Live blogging the debate

They ask Romney about his liberalism and 1994. He dodges. He won’t talk about his past.

Thompson cracks jokes at Kennedy’s expense. He gets to talk about his details. Then he whacks at Rudy on abortion, immigration, and gun control.

Rudy says, "Fred has his problems too. Fred was the single biggest obstacle to tort reform in the US Senate."

They ask McCain about Romney and who is more conservative. McCain rattles off his record. "I lead. I didn’t manage for profit. I lead for patriotism."

Why is McCain wrong on "conning".  Romney talks about securing his borders (huh?) and other things.

They ask McCain about Romney’s lawyers/Iran comment. "Governor Romney, you’ve spent the last year trying to fool people about your record. I don’t want you to fool them about mine."

Romney gave another non-answer.

They ask Ron Paul about gay marriage. He talks about federalism and religion.  Are they teeing this up for Romney?

Yup. They want to help Romney. They ask him. Romney invokes the Catholic church and adoption. But didn’t he require the Catholic church to provide birth control and the abortion pill?

They ask Rudy why he supports gay marriage. And Rudy pushes back. He didn’t talk about kids.

They ask Thompson about lobbying for a pro-life group. He pushes back, but the delivery isn’t so hot.

They ask Tancredo about all the conservatives. "A nice think about being a book end." Then Fox cuts to him on the end… That was awesome. DId he say anything?

Now they talk to Duncan Hunter. And he hits it out of the ballpark about Democrats, Cuba, El Salvador, and Iraq. Nice.

Healthcare

Romney. Would you sign the plan that you passed? He didn’t answer the question, as usual. Why doesn’t Fox force him to answer.

Hunter pokes back at the mandates. Romney then changes the language on mandates.

Huckabee says, "we don’t have a health care system, not a health care maze. We don’t have a health care crisis. We have a health crisis." And drops his old hippies line again.

Education

Thompson on problems with NCLB. Some good lines, but … what? Need more fathers.

They ask Giuliani about the NYC schools. "There teachers … but I really care about the kids more." NICE. He repeated the line about education and choice being a civil rights issue.

Clinton

Romney and commander-in-chief. And he talks about China… Nice. He says that she’s never worked in the private sector. Wasn’t she a corporate lawyer? They re-ask the question. And Romney won’t say that she is not qualified to be CINC. He says he wouldn’t vote for her.

Rudy pokes her on phoniness on the Yankees. And the "million ideas. America can’t afford them all.  … America can’t afford you!" NICE! And Rudy gets to whack Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, two or three Florida comments, and polls.

McCain. Iraq contrast.. The question is whether the war will get in the way with Hillary. McCain gives the right answer in the abstract, but would GOPers rather beat Hillary or win the war? McCain makes, perhaps, the line of the debate when talking about the Woodstock earmark with "I wasn’t there. I was tied up at the time." As a number of people are saying, this guy looks like an adult.

Huckabee on reaching out to minorities. But Huckabee wouldn’t attend the Hispanic debate. "There’s nothing funny about Hillary Clinton being President." And he talks about taxes and Islamo-fascism. And he talks about the Law of the Sea. And he’s gone south on immigration.

Thompson. Was there substance other than "Hillary bad?"

Paul. Did he just run to the left of Hillary on the war.

I will ignore whatever Thompson just said. I already don’t remember it. Giuliani just said that we need private accounts. Fine but how?

Romney does say that he won’t cut benefits for poor people. He’s running for a general… If he gets there. Nice Huckabee joke.

Paul on monetary policy as a response to social security? There’s something correct but weird.

Duncan Hunter explains how protectionism will protect us from running out of money for Social Security? This guy is a clown. I don’t even know any socialists who believe that. Fox kicks back, and Hunter continues to demonstrate his ignorance by equating trade and federal account deficits.  Huh? And then Tancredo wants to solve it with illegal immigration. More clowniness.

Foreign Policy

McCain and Russia. "When I looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes, I saw three letters. A K, a G, and a B." AWESOME. And he lays most of the serious problems at Russia’s feet. The UN Security Council, Iran, etc. Good deal. China may be a threat, but Russia certainly is. And he talks about missile defense. It all happens. Duncan Hunter geeks out in response. Whatever.

Giuliani talks about expanding NATO and expanding democracy. An important discussion.

Thompson. For the first time tonight, I have really liked his answer and his style tonight when he talks about Iraq, Turkey, etc. And then I don’t remember enough about any of the statements of the other candidates on this. Nothing that interesting.

Paul. Who left the GOP? Paul argues that we need a Taftian policy. And the crowd is unhappy.

Giuliani and Iran. He says that a nuclear armed Iran is more dangerous than war with Iran. He has a nice comparison to

They rip into Thompson with a question. And he talks about his serious experience. And ends with a great line, "If a man can do all that and be lazy and do all that, I recommend it." But the follow up about the kids isn’t so strong.