8:53p – Debate done, I’ll share my thoughts in a separate post.

8:52p – Bachmann – I’m the most different candidate than Barack Obama.  Yes that is probably true.  Gingrich said maximizing bickering is not the road to the White House.  He said he’d be the best based on substance and would challenge Obama to Lincoln-Douglas style debates (7 hours).

8:50p – Cain – Romney’s experience has been more Wall Street, and mine has been Main Street.  I’m going to be a problem solver who fixes stuff vs. a President who doesn’t fix anything.

8:48p – Perry said he’d provide a bright contrast to Obama, Romney wouldn’t.  Romney said he got unemployment rate down to 4.7% and their unemployment rate was less than Texas.

8:44p – Should we make our choice by who has the best chance to beat Obama?  Santorum: I’m 3-0 against incumbent Democrats and the only won to win a swing state.  Says Romney ran as a liberal in 1994 and as a moderate in 2002.  Santorum ran as a conservative.

8:35p – Foreign aid – Perry said we need to discussing cutting it, and in particular cut U.N. funding.  Romney agreed, but said not military aid.  Addresses Paul’s question.  Paul said foreign aid should be the easiest thing to cut.  Would cut aid to Israel.  Bachmann said we shouldn’t be cutting aid to Israel.  She said Obama is the first President to put daylight between us and Israel and it has made them less secure.  Cain said peace through strength and clarity.  Give money to our friends (military aid) not our enemies.

8:34p – Paul – are you willing to cut something tangible?

image8:32p – Cain walking back comments made to Wolf Blitzer (he’d consider releasing Gitmo prisoners for a hostage) about hostage negotiation.  He said he wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists.  Santorum said the President’s first duty is to protect us.  When we deploy troops we need to have success in mind, not political goals.

8:30p – Paul proposes cutting military spending by 15%.  He does make a good point about involvement in Japan and Germany.  I don’t agree with Korea, not when you have North Korea trying to build a nuclear weapon.

8:28p – Gingrich: When you have historically illiterate people basing budget on arbitrary numbers is stupid.  He said “I’m a hawk, but I’m a cheap hawk.”

8:26p – Bachmann points out how disrespected in the world today because of his failed policies.  Points out Iran’s assassination attempt in the U.S, and inserting troops in Africa.  The question was about budget cuts.  She said nothing is off the table, eventually.

8:20p – On a candidate’s faith: Santorum says we should pay attention their values and what their faith teaches about morals and values.  On the road of salvation, not so much.  Gingrich says faith matters, and how it applies to your public life.  Why is Perry being asked to repudiate the statement?  He didn’t make it.  Romney said we shouldn’t make our choice based on religion.  He said he was bothered more by the statement of that people should be selected by their religion.

8:17p – Cooper said up next the right to bear arms and should a candidate’s faith matter… should be interesting.

8:12p – Romney – People are hurting.  Obama is out campaigning, he should be governing.  He doesn’t have a jobs plan.  He said we need somebody who understands the economy and he is that guy.

8:10p – Cain doubles down on his Occupy Wall Street comments to huge applause.  He said they need to protest in front of the White House, not Wall Street.  Paul says go to both and the Fed.

8:09p – I could use a commercial break right now.  Bachmann discusses moms re. housing bubbles.  She said, “I’ll turn this around.”  No specifics though.

8:08p – Santorum says Cain, Perry, and Romney supported TARP.  Perry said we wrote a letter saying we wanted action, but not TARP.  He said they meant deregulation.  We need to see the letter.  Romney avoids the charge.  Cain said he supported the concept, but not how it was implemented.

8:04p – Perry agrees with Paul, and says we need to have a discussion on the 10th Amendment.

8:02p – Nuclear waste – Paul says that 49 states shouldn’t be able to say to Nevada “take our garbage.”  Romney agrees.  Pigs are flying.

7:59p – Santorum says that no one has addressed faith and family with Latinos.  He said Paul is wrong when he said the individual is the building block of society, families are.

7:56p – Cain avoids the anchor baby question.  Perry initially avoids it, but says he doesn’t want to repeal the 14th Amendment.  Bachmann said it doesn’t need to be repealed it can be handled legislatively.

7:55p – Paul says a fence isn’t the answer, but dealing with the incentives, the mandates that apply to illegals.  Paul said we need to stop focusing on groups and focus on individual liberties.  He says minorities still face discrimination from the courts.

image7:52p – Romney said build the fence, boots on the ground, and turn off the magnets (employers who hire illegals).

7:47p – Cain said he’d put up a fence.  Perry said strategic fences and virtual defense zones – boots on the ground and predator drones.  Bachmann said he’d build a fence across the entire border.  What about private property that is on both sides?  Bachmann also said she’d make English the official language.  Perry said you can build the fence, but it is very expense, time consuming and there are better ways.  He said I’ve been dealing with the border for 10 years.

7:44p – Perry brings up illegal immigrants working on Romney’s property.  Romney pointed out that the landscaping business they hired did it, and they were let go.  It happened again, and they were let go.  Points out Perry’s propensity of interrupting… Got the best of that exchange.

7:41p – Perry & Romney getting testy…. over illegal immigration and debate rules.

7:40p – Cain cites a 2009 bill, H.R. 3400, as a replacement to Obamacare.

7:39p – Paul: People should be able to opt out of government medicine.  More competition is needed.  People need to have control of their own money.

7:34p – Bachmann points out that it is even unpopular with the Administration since they repealed part of it themselves.

image7:33p – Romney said we got the individual mandate idea from Gingrich (it was actually the Heritage Foundation).

7:32p – Gingrich says Boston Globe reported a business in MA is getting fined due to not offering enough coverage.  Calls Romney’s plan big government.

7:30p – Santorum touts manufacturing jobs plan.  His “zero-zero-zero” plan.  Going after Romney’s credibility on Obamacare.  I’m sick of people acting like Romney doesn’t have a record.  Romney actually looked shaken.  He said Romney focused on the wrong the problem – access to health care, not health care costs.

7:27p – Romney said we are an energy rich nation acting like a energy poor nation.  He said Obamacare needs to be repealed.

7:26p – Perry said the “9” we need to focus on is the 9% unemployment rate.  Touts American energy independence.

7:24p – Bachmann said that every American should pay something (even if it’s just a dollar).  She’s for a flat tax.

7:23p – Gingrich said that there is a lot more detail in Cain’s plan than what he lets on.  He appreciates the conversation though.

7:20p – Cain says state taxes are apples and he’s talking about oranges (federal taxes).  Romney said that he’d have to have a bushel basket to carry apples and oranges.  Santorum, Romney and Gingrich all said they appreciate his boldness.

7:19p – Paul said don’t replace income tax with anything… where would revenue come from?  He proposed cutting $1 Trillion from budget in the first year.

7:18p – Cain said that his plan would remove hidden taxes.

image7:16p – Santorum and Bachmann said that there is a value added tax with a tax at every level of production.  Cain said there are “opportunity zones” to address lower income.

7:14p – Cain – most politicians don’t want to throw out the current tax code, and replace it with something simple and fair.  Santorum said analysis has come out where it says 84% will have taxes raised.

7:12p – Bachmann doesn’t seem to understand the question was about the Fair Tax, not the 9-9-9 plan.  Two different animals.

7:11p – Gingrich – “Unlike President Obama, I’m happy to be in Las Vegas.”  Nice.

7:10p – Perry – “I’m an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience.”  I wonder to whom he was referring… hmm…

7:09p – Senator Santorum’s daughter had surgery today, but is doing well.  He said he’d be on the Red Eye to be with her tomorrow.

image7:07p – Good news, Jon Huntsman is boycotting!  His involvement in the debates have been a waste of time.  Bad news, Anderson Cooper is moderating.

7:04p – A bunch of people on the Cain Train in the audience he probably had the loudest reception.

7:03p – Anyone else think a casino is an odd place for a debate?

7:01p – While they are doing their opener, I’d like to remind you to refresh your browser to read the updates.

imageDebates really have had consequences this year.  Not so much at putting somebody over the top; rather they have had a stark ability to sink candidates.  Texas Governor Rick Perry has certainly felt the brunt of the consequences from lackluster debate performances.  Everybody goes after the frontrunner until he’s not.  Now it’s Herman Cain’s turn.  Last week he did a good job fending off criticism on his 9-9-9 plan, will he have a repeat performance?  We’ll see.  The candidates playing musical frontrunner have had at least one thing in common – intense scrutiny when they land in the hot seat.

I suspect that while Cain’s 9-9-9 plan seems appealing – the devil’s in the details – like child tax credits, will the working poor experience an increase in taxes under his plan?  Former Senator Rick Santorum told me yesterday that they will.  Last week Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said that starting an additional revenue stream is not a very good idea.  It is understood that this plan is meant to be a stepping stone to implementing the Fair Tax, but what if that never happens?  Suddenly we find ourselves with a personal income tax AND a national sales tax.  Are we to trust Washington not to raise the levels from 9%?

Liveblogging begins at 7:00p (CST)/8:00p (EST).  Feel free to consider this an open thread and share your thoughts about the race and this debate in the comment section below.


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