GOP Debate Open Thread

There is another Republican debate tonight on Fox News (8pm EST). I’ve missed the last two or three, so I may sit down and live-blog this one.

The candidates that will be participating are: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Fred Thompson.

Winners – Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee and McCain
Giuliani, in my opinion, won the debate. He managed to hit Clinton pretty hard and he managed to voice his support for some issues that conservatives care about, such as school choice and private Social Security accounts. Romney is still managing to spin his position changes well and took his shots at Clinton as well. Huckabee is managing to hide his past record and getting along by being humorous. I’ll give the guy this, he is good at communicating a message, but that message belongs to someone else and is far different from the populist crap he espouses on talk shows and what his past record is…but the crowd responded to him. McCain had one of the best reactions from the audience this evening. He managed to stay on point and took some shots at Romney and Cinton.

Losers – Paul, Tancredo, Hunter and Thompson
I’m a Ron Paul supporter, but every time he speaks…I cringe. He manages to turn every question, not matter what subject into a rant about our foreign policy. I don’t disagree with him at all, but he is preaching to an audience that doesn’t want to hear him. Tancredo just isn’t clear. We know he is anti-immigration, but he has trouble communicating his opinion that or any other topic. Hunter needs to get out of the race. The guy is either intellectually dishonest or just doesn’t understand economics. Thompson is simply not the savior that conservatives wanted. The more they find out about him, the less they support him.

[7:56pm] Fox News is going through the pre-debate focus group, all of whom are saying that they want another Ronald Reagan.

[7:58pm] They just gave out the text voting information. I’m going to go ahead and declare Ron Paul the winner of that. It’s just a hunch I have.

[8:02pm] Brit Hume is getting it started along with Carl Cameron, Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler, as well as a welcome message from the Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Charlie Crist.

[8:04pm] The candidates are lined up like this: Tancredo, Paul, Huckabee, Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, McCain and Hunter.

[8:06pm] First question goes to Giuliani, basically asking him if he is a conservative. Giuliani answered the question very well, but avoided the questions about gun control.

[8:08pm] Romney defends his past stances on abortion and other issues.

[8:09pm] Fred Thompson is basically saying he is more conservative than Giuliani and attacks him on immigration and his past support of Mario Cuomo, a liberal Democrat.

[8:10pm] Giuliani: “Fred was the single biggest obstacle to tort reform.”

[8:12pm] Thompson in defending his record on tort reform: “Local issues belong at the state level.”

[8:12pm] Giuliani defends his record on immigration and his record on crime.

[8:13pm] Glad to see they are bring other candidates into the debate, but they are still playing the “who’s more conservative” game.

[8:13pm] McCain had the chance to take a shot at Romney, but touted his experience and said he is running on his record.

[8:14pm] Romney: “Senator McCain is an American hero.”

[8:16pm] McCain: “Governor Romney you’ve been spending the last year trying to fool people about you record.”

[8:17pm] Tancredo, Paul, Huckabee and Hunter have still have not been asked a question.

[8:18pm] Carl Cameron asks Ron Paul about gay marriage and a proposed Constitutional amendment banning it. Dr. Paul has voted against the amending it, saying that marriage is a religious ceremony and that the states should be handling the issue and the federal government should stay out of it.

[8:20pm] Romney: “We need to have a national standard for marriage.”

[8:22pm] Giuliani said that if several states, maybe five or six, begin to allow gay marriage then he would support a Constitutional amendment.

[8:24pm] Huckabee is pushing hard for the social conservative vote.

[8:26pm] Cameron asks about Thompson’s past lobbying for Planned Parenthood. He said that it was part of his private law practice and wasn’t an issue. He says that he went to the Senate and has a pro-life voting record.

[8:27pm] McCain urges all factions of the part to come together and support the nominee, a clear message to James Dobson and his ilk.

[8:28pm] Tancredo is citing his ratings from various organizations like the American Right to Life and the American Taxpayers Union.

[8:29pm] Goler asks McCain about his healthcare plan. He spent the first twenty seconds pointing out very valid concerns about the Democrats plans for a government takeover of the industry. McCain says, “Give the individual a $2,500 tax credit.”

[8:33pm] Ron Paul says that doctors aren’t happy with with the government imposed managed care. He manages to turn an answer healthcare into an attack on our foreign policy, which took away from some very good points he was making.

[8:356pm] Hunter takes on RomneyCare by pointing out the mandates involved and gets a very good point by says that one of the mandates in Massachusetts was for fertility coverage. Hunter says, “what if you’re a 90 year old woman.” Hunter says that mandates are driving up the cost of healthcare by 35% and voices his support for interstate health insurance plans. This marks the first time that I’ve agree with Duncan Hunter on anything said in anyone of of these debates.

[8:38pm] Huckabee: “When all the old hippies find out that they get free drugs, just wait to find out what that’s going to cost.”

[8:40pm] Tancredo took a swipe at Michael Moore. He also added, “What is the constitutional right of the federal government to get involved in the healthcare issue.”

[8:40pm] I take note that there was no mention of SCHIP during the debate on healthcare.

[8:42pm] Thompson on education: “I think we need to realize the proper role of the federal govenment [in education].” He voices his support for competition…vouchers and charter schools.

[8:43pm] Giuliani is voicing his support for choice. Giuliani said, “The enforcer of standards should not be the bureaucrat in Washington. It should be the parent.” He also said that education choice is the “single biggest civil rights issue that we face in America.”

[8:45pm] A commercial…we’ve hit the halfway point.

[8:48pm] Mike Wallace brings up some of Romney’s remarks about Hillary Clinton. He has compared her to Karl Marx, which I would argue isn’t too far from the truth. Wallace also points out that Romney trails Clinton in the polls. Romney points out her business administrative experience, or lack thereof, and does a good job of promoting his and his business credentials. Wallace asks him if she should be commander-in-chief, the crowd emphatically replied, “No!”

[8:53pm] Giuliani says there are two things he agrees with Hillary Clinton. The first is being a Yankee fan and the second is that she has a “million ideas and the country can’t afford them all.” To that Giuliani said, “No kidding, Hillary. America can’t afford you.”

[8:54pm] McCain said, “I would much rather lose a campaign than the war.” He also said, “I’ve have saved the American people as much as $2 billion.” McCain is also taking his shots at the Woodstock Museum earmark and is getting a standing ovation from the crowd.

[8:56pm] Huckabee: “I like to be funny, but there is nothing funny about Hillary Clinton being President.” The same could be said about Huckabee.

[8:57pm] Thompson brings up good points about Democrats plans to increase taxes. Thompson says, “Our basic rights come from God, not from government.” He also urges the GOP not to focus on one single individual.

[8:59pm] Ron Paul points out the public disapproval on the war and points out that Hillary Clinton says the troops could be there another five years. Paul points out the loss of civil liberties and says, “Hillary Clinton offers no solution on that.”

[9:02pm] Thompson: Our present spending cycle leaves us in an unsustainable position.”

[9:05pm] On Social Security, Giuliani says, “I think the reality is we have to deal with Social Security.” He also points out that the liability of Medicare and Medicare will be exceed the liability of Social Security within the next two decades (I believe that’s what he said). Giuliani also endorsed private accounts for Social Security.

[9:07pm] The more Romney mentions his healthcare plan (the one passed in Massachusetts) the more I think he is going to try to get it passed if elected. It is ostensibly the same thing Clinton has proposed.

[9:09pm] Paul says, “The government is not good at central economic planning.” He also added, “We need to allow the young people to get out of [Social Security].” Paul finished by saying that the “The Constitution does advise that we do any of that anyway.” He was referring to education, Social Security and Medicare.

[9:12pm] Here goes Duncan Hunter with his protectionist rhetoric. Including matching tariffs with trading partners, something that will result in a trade war, higher prices and job loss.

[9:13pm] After listening to the ridiculous rant from Duncan Hunter on trade, Brit Hume ask him, “”Do you really believe you can solve Social Security with trade policy.” Priceless.

[9:14pm] Another commercial break.

[9:17pm] McCain took a shot at Vladimir Putin, “When I looked into his eyes I saw three letters…a K-G-B.” McCain said that Putin wants to rebuild the Russian empire.

[9:21pm] Giuliani says that we should expand NATO. Good God…it sounds like we’re in another Cold War already.

[9:24pm] Thompson keeps looking down at his notes. I’ve noticed him doing it several times. I’ve seen no other candidate doing it.

[9:25pm] Tancredo on Nancy Pelosi: “Nancy Pelosi is a lousy Speaker of the House and an ever lousier Secretary of State.” This was in response to the Armenian resolution that was introduced into the House of Representatives last week, which could have potentially strained our relationship with Turkey.

[9:26pm] Ron Paul on our foreign policy: “We don’t need to go looking for trouble. We don’t need another Cold War.” His comments on Iraq and foreign policy this evening have not been received well.

[9:28pm] A question to Ron Paul, “Has the Republican Party left you?” Ron Paul replied by saying that Republicans have become big government conservatives. He added, “We have accepted the Democrats position on foreign policy, on entitlements…” In closing he said, “We can’t even defend our own cities while prancing around the world.” That got a mixed reaction.

[9:32pm] There have been a ton of references to Ronald Reagan tonight, more than any debate I’ve seen but the first one (which was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library).

[9:34pm] Thompson responded to accusations that he is lazy. He went through a long list of his past jobs and accomplishments and managed to spin it very well.

[9:34pm] And…that’s the end of the debate.