CNN Tea Party Debate Live-Blog

9:53: Asked what he’d bring to the White House, Cain said: “I would bring a sense of humor to the White House because America is too uptight.”

9:52: This would have been a good time for Newt to scold the media for asking stupid questions.

9:50: Wolf Blitzer asks the candidate a vapid question about what they would change in the White House. If Rick Santorum was president, he would expand the White House — not for government, but for his seven children who would need lots of bedrooms.

9:50: Neocon favorite Rick Perry, the so-called “hawk internationalist” wondered if U.S. assistance to Afghanistan “is best spent with 100,000 military who have a target on their back in Afghanistan? I don’t think so at this particular point in time.”


9:49: Rick Perry: It’s really important for us to maintain a presence in Afghanistan. When it comes to his Afghanistan position, consistency is not Perry’s strong suit, however: “Time to bring our young men and women home as safely as we can, but important to keep a presence there.” He responded to Huntsman who called for withdrawal — and got best applause of the night for it.

9:48: FLASHBACK: Before it was known as Tea Party Express, CNN’s debate co-sponsor was known as “Move America Forward,” a Republican front group that organized pro-Iraq war rallies.

9:45: One hour and forty-five minutes into the debate and finally a person of color gets to ask a question — an Afghan woman.

9:45: Audience begins to boo Ron Paul when he tries to explain to Rick Santorum why we can’t blame all Muslims for terrorism caused by extremists. Audience again boos when Paul complains of “unfair treatment” of Palestinians.

9:44: Paul says most of the danger to America comes from the “lack of wisdom” that comes from our foreign policy. He says we’re in “great threat” because of our occupations of other countries and vast network of military bases worldwide. Santorum accuses Paul of blogging on his website that the United States was responsible for 9/11. Santorum says Paul is “parroting” what Osama bin Laden said. Santorum says we were not attacked because of our actions in the world, but rather because of our character — leading CIA and Pentagon analysts disagree.


9:40: The two largest audience cheers in last two debates: government execution and death by lack of health insurance. See the video from tonight’s crowd reaction:

9:38: Huntsman takes a shot at Romney: “We could spend all day” talking about Mitt’s flip-flops.

9:36: Rick Perry stands by the Texas DREAM Act because it’s a states’ rights issue, and he decided it was the right choice for his state.

9:33: Bachmann: The immigration policy in America worked very well until liberals changed the policy in the 1960s. Incidentally, that “change” was an end to the discriminatory “immigration quotas” that dictated the numbers of certain ethnicities that could emigrate to the U.S.

9:32: Huntsman says that for Perry to say you can’t secure the border is a “treasonous comment.” He then smirks, suggesting it’s a joke — Perry does not look amused.


9:30: Perry booed when saying that we should allow illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition. Bachmann wildly cheered when saying that is not “the American way.”

9:29: Oops: Santorum confuses “Latino vote” with “illegal vote.” “What Gov. Perry has done is he provided in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, maybe that was an attempt to attract illegal — I mean Latino — voters,” Santorum said.

9:24: Will CNN ask the candidates about the undue influence of corporate lobbyists and other special interests in Washington? CNN’s partner for the debate, Tea Party Express, is managed by a Sacramento-based Republican lobbying firm called Russo Marsh and Rogers.

9:21: Ron Paul the doctor says a 30-year-old who has an accident and needs intensive health care should’ve planned ahead and is responsible for himself. When Blitzer asks if society should let that young man die, some in the crowd shout in approval. Tea Party audience members heard yelling: “Yeah!” “Let him die!”

9:20: Ron Paul’s position: Freedom’s just another word for dying of preventable illness due to lack of money.

9:18: Bachmann campaign email blasts Perry his HPV vaccine mandate and Merck drug company ties: “Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism: The 2007 Vaccination Executive Order Fiasco.”

9:17: Romney is still touting his illegal plan to unilaterally give a “waiver” to all states from the Affordable Care Act.

9:16: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would actually increase the costs of health care. As the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded, “growth in spending will be restrained by reductions in updates to payment rates that were included in the 2010 health care legislation.”

9:15: Tea Party audience member worries about expensive cost of health insurance, a concern rarely aired by the candidates on stage.

9:14: Rick Perry defends his vaccine order by saying that he is for life. But what about his death penalty execution record?

9:13: Governor Perry makes it clear that he can’t be bought with a $5,000 campaign contribution (it was actually $30K). How much would it take?

9:12: On the same day that Merck’s political committee donated $6,000 to Perry, his chief of staff had “met with key aides about the vaccine.”

9:12: Bachmann suggests that Rick Perry’s HPV vaccine mandate was done in direct financial benefit to a drug company. “That’s flat out wrong.” Perry notes the company was Merck, and said he “received a $5,000 donation” (it was actually $30,000) while raising millions more. To say that he could be bought for $6,000, Perry says, “I’m offended.” Bachmann says she’s offended for all the mothers and daughters, to great applause.

9:11:Perry’s HPV vaccine actually had the word mandate in it! It read: “The Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner shall adopt rules that mandate the age appropriate vaccination of all female children for HPV prior to admission to the sixth grade.”

9:10: Bachmann takes a firm stance against requiring children to have a “government injection.” Like the polio vaccine. Or measles, mumps and rubella.

9:08: Perry says that his executive order mandating that young girls receive a vaccine was a mistake, but he defended the decision as recently as September of 2010. “I knew was going to take a political hit … at the end of the day, I did what was right from my perspective, and I did something that saved people’s lives and, you know, that’s a big deal,” he said.

9:07: Romney notes that the “Fair Tax” would slam the middle-class. He’s right. Romney also claims that a national sales tax would make American more competitive. In reality, a national sales tax would destroy seniors’ retirement savings.

9:05: Economic populism rears its head! Gingrich bashes GE for not paying any taxes in 2010. Takes a swipe at Obama for inviting GE Chairman and CEO to his jobs speech before Congress.

9:03: Gingrich knocks taxpayer subsidies for ethanol. But not too long ago, Gingrich was paid by the ethanol lobby to support those same giveaways in the tax code.

9:01: Bachmann does not think Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is committing treason, unlike Rick Perry.

9:00: Taking a swipe at the title of Ron Paul’s book, End the Fed, Cain, a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas, says we shouldn’t end the Fed, we should “fix the Fed.”

8:59: Rick Perry suggests that Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama have devalued the dollar. Was he expressing this concern during the much larger Bush-era devaluation?

8:59: Audience bursts into applause at mention of Perry’s plan to try Fed Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke for treason. Treason is a death penalty offense.

8:55: Rick Santorum wants the federal reserve to be switched to a single-mandate of price stability just like they do in…socialist Europe! The dual mandate (including supporting full employment) was good enough for Ronald Reagan.

8:54: Several candidates have called for corporate tax cuts to spur job creation, even though corporate after tax profits are currently the highest they’ve been since 1947.

8:53: Romney’s opposition research shop sends out document titled “RICK’S RETREAT: FIRST SOCIAL SECURITY, NOW PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS.” In his book, Perry “sharply opposed” the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.

8:50: Herman Cain says the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group he once led, is composed of “small businesses.” The National Restaurant Association represents McDonalds, Burger King, and other massive fast food corporations. Cain helped the group defeat efforts to raise the minimum wage.

8:49: First mention of Reagan comes from Newt Gingrich, 49 minutes into the debate.

8:47: Ron Paul criticizes government job growth under Perry’s watch. In fact, between 2007 and 2010, 47 percent of all government jobs were created in Texas. Perry has supported the largest tax hikes in Texas’ history.

8:46: Perry pronounces Romney’s name as “Mitch.”

8:46: Perry created that tort reform has created jobs, but in reality his 2003 law has done nothing to reduce health care spending and Texas has been designated as an official health professional shortage area. The state ranks 48th out of 50 states in the number of physicians per 100,000 residents.

8:46: Romney praises Texas’ “Republican supreme court.” Seven of the Texas Supreme Court’s nine members were appointed by Perry, and it sides with corporations over people in nearly three of four cases.

8:46: Romney zings Perry by pointing out that job creation grew at a faster rate under both of Perry’s predecessors, George Bush and Democrat Ann Richards.

8:45: Romney says to follow the rule of law by stopping the NLRB decision to block Boeing’s move. This, ironically, is a statement slamming the NLRB for following the rule of law.

8:45: Michele Bachmann supports a zero percent tax on overseas funds that corporations bring back to the U.S., but it didn’t work before.

8:44: Perry says stimulus “created zero jobs.” CBO says it created up to 2.9 million.

8:42: Herman Cain calls for cutting the corporate tax rate to 9 percent. Not only do American corporations already pay the second-lowest taxes in the developed world, but such a tax cut would cost more than $2 trillion over ten years.

8:40: Huntsman says the U.S. has a “heroin-like addiction to foreign oil” and advocates for investing in alternative energy. Incidentally, most Tea Party members support that too.

8:40: Rick Perry admits that cutting taxes actually cuts revenue.

8:37: Huntsman promotes his tax reform plan, failing to note that it would ask veterans and the disabled to pay more in taxes, while cutting taxes for the very richest Americans.

8:34: Bachmann says we have to be an “ownership society” where we take “personal responsibility for ourselves,” adds “We can’t be ashamed of that.” So says the candidate on the federal dole.

8:33: Romney touts his record of “taking waste out of enterprises.” By “waste,” he might mean “people”: Romney’s private equity firm laid off thousands at firms within its control.

8:32: Romney is the first candidate to utter the words “balanced budget amendment.” Mitt Romney endorses a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would render his own economic plan unconstitutional8:32: Perry claims he would not repeal the Medicare prescription drug programs that he believes are unconstitutional. Medicare Part D added $395 billion to the national deficit between 2004 and 2013 and created a doughnut hole of coverage that Democrats had to close through the Affordable Care Act.

8:30: Perry holding up Texas as a model for health care. There are more uninsured people in Texas than any other states.

8:28 Gingrich touts yet another one of his own books, this one written in part by his for-profit health care lobbying firm.

8:27: Good to know that Gingrich believes in modernizing the federal government. The Affordable Care Act — which the GOP would repeal — modernizes the health care system and will save the federal government “ nearly $600 billion in health spending over the next decade, and $9 trillion over the next 25 years.”

8:26: FYI: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic just won the U.S. Open. He won three Grand Slam singles titles this year. Now back to the debate.

8:24: A number of debaters, most clearly Newt Gingrich, seem to think that current Social Security retirees can keep their benefits even while younger workers stop paying payroll taxes and instead put their money into private accounts. This is confused. If workers the age of ThinkProgress bloggers aren’t contributing to the system, there’ll be no money to pay benefits to today’s seniors.

8:23: Herman Cain calls for “personal retirement accounts” for Social Security. An October 2008 retiree would have lost tens of thousands of Social Security dollars in that month’s stock market crash if personal accounts had been in place then.

8:23: Huntsman references Kurt Cobain. He accuses Mitt Romney of poaching the title of his book — “No Apologies” — from Kurt Cobain. We think he means “All Apologies”.

8:20: Asked by Wolf Blitzer if he agrees with Perry, even Ron Paul makes a clean break, won’t say that Social Security is “unconstitutional.” Paul said that Social Security is “broke” and “on its last legs.” Actually, it can pay full benefits until 2037 and with minor tweaks will be fully solvent for 75 years.

8:20: Watch the highlights of the Social Security debate between Perry and Romney:

8:20: Crowd seems to side with Perry in battle with Romney of Social Security, giving him big applause when he quotes Romney’s book back to him, accusing him of calling Social Security a “criminal enterprise.” Romney responds by (correctly) noting that his charge was directed at Congress, not Social Security.

8:19: Mitt Romney says Perry’s use of the term “Ponzi scheme” is “over the top” and “frightening” to people. Says no one was forced into Social Security, gives strong defense of its social value. Challenges him to state is true position. Perry will not answer whether he still believes that Social Security is unconstitutional or should be returned to the states.

8:18: Romney to Perry: do you still believe that Social Security is unconstitutional and should be “ended as a federal program.” Perry still won’t answer the question. Says “I think we need to have a conversation.” Romney retorts that we’re having a conversation right now.

8:17: First question to Perry is about Social Security. He attempts to moderate his rhetoric, telling today’s seniors that they have nothing to worry about. It will be a “slam dunk guarantee that program will be there” for you. But doubles down on Ponzi scheme claim

8:16: Bachmann talked about reforming Social Security, but she’s previously said that she wants to “wean everybody off” the program.

8:15: Newt Gingrich says that it is meaningful that the debate is being held on 9/12; however, he spent the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at the opera. Glenn Beck famously created his own Tea Party group called the “9/12 movement.”

8:14: Perry says his goal is to “make D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.” He gets loudest applause so far during opening statements. More than Bachmann & Paul.

8:13: Obama did not “steal” money from the Medicare program. The reductions in the Affordable Care Act will slow the growth in the program by removing $500 billion from future spending over the next 10 years. The cuts help stabilize Medicare by eliminating overpayments and slowly phasing in payment adjustments that encourage greater efficiency.

8:13: In introductory remarks, Bachmann touts her creation of the Tea Party Caucus in the House.

8:10: CNN nicknames: Romney: The Early Frontrunner Rick; Perry: The Newcomer; Bachmann: The Firebrand; Gingrich: The Big Thinker

8:09: Remember: Florida, where the debate is taking place, has a 10.7% unemployment rate, much higher than the national average, and one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

8:06: Approximately 75 protesters have gathered outside of the debate venue with signs about protecting Social Security. Some are holding signs that read “Corporations are not people,” referencing statements made by Mitt Romney.

8:05: After their feisty confrontation at the last debate, Rick Perry and Ron Paul still greet each other and shake hands before the debate. Again, they are standing next to each other.

8:05: Tea Party Debate fun fact: Tea party members hate the debate.”This is nothing more than a press stunt for CNN that cries out ‘Pay attention to us!’” said Everett Wilkinson, an organizer with the South Florida Tea Party. He said tea party members talked about protesting the debate or even infiltrating it.

8:03: Prior to the debate, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz slammed the eight GOP candidates for “continuing to worship on the altar of the tea party.”

8:00: Debate sponsor Tea Party Express, the group partnering with CNN tonight, may have a favored candidate on stage: the Tea Party Express PAC made a $2,000 contribution to Rep. Michele Bachmann last year during her reelection campaign. CNN pundit Erick Erickson says it’s Bachmann’s “make or break night.”

7:58: Avid tea partier and Saturday Night alum Victoria Jackson is in the crowd.

7:57: Among those security have been instructed NOT to allow inside the debate: Fred Karger.

7:56: Birther website World Net Daily is flying a helicopter-born banner over the convention hall asking, “Where’s the Real Birth Certificate?

7:53: Chuck Norris will be at the debate as Rick Perry’s guest.

Let the CNN Tea Party debate commence!