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Thursday, January 26, 2012

GOP Florida Debate LIVE BLOG

7:45--Good evening, and welcome to Presidential Politics for America's first live blog of the 2012 presidential election. I'm joined by fellow writer, Stephen Kurczy. The two of us host the "Wing Nuts" section of Construction Lit Magazine, posting Mondays and Fridays. For the next 90 minutes, we'll make live updates throughout the second Republican Debate in Florida, aired on CNN. To follow along, refresh the page every so often and see us update the night away.

Without further ado, Stephen Kurczy everyone!

SK (7:49): Hey there gang. It's an honor for me to share the blog-o-stage with PPFA's Dear Leader for the 19th GOP debate of the 2012 presidential race and the final debate before the Florida primary on Tuesday. The GOP field has dwindled to four, after about eight other candidates "oops-ed" themselves out of the race. Why the live blog? Cause this is like "American Idol" for me and Ian! But also because debates DO matter. In the debate one week ago, Newt Gingrich's first comments were enough to win the night and the South Carolina primary two days later. Can Newt do it again? Or will Mitt Romney come out swinging? Can Rick Santorum turn this into a three-man race? Or will he be relegated to the Never Land of Ron Paul? Stay tuned!

IC (7:52): Great questions, Steve. Big picture, we're looking for similar things. I was taking a look at the current Florida polls from RCP. It looks like Romney re-established a lead, even if it's a lot slimmer than it was two weeks ago. After peaking with a lead in the mid-20s, his lead over Gingrich evaporated by the end of last weekend. Then, Gingrich took the lead in three different polls while a fourth showed a tie. Since, however, Romney re-gained the lead and has built it up to 7-8 points. Gingrich, tonight, MUST stop that growing gap. If Gingrich wins Florida, we're in for a month of havoc. If Romney wins and take a large delegate lead (remember that Florida is winner-take-all) heading into a national campaign (where his massive war chest can seal the deal), the primary might effectively be over.

IC (7:58): Filling in for Steve as he works on technical problems... How does Santorum edge back into this race? I don't see it. His Florida numbers fell and flatlined after Iowa, and this is with three other candidates--two of which were his main conservative competitors--dropping out. If he finishes a distant 3rd, he'll likely drop out. And the question remains: to whom, if anyone, does he throw his support?

IC (8:00): Here we go! Cue the CNN movie trailer music.

IC (8:01): Answering our first commenter: CNN!

IC (8:03): Wolf! Does he bring anything to these debates?

SK (8:03): Wolf Blitzer is such a blow-hard! Guy drives me crazy.

SK (8:04): The ties worn tonight: Mitt’s is aqua blue. Newt’s is navy with red stripes. Santorum’s is blush red. Paul’s is striped red and maroon. Mitt is the only candidate wearing an American flag pin.
SK (8:05): I love watching these guys walk onto the stage. Ron Paul, quick steps and hurried. Romney, slow and assured. Gingrich, waddling. Santorum, like a nice guy walking into your back yard for a bar-q-que!

IC (8:06): Romney and Santorum singing the anthem. Typical. Ron Paul: "Hey, Mitt, you know why they sing this song? So you don't have to. PS. The Fed sucks."

SK (8:06): Check out whose singing the national anthem, Santorum and Romney. Meanwhile, Paul and Gingrich stare at the flag, their eyes moving around the crowd.

SK (8:08): What are these guys writing on their notepads? I think Mitt is playing hangman against his alter-ego. Not that he just has one.

IC (8:09): ZING!

IC (8:09): Starting with immigration. Santorum to kick things off? Weird.

SK (8:10): Ron Paul is the only person whose intro actually addresses some policy issues, aside from just saying that his mom and kids are in audience. Leave it to Paul to be TOO sincere.

IC (8:11) Tonight, I'm looking for how many times Santorum agrees/pulls his punches with Romney. I really think he's shifting into VP mode. For Exhibit A, I bring you his very first response.

IC (8:13): How well does turning one's self in work with, well, I don't know, everyone else who breaks the law and gets away with it?

IC (8:15): If you guessed "15 Minutes In" in your "When does Ron Paul get his first question?" office pool, congratulations!

SK (8:17): Santorum says "we need immigration." Going for those Latino votes. Gingrich takes harder stance, says "self-deportation will occur" if the proper penalties are put in place, except with the old Latino grandma's. So... ? Romney's answer is way too complicated. Paul says "you can't deal with immigration unless you deal with the economy. ... Businesses need workers. ... I think we spend too much time worrying about the border on Afghanistan and Pakistan and we need to worry about our own borders." [applause]

SK (8:19): Romney goes for jugular. Says to Gingrich, "The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive! It's the kind of over the top rhetoric that has characterized American politics for too long!"

SK (8:20): Hey, lay off the Grandmas!

IC (8:21): Do we have a pro-Romney crowd? How will Gingrich respond? He has had every Republican crowd wrapped around his pudgy little finger. I'm betting a pro-Romney crowd brings out Newt's best.

IC (8:22): Okay, I'll say it. Mitt might have just taken his campaign back.

IC (8:25): If you had 8:25 in your "When will they talk about Honduras?" office pool... congratulations!

SK (8:27): Little action on Cuba now. Paul says, “I think it’s time we had friendship with Cuba.” Which is true, this ain't the Cold War, people! Santorum disagrees, says Obama sided with Chavez and Castro when he didn’t support the Honduran coup. Pleeease.

IC (8:28): Commenters, keep the comments coming! But we do ask for your first name or initials so we can respond specifically or maybe share your thoughts on here.

IC (8:29): Whoa! Great, rare debate moment. Romney gets caught on an add he approved that he earlier claimed to have no clue about. They fact checked MID-DEBATE! How does this not happening more often?!

IC (8:30): Was Romney wearing the same suit in the previous debate footage as he is in the current one? This might explain why he has no friends.

SK (8:31): I agree! CNN should have a team of fact-checkers analyzing every word these guys say.

IC (8:32): Same with FoxNews and MSNBC... assuming they have fact-checking departments.

IC (8:33): Romney going hard after Gingrich's investments! I think he's doing serious damage. This is NOT what Newt had in mind in his last Florida debate.

SK (8:34): That's right Ian, Gingrich is on the losing on almost every question. He wants to know how many home foreclosures enriched Romney. Romney replies that all his investments are “blind,” accuses Gingrich of investing in Fanny and Freddy, AND of lobbying for the two US home lenders. Gut-punch. (Luckily Gingrich has a big gut)
IC (8:35): Ron Paul bails out the leaders, marking the only time Ron Paul has ever been in favor of a bailout.

IC (8:36): Rick Santorum reaching for the "stop with the petty, personal bickering" vote, which I have to assume is sizeable these days.

---Commercial Break #1---

SK (8:37): Santorum took a swing at Romney before the first commercial break. But he'll need to swing harder if he's gunna break out of his rut.

IC (8:37): Agreed. It takes a lot more to cut the Russian.

Comment from Anonymous (8:38): This is beautiful. Beautiful. One guy accuses another of doing something bad. The guy says he didn't do it, then accuses the other of not doing it, too.

IC (8:39): Good one. Again, guys, please use the "Name/URL" option, one spot above the Anonymous bubble.

---End of Commerical #1---

IC (8:42): These two are just getting awkward.

SK (8:44): Gotta say though, Mitt is doing a better job this time at addressing Newt's criticisms. Newt is looking petty.
IC (8:44): I couldn't agree more. We're coupling Newt's worst debate with Romney's best debate since Iowa.

IC (8:46): Rick Santorum: Vote for me, I only make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

SK (8:47): Little tax talk now. Santorum says, “What’s good enough for Reagan is good enough for me.” Wolf asks Paul if he agrees. Paul says Reagan’s taxes are still too high!

IC (8:48): Nice history lesson by Paul there. Historically, a transfer of wealth from the poor to the elite does precede a social collapse.

IC (8:49): Steve, you know you want Ron Paul as your grandfather.

SK (8:51): Yeah, both my grandpa's are dead. Thanks, Ian.

*Chirp chirp. Chirp chirp.*

IC (8:53): I like the idea of reviving space competition in a non-nationalistic way. If we get to Mars or beyond, I don't want it tied to a country, but rather the entire race. Generally a good job by Newt there, until he closes with a chest thumping, "I want an American to get there before the Chinese."

IC (8:54): Santorum's idea to scale down the NASA budget is much more congruous to the conservative ideology. Romney and Gingrich are too busy out-promising each other to notice.

SK (8:56): Newt says Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000 prize, so let’s have a moon prize. All disagree with the spacey idea. Romney says "I’m not looking for a colony on the moon." Santorum says saving $$ is more important. Ron Paul makes the most sense: “I don’t think we should go to the moon. I think we should send some politicians up there.”

IC (8:56): Ron Paul breaking out the Old Man Zingers!

SK (8:57): Did Newt really just compare himself to JFK? That could haunt him.

IC (8:58): Speaking of haunting, does Mitt really want to say, "You're fired" in a debate?

IC (9:00): Ron Paul calls out Gingrich on his "I balanced the budget" mantra. That's unusual for Ron Paul to pick out one candidate. He usually prefers to lambaste the field. Gingrich is hurting tonight. I think Romney's thinking about how to seat his delegates in August.

IC (9:02): Ron Paul at his most vulnerable: when a voter says, "I need help."

SK (9:02): Wow, what is this woman questioner wearing? Leopard-print dress and a fo-mynx scarf? No wonder she's unemployed. I'd fire myself for wearing that.

IC (9:02): Dude.

SK (9:03): Dude, wear's my leopard-print jumpsuit?

IC (9:04): The Republicans are rallying! And their battle cry? "President Obama ruined the country in two years."

IC (9:06): Santorum keeping Michelle Bachman's "Obamacare" and Rick Perry's "Romneycare" spirits alive. I'm waiting for "trust deficit" and "9-9-9" so Santorum can consolidate all the failed candidacies into one.

IC (9:07): Santorum at his best is always when he reminds everyone that he actually is, historically, the truest Republican in the pack, and it's a true Republican that should go up against President Obama.

IC (9:08): Romney once again defends his popular Massachusetts health care plan. Take a drink.
SK (9:10): OK, I'm getting bored. Bring back Herman Cain.

IC (9:11): Okay, I temporarily take back Santorum's run for Romney's #2. He is relentlessly attacking Romney's health care plan.

IC (9:12): Romney to Santorum: "First of all, it's not worth getting upset about." Yikes.

IC (9:13): Paul: "I think they're all wrong." That's more like it! (Re: 9:00 post)

SK (9:15): "Let's move on," Wolf says. Santorum objects, "Mitt, your health care mandate is the same mandate as Obama’s mandate." Wolf asks Ron Paul, "Who’s right?" Paul answers, "I think they’re all wrong." Paul recalls the olden days when nobody was sick or needed government health care. Ah, grandpa. He lives in a Jimmy Stewart film.

IC (9:16): "Paul recalls the olden days when nobody was sick or needed government health care." Classic.

---Commercial Break #2---

SK (9:18): Questioner wants to know about Marco Rubio’s prospects for the White House. All the candidates say they LOVE the Florida senator. All are hush-hush about Rubio’s drug-ties laid out in a recent New Yorker article.

IC (9:19): I, for one, can't wait for vice-presidential politics. Maybe you should make a blog. vicepresidentialpolitics.blogspot.com. Vice-Presidential Politics for America has a great ring to it.

SK (9:20): Ian, what question would you ask the candidates?

IC (9:21): "What do you think of Barack Obama's effectiveness as President?"

---End Commercial Break #2---

IC (9:23): I would have given a paycheck if Romney answered, "Why would your wife make a good First Lady?" with "Which wife?"

IC (9:26): Santorum bringing the emotion.

SK (9:30): Q: Why would your wife be a good First Wife? Paul says cause she’s been his life for 53 years and wrote a cookbook. Romney says cause his wife can relate to cancer survivors and victims. Santorum says cause his wife knows the pain of a miscarriage. Gingrich says they all would be great first ladies, and Calista would be no better. On the couch tonight, Newt!

IC (9:32): I continue to question if "Reign of Terror" is an accurate characterization of Cuba. Do they know anything about the real Reign of Terror?

IC (9:33): Q: "What would you say to Raul Castro if he called the White House?" Ron Paul: "I would ask what he called about." Classic Paul.

SK (9:35): Ron Paul on relations with Cuba: “The Cold War is over.” Didn’t I just say that?

IC (9:36): That you did, Kurz! And here I was still ducking under my desk.

IC (9:38): Tough Palestinian question from a Palestinian-American. Courageous question. My hat's off. Candidates extend their standard wrapping of arms around Israel.

SK (9:41): You can read between the lines on the answers to the Palestinian-American's question: A Jewish vote is more important than an Arab vote in Florida.IC (9:42): Rick Santorum is not qualified to say "give a shout out."

IC (9:48): Santorum says that the US is the only country whose government is tied to its religion. Apparently he's overlooked every Muslim country.

SK (9:48): Oh boy, aside from Ron Paul, all the candidates say they'd consult "God" as president. I feel uncomfortable. What if God told Santorum to kill his son? Or if God told Romney to dig for the golden plates?!

IC (9:49): Or raise taxes on the wealthy.

---Commercial Break #3---

IC (9:52): And the last question is... "I want you to tell voters . . . why you are the ONE PERSON, on this stage, that is more likely to beat Barack Obama."

IC (9:53): Ron Paul points to polling. Oh, now he likes polling.

SK (9:54): Gotta love Andy Borowitz's tweets on the debate: Paul: "My only religious belief is that Ben Bernanke is Satan, and so I would kill him with my bare hands." @BorowitzReport
IC (9:55): Romney caps a strong debate performance with a confident closer. He's my prediction to win Florida right now (he wasn't when I woke up today), and I think he can do it by 5-10 points.

IC (9:57): Gingrich did not get it done. He came with a 7-8 point deficit, and he leaves without making his mark, and this is even with a noisy crowd. There are no more debates for the Debate King. All that's left is ads and commercials. Advantage Romney.

IC (9:59): Santorum returns to his bread and butter: I'm the only conservative mainstream Republican up here, and that's what it takes to beat President Obama.

IC (9:59): And that's it! Back with closing thoughts in a minute.

---Debate over---

SK: No question about it, Ian: Newt simply did not get it done tonight. The great debater, the supposed only candidate who can challenge Obama in a one-on-one, was thrown off balance by Mitt’s persistent attacks. Mitt wins, while Santorum remains the conservative alternative and Paul remains irrelevant.

Again, I think Andy Borowitz says it best. "Debate Winners/Losers WINNER: Barack Obama LOSER: Anyone who watched. ... If the Chinese were watching they must wonder what kind of country they've bought." @BorowitzReport

IC: As a fan of dramatic presidential politics, I loved Romney's long-awaited assertiveness with Gingrich, and Gingrich at times seeming speechless as a crowd went against him for the first time. However, as a fan of dramatic presidential politics, I think Romney just won Florida and built what might amount to an insurmountable delegate lead heading into a national campaign for which his campaign is built.

I disagree with Borowitz. Tonight's winner was, without question, Mitt Romney, and Gingrich was its loser. Santorum did very well as the conservative alternative, but it's too little too late. His only shot now lies with Gingrich withdrawing after Florida and throwing his full-throated support behind the former Pennsylvania Senator. Paul was tonight's entertainment; what else is new?

And now it's time for Florida Primary Weekend! Check back in over the next few days to keep yourself abreast of the latest developments. Thanks for reading!

-IC (10:10 PM)

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what channel are these clowns on?

IC said...

CNN!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mitt. does this mean I have to clean my own house? Thanks a lot,

DJ said...

If Romney has the lead back, will he still go after Gingrich?

Anonymous said...

Mitt's got feelings and they just got hurt?

IC said...

Good one, Anon 2.

DJ, I think we have our answer!

Stevie K said...

Mitt's feelings hurt? Unlikely. You've got to be tough as a catcher's mitt to run for prez.

IC said...

Anon 3, perhaps Mitt's feelings are just artificially reproduced to resemble feelings. Easier to work with on deep space missions.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, Paul's the only one close to making sense.

IC said...

Hey, Anonymouses, we could really use some names or initials to interact with.

Anonymous said...

Paul just said something hat sounded almost..dare I say it?...Christian.

Anonymous said...

Mitt's answering a quesition that wasn't asked (about Freddie Mac).

g

Jon said...

Romney's owning.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. Beautiful. One guy accuses another of doing something bad. The guy says he didn't do it, then accuses the other of not doing it, too.

Stevie K said...

So who do you guys think is winning the debate so far?

Anonymous said...

What a smile on Newt when the topic of taxes came up. And then he calls it a nonsense question???

And look at him dodge the issue! What a chubby dweeb!

P said...

Ron Paul!

Anonymous said...

It's clearly after Paul's bedtime.

g

Anonymous said...

No applause on that question! I think nobody wanted it asked.

g

Anonymous said...

Come on, newt! Common Paul, Mit! How does a person pay for health insurance without a job?

g

Stevie K said...

What drives Ron Paul? He has great answers to the few questions that he gets, but he can't gain traction in these debates. The problem is that none of the other candidates address him directly or attack him. He's battling windmills.

JPD said...

That was outstanding you two. Thanks for that. I hope you do more.

Ryan Webb said...

A fantastic read....well done gentlemen.

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