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Liveblogging the CNN/YouTube Debate: "Edginess," "Elbows, "Eh." Update: Romney's the Energizer Candidate; Update: PLANT ALERT; the Biggest Stumble of the Night Award Goes to...CNN; Update: the Plants Keep Sprouting Like Weeds
Retired gay activist/Hillary supporter/Kerry supporter Keith Kerr = CNN potted plant.
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Update: More plant excavation…Abortion questioner is a declared Edwards’ supporter… and the Log Cabin Republican questioner is a declared Obama supporter…and lead toy questioner is a union activist for the John Edwards-endorsing United Steelworkers.

Kevin Aylward takes apart Anderson Cooper’s mea culpa on the failure to vet gay military activist/Hillary-Kerry supporter Keith Kerr and marvels in disbelief:

Here’s Cooper’s feeble “we didn’t know” defense.

COOPER: “Bill Bennett earlier mentioned he was getting some reports from friends of his on the Internet that Brigadier General Keith Kerr, who asked a question about gays in the military during this debate, was on a steering committee for Senator Hillary Clinton. That was something certainly unknown to us, and had we known that, would have been disclosed by us. It turns out we have just looked at it. Apparently, there was a press release from some six months ago. Hillary Clinton’s office saying that he had been named to some steering committee. We don’t know if he’s still on it. We’re trying to find out that information. But certainly, had we had that information, we would have acknowledged that in using his question, if we had used it at all.

Anderson Cooper would have you believe that a network that could select this question, find that 13-year-old Romney quote, create the trap for Romney (which he fell face first into), and (presumably) fly Kerr to the debate, could not type “Keith Kerr, retired Colonel” into Google and find the link to the Hillary Clinton press release, which prior to the debate appeared in the first 10 results for that search?



Retired gay Brigadier Gen./Hillary-Kerry campaign mouthpiece Keith Kerr = Another CNN potted plant.

Kerr’s question:

The biggest stumble of the night award goes to…CNN.

Update 11:47pm Eastern. PLANT ALERT.

Via Allah, Adam Yoshida blogs about the gay retired Brigadier General questioner…who’s affiliated with the Hillary campaign–serving on her LGBT committee.

He was also on the steering committee of Veterans for Kerry.

I take back my compliment of CNN.

The politics of planting rules again.


Glenn Reynolds’ advice to CNN: “Suckered by Hillary, again. Try Google, next time. It’s not that hard!”

*Debate vid highlights/lowlights will be here.*

So, who won?

Quick and dirty reaction: Romney looked strong and energetic, with one stumble on the Bible question. Huckabee didn’t harm himself, so he “wins” by not losing. McCain and Thompson were lethargic, with a few lucid moments each.

On the format: Expectations were so low of CNN, it wasn’t hard to exceed them. The questions were almost all coherent and well-framed. And no obvious “plants” that I could detect. If you uncover any, let me know. Another plus: No Suzanne Malveaux.

Update 10:09pm Eastern. Softball for Rudy. You are a lifelong Yankees fan. Why did you root for the Red Sox? I guess this is the equivalent of the diamonds-or-pearls question from the Dem debate.

Romney “elbows” a last baseball line into Rudy’s spotlight.

Update 10:08pm Eastern. Question for Ron Paul. Are you going to let America down by not running as an independent. “I have no intention of doing this. I am a Republican.”


Update 10:06pm Eastern. Infrastructure question. Ron Paul goes all nutroots. We’re paying troops to blow up bridges overseas while our bridges are falling apart at home!!!!!!

McCain ignores Paul. Promises to veto pork projects and Bridges to Nowhere.

Update 10:01pm Eastern. Question about the Confederate flag. Romney doesn’t recognize that flag. That’s not a flag I’d hang in my room. Reach out to all Americans. There’s one America.

Thompson: He’s free to do whatever he wants in his home. Doesn’t mean he’s racist. But in public, we don’t need to go out of our way to [offend some people].

Update 9:58pm Eastern. Why don’t black Americans vote for Republicans?

Giuliani: We haven’t done a good enough job of reaching out.

Update 9:56pm Eastern. A space question from a guy who wants us to go to Mars.

Update 9:53pm Eastern. Will you embrace support of Log Cabin Republicans? Huckabee says he’ll take all the support he can get. Would he take it? Yes. Would he change his position on gay marriage? No.

Update 9:51pm Eastern. Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, a retired gay military officer, challenges candidates on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Cooper asks Romney about his past comments that he “looks forward to the days gay men and women can serve openly in the military.” Romney says not in a time of war. Kerr gets several minutes to lobby. Boos from the audience.

Update 9:33pm Eastern. Which candidate will make a permanent commitment to Iraq? From a blogger, Buzz Brockway. Thompson: “We shouldn’t be there any longer than we have to be.”

Paul: Get out of Iraq. Take care of America first.

McCain: Ultimate destination of jihadists is NYC. That is the challenge of our time. I believe we can meet it and defeat it.

Paul: We are the occupiers. Loud boos.

Dan Riehl: “Based on what I’ve seen so far, Huckabee is going to come out of this debate in the top tier. If nothing changes, that may be “the” story of this debate.”

Update 9:28pm Eastern. Waterboarding question from a student in Seattle. Romney doesn’t want to describe precisely what techniques we’ll use. Keep enemy combatants at Gitmo.

McCain lambastes Romney on waterboarding. Gets some applause. Romney and McCain go at it over Geneva Conventions.

Update 9:25pm Eastern. Yasmin from Huntsville asks how candidates will “repair America’s image” because of the Iraq war?

McCain: Fight the Democrats’ plan for a withdrawal timetable.

Duncan Hunter: “I will never apologize for the United States of America.”

Update 9:16pm Eastern. Do you believe every word of this book? (Holds up Bible.)

Rudy hesistates. Mike Huckabee: “Can I help you out?”

OUCH. Elbow Alert. Laughter and applause for Huckabee.

Rudy hesitates. So, yes, I believe it. Not every thing in the literal sense. Like Jonah and the whale.

Romney: I believe the Bible is the word of God.

Do you believe every word?

Romney: Uhhh. Yes. Well…

Hillary stumble alert.

Huckabee: Either you believe it or you don’t. Doesn’t mean you believe we should pluck out our eyes. As the only one here with a theology degree, I don’t comprehend all of it…


Update 9:14pm Eastern. Question for Christian conservative candidates. Where are you on the death penalty? What would Jesus do? Huckabee cites experience carrying out the death penalty. Gives an articulate answer on the difficulty, the thorough review involved. Cooper: What would Jesus do? Huckabee: Jesus was too smart to run for public office. Applause. Tancredo: I would pray to Jesus to give me the courage and wisdom to do the right thing.

Update 9:10pm Eastern. Abortion question. If hypothetically Roe v Wade was overturned and Congress passed a ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Rudy: “I would probably not sign it. I would leave it to the states.”

Update 9:06pm Eastern. Black-on-black crime.

Romney: Best thing you can do for a kid is have a mom and a dad. Better education.

Giuliani: Cites NYC record.

Romney: Makes another veiled Bernie Kerik reference. “I was not a mayor. I did not have a police commissioner.”


Update 9:04pm Eastern. Question – tell us about your gun collection.

Thompson: I have a couple of guns, but I’m not going to tell you which ones and where they are.

McCain: I carried a .45 as a pilot. I know how to use guns. Don’t own one now.

Hunter: Family tradition.

Romney: I have two guns in my home owned by my son John. He buys expensive things for me. Huh?

Update 9:00pm Eastern. Question: “How do you feel about gun control?” Duncan Hunter: “I will strongly support the Second Amendment.” Applause.

Another gun question directed at Rudy Giuliani on his comments that gun owners should have to pass a test. “We have to be very aggressive about enforcing the gun laws that exist.” Rudy supports “reasonable restrictions” outlined by Parker opinion. Scattered boos. Decisions will be made on a state basis and will have to comply with the constitution.

Thompson and Giuliani having a civil discussion of Parker.

Update 8:53pm Eastern. Cooper runs a Thompson ad attacking Romney on abortion. Cooper asks Thompson: “What’s up with that?” Thompson is thrown off. Romney takes the offense again.

Update 8:50pm Eastern. A question about lead in China-manufactured toys. Tancredo ties it to trade with China. So does Hunter.

Update: 8:48pm Eastern. Cooper slips in a question about the Politico’s story on Giuliani’s Hamptons subsidies. Rudy deflects. Cooper moves on to showing a Tancredo immigration campaign ad.

Update 8:45pm Eastern. The questions so far are really good. I take back my “circus” remarks. Question about ethanol subsidies. Romney gives a practiced answer supporting ethanol “subsidies.”

Update 8:44pm Eastern. “Ordinary American” Grover Norquist asks candidates whether they’ll sign a pledge opposing tax raises during presidency.

Update 8:41pm Eastern. McCain takes a fair tax question and uses it to challenge Ron Paul’s isolationism. Mixture of boos and cheers. Sustained applause for McCain’s challenge.

Paul gets 30 seconds for rejoinder. McCain doesn’t understand difference between isolationism and non-intervention.

Update 8:37pm Eastern. What three programs would you cut?

Thompson: He mentions Social Security, but he denies that he’ll cut it. He won’t pick three.

Paul mentions cutting the Departments of Education, Energy, and Homeland Security–and the Department of Defense.

Huckabee targets the IRS. Red meat. Applause. Also agrees with revamping DHS.

Update 8:34pm Eastern. Question – What will you do to control national debt and spending? Softball for McCain. He mentions S-CHIP expansion, tobacco taxes. “I have a record of fighting wasteful spending.”

Update 8:31pm Eastern. Question – Does Ron Paul believe in CFR/NAU conspiracies? Paul: Yes.

Update 8:26pm Eastern. Good questions. A young woman asks about DREAM act. Huckabee says his illegal alien tuition bill wasn’t for “special” treatment.

Romney gets to respond to Huckabee. Listening to Huckabee reminds Romney of Massachusetts liberals. Great reasons for doing bad things. “Mike, that’s not your money.” Huckabee: “We’re a better country than punishing children for what their parents do.” Romney responds immediately: “It’s not about punishing…It’s about whether we should be using tax money for illegal immigrants.”

Update 8:23pm Eastern. Next question – an employer with H2-B asks how Tancredo will support guest workers. Tancredo says he won’t support more mass guest workers coming into the country. If I recall, I thought Tancredo actually supported an H2-B program. Checking.

Update 8:20pm Eastern. John McCain’s turn. He denies that shamnesty was amnesty. McCain cites “our failure in Iraq” as a reason people don’t trust the government to secure the borders. McCain complains about “demagoguing.”

Tancredo: “All I’ve heard is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo. It’s wonderful.”

Update 8:17pm Eastern. Another immigration question: Will you oppose shamnesty? Fred Thompson gets a chance to speak. “We get to decide who comes into our home. Enforce the border. Punish employers. Eliminate sanctuary cities. We have to cut off federal funding.

Ding! Ding!

Thompson disses Romney for initially supporting shamnesty.

“We’ve all probably had people we’ve hired that probably were bad decisions.”

[Bernie Kerik allusion.]

Update 8:16pm Eastern. Anderson Cooper wants to move on. Romney won’t let him. Romney cites his record opposing driver’s licenses for illegals, supported deportation training.

Update 8:11pm Eastern. Yes! The first question is for Giuliani about his support for sanctuary. Giuliani is giving his stock answer about how his sanctuary policy was not a sanctuary.

As I’ve said before: “Bulls**t.”

Romney is on Rudy like white on rice. Notes the federal lawsuit Giuliani waged. Applause.

Score: Romney.

Rudy follows up with the claim that Romney had a “sanctuary mansion” where illegals worked.

Romney: “You know better than that.”

Update 8:09 Eastern. Oh, geez. The first video is a guy with a guitar. Is there a question here? No.

Update 8:03pm Eastern. The candidates are being introduced. No “elbows” or “edginess” yet.


So I’ll start liveblogging the CNN/YouTube circus at 8pm and you can tune it to our live video stream simulcast at Hot Air. We may have a few special guest calls during the broadcast. Not Chuck Norris, unfortunately. In any event, we’ll stay on through the entire debate, which ends at 10, and do 30 minutes of post-debate chit-chat. Here’s your scene-setter:

The Sunshine State takes center stage Wednesday night in the race for the White House as eight Republican presidential candidates face off in the party’s first CNN/YouTube debate.

With five weeks and one day to go until the first votes are cast in the race for the White House, the stakes could hardly be higher. The candidates will be fielding video questions submitted by the public via the YouTube Web site, just as Democratic White House hopefuls did in July.


If you’ve noticed, and it’s hard not to, an edgy battle for the GOP presidential nomination has turned even testier the past few days. One reason for the bad blood is that the Republican race is still very much up for grabs, and the clock’s ticking. Rudy Giuliani’s the front-runner in the national polls, but the former New York City mayor is not the one leading the polls in most of the early primary states. That candidate would be Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is ahead in state surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire. The Iowa caucuses, which will be held on January 3, kick off the presidential primary season. New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first primary, votes five days later.

Add to that a new twist in Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor is moving up in the polls in Iowa and is now within striking distance of Romney. “The GOP race is very much in flux right now. That’s why elbows are out,” said CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Charles Johnson says, “Eh.”

Here are the latest numbers for you poll-watchers.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2008 Campaign, GOP, YouTube