CNN National Security Debate Live-Blog

10:01: Top AEI Iran hawk Danielle Pletka, who asked a question of the candidates earlier, is married to former lobbyist and Bush administration official Stephen Rademaker, who was named last month as a Romney campaign adviser.

10:00: The GOP’s foreign policy debate ends without a single mention of Europe, where the world’s largest economy is currently in peril, and only a passing mention of China.

9:50: Huntsman says the Iranians “have already decided to go nuclear.” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said this year that the Iranians have not made a decision on whether to develop nuclear weapons.

9:48: Are there any other neocons who led us into the Iraq disaster that would like to ask a question?

9:48: Cain says in order to deal with Assad regime, he would get America’s allies to stop buying oil from Syria. The European Union already instituted an oil embargo on Syria last September.


9:44: David Addington — ie, “Cheney’s Cheney” who engaged in various abuses of power — asks the next question.

9:37: In their discussions of immigration, none of the candidates mentioned the extreme immigration laws in Alabama, Arizona, or other states that have approved draconian measures.

9:36: Romney’s claim that in-state tuition is a “magnet” for immigration is shaky at best. California law enables immigrants “to pay the same lower college fees as California residents if they attend high school in California,” but it has not seen an increase in immigration. Arizona, meanwhile, experienced a 42 percent rise in its immigrant population over the last decade, despite its prohibitions on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

9:34: Gingrich tests Bachmann’s commitment to family values by asking her why she’s willing to break up immigrant families through deportation.

9:28: In order to deal with undocumented immigrants already in the country, Herman Cain proposes handing the problem off to individual states. The Constitution tasks the federal government — not the states — with overseeing citizenship.

9:28: Does anyone besides an AEI or Heritage staffer get to ask a question tonight?

9:27: Wondering where the candidates stand on immigration? Here’s a chart tracking their positions.

9:26: Surprisingly strong applause for Ron Paul’s call to “cancel” the war on drugs. He gets a second round when he says current drug policy has been a “failure.” The Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland, agrees. Paul also advocates allowing medicinal marijuana. He correctly notes that prescription drugs kill far more people than illegal drugs.

9:26: Perry says we need a “new Monroe Doctrine” to prevent meddling from Hezbollah and Iran in South America.

9:16: Here’s a reminder for during the commercial break: Newt Gingrich is listed as a former senior fellow on debate sponsor AEI’s website.


9:15: Bachmann, who has missed most of her congressional votes while campaigning, claims she was “in the middle” of the super committee fight. Survey says: no.

9:13: Now that the candidates are talking about the super committee and spending cuts, it’s worth noting that an economist at AEI — one of tonight’s co-hosts — said last week that engaging in austerity now would be a “great mistake” that would “push the economy into a great recession.”

9:09: Perry calls on Leon Panetta to resign in protest if the military spending cuts trigger goes into effect. Panetta has said those cuts will invite an attack on the United States, certainly aiding Perry’s argument.

9:05: Pledging to make his first state visit to Israel to show them he cares, Romney did what former Israeli prime minister and current defense minister said no one should: “[R]aise any question mark about the devotion of this president [Obama] to the security of Israel.”

9:04: Gingrich draws a line — he’ll only bomb Iran if it forces a regime change. Iranian civil society opposes that and says it won’t work.

8:58: But, Santorum is right — PEPFAR has helped the African continent prevent and treat HIV/AIDS and the Obama administration is now building on its success. Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the United States and her allies to scale up their funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment to “change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.”


8:57: Santorum has a little trouble with geography: “Africa was a country on the brink.” Memo to Santorum: Africa is not a country. Watch:

8:56: “Audience question” goes to AEI’s Paul Wolfowitz. Yes, that Wolfowitz — “we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason [for going to war in Iraq].”

8:55: Bachmann says that Iran has said it will attack Israel with nuclear weapons. Iran has made no such threat and as ABC’s Christiane Amanpour noted to Bachmann recently, denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons.

8:51: Another “audience question” goes to AEI scholar Danielle Pletka.

8:49: Cain reminds the audience that Iran is a very mountainous country, and clearly this impacts our national security. Apparently when he said it before, it was not a gaffe but his actually policy.

8:49: Herman Cain says that if Israel comes up with a good plan for attacking Iran, he would have the U.S. join them.

8:48: CNN takes “audience questions.” Goes to the communications director of the Heritage Foundation, one of the sponsors of the debate.

8:43: After the break, candidates will name what they think is the top national security threat to America. Will Bachmann say it’s “Obamacare”?

8:37: Huntsman warns that “listening to the generals” in Afghanistan may lead to another Vietnam — which may be the first time this point has been made in a Republican presidential debate.

8:36: When will Newt begin bashing the media?

8:36: At the Republican foreign policy debate, Jon Huntsman gives a rundown of President Obama’s foreign policy successes — weakening the Taliban in Afghanistan, killing Osama bin Laden, and removing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:32: Rick “zero foreign aid” Perry says he won’t “send a penny” to Pakistan “until they show they have America’s best interests in mind.” CAP experts note that “Ad hoc increases or cuts to American aid programs will not be effective as a carrot or stick for enticing cooperation with American security priorities.”

8:29: Cain flubs Wolf Blitzer’s name, calling him “Blitz,” even after Blitzer clarified at the top of the debate what his “real name” was. At least Cain knew his name.

8:26: Cain also calls for profiling, but has another word for it: “targeted identification.” President Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary has said that profiling is “misleading and arguably dangerous.”

8:23: Santorum makes first mention of Muslims. “Obviously, Muslims should be people we look out,” he says in support of ethnic and religious profiling. Santorum says “Muslims” — then adds “radical Muslims” — should be profiled at the airport. Last year, he said if T.S.A. doesn’t profile, “terrorists win.”

8:20: Bachmann criticized giving the so-called “underwear bomber” his Miranda rights. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to terrorism and attempted murder and faces life in prison.

8:19: Bachmann: “We don’t give miranda warnings to terrorists, we don’t read them they’re rights. They don’t have rights.” She claims that President Obama has “handed over interrogation of terror suspects to the ACLU.” (Read the ACLU response here.)

8:17: Strong applause for Ron Paul’s strong defense of civil liberties and refutation of the Patriot Act. “We can still protect our security without losing our liberty.”

8:17: Gingrich says the U.S. needs every tool to get information about a nuclear weapon going off in an American city. Intelligence officials have repeatedly rejected the idea of this so-called “ticking time bomb scenario.”

8:15: Gingrich is a big fan of the Heritage Foundation. In 1993, he supported the individual health insurance mandate that the center developed.

8:12: Mitt’s first lie of the debate: claims his first name is Mitt, but his actual first name is Willard.

8:10: In its opening intro montage, CNN introduced Herman Cain as a “business executive who worked for firms with global reach.”

8:09: CNN does its third — yes, third — introduction of the night, allowing all the candidates to introduce themselves. 15 minutes wasted.

8:08: Today is the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a strong advocate for America developing its global relationships through programs like foreign aid and the Peace Corps. Will the GOP candidates have any words of praise for him tonight?

8:07: Four years ago, Mitt Romney made a splash in the GOP foreign policy debate when he called for “doubling” the size of Guantanamo Bay. Perhaps tonight he will try to grab headlines by calling for tripling it?

8:06: CNN airs a 3-minute montage to introduce all the candidates. And then spends another 3 minutes to re-introduce them.

8:00: Another big question for tonight’s debate: will Herman Cain finally make some foreign policy sense?

7:57: One of the big issues tonight of course revolves around the story first broken by ThinkProgress — namely, that Mitt Romney put out an intentionally deceptive and “ridiculously misleading” ad. Will he stand behind it? Earlier today, CNN’s Joe Johns ripped Romney’s explanation, saying it “makes little sense unless you ignore the truth.”

7:55: Last night, Newt Gingrich announced his team of foreign policy advisers. Spoiler alert: it’s chock-full of militaristic neoconservatives. One of his key advisers made his money lobbying for many foreign governments.

7:53: This is “the first think tank co-sponsored presidential debate.” We’re pro-think tank here on this blog.

7:50: Tonight’s national security debate, live from Washington, D.C., will be moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, but experts from the right-wing think tanks American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation will also ask the candidates some questions.