Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Live-blogging CNN's Las Vegas Republican presidential debate

I'll be live-blogging the debate starting soon. There will also be live-blogging on TalkingPointsMemo, National Review, and the New York Times.

Feel free to post any comments about the debate (or the election) in the comments.

[ADDED: Here's the transcript, and here's the video:]

7:58 - This seems to be online only: we see someone warming up the audience, encouraging them to applaud as wildly as possible. He introduces Anderson Cooper (who I walked by on the street the other day). Cooper tells the audience we're going to start with the National Anthem, which he'll sing very quietly because he has a terrible voice. Good, this will give me time to make a salad before the actual debate starts.

8:02 - The opening sequence has majestic music (to conjure up the West), and an announcer gives us a basic run-down of who has what at stake. After summing up Mitt Romney (holding steady in the top tier), Rick Perry ("trying to get back on track after a meteoric rise"), and Herman Cain (surging), the announcer says that Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul are still trying to break through, while Rick Santorum is described as trying to "beat the odds." Santorum fans (if they exist) had to cringe that he was placed in a lower tier than everyone else including Ron Paul.

8:07 - An aggressively masculine rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

8:08 - Fortunately, this is the second debate in a row with no bells to signal when a candidate's time is up.

8:09 - Everyone is giving an opening statement. Santorum includes a sweet message to his daughter, who had surgery today and is doing fine.

8:10 - In Cain's opening statement, he says he's "a businessman, which means I solve problems for a living." Romney goes next and awkwardly echoes Cain's intro.

8:10 - In his opening statement, Perry forcefully says he's "an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience." A heavy-handed swipe at Romney.

As always, I'm writing down quotes on the fly, so they may not be verbatim.

8:14 - Santorum: "Herman's well-meaning." But 84% of Americans will pay more in taxes under Cain's 9/9/9 plan.

8:16 - Cain denies that he's proposing a value added tax. Bachmann insists that he is proposing a VAT. (I recently blogged about this.) The VAT just tricks people into thinking businesses, instead of government, are making them pay more.

8:17 - Perry calls Cain "brother" twice in his answer on why the 9/9/9 plan won't work. [Here's the video, which also shows that he uses a different word for Romney:]

8:19 - Paul makes a crucial, surprisingly overlooked, point: any time you increase spending, you're effectively raising taxes (I would add: especially as long as we're in debt). The taxes will have to go up sooner or later. The fact that we don't experience the tax increases right away doesn't change this fact.

8:21 - So far it's almost all been about 9/9/9. There's a lively exchange between Cain and Romney. Cain says Romney and Perry are "mixing apples and oranges" by equating his proposed federal sales tax with the current state sales taxes. Romney retorts: "I'll have a bushel of apples and oranges, because I'll be paying both taxes."

8:24 - Bachmann says "every American should pay something" in taxes. Well that's good, because that's already true.

8:25 - Perry says he's finally released his economic plan. His plan is to extract our own energy, which would "create 1.2 million jobs." How long a period of time do you think he's referring to? A quarter? A year? Nope. 7 years.

8:29 - Santorum uses his favorite strategy of interrupting another candidate, and Romney responds very sharply, repeatedly saying: "Rick, you've had your chance — let me speak." That might be the most heated moment Romney has had in any of these debates. Santorum eventually announces that Romney's time is up before he's gotten a chance to say one sentence! The audience boos.

8:33 - Romney gets Gingrich to admit that Romney got the idea for his health-care plan's individual mandate from Gingrich and the Heritage Foundation.

8:42 - Perry says "Mitt loses all standing" on illegal immigration because Romney hired an illegal immigrant and knew about it for a year. Once Romney starts answering, Perry uses an uncannily similar strategy to Santorum's, jabbering over Romney for the whole time he's talking. Romney (who's right next to Perry) puts his hand on Perry's shoulder and leaves it there for a long time. Romney: "You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. And I'd suggest that if you want to be President of the United States, you ought to let both people speak." Have Perry and Santorum privately agreed to the same line of attack against Romney — talking over him throughout his whole time — or did Perry spontaneously decide to emulate Santorum? Either way, Perry and Santorum are using a cowardly tactic and creating the impression that they're afraid of letting Americans hear the whole debate.

8:46 - Anderson Cooper asks Cain why he said he supported an electrified fence along the southern border, then said it was a joke, then said he stood by the statement and just didn't want to offend anyone! Cain starts out saying he's finally going to be serious, but he doesn't clarify whether he still supports an electrified fence.

8:52 - I just noticed this is the first debate without Jon Huntsman. [ADDED: He's boycotting Nevada. That'll do him a lot of good.]

8:52 - Perry brings back his attack against Romney for supposedly hiring illegal immigrants. The audience boos very loudly for a long time. Romney says: "We've been down that road sufficiently, and it sounds like the audience agrees with me." Once Romney says that, the audience immediately switches to cheering. That was Perry's big attempt to offset the charges that he himself is soft on illegal immigration, and the attempt failed miserably.

9:01 - I'm adding the "free speech" tag to this post, since the candidates seem to disagree on whether they should all get a chance to speak.

9:11 - Cain stands by his past statement about Occupy Wall Street: that if you're not rich, blame yourself. Ron Paul: "Cain is blaming the victims."

9:21 - Santorum makes a smart statement on the relevance of religion in a presidential race. The candidate's faith has to do with their values, and that's relevant for voters to consider. In contrast, whether the candidate is right or wrong about "the road to salvation" shouldn't be part of the political arena.

9:22 - Gingrich tries to outdo Santorum by saying that the idea that we were "created by a loving God" defines the boundaries of . . . what? (I'm having trouble paraphrasing him because I found this so incoherent.)

9:23 - Perry has been pausing a lot throughout the debate.

9:33 - Paul: "We have enough weapons to blow up the world 20, 25 times."

9:37 - Paul would "cut all foreign aid," which is "taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries." He emphasizes that this includes Israel.

9:41 - Gingrich, answering a question by Paul, says that the Iranian "arms for hostages" deal in the '80s was "a terrible mistake."

9:46 - Santorum says Romney in Massachusetts "ran as a liberal, to the left of Ted Kennedy." Romney laughs on cue.

9:48 - Romney: 40% of the jobs created in the last several years in Texas have gone to illegal immigrants. Perry says this is wrong, and adds: "You failed as the governor of Massachusetts." Romney responds that his unemployment rate in Massachusetts was lower than Perry's in Texas during the same time period.

9:49 - Romney: We need "someone who's created jobs, not just watched them being created by others."

9:50 - Cooper asks Cain a dumb question: Should either Romney or Perry be President? "No, I should be President!"

That's all. Now, here's the moment this debate will be remembered for:

Jonah Goldberg says:

I don’t think anyone left the debate more likable than they were when they went in, with the possible exception of Newt.
Maybe he was reading Jason (the Commenter)'s Twitter feed:
My scoring of the debates: Cain -1, Romney -2, Perry -5, Bachmann -1, Santorum -2, Newt (my new favorite)
Goldberg elaborates:
I thought Perry had his best performance so far, but it was awfully shaky at times and he struck me as unlikable at times. If this had been his first debate, he might still be the frontrunner, albeit with a lot of chatter about how he needs to get better.

Romney still won the debate but I think he finally got bloodied on RomneyCare in a way he hadn’t in the past. He also looked angry and flustered for the first time ever. It might humanize him for some people. Or it might make him look weak.

Cain wilted under the pressure, but didn’t fold. He needs to learn how to talk about 9-9-9 in a granular way without asserting ignorance, laziness or dishonesty on the part of its critics. He remains a mess on foreign policy.

Santorum was the winner on points in almost all of his exchanges but he simply cannot stop sounding whiney, angry or aggrieved. . . . [H]is tone is so unpresidential you want him to stop talking even when he’s winning.

Bachmann’s simply a diminished candidate who thinks saying Obama is a one-term president is an argument for her.

All in all, an exhausting debate.


Jason (the commenter) said...

We've had so many debates, and I don't regret watching a one of them.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Same here, although I have a feeling they're about to become so redundant that I'll lose the motivation to watch (and live-blog) each one. Haven't these people managed to say everything they want us to hear by now?

Jason (the commenter) said...

JAC: Haven't these people managed to say everything they want us to hear by now?

Are you kidding? Bachmann could talk about herself for hours!

Jason (the commenter) said...

Gingrich stole Romney's thunder.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Romney is being destroyed in this debate. Cain and Romney both.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of behind on the DVR. Man, Santorum is being a dick.

- Lyssa

Anonymous said...

I wish that Newt Gingrich would drop out of these debates and become the moderator instead.

Jason (the commenter) said...

JAC: although I have a feeling they're about to become so redundant that I'll lose the motivation to watch (and live-blog) each one.

I bet you wish you hadn't said this now. It's like an episode of Jerry Springer!

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

Wow, I've never seen Mitt Romney as angry as he got at Rick Perry just now (over being interrupted). He physically put his hand on Perry, which is extremely unusual.

I've also never seen anyone in a debate as personally off-putting as Rick Santorum when he told Romney he was out of time after yelling over him for 20-30 seconds.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Chris, I agree Santorum was very off-putting, but I thought Romney said he's out of time (which is what I said in the post). I may be wrong. If it was Santorum who said it, that's embarrassing.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

BTW Huntsman is boycotting this debate as a protest to Nevada apparently saying they might break the rules and vote early.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

Santorum said it first, he yelled, "You're outta time!" or something like that. And then afterwards, Romney said to Cooper that it seemed like he was out of time when he was being talked over during his time.

Jason (the commenter) said...

JAC: If it was Santorum who said it, that's embarrassing.

What I heard, and my peeps on Twitter heard, was that Santorum said it.

I don't know how many people will be around for the next debate.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

Santorum seemed like he was watching the lights that show their time and called time before even Anderson Cooper did so.

John Althouse Cohen said...

What I heard, and my peeps on Twitter heard, was that Santorum said it.

Ah. Thanks. I'll edit my post to correct this.

Jason (the commenter) said...

There's so much going on. We may have to re-watch it in slow motion.

Anonymous said...

BTW Huntsman is boycotting this debate as a protest to Nevada apparently saying they might break the rules and vote early.

Well, he sure showed them.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

I'm not gonna watch it now because I can't watch two things at once, but this seems to be it:


And here's Romney getting mad at Perry:


Jason (the commenter) said...

Ron Paul: "Cain is blaming the victims."

As far as I can tell, Ron Paul backs the protesters. His supporters show up at their rallies. And yet Obama is the only one who gets blamed for pandering to them.

I've never seen a pro-Obama sign at one of them.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Newt said, "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk." He may have just won my vote.

Jason (the commenter) said...

He emphasizes that this includes Israel.

Yes, it makes them weak according to him.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I think Perry is finished, but Romney can't afford another debate like that.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Now, here's the moment this debate will be remembered for:

Are you kidding me? The entire evening was a roller coaster. I'd buy the whole thing on DVD!

And to think, Evil Blogger Lady missed it.

rcocean said...

No john H? I guess 1% of Republicans and 90% of the media really missed him.

rcocean said...

Typical Jonah. Yeah, its all about who's likable. Goldberg shows again was he's a lame conservative pundit.

This debate was very reveling. First, Perry is complete Political idiot. He tried to help himself on illegal immigration by attacking Romney with a very old, silly, story about hiring illegals. All Perry had to do was pull a McCain, but he was too stupid to do that.

Romney as usual was the debate winner. He was attacked and responded well. And I hate Romney but understand that Republicans are drawn to his type like moth to a flame.

John Althouse Cohen said...

All Perry had to do was pull a McCain,

What do you mean?

Revenant said...

And I hate Romney but understand that Republicans are drawn to his type like moth to a flame.

There isn't much to choose from. Gingrich, Bachmann and Santorum have beclowned themselves into oblivion and nobody ever cared that Johnson or Huntsman were running in the first place. That leaves Cain, Perry, Paul, and Romney; Paul's a little too weird for most voters, and Cain and Perry keep making mis-steps. Romney seems about as authentic as Velveeta, but he's managing to say the right things and not screw up. So far.

rcocean said...

Pull a McCain:

Act like you haven't supported Amnesty with Ted Kennedy for 4 years or opposed any border security.

Instead, just say, "Build the dang fence" and say you've changed your mind on illegal immigration.

rcocean said...

1/2 of SC primary voters thought McCain was against Amnesty and "very against" illegal immigration.

rcommal said...

Engineers solve problems for a living, too, for one example. So?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palin says Gingrich won.

BladeDoc said...

Liked the liveblog but at 8:24 you stated that everyone pays taxes, true but not true. The lowest quintile pays an effective negative tax rate due to things like the EITC. If you count all government spending on the lowest quintile they receive ~$8 in benefits from each $1 in taxes. http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/2286.html

John Althouse Cohen said...

Blade, they're still paying state and federal taxes.