[Here's the transcript.]
Keep reloading this page for updates!
8:11 - Wolf Blitzer gives an example of an introduction, saying: "I'm Wolf Blitzer, and yes, that is my real name." Mitt Romney says that "Mitt" is also his real first name. Not according to Wikipedia! [UPDATE: TalkingPointsMemo, which makes a lot of money by posting attack ads against Romney, is running this headline:]
8:17 - Ron Paul mentions Timothy McVeigh as an example of a terrorist who was dealt with in the criminal justice system. Gingrich says, as if this were a knock-down argument against Ron Paul, "But Timothy McVeigh succeeded!" Is Gingrich suggesting that McVeigh shouldn't have been criminally prosecuted?
8:20 - Jon Huntsman says that Tom Ridge was a "great Secretary of Homeland Security." I don't remember many people saying this at the time.
8:22 - Rick Perry says he would criminalize TSA pat-downs and privatize the TSA.
8:23 - Rick Santorum agrees with Perry. "We should be trying to find bombers, not bombs."
(As always, I'm writing down these quotes on the fly, not using a transcript, so they might not be verbatim.)
8:24 - The moderator asks Santorum what kind of profiling he'd support. Santorum says you should look for "Muslims," as well as "younger males." Ron Paul says: "What about Timothy McVeigh?" That sounds like an example of the kinds of people Santorum wanted to focus on! He was a young man.
8:27 - Herman Cain calls Wolf Blitzer "Blitz." A little later he makes fun of himself for the slip, saying he meant "Wolf." Wolf Blitzer says: "Thank you, Cain!"
8:31 - Michele Bachmann hones her answer from the last foreign-policy debate about why she supports continuing to give aid to Pakistan. She points out that we need to maintain our relationship with Pakistan because they give us intelligence information about terrorism. Perry disagrees, without explaining what he thinks is wrong with Bachmann's reasoning. After Perry says he wouldn't give any financial aid to Pakistan, Bachmann's says that's "highly naive."
8:36 - Romney supports spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan for years to come. "We need to bring them into the 21st century — or the 20th century, for that matter." Huntsman "strongly disagree[s]." There's a very long back-and-forth between Romney and Huntsman, which might be a first in all the debates. Romney emphasizes listening to the generals, whereas Huntsman says you still need to make your own decision as commander-in-chief.
8:41 - Gingrich: "We were told that killing bin Laden in Pakistan brought our relations with Pakistan to a new low. Well, it should have!"
8:48 - There's a bizarrely long lull while they wait for someone in the audience to ask a question.
8:50 - Paul: "Why does Israel need our help? They need us to get out of the way."
8:51 - Paul reveals Israel's open secret, saying they have "200, 300 nuclear missiles."
8:53 - Perry says he would "sanction the Iranian central bank." Doesn't "sanction" as a verb have the opposite meaning from "sanction" as a noun?
8:56 - In response to a question by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Santorum strongly supports humanitarian assistance to Africa in fighting AIDS. He rebukes the candidates who oppose foreign aid (Perry, Gingrich, and Paul).
9:05 - Blitzer asks Gingrich if he would bomb Iran. He says only as a last resort, and only to change the regime.
9:06 - Huntsman is asked if he would support cuts to the defense budget. He says we can't have any "sacred cows" in reducing the debt. "Everything's gotta be on the table. The Defense Department has gotta be on the table." If we can't find any cuts there, "we're not looking hard enough."
9:21 - Adam Sorensen of Time Magazine points out that Cain is "still giving the 'I'll wing it' answer on every question."
9:27 - Paul: "The federal war on drugs has been a failure." Blitzer asks if this means we should legalize all drugs. Paul says he would at least legalize medical marijuana. He adds that prescription drugs are more dangerous than illegal drugs. "And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs."
9:31 - Is there some rule that every debate needs to bring up immigration, but only near the end? There seems to be some consensus that immigration is so important that it always needs to be debated, but it's unimportant enough to wait till the audience has stopped paying attention.
9:34 - Gingrich seems to be doing about half of the talking in this debate. Paul seems to be speaking more than Romney or Perry.
9:41 - Blitzer says we'll have "much more" after a commercial. The debate has been going on for over an hour and a half — I don't know if I can take "much more."
9:54 - Wolf Blitzer asks all the candidates to quickly answer a question about what national-security issue no one is talking about that they wish would be talked about. Santorum says South America. Paul says Afghanistan. Perry says China. Romney agrees with Santorum: South America. Cain: cyber-attacks. Gingrich agrees with Cain and adds: electromagnetic pulse attacks. Bachmann: Iraq. Huntsman: the United States economy.
Now that the debate is mercifully over after 2 whole hours, a couple non-live points:
Perry said that Hezbollah and Hamas have infiltrated Mexico to try to enter the United States:
Josh Marshall at TPM thinks the most important event of the night was Gingrich's comments on immigration. Marshall says:
Newt’s edging into the GOP danger zone here on immigration. He really did say he’d provide a path to legality, though not citizenship, to a substantial number of the current undocumented population. Bachmann called him on it. And he denied he said it. But Bachmann, I think, was right. He did say it.The New York Times seems to agree that that's the big story. The NYT is currently reporting on its homepage:
Now, [that's] an immensely logical thing for Newt to say — that you’re not going to be uprooting and separating families who’ve been here for a quarter century.
But this is toxic in GOP primary politics. It helped sink Rick Perry.
Newt Gingrich suggests some illegal aliens should be allowed to stay in the United States.Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review says on Twitter:
Someone should tell Gingrich that some of those immigrants will build mosques.My mom, Ann Althouse, gives the transcript of the interchange between Gingrich and Bachmann on immigration, and concludes:
That one-on-one really highlighted Gingrich's superior intelligence and sophistication. Clearly, Gingrich has the ability to reach out to many Americans who feel empathy toward the people who are in the county illegally and to take a middle position that balances a large set of interests. I like that, but obviously the red-meat fans have something to complain about. He put some vegetables on their dish.