I’m in 1988 or something. He’s not a 21st century-style candidate, that’s for sure.
9:34 Romney talking “legal immigration” and inviting the best and brightest to immigrate into the United States. I don’t think that will play well with the GOP base, who tend to (quietly) think all immigration is evil.
9:36 Herman Cain: “High fences and wide open doors, at the same time” immigration policy. Or something.
9:38 Gingrich brings up English as the official language of government. Ron Paul talks more ending wars (in order to secure our borders at home…as if the soldiers could legally even do that, I guess).
9:40 Romney getting hit on taxes now by the moderators.
9:44 Bachmann and Pawlenty having a hissy fit against each other again. I don’t think Bachmann understands that she is elevating Pawlenty by engaging him. She doesn’t gain anything by hammering him. I think she just got booed actually.
9:46 Santorum just brought up some numbers about GDP and spending and revenue that I suspect will be fact checked very soon, because they sounded off.
9:48 Andrew Sullivan thinks Bachmann is winning this debate. I think she’s actually hurting herself. Gingrich is winning so far, easily. Pawlenty is “winning” by virtue of not showing himself to be irrelevant, and be being able to talk about his experience as Governor compared to Bachmann’s weak legislative record.
9:50 Wallace telling Pawlenty to fight with Romney now. Pawlenty is lucky as fuck to be getting these questions. He’s at a “any controversy is good controversy” point in his campaign. He just needs attention.
9:52 Romney defends his healthcare law with a 10th Amendment defense.
9:53 Romney engaging about how a mandate is legal, at the state level. It’s a brave defense, but, again, won’t play with the GOP base.
9:54 Bachmann is so predictable~
9:55 Wallace calls Ron Paul a constitutional expert and asks about the legality of a mandate. Unless I heard wrong, Paul said it is legal, but is arguing that it’s a bad idea. He’s still trying to talk very fast.
9:57 Santorum is getting his social issue groove on. It’s scary.
10:01 Bachmann went missing. I’m pretty sure everyone in the room was thinking “oh shit….migrane?”
10:01 Baier bringing up Rick Perry, unfairly in my opinion. He is making every candidate say something about Perry. This is really bizarre.
10:03 Bachmann asked about Palin. Jeez, Fox appeared to be asking tough questions at first, but now it just looks like a tabloid is running this debate.
10:08 Gingrich saying more “gotcha questions” are being asked. Played well the first time. Shouldn’t have played that card a second time. Sullivan earlier said Gingrich looked angry. I didn’t agree before, but I do now. He gets worked up a bit too much without realizing it.
10:14 Paul is getting a lot of applause for anti-militarism.
10:20 The line “smoking mushrooms” was just used. This late in the debate that is far more interesting than anything else being said. #fewbeersin
10:21 I will say this: these candidates should talk policy in the first hour and talk talking points in the second half. Policy after an hour of this shit is draining to listen to.
10:22 Ron Paul v. Santorum. Anti-war v. Neo-con. Arguably more interesting than the Bachmann/Pawlenty squabbles, except it’s not because Paul and Santorum are irrelevant.
10:28 Odd religion questions being brought up. Bachmann pivoted very well. I’m not sure I can handle this stuff this late (late meaning “drinks in”).
10:31 Romney talking about gay marriage. He shouldn’t engage on the issue. His answer is getting wonky and sounds like conviction-less support of a Fed Marriage Amendment. Huntsman about to talk about civil unions.
10:32 Huntsman talking equality. I liked the answer. But then he was re-asked “Why are the other candidates wrong” and he said “They aren’t wrong”. Fucking buzzkill.
10:34 Santorum heard the word “polygamy” and got all excited.
10:35 Bachmann makes sure to say some form of “thank you” after each question is asked to her. It comes off well, even if it feels a little planned.
10:38 Pawlenty and Santorum about to fight about abortion. Pawlenty being smart not to engage Santorum directly.
10:40 LarrySabato tweeted :
LarrySabato: Debate moments remembered are confrontational ones fueled by real emotion. That’s why this one will be the “Michele-TPaw Faceoff”.
Unless something crazy happens in the last 20 minutes, this is probably the headline. I suspect the headline could be more along the line of “everyone fights everyone”, but people will be talking about Pawlenty and Bachmann most, for sure.
10:43 Bachmann squeezes more lies into one response than I thought was humanly possible.
10:50 Santorum trying to engage Bachmann again with the “showmanship, not leadership” line. Smart tactic really, but he should have been more direct earlier. Early on he said it but moreso in passing. With only 10 minutes left he actually egaged and looked at Bachmann while saying it. Too little too late.
10:57 Closing argument time. Ron Paul still jittery. Romney focusses on Obama. Says something vaguely racist but I doubt anyone will care. Bachmann used some more prepackaged bullshit that got very weak and confused applause, thankfully. Pawlenty’s closing was very good(!). Huntsman still sounds a little nervous still, and is hitting too hard in his closing
11:02 That’s all folks. I’ll say Bachmann probably wins the instapolls. Pawlenty may win from the perspective of traditional media. I still think Gingrich gained the most tonight, but that doesn’t mean he “won”. And I’ll predict the blog crowd will say no one won, the fights were awesome, Pawlenty saved his campaign, and that Romney lost.