Live-Blogging The GOP Primary Debate

9:59: Romney praises the rest of the field: “Anyone on this stage would be a better president than President Obama.”

9:58: Ron Paul can’t say whether there’s another person on stage that he would bring into his administration, needs to quiz them more about their views on the Fed Reserve.

9:46: Michele Bachmann criticizes President Obama for “leading from behind” in Libya. What would she say about Nelson Mandela who has also advocated for “leading from behind”?

9:44: Ron Paul doesn’t agree. “I wouldn’t wait for the generals. I’m the Commander-in-Chief. I’d bring them home as soon as possible!” Adds, “We can save hundreds of billions of dollars” by withdrawing from Afghanistan.


9:43: Romney says we should bring our troops home from Afghanistan when generals tell him we can hand the country off to the “Taliban military.” Then corrects himself, “Afghan military.”

9:40: Pawlenty finally shows some of the decisiveness that everyone has been waiting for. Unfortunately, it comes in response to the question “Coke or Pepsi?”

9:32: Herman Cain comes out for repealing birthright citizenship in direct violation of the 14th Amendment. When asked whether he thinks the children of illegal immigrants who are born in America should be citizens, he said, “I don’t think so.”

9:31: Pawlenty claims that birthright citizenship was created by “liberal justices.” But the first Supreme Court case recognizing birthright citizenship was in 1898. Pawlenty also suggested he would appoint justices who would roll back this more than 100 year old decision.

9:28: Ron Paul references the “border between Iraq and Afghanistan.” Which does not exist.

9:25: Bachmann dodges question about whether she thinks there should be abortion exceptions such as rape, incest, or for the mother’s health in anti-abortion legislation. She says she stands for life and that the exceptions only make up a tiny fraction of cases.

9:24: Rick Santorum says, “I’ve taken the bullets” on the abortion issue. Probably not the best turn of phrase.

9:23: Pawlenty did not say if he would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but he has previously said that he would bring back the policy and would even go after the funding needed to lift the ban on open service.


9:22: Cain wouldn’t have overturned Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but he’ll leave it in place if he inherits it. Romney thinks it should have stayed in place until “conflict was over.”

9:21: Cain agrees that it’s a state decision. Pawlenty says he supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

9:21: Bachmann reiterates her opposition to gay marriage, but says “it isn’t the role of a President to go into a state and interfere with state law.” She says that, as president, she would not travel to New Hampshire to campaign for a repeal of gay marriage. Pledging that she will not interfere with host state’s marriage law, Bachmann’s response is met with overwhelming applause.

9:16: Romney auditions for sportscaster role, announces Boston Bruins are winning 4–0.

9:11: Romney notes that “of course, we’re not going to have Sharia law applied in U.S courts. That’s never going to happen. We have a constitution. We follow the law.”

9:11: Responding to Cain’s Sharia-hyping, Romney, whom some view skeptically because he is Mormon, says we need to focus instead on religious tolerance and turns it back to the Constitution instead.

9:10: Cain stakes bold stand he would not have any Muslims who want to kill him in his administration.

9:08: Cain gets asked about he’d appoint a Muslims, a question first asked by ThinkProgress in late March. He says the question was about feeling “comfortable” with a Muslim in his cabinet. Here is the transcript, where he is clearly asked by TP’s Scott Keyes about appointing Muslim Americans:

KEYES: You came under a bit of controversy this week for some of the comments made about Muslims in general. Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?

CAIN: No, I will not.

9:02: Cain says he supports Social Security privatization. He says we can’t slow down on entitlement reform because soon “It’s going to be our grandkids in that wheelchair they’re throwing off the bridge.”


9:01: It’s 9 o’clock. Hannity leads off his Fox News show with guest Dick Morris, talking about whether Anthony Weiner should resign. Morris, of course, is an ethics expert.

8:58: Paul Ryan’s plan is nothing like Medicare Part D.

8:58: Newt Gingrich explains that his description of the Ryan plan as “right-wing social engineering” was only in response to a very narrow question. Some good, some bad in it, he says.

8:58: Ron Paul says Americans need to be weaned off of Social Security and specifically says the elderly and children have become “so dependent on the government.”

8:55: Medicare is fully solvent until 2024. After 2024, the hospital fund will still be able to meet “90 percent” of its commitments.

8:53: Ron Paul claims Medicare isn’t currently solvent. Pawlenty also asserts it’s not solvent.

8:49: Asked about the funding of FEMA in cases of emergencies areas like the recent disaster in Joplin, MO, Romney says we should focus on moving more responsibility to the states and privatizing FEMA disaster relief.

8:47: Cain sticks up for government regulation: “Federal government should be doing food safety, yes.” House Republicans are currently trying to defund a major food safety bill passed last December.

8:46: Newt bashes government’s role in space flight, wants to privatize it and “get to a real space program that works.” All those flights to the moon apparently didn’t work. NASA is an example of how bureaucracy can’t work, Gingrich says, but what about all of the innovations NASA’s research led to?

8:41: After claiming credit for the successful auto industry bailout, Romney now says “the bailout program was not a success because [it] wasted a lot of money.”

8:41: Romney won’t admit that he was wrong when he wrote in 2008 that, if the American automakers were rescued by the government, you can “kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.”

8:36: Asked to choose between Johnny Cash and Elvis, Bachmann chooses “both.”

8:31: John King asks the hard-hitting question: “Leno or Conan?” Santorum responds, “Probably Leno…I don’t watch either.”

8:31: Gingrich calls for defunding the National Labor Relations Board due to the NLRB’s attempt to stop Boeing from union-busting. Cain says the NLRB’s move is “killing the free market system.”

8:31: Pawlenty kisses up to hate radio, declares most of his family of “Reagan Democrats” listens to Rush Limbaugh.

8:30: Bachmann attacks the EPA and says it should be renamed the “job killing organization of America.”

8:30 Pawlenty calls a backpack a “back sack.” 8:30: Tim Pawlenty would support a right-to-work law at the federal level because the government shouldn’t be telling people what organizations to be a part of. This despite the fact that he brags about his father having been a Teamster.

8:26: Like Cain did earlier, Ron Paul endorses a tax holiday that would be a multi-billion dollar giveaway to multinational corporations.

8:26: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) declares: “I’m for fair trade.” Only last week, Pawelenty announced part of his economic plan and said that he favors quick ramification of “free-trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.”

8:25: John King wants to know how to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Here’s a graph showing how those jobs have declined in the United States.

8:24: Santorum touts Paul Ryan’s plan to change the food stamp program, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found would “throw millions of low-income families off the rolls, cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or some combination of the two.”

8:23: Bachmann makes her 2nd big announcement of the evening: “I want to announce tonight that President Obama is a one-term president!”

8:20: Romney promised to issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. But the executive branch and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) don’t have the authority to grant blanket waivers — those powers are reserved for Congress.

8:19: Is Newt Gingrich now running to get a Republican majority in the Senate instead of running for president? He says they need to look beyond just the presidency instead of focusing on issues like health care.

8:17: John King is trying to out Pawlenty for using the term “Obamneycare.” Pawlenty sheepishly refuses to defend the term. Instead, he blames President Obama.

8:14: Bachmann claimed that the Congressional Budget Office said the Affordable Care Act will kill 800,000 jobs. That’s not what the CBO said.

8:12: Mitt Romney appeared to tepidly endorse Pawlenty’s laughably unrealistic economic plan, saying “The ideas Tim described are in the right wheelhouse.”

8:11: Bachmann announced, “I filed today my paperwork” and will “very soon be making my formal announcement.” Isn’t that a formal announcement?

8:08: Pawlenty sure hammers on the 5 percent economic growth a lot for not having reached that when he was governor.

8:07: Rick Santorum says Obama has put a stop sign on drilling. Not true. Oil production is the highest in a decade.

8:06: Cain endorses a tax holiday that a slew of multinational corporations have been pushing for. It would cost $78 billion over ten years.

8:03: It’s a GOP debate…on CNN. So what is Fox doing tonight? Airing an interview with Karl Rove.

8:01: Sen. Rick Santorum starts by citing his “substantial executive experience.” Santorum was never a governor.

* * * * * * * * * *

Loyalty oaths, Google tests, Google problems, creeping Sharia, Obamneycare…we can’t wait to hear what comes out of the mouths of GOP presidential contenders next. Tonight, ThinkProgress will be live-blogging the debate right here.

We’ve already laid out some key questions we’d like to see the GOP field try to answer. If you hear or see anything interesting, don’t write it on your hand — email us!

Alright, let the right-wing social engineering begin.