Posted on | January 26, 2012 | 68 Comments
CONCLUSION 1 a.m. ET: Excuse my long absence. Had to go to the spin room for the post-debate action, then write a column for The American Spectator. I was hesitant to say this earlier but, did Rick Santorum kick butt or what?
Because I wanted to believe he did well, I felt that maybe I was prejudiced. But then I saw Guy Benson’s post at Townhall:
What a night for the former Pennsylvania Senator … he definitely made a very serious case that he might be the best Not Romney in the race.
No argument. Newt was off his game tonight, and I’d score Romney the winner — that is to say, I think Mitt did what he needed to do to win here Tuesday. But I suspect a lot of people watched that debate and said to themselves, “Hey, that Santorum kid’s pretty feisty.”
9:30 p.m. ET: Newt talks about the “Romney attack machine,” defends his claim to being a latter-day Reagan.
9:25 p.m. ET: Admit it: Rick Santorum won the Best Wife competition.
9:16 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum wants Marco Rubio in his cabinet. Newt wants Rubio as VP. Romney recites the names of lots of Latinos who haven’t self-deported.
9:12 p.m. ET: Mitt Romney: “We’re insisting on personal responsibility.” This is good for Santorum to be able to go back-and-forth with Romney, thus ending the Mitt-and-Newt Show. Also, he name-checked Scott Plakon.
9:07 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum slams Newt and Mitt for their records on health care.
9:03 p.m. ET: Lynn Frazier is unemployed and wants health insurance. Ron Paul blames government for inflating medical costs.
8:59 p.m. ET: Newt accuses Santorum of being “cheap.”
8:58 p.m. ET: Mitt says, “You’re fired.” Accuses Newt of pandering. “We’ve got to say no to this kind of spending.”
8:57 p.m. ET: Newt warns of Chinese dominance of space.
8:55 p.m. ET: Ron Paul wants to send Newt to the moon.
8:50 p.m. ET: Question about NASA and manned space flight, because all politics is local. And galactic.
8:49 p.m. ET: Wolf Blitzer asks Ron Paul, age 76, if he’s willing to release his medical records. Paul makes a joke about age discrimination.
8:48 p.m. ET: Ron Paul talks about currency. Sound money.
8:46 p.m. ET: Santorum on 28% top tax rate: “If it’s good enough for Reagan, it’s good enough for me.” Get’s a laugh with, “I wish I made as much money as Mitt Romney.”
8:45 p.m. ET: Newt says he’s “the opposite of Obama.”
8:43 p.m. ET: More talk about personal finances. Newt gets caught trying to say he didn’t say what he said. Newt’s in a hole, but won’t stop digging.
8:36 p.m. ET: Ron and Rick get to have their say about Fannie and Freddie. Santorum draws cheers for demanding that they “focus on the issues.”
8:34 p.m. ET: Newt defends himself ably against the lobbying charge. But what was he paid $1.6 million for?
8:33 p.m. ET: Mitt stings Newt on mutual funds, draws cheers.
8:31 p.m. ET: Newt says Romney “has been attacking me inaccurately, and he knows it.” It’s getting nasty again.
8:30 p.m. ET: Mitt Romney gets a question about Fannie and Freddie, and starts talking about Newt Gingrich.
8:28 p.m. ET: Now it’s the Ron and Rick Show. These guys really don’t like each other.
8:25 p.m. ET: Rick Santorum talks about Honduras, accuses Obama of supporting Marxists in Latin America.
8:24 p.m. ET: A lady named Vasquez has a question about trade with Latin America. Ron Paul loves him some free trade.
8:22 p.m. ET: It’s turning into the Mitt-Newt Show again.
8:21 p.m. ET: Newt wants everybody to learn English.
8:20 p.m. ET: Mitt: “Our problem is not 11 million grandmothers.”
8:19 p.m. ET: Romney: “I am pro-immigrant. . . . I want them to come here legally.”
8:18 p.m. ET: Romney accuses Newt of “over-the-top rhetoric,” invokes Marco Rubio twice, gets a big cheer from the audience.
8:17 p.m. ET: Newt Gingrich won’t answer a direct question about his accusation that Romney is “anti-immigrant.”
8:16 p.m. ET: Ron Paul panders to the Vaguely Incoherent.
8:14 p.m. ET: Mitt defends self-deportation. Did you know his father was from Mexico? It’s true. Look it up. Anyway, Romney’s answer is long and complicated.
8:12 p.m. ET: Newt is in favor of a “guest worker” program.
8:11 p.m. ET: On immigration, Rick Santorum wants to enforce the law. This is radical extremism!
8:09 p.m. ET: Candidates say a few words. Rick Santorum introduces his 93-year-old mom, who’s a senior citizen, kinda like Ron Paul.
8:04 p.m. ET: The candidates have been introduced.
8:02 p.m. ET: That was some good pre-debate hype, huh?
8 p.m. ET: And we’re LIVE!
* * * PREVIOUSLY (7:29 p.m. ET) * * *
We’re on the scene here at the University of North Florida where, at 8 p.m. ET, the four remaining Republican presidential candidates will debate on CNN. A few quick headlines for discussion:
Romney paints Gingrich
as mentally unstable
— Washington Post
4 Sentences: Why Tonight’s Debate Matters
— National Journal
I’ll be live-blogging tonight and I’ll back with more in a bit.
And here’s video of the media walk-through at the debate hall today: