OK I lied. Here’s the liveblog

8:15 Perry was obviously told by advisors to be nicer tonight. It is freaking me out. Perry is smiling a lot while still saying crazy and aggressive things. This will backfire.

8:16 Romney says ponzi scheme rhetoric is dangerous and starts hitting Perry about his book. Maybe this debate will be fun, at least for a half hour or so.

8:17 Romney is smacking Perry around about SocSec. Hard.

8:19 Crowd very pro-Perry. Romney holding his own with Perry even though Perry getting the applause lines so far.

8:20 Wolf seeks to elevate the debate by bringing in Cain to the discussion about SocSec. >mfw

8:22 Huntsman does a good two-step to cast both Romney and Perry as the crazies

8:22 Gingrich blames Obama for ruining the world and stuff. Crowd goes wild.

8:23 Apparently Huntsman referenced Kurt Cobain. I missed it.

8:25 Santorum spoke. No one listened. Did it happen?

8:25 Question about budget. GET READY FOR BALANCE BUDGET AMENDMENT HOOOORAHHHHHS

8:28 Santorum spoke again. No one listened. Did it happen?

8:39 Officially bored. Thus endeth the live blog.

9:30 Just posting to say Santorum’s freudian slip about “illegals…I mean latinos” was wild.

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Let the live-blog begin

7:50 Looks like Huntsman has been given the Siberia of podium positions. Bachmann, Romney, Perry, Paul are in the center of the stage.

7:51 Making turkey burgers. Hopefully will be finished by start time.

7:54 The vodka-cokes begin now. Take a sip every time someone says Reagan! #wontbeconsciousin10minutes

7:55 The Ron Paul ad about Rick Perry is airing now

7:57 Twitter is atwitter about the debate

7:59 Chris Matthews ends his debate intro with the word “balls” #professionallivebloggingnotahead

8:00 Brian Williams will be moderating? There is nobody better in this time and age. Props.

8:01 No opening or closing statements. Hm.

8:02 First question will go to Perry. He is making a funny face. Like a constipated school boy. OH BOY HERE COMES THE EMPTY RHETORIC.

8:03 Perry is tripping up a little. Just early nerves. Can tell he is going to settle down.

8:04 Romney is looking at Perry. Question to him. Lets see what happens…

8:05 Romney: “rabble rabble rabble not going to engage Perry from the start rabble rabble rabble not as good at pandering as Perry”

I suspect the rest of the debate will go like this. Romney isn’t pivoting at all. He is accepting the premise of Williams’s questions. Booooooooring. And bad strategy.

8:07 Perry already starting to attack Romney. WOO. This will be fun. The Perry from past debates is here.

8:08 Romney gets in very funny line about Al Gore and the internet. It insulted Perry somehow.

8:08 Perry says something about Dukakis. What is this, 1988?

8:09 Santorum is now speaking. Time for a bathroom break.

8:10 Cain now speaking. Very fast. He must have taken Ron Paul’s pep pills from the previous debate.

8:10 Cain: “If 10% is good enough for god, then 9% ought to be good enough for the government” Good line. Drew applause. He really is speaking too fast though. It makes me feel anxious and clouds his message.

8:12 HUNTSMAN TIME. He is given a question about China inre: Romney. Starts talking about the “core” of America. Says to Romney “now is not the time to start a trade war”.

Also pokes Perry then Romney again. Huntsman is prepared. Dunno if it will matter though. He doesn’t connect in the Republican way.

8:13 Bachmann time. She is given a shitty question about regulations. HERE COMES “DEATH TO OBAMACARE”.

8:14 I’d rather eat a boca burger than this turkey shit

8:14 There is a disturbing lack of Reagan love so far.

8:14 Bachmann pretends to care about unemployed black and hispanic kids. Moving along to Ron Paul

8:15 Paul given a question about libertarianism. COLOR ME SHOCKED. His answer about regulation is underwhelming. State by state regulations the way he would want is fucking insane. He sounds like the crazy uncle tonight. More than usual. He is rambling. Should have just talked about the wars or something.

8:17 Oh yea, Gingrich is here.

8:17 Gingrich tells a good joke. Perry gives a thumbs up and still looks like a constipated school boy.

8:18 Shabu Shabu going all REAGAN REAGAN REGAN

8:19 Gingrich accuses Obama of class warfare and socialism. #stale

8:20 John Harris adding to the chaos theory

8:20 Perry speaks out against Massachusetts. Perry is really hurling fireballs tonight. I don’t know how smart that is. Certainly didn’t expect it. No substance so far, which could be a liability in post-debate coverage.

Perry wins debates by attacking, not proposing ideas. I’m surprised he hasn’t yet tried to counteract that CW.

8:22 Perry: “FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BAD. EVERYTHING ELSE….GOOD. MAN MAKE FIRE.”

8:23 Perry blames uninsured levels in Texas on federal government

8:24 Huntsman gets to join in the Perry/Romney spat. Draws a very good contrast. Should not talk so long. He gets boring by the end. But he is lucky to be able to inserting himself into that duo.

8:25 Bachmann: “dubwubwubdub Obamacare is a giant slimy monster taking over the world dubdubdwubdub repeal and hitler and god and the bible”

8:26 Gingrich blames the moderator. This seems to be his go to move in debates. The ~Gingrich Crossover~

8:28 Twitter is having a field day about Newt’s predictable stupidity. Even conservatives.

8:28 Cain complains about “Rumney care” and is rambling about who knows what but is using great hand gestures so people will enjoy it. Lots of applause.

8:29 Santorum about to be asked about religion. COLOR ME SHOCKED.

8:30 Time to make a new drink while Santorum finishes talking about how gays are ruining life for people in the closet.

8:32 Perry time. “FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BAD. EVERYTHING ELSE….GOOD. MAN MAKE FIRE.”

8:32 Perry quotes JFK at Reagan Library. Doesn’t really get much applause.

8:33 John Harris is a shitty moderator. Question about Bachmann’s gas promise now. Bachmann is getting  about 10% of the attention that she did last time. #sucksforher

8:35 Someone on Twitter is calling Perry’s facial expressions the “#TexasSquint”

8:35 Huntsman says Bachmann’s gas idea is “dictating prices”. Good line for him. Also makes a joke about teleprompters. Also speaking too long again.

8:37 Ron Paul attacks Perry about the Hillarycare letter

8:37 From Twitter “NOBODY ACCOMPLISHES ANYTHING ON THEIR FIRST DAY AS PRESIDENT EXCEPT GETTING COLD AND GOING TO PARTIES. ARRGH.” lol

8:37 Paul promises gas for a dime a gallon.

8:38 lol….a silver dime worth $3 and something cents

8:39 Perry cannot help himself. Attacks Paul about Reagan stuff. Grinning like a jackass while Paul responds. Stupid to engage with Paul.

8:40 Commercial time. Also know as GET ME MY MAKEUP PERSON NOW time by Michelle Bachmann.

8:43 STUFF FROM TWITTER

“Rick Perry attacking Ron Paul is like arguing with blog commenters”

“rick perry doesn’t give a shit. he’ll attack the janitor if he questions his conservative bonafides”

“Hey @JacobWe, can we start getting paid in silver dimes?” from Dave Weigel

“I don’t think he’s hurt his candidacy, but Perry’s performance has been surprisingly weak to the halfway point.” from Erica Grieder

“Bachmann. Glad we got that over with.” Pat Ruffini (GOP operative)

“Surprised to see Ron Paul ditch the gold standard in favor of Bryan-style silver coins.” Yglesias having some fun

8:46 Nancy Reagan is such a sweet looking woman. Reminds me of my Grandmother, may she rest in peace.

8:47 Ok, seconds after that we transition to “is social security unconstitutional” #buzzkill

8:48 Perry calls Social Security a ponzi scheme. No applause. Harris says Cheney said it is not a ponzi scheme. Pushing for an answer from Perry. Perry stands his ground. Romney now hitting Perry about it.

8:51 Prince Fielder has missed one game in the last 3 seasons #thisdebateisstartingtogetboring

8:51 Perry….quadrupling down about SocSec being a ponzi scheme. Not good for him, in my opinion.

8:53 It’s getting to that point where one must drink much faster in order to keep this debate from becoming either depressing or boring or infuriating. The first 45 minutes is always best.

8:54 Nate Silver on twitter: “Perry has that Brett Favre quality about him: lots of touchdowns, lots of interceptions. Just threw a pick 6 on Social Security.”

8:54 Everyone is bashing Perry about the HPV thing. I am bashing vodka cokes.

8:56 To be honest, Palin could probably get in and be the best “Tea Party candidate not to call SocSec a ponzi scheme” and have a real chance at gaining ground right now. Her inner circle is probably loving this debate so far.

8:58 Romney gets in a good applause line about Obama. Then Gingrich is about to get asked a question and says he wants to talk about national security first. #buzzkill

8:59 Ron Paul: private airlines should take care of airport security. fuck the TSA.

Jeebus, Paul is bringing on the crazy today. He should, again, just talk about getting us out of wars. That is an INSANE answer.

9:04 Huntsman again starts out strong then talks too long.

9:07 Losing track of all conception of time. Is this 1983?

9:07 OH GOD A BROWN PERSON ON STAGE #Bachmannthoughts

9:08 Immigration stuff now. Perry gets first question. Talks about securing the border. That won’t get boring over the next 14 months~

9:09 Romney says build a fence. ~_~

9:10 Perry has a boy scout pin on his jacket. Yes, I’m bored. These things suck so hard after an hour.

9:11 Newt talks about English as official language. Gets immediate applause.

9:12 Bachmann has not spoken since the commercial, as far as I know.

9:12 The brown guys says “What do you do with the 11 million illegals here?” and Santorum is all like “ehhhhhh dont want to answer that one”. Bachmann time. What would she do….?

9:13 Bachmann starts talking about narco-terrorists and ignores question. I wonder if the questioner will bother saying…please answer the question.

9:15 He did. She didn’t really answer.

9:17 Huntsman talking too long again.

9:17 Paul uses immigration questions to talk about drug decriminalization. Also says the fence doesn’t just keep people out but keeps us in. Which is a new way to look at it, at least with so many people listening.

9:19 Cillizza thinks Huntsman is doing well. Yglesias liked his immigration answer. It is possible (though unlikely) that the story coming out of this debate is that the 3 way race isn’t Perry-Romney-Bachmann but instead is Perry-Romney-Huntsman. #dreamsofhuntsman

9:21 commercial break

9:22 Holy balls, the Air Force One jet in there is directly over the crowd.

9:23 LIGHTNING ROUND

9:23 From David Frum on twitter “One of our FrumForum commenters: “Perry looks like a high school jock who took a wrong turn into a debate team practice.”” Yea, pretty much. His head is too small for his suit or too big for his body or something. Something is off.

9:25 Huntsman has a good line about pledge. STOP TALKING THERE DUMBASS.

9:27 funny from Larry Sabato on Twitter (he’s a prof) “Gov. Huntsman, you’re going to make a great college professor.”

9:28 Perry asked about his shitty foreign policy plan. Pivots to Obama and jobs. wtf?

9:31 Twitter having fun about Perry’s non-answer while Bachmann speaks. Nobody is interested in her anymore.

9:33 This is getting more boring. I’m just watching Twitter and waiting for Chris Matthews to get back on TV and say silly things.

9:35 Huntsman defending global warming and evolution. Sweet!

9:37 Perry doing a crazy man jig about global warming. Other candidates looking bemused and pleased.

9:39 Best tweet of the night (from Weigel) “”Look, we need to drown at least three or four witches before we make a scientific decision.” #reagandebate”

9:39 Gingrich calls Bernanke the worst whatever ever and says he made problems worse. How bizarre. Bernanke was nominated by Bush.

9:43 Brian William notes the Texas execution record. Before he finishes the question the crowd roars with applause.

9:50 Well that was interesting. Someone on Twitter say Perry both won and lost the debate. Won Republicans. Lost….everyone else because of SocSec ponzi scheme quadruple down. I buy it. Hope Huntsman gets deserved props.

Thats all folks

9:53 One more. Tweet from Erica Grieder:

EricaGrieder
The Republicans have three candidates (Perry, Romney, and Huntsman) who could plausibly beat Obama in the general.
9/7/11 9:53 PM

Maybe I was right about that one.


Ames LiveBlahg

1:49 Santorum speaking. Seems to have a posse of white people in white shirts around him. I believe it’s his family. Whatever it is, it’s distracting. Sucks that he has to speak first. Oddly, Herman Cain has the last speaking slot.

1:51 Santorum apparently still thinks, two decades later, that anyone gives a shit about the culture wars.

1:53 Maybe it’s just me, but I think Santorum’s kids are pretty pissed about having to stand on stage with their crazy dad.

1:54 Short Santorum: Obamacare is the worst thing in the world since Hitler. Alright Rick, time to go sit down and fret about polygamy some more.

1:55 From @daveweigel: Some empty seats for Santorum twitpic.com/65jgok

1:59 Some twitter reactions to Perry’s speech:
@LarrySabato: …Perry’s speech is Tea Party on steroids.
@TheFix: If you like dropping “g’s” from words, you are going to love Rick Perry.
@HowardKurtz: Perry wants to make DC “inconsequential in your life.” Does that include Medicare, Soc Sec, vets’ programs, air safety, FDA?
@HowardKurtz: Rick Perry says it took two decades to convince his wife to marry him. Nice touch. He has more of a drawl than I realized.

Small sample size, but coverage tonight and tomorrow will probably be along the lines of “Perry is Bush on steroids….Perry gives the Tea Party a jolt of espresso…Perry says he will kill government better than everyone else”. Well, those things will be implied, at the very least

2:10 Reading up on some blogs. Apparently CNN’s Don Lemon is openly gay. Who knew? Found out because of this Bachmann involved in unusual campaign moment – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs (well, mostly because ASullivan pointed it out here Shoving Don Lemon)

2:22 Ron Paul speaking now. Emphasizes that he used to be an OB/GYN. Definitely pandering to the “want a candidate that has seen a lot of pussy” crowd~

2:25 Not entirely surprised Paul is focussing so much on social issues. Here’s the strategy: all of his true supporters at Ames will never change to vote for someone else. So if he wants to beat Bachmann, he has to gain some of the few hundred undecideds in the house.

2:27 ugh, only Fox is showing all of the speeches without cutting away.

2:28 So predictable. Paul starts his anti-war schtick and Fox News cuts to commercial. This is no coincidence. They love to invite him on to their shows to rant against Obama then cut him off as soon as he starts using his libertarianism to complain about Republican-esque positions.

2:30 Watching here, because none of the cable channels are even broadcasting the speeches anymore.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2:34 “Time to bring the troops home” -Ron Paul

2:35 Paul oddly suggests again that the military should come home and be used to protect our borders. I guess what he is trying to say is that the soldiers could transfer to the national guard or border patrol and help out, but it comes off as if he is in favor of suspending posse comitatus.

2:39 Remaining speakers:

2:50- Governor Tim Pawlenty delivers remarks

3:20- Congresswoman Michele Bachmann delivers remarks

3:50- Congressman Thaddeus McCotter delivers remarks

4:15- Herman Cain delivers remarks

2:40 Congressman Steve King on stage now. Being awkward and creepy as usual.

2:41 Sometimes I wonder what the kids of these politicians think. Isn’t there someone in the entire family that gets up and says each night “holy fuck mom/dad/honey, stop saying stupid shit!”

2:42 Steve King riffing about anti-Keynesianism. More awkwardness ensues.

2:45 King calls Obama a “malignant tumor”. #civildiscourse

2:47 King ends by saying that the next President should sign a bill repealing Obamacare right before taking the oath of office from Justice Roberts. That doesn’t even sound legal, but King has never been a person that lets facts get in the way of saying stupid shit.

2:49 Pawlenty is on, but I’m still confused by King’s last statement. He gave an entire speech about how Obama is evil and unconstitutional then suggested the next President begin their term by doing something grossly unconstitutional, then King ran off the stage. Truly bizarre.

2:51 Pawlenty: “Obama a manure spreader in a windstorm.” Taken literally that seems to suggest that Obama was trying to help the “soil” but was swept away by an “act of nature” that could not be predicted. Which is what has basically happened. Maybe Pawlenty just likes talking about poop.

2:54 “Mr. President: get the government off our backs” and the crowd goes wild.

2:55 About to hit Bachmann for stuffff. Pawlenty finally playing to his strength: he probably has the best executive record of accomplishment of any candidate besides Perry (at least from a conservative point of view).

2:57 Pawlenty talking about how great the middle states are, like everyone else today, implying the coasts are not worth his (or the GOP’s) time, like everyone else today.

2:59 Pawlenty: elect me so that America “will not perish from the earth”

Holy fuck man.

3:01 Bachmann up next, in 20 minutes. First, it’s Grassley time. This is going to be stupid.

3:04 Yea, I’m not watching Grassley. Arcade Fire time.

3:12 Is there a single Republican with something interesting to say besides Ron Paul? Their unity in saying the same shit over and over again just might give Paul a legitimate window to jump up as a candidate for people looking for “someone different”.

3:14 Bachmann’s intro video says her Norwegian ancestors settled in Iowa. Lizza’s piece on Bachmann last week said that’s blatantly false. They settled in like South Dakota, then moved to Iowa decades later because Iowa had better government benefits. Her bio when running in Minnesota used to say they settled in Minnesota. Say anything, do anything…

3:17 Bachmann starts. She’s rather animated. Her voice is painful to listen to. “ONE. TERM. PRESIDENT” blah blah blah. No one applauded for the line, because they have all heard her say it 200 times.

3:19 “Time for an Iowan in the White House” lol Michelle. She’s such a nutjob.

3:21 Republican speeches remind me of this scene from HIMYM

There is no “Now, we face serious problems…lets talk about them” (unless those serious problems are “Obama is evil”) followed by rising rhetoric. It’s boring to listen to. Not inspiring whatsoever. Everything is portrayed either as super duper evil or as essential to saving the world from itself.

3:24 God…the bible…founders…fuck taxes…etc…etc…etc

3:26 Every time Bachmann mentions she is on the House Select Committee on Intelligence all I can think of is who the fuck let Michelle Bachmann on the House Select Committee on Intelligence?

3:28 I need some excedrin #irony

3:29 “I love you all. I love you. God bless you. I love you. I love you all” except you, Barack Obamuslim

3:36 Only McCotter and Cain left. I’m going to take a break and jog now so I can get back for poll close around 5PM.

4:47 Apparently Cain gave a great speech. Missed it. Dave Weigel’s predicted top 4 is the same as my list yesterday, so that’s cool:

@daveweigel: Prediction for top 7: Bachmann, Paul, TPaw, Santorum, Cain, Perry write-ins, Romney


Perry@RedState Liveblog

1:11 Already breaking out the end times rhetoric. “America last great hope of the world” or smth

1:12 Making a weird predictable defense of the American dream by saying government sucks and shouldn’t help anyone to secure the American dream

1:13 “Spreading the wealth punishes success” “failed stimulus plans”

1:14 Perry tries to pretend he cares about unemployment rates for hispanics and blacks. The room went eerily silent, no joke.

1:14 “Obama’s policies have prolonged the recovery”. Well, Perry is showing himself to be Bachmann with a penis, basically. Nuance be damned!

1:15 Perry wondering how it happened that America might fail to pay its bills. Perry also loves Dubya, who inherited the surplus. Might be a good place to start the investigation.

1:16 Holy shit, Perry is tripling down on the crazy factor. No wonder he is the most favored Tea Party nominee. I was expecting him to pursue a sort of “compassionate conservative” path, of being subtly extreme and outwardly conciliatory. He is doing the exact opposite. This is an “Obama is the great satan” speech.

1:18 I really wonder what the headlines out of this will be. Perry is giving a hardcore speech on a day that he could have set himself up to be the “sane” Bachmann. If Bachmann wins Ames, I suspect she’ll be making the case tomorrow that she is the “sane” (and “electable….electable….electable” [if she says it enough times it might come true]) version of Perry.

1:21 It is worth noting that RedState is extremely far to the right. Erick Erickson has been advocating no debt ceiling raise for the last month. They’re probably like the firedoglake of the right, to look at it one way.

1:23 Hammering about “Four Principles” Used the phrase “generational theft” which is scary when Perry says it, but seems like a phrase that would poll well for speeches.

1:25 Talking about “good hearted Americans” who he seems to imply only come from the midwest. Rick Perry: Uniting the middle of America cuz fuck the coasts!

1:26 Perry quoting Thatcher. Smart move. This is a crowd that would care and appreciate that. Doubt he’ll use the line elsewhere though.

1:28 Uses the phrase “central planners” again. I believe it shows up on his website as well. Oy. The irony is that China is growing and investing so well because of good (and unilateral) central planning. Says he’ll repeal Obamacare. Which isn’t an extreme position anymore in the right, but he says it in a way that’s more belligerent than most others.

1:29 This is completely not what I was expecting. Doesn’t Perry understand that he could win this nomination by being the public moderate that everyone knows is extreme below the surface? He just ripped off the mask and shouted “Hide your kids, hide your wife, I’m here to slaughter the government to nothing.”


GOPDebate Live Blog

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.