10:36pm Eastern. The debate is finished. (Here’s the AP’s take. Kind of fun to compare it with mine. Allah has post-debate focus group video and analysis.) Fred will be declared the clear winner. There are a lot of folks on our side of the blogosphere who were pulling for him. He delivered his one-liners better than anyone else. As I noted below, someone gave him some Red Bull. He aggressively attacked Huckabee, showed humor, and looked comfortable on stage.
He doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to go after John McCain. And judging from the audience reaction, Mike Huckabee’s South Carolina evangelical base is sticking with him.
Romney was a big loser tonight. His delivery was wooden. The other candidates ignored him. In just four/five days, he seems to have completely lost that front-runner status.
McCain didn’t do himself harm. Nothing gained or lost. It’s everyone else who failed to challenge McCain who lost.
What does this say about the state of the GOP?
Brit Hume will be getting a tsunami of Ronulan hate mail for handing Paul his head on his Iran/Strait of Hormuz answer. Brit, they’ll be with you for life.
Here’s the Hume/Paul smackdown vid via Hot Air:
10:29pm Eastern. Thompson: High fences, wide gates. We decide when to open and close it. Fred goes soft on his “friend John McCain” over amnesty. Weak. He doesn’t have the stomach to take McCain on.
Paul: If we subsidize something, you get more of it. Gives economic argument against illegal immigration. Cites health care subsidies and welfare state. Yes. He’s right. “The law is the law and we should enforce the law.”
Huckabee reels off his nine-point plan but says: “We should have the assumption that everybody here is legal, not illegal.”
Giuliani is asked about sanctuary. He’s defending his sanctuary policy. “He’s very proud of it.” Yes, I’m tuning him out.
Wait. He just made me laugh: “I would be the best at stopping illegal immigration.”
10:25pm Eastern. McCain gets first immigration question from Goler. McCain says shamnesty failed because of lack of trust. Well, it was also because shamnesty is a reckless, bad idea–and because of the arrogant way in which McCain and company wanted to ram this bad idea down our throats. Recycles his Geraldo line about not deporting illegal alien relatives of soldiers.
Smattering of applause.
But how would he remove illegal aliens?
Romney: Secure the border, have the fence, Border Patrol, employer verification. Our difference is what we do with 12 million. They should stand in line. Not be given special pathway or privilege. Applause. Send ’em home and wait in line.
10:23pm Eastern. Ok, we’re at our last commercial break. It looks like they have saved immigration for last. While we wait, here are the vids of Fred’s made-for-YouTube one-liner moments from the first part of the debate via Hot Air:
Attacking Huckabee’s Dem coalition:
Meet the virgins:
10:19pm Eastern. Huckabee defends his faith, comments on marriage/wife. Gets strong applause from SC crowd. “Marriage is an important institution. It teaches us how to love.” Strong applause from the audience.
Cameron on Paul. “Electability: Do you have any?” Laughter. He appeals to fiscal conservatism to fend off attacks that he less Republican than other candidates. Applause.
10:15pm Eastern. Rudy is asked about 9/11 and what makes him equipped to fight the war on terror, but he answers by saying Democrats will take change out of our pockets. Goes back to reciting his resume. Same stuff from the weekend. Here we go with the Saudi prince line. Did you know that he returned the money? Naww. Hadn’t heard that before.
He’s like the Bill Richardson of the GOP field.
Am I the only one not listening to Rudy anymore?
10:08pm Eastern. Back from the break, Romney’s giving his Obama change speech. Change. Broken Washington. Change. Change. Change. Zzzzzzz.
McCain’s turn to repeat his surge speech, the same change speech he gave during the weekend debate. Can someone please stop the talking points? We heard all of this four/five days ago.
Thompson goes after Huckabee again…this time on his tax record. I ask again: Will Fred go after McCain?
10:04pm Eastern. It’s halftime. The Fredheads will be going wild, with good reason. He woke up tonight. But is it too little, too late? And will it be enough to move South Carolina voters? Thompson’s focusing his sights on Huckabee. But what about McCain. We haven’t touched immigration yet. Will Fred go after McCain?
Scroll down for updates from first half of the debate..the debate got off to a slow start, but it’s hopping now…Fred’s seizing the moment, Romney and Giuliani have been non-entities so far…Brit Hume handed Ron Paul his head…the campaigns’ joke-writers worked overtime–it’s the battle of the one-liners…
START OF THE DEBATE.
9:02pm. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen the National Anthem performed at one of these things. Nice!
Introductions of the candidates. Is it just me or does the debate set-up make it look like they’re all going to play Jeopardy?
The bell will ding if they go over time. The bell sounds like it’s from Quiz Show!
First topic: The economy. Chris Wallace is doing the questioning. Are we headed for a recession?
Romney: Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t. Cites Mass. record, economic turnaround.
Oh, no. His first proposal: “Stop the housing crisis.”
Wallace, please follow up!!!! Is he for Bush/Hillarycare for housing or not? If not, what the heck does he mean.
Wallace throws it to McCain. McCain wants “straight talk.” He’s dissing Mitt’s Mass. jobs record. McCain thinks it’s the federal government’s job to retrain people who’ve been laid off.
This is Clintonspeak.
McCain gives some stump talking points about the need to control spending and reduce foreign oil dependency. “Education and training” is important. No more earmarks. “I’m called the Sheriff…I didn’t win Miss Congeniality.”
Wallace goes to Huckabee, cites his ad on the economy. Do you want an economic stimulus package?
Huckabee cites recession-creating factors: Fuel prices, subprime mortages. There’s culpability on both lender and borrowers… “I commend the president.” Says Bush approach doesn’t involve tax dollars.
Huckabee sounds a lot softer than he did a few weeks ago:
In an interview on Fox News recently, you said that the government should not be bailing out people whose mortgages are about to reset to interest rates that they can’t afford. Foreclosures are at record rates right now. Wouldn’t doing nothing — as millions of Americans risk losing their homes — smack of Herbert Hoover deferring to the market as 25 percent of Americans were unemployed in the Depression?
Not at all. What you have is a situation where you have culpability on the part of the lenders and the borrowers. The fact is you need to encourage the lenders to try to work with those who have borrowed to keep from foreclosure because ultimately nobody wins. The banks don’t need an enormous inventory of property on their hands that they can’t move any more than the market can. The lender doesn’t need to be in default and ultimately bankruptcy and out of a home.
But what we don’t need is a government bailout. That is not the purpose of government, to prop people up from every poor decision they make. In fact, when you do that … whether it’s in the world of finance or the world of drug addiction … it creates an enabling codependency. It’s the last thing that really helps people.
Is there some way to bring some resolve to it? Yes. But it needs to be handled by the … people who made the mistake in the first place: overambitious borrowers and greedy lenders, who saw a way to suck people into interest rates that they should have known they couldn’t afford in the long term.
Ron Paul speaks. We’re in a recession because of…the Austrian theory of the business cycle. “The housing market is in a depression.” Lower interest rates? That’s the problem. That allows the inevitable recession to come. Don’t pretend that artificial stimulus is going to help.
Well, miracle of miracles, he didn’t mention the military-industrial complex.
Fred gets a turn. What a great opportunity he has to attack the Bush/Hillarycare approach to the housing crisis…
…never mind. HE WANTS A FISCAL STIMULUS. “It needs to be considered somewhere down the line.”
That’s the end of the economic discussion.
Geez, that was unsatisfying.
Carl Cameron goes to Huckabee on the survival of a Reagan coalition. Huckbee is giving a stump speech. He appeals to social cons and then does his economic populist thing–appealing to single moms.
McCain: The Reagan principles…we’ve gone away from…we came to power to change government and government changed us….cites Bridge to Nowhere…
Dan Riehl points out a new jobs entitlement that McCain’s been apparently pimping.
Romney gets an abortion question. He deflects and answers the Reagan coalition question. Another stump speech.
Someone needs to start interrupting them and throw them off their talking points.
Romney’s droning on. “Strengthen the economy. I’ll make sure they come to Amerca.”
Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!
***9:26pm Fred interrupts.***
He wants to address the Reagan revolution. “This is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.” Fred’ attacks Huckabee. He would be a Christian leader, but he would also be a liberal economic populist, gets NEA endorsement, would close Gitmo, ban smoking.
YES, YES, YES, YES!!
Fred: “That’s not the model of the Reagan revolution. That’s the model of the Democrat party.”
Crowd erupts in appaluse.
Huckabee answers. Sticks to defending Arkansas record. Some applause.
Giuliani gets a question. Cameron asks him to state why he’s a complete conservative “without quoting George Will.” Heh. Giuliani talks about working for Reagan, peace through strength.
9:31pm Eastern. Cameron goes to Paul on the Truthers. Are you prepared to embrace that rhetoric or abandon it?
I can’t tell them what to do, but I’ve abandoned it.
Cameron: Would you ask them to cease it? I don’t endorse what they say.
Could I please participate in the current debate? Wants to address whether we’ve lost our way.
9:33pm Eastern. Commercial break.
9:36pm Eastern. We’re back. Brit Hume asks Huckabee if US officers responded correctly in the Strait of Hormuz incident. Huck: “Prepare to face the gates of Hell.” Applause.
***Fred’s turn.*** He pulls out a one-liner that gets applause: “I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins they’re looking forward to seeing.” Applause.
I think someone gave Fred a Red Bull. This is the liveliest I’ve ever seen him at one of these debates.
Well, it is do or die time. I’d say he’s doing.
And I’d say Rudy’s dying. He’s talking, but without any pep. More careful now than with conviction. He does make a good point about the NIE and Iran’s perception of American weakness.
Brit asks McCain what he would have done if he were captain. McCain talks about history, freedom of the seas, praises Navy’s professionalism.
***Ron Paul complains about “rush to judgement” and waves the “Bush-as-war-mongerer” flag. Moonbats will be partially assuaged after getting
Brit points out that all the candidates all supported the commander’s decision to be passive. What are you reacting to?
Audience is laughing at Ron Paul.***
Romney – Paul shouldn’t be reading so many of Ahmadenijad’s press releases. (Mix of applause and boos).
9:48pm Eastern. McCain champions the surge on the anniversary of its introduction. Rudy goes after McCain, asserting that he supported the surge, too. Sorry, but Rudy is really a non-entity.
Paul gives his “blowback” speech.
McCain responds, tries to shoehorn in a packaged one-liner. “I’m not interested in trading with al Qaeda, the only thing they trade is burkas. I’m not interested in traveling with them. They only use one-way tickets.”
Thompson’s one-liner on Iraq: “You know it’s good news coming out of Iraq because you read so little about it in the NYTimes.” Talks Pakistan.
Romney talks about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, but “we need to think more broadly…move moderate Islam to greater strength…ultimately, move the world of Islam so Muslims themselves reject the extreme.”
10:00pm Eastern. Huckabee challenges Paul, gives a strong defense of Israel. Annihilation of Israel, which is what our enemies want, “would not happen under my presidency.”
Paul: “We treat Israel as a stepchild, undermine their sovereignty.” Why do we arm their enemies? No reason for not treating Israel in an adult fashion. “Besides, we don’t have any money to do this.”
Giuliani chimes in: Idea that it’s treated as a stepchild is absurd. Repeats Huckabee.
Thompson goes after Huckabee on Pakistan. “Our supporting of their military is a good thing.” Hmmm.