Posted on | May 5, 2011 | 52 Comments
UPDATE: “Hands down winner” says Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit, who provides this video of the soon-to-be-famous Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News:
“We can stop right there!”
UPDATE — MIDNIGHT: Just got off the phone with Mr. Cain. “At least a few people know who I am now,” he said, laughing. I asked him if he thought his strong performance had repudiated the pundits who had dismissed him as a “second-tier” candidate.
“It was a wake-up call to the rest of the candidates, and all the political pundits, that this guy’s for real, because the American people immediately — from the focus group, as well as from the reaction here — are now saying, ‘We need to take a look at this guy,’ ” he said. “I don’t see it as a breakthrough victory. I see it as an awakening, which makes me feel very, very good that people are awakened now to the possibility of taking a closer look.”
Our interview had to be cut short, as Mr. Cain explained: “I’ve got some more media that are waiting outside . . . Right now, I’ve got to take care of the barbarians at the door.”
10:32 p.m. ET: WOW! Frank Luntz’s focus group just found: HERMAN CAIN WON!
Luntz says he has never seen anything like this: A previously unknown candidate winning over a focus group the way Cain did in South Carolina.
I predict Cain will not only be recognized as the winner of tomorrows debate he’ll have taken a crucial step in improving his national name recognition along with putting an end to this ridiculous notion that he’s somehow a second tier candidate!
Isn’t it time you joined the online grassroots army at Citizens for Cain?
* * * PREVIOUSLY * * *
10:30 p.m. ET: Now closing statements. Tim Pawlenty and Gary Johnson stand out by remembering to plug their Web sites.
I’ll be back to round up the reactions and coverage.
10:27 p.m. ET: Gary Johnson asked if he had a reality show like Trump, what it would be. Doesn’t say Cheech and Chong.
10:24 p.m. ET: Perhaps Ron Paul’s joke about Michelle Bachmann got a bigger laugh.
10:23 p.m. ET: Herman Cain gets the biggest laugh of the night with a joke about Mitt Romney.
10:21 p.m. ET: Final commercial break. Next: Let’s all badmouth Newt, Mitt and Sarah!
10:16 p.m. ET: We’re now in “lightning round” part of the debate — 30 seconds for answers. Pawlenty runs overtime in his first answer.
10:14 p.m. ET: Chris Wallace asks Herman Cain, “Why do you think you have any chance?” Describes himself as a problem-solver.
10:13 p.m. ET: Gary Johnson asked about drugs. Does not admit he toked up before the debate.
10:11 p.m. ET: Ron Paul sticks hard to the libertarian position on First Amendment. Chris Wallace asks if he is suggesting “heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty.” Paul refuses to back down. Applause from Paulbots.
10:08 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum is the official candidate of National Offend a Feminist Week.
10:06 p.m. ET: Groan from audience over Pawlenty’s “green energy”/cap-and-trade ideas.
10:04 p.m. ET: Tim Pawlenty defends teaching of “intelligent design” theory. Then starts talking jobs and unions. Attempting to bore audience into stupor.
10:02 p.m. ET: On Boeing vs. NRLB, Herman Cain: “What the National Labor Relations Board did . . . is outrageous.” Applause.
10:00 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum defends staunch pro-life position in terms of Declaration of Independence. Applause.
9:59 p.m. ET: Tim Pawlenty on stem-cell research, emphasizes adult stem-cells. Defends Bush position. Long story short: “If you want a third term for GW Bush, vote Pawlenty.”
9:57 p.m. ET: Some boos for Gary Johnson’s moderate pro-choice stance.
9:56 p.m. ET: Herman Cain hits Obama for not defending DOMA.
9:54 p.m. ET: Ron Paul on gay marriage: Totally libertarian. Says that DOMA defends the rights of states.
9:50 p.m. ET: Gary Johnson rejects Trump call for protective tariffs. Some things are so obvious, even a dopehead can understand.
9:49 p.m. ET: Ron Paul talking Israel — big applause.
9:46 p.m. ET: Santorum says we need to “engage the Pakistanis,” invokes Bush “with us or against us” mantra. Wants to deliver an ultimatum to Pakistani on cutting off foreign aid.
9:45 p.m. ET: Tim Pawlenty wants to kill Moammar Qaddafi. Perhaps he could bore Qaddafi to death.
9:44 p.m. ET: Herman Cain criticizes Obama foreign policy as “unclear” and inconsistent.
9:42 p.m. ET: Gary Johnson outlines his plan for what is, in effect, a guest-worker amnesty.
9:40 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum invokes his Italian father in defense of English-only law.
9:39 p.m. ET: Herman Cain on immigration: Defends Arizona law. Lays out his 4-point plan for immigration, including “empowering states” to enforce laws. Applause.
9:38 p.m. ET: Now, Gary Johnson is asked to address Democrats’ “MediScare” tactics. Warns of impending federal bankruptcy.
9:35 p.m. ET: Gary Johnson just interrupted: “What about me?” It’s the drugs talking.
9:34 p.m. ET: Questioned by Chris Wallace, Herman Cain defends his support for Fair Tax: “With all due respect . . . your experts are dead wrong.”
9:32 p.m. ET: Ron Paul justifying his “Dr. No” record of opposing . . . well, everything. Wild cheers from Paulbots in audience.
9:30 p.m. ET: Santorum on debt limit and ObamaCare: “We are in a criticial time for our country.” Describes ObamaCare as a threat to American liberty. Stopping it is “the most important issue.”
9:26 p.m. ET: Getting ready for a commercial break.
9:24 p.m. ET: Santorum justifies his vote for Medicare prescription drug bill.
9:23 p.m. ET: Tim Pawlenty says he’s “not going to pick on” Mitt Romney, who “isn’t here to defend himself.” Hey, who’s fault is that, huh?
9:22 p.m. ET: Applause for Herman Cain who calls for “serious” energy policy.
9:20 p.m. ET: Tim Pawlenty gets applause for calling Obama policy “preposterous.”
9:18 p.m. ET: Gary Johnson calls for abolition of corporate income tax.
9:16 p.m. ET: Herman Cain name-checks Benjamin Netanhayu, gets applause for tough stance against terrorism.
9:15 p.m. ET: Applause for Pawlenty when he says first job of federal government is to protect American citizens.
9:13 p.m. ET: Ron Paul criticizes “secret prisons” for terrorist detainees.
9:12 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum: “There are many in the Muslim world” who want peace and modernity.
9:10 p.m. ET: Is Gary Johnson high? Just askin’ . . .
9:09 p.m. ET: Herman Cain says there’s no exit strategy in Afghanistan; would rely on advice of commanders.
9:05 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum gives Obama no credit, says on “strategic” questions, Obama “has gotten it wrong every time.”
9:04 p.m. ET: Show of hands: Herman Cain is the only candidate to oppose releasing death photo of Osama bin Laden.
9:03 p.m. ET: Tim Pawlenty gets the first question. Audience struggles to stay awake during his answer.
PREVIOUSLY: OK, the debate in Greenville, S.C., starts on Fox News at 9 p.m. Eastern and I’ll be updating frequently. Of course, I’ve already predicted a victory for Herman Cain, and the candidate was reportedly in a relaxed and cheerful mood today:
Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, told NRO he’s trying to focus on being “Happy Herman” to keep himself in the right frame of mind for the debate.
“If you go into an event like this with a positive attitude, you will end up with a positive result,” he said.
The field for tonight’s event, which will be aired by Fox News, includes Santorum and Cain, along with former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, and Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas). Many pundits have described Pawlenty as the top contender among the five.
But Cain takes exception to being labeled as a second-tier candidate and said he doesn’t think his lack of political experience will hurt him.
“You’re going to see in Herman Cain a real leader — someone who possesses real leadership ability and not just positionship,” he said. “There’s a big difference between leadership and positionship, and I think people are going to see that.”
Cain said Pres. Barack Obama’s failure to lead on positive economic reform has provided an opening for a strong GOP candidate.
“Oh, he is very vulnerable. He’s going to have to do more than kill one terrorist to pull this out,” Cain said. “One good decision doth not a presidency make.”
The CNN poll shows “no frontrunner” in the GOP 2012 field, so it’s still wide open. I had hoped to travel to Greenville and cover tonight’s debate in person, but haven’t yet recovered from pneumonia, so I’ll have to settle for watching it on TV.
UPDATE: Both the Associated Press and Reuters are boycotting the Greenville debate.
UPDATE II: Notice that Allahpundit doesn’t even so much as nod toward Herman Cain. He does, however, note that Fox has terminated its contracts with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and also reportedly given an ultimatum to Mike Huckabee to make up his mind.