Republican Youtube debate - the live blog

Greetings all, and welcome to the first ever DL live-blogging of a republican event! I'm coming to you live from the Zack Morris mansion, with some leftover turkey and two Goose Island Christmas Ales. In just a few minutes we'll be going to the CNN coverage of the republican Youtube debate in Florida. Get comfortable, and I'll join you in a few minutes.

8:00 PM - Anderson Cooper is going off explaining how the whole thing works, with the crowd going nuts that more questions were submitted for this debate than the Dems. Crowd goes wild. Woo-hoo.

8:02 PM - Apparently they're going to introduce the candidates WWE-style. Maybe they'll have smoke billowing out of the entrance way, disco balls, and perhaps someone will get whacked by a chair.

8:03 PM - Ron Paul seems to have the strongest crowd following. No one wants to acknowledge Rudy's existence amongst the candidates. I should get hazard pay for doing this.

8:05 PM - Awkward photo op where they all try and look lifelike.

8:06 PM - One thing to keep an eye on; there's been a lot of discussion today about Rudy's potential taxpayer financing of his love trysts. Wonder if there will be any questions concerning his credibility (i.e. ties with Kerik, etc.)

8:08 PM - Cooper explains that there will be no red lights or sirens, but that they will work off the honors system. With this group, this is bound for disaster.

8:09 PM - The first question...well it's not a question, just a guy playing a guitar and singing about how great the candidates are. Oh this is going to be a very credible night I can see.

BTW, you might remember that Romney originally refused to participate in the Youtube debate, because he felt that answering a question from a snowman as the Dems did in their debate was unpresidential. Based on the events of the last 48 hours, if there is a God, he’ll be asked a question by a Muslim snowman.

8:10 PM - First question to Giuliani: immigration related. Basically, will he shoot illegal immigrants on sight? Rudy's having to explain how he made the decision to allow public services to be provided to illegal immigrants when he was mayor of NYC. But when he becomes president, he'll put up a fence to keep them out. Romney chimes in, says that NYC was an actual sanctuary city. Illegals are criminals, and they should be treated as such. CROWD CHEERS!! Hooray for beating up the brown people!

8:14 PM - Rudy whacks back at Romney, saying that he employed illegals at the governor's mansion. Oh snap! Mitt denies the charge, and is offfended. I think that happens pretty often to him...we'll get to more of that later...

8:15 PM - Anderson's already lost control of this debate. This honors system shit is just not working.

8:17 PM - More immigration questions. This one asks the candidates to vow to veto any immigration bill that includes amnesty. Thompson can't wait to declare that he'll shoot it down. We have to defend our borders. Man, those Law and Order makeup artists must have gotten some serious overtime pay, he looks horrid. So he wants to keep them all out. Ooh, and he takes a shot at Rudy over his record of making questionable hires. It's on!

8:20 PM - For all the crying about how the Dem debates focus only on the big three, this one isn't any better. Haven't heard a lick from the lower candidates. McCain gets the question, says he'll veto it as well. He's talking about the long struggles he's had with immigration in the Senate, he sounds like a grandfather telling a very long story. Not an interesting one either. But he does make some points that he'll give some exceptions to children of illegals.

8:22 PM - First instance of the questioner being in the audience. Oh hell, Tancredo's getting his opportunity at the question. Cooper stops him quick.

8:23 PM - No such luck, the next one goes to Tommy. What will he do to help businesses that depend on guest workers? He rejects CATEGORICALLY that there are jobs that Americans won't do. Tough shit to the business owners that depend on guest workers.

You know, Tancredo basically said to the Washington Monthly radio crew that he takes such an extremist position on immigration so the rest of the party can take an only moderately extremist position and seem normal. He seems pretty ok with being labeled as a xenophobe to help the party. I don’t have anything to add to that, it just seems interesting.

8:25 PM - Hunter gets his chance to out-right Tancredo, talking about how he got tough on the San Diego area border. He wants that border fence built in six months...presumably with guest workers...

8:26 PM - Holy fuck, what is it with immigration and these republicans?!?! Grilling of Huckabee on why he gave illegal children a break on college tuition as governor of Arkansas. Funny thing though, the bill didn't pass. He's making a solid case on how this question is completely screwed up.

8:28 PM - Romney's calling Huckabee a liberal. Oh this is good stuff. Mitt accuses him of giving breaks to illegals, Huckabee says they had to earn it. Line of the night: "Mitt, we're a better country than to punish children for the sins of their parents". Mitt doesn't like it. Lord, someone get Wolf back, even he's better than Cooper.

8:31 PM - Sweet, Ron Paul question! Does he believe that there's a worldwide conspiracy for a worldwide union...or something like that? Oh no wait, North American union, my bad. He says NAFTA is a step on the way to that union. Eminent domain is being used to take land for highways which would cripple our ability to deal with immigration. The knowledge is out there he says...very X-Files...

Of course, if I said these things on RedState there’d be people coming over here to drag me into the streets and shoot me as an example.

8:31:30 PM - (doorbell ringing)

8:32:00 PM - Forgot to pay the kid that rakes my leaves.

8:34 PM - Question from a very cute girl: what will you do to control spending? McCain starts attacking earmarks and such. And now he's going after S-CHIP, saying it's ridiculous. Oh good. No pork barreling under his administration. How long until the bloggers find chinks in his history on earmarks. Romney chimes in, wants to get rid of entitlements, i.e. Medicare/SS I'm sure.

8:36 PM - Rudy brings out his "don't re-hire half of the retiring government work force" line again. The one that's absolutely ridiculous. Oh dear.

8:38 PM - Question to Thompson/Paul: what programs would you cut to reduce spending? Thompson says it's a "target rich environment". Of course, he wants to cut entitlements, but won't specifically say that he'll way-lay any of them. He's got a platform he says, he just won't get into specifics.

8:40 PM - First mention of the "fair tax", which Huckabee says would get rid of the IRS. Never mind that it's not fair.

8:41 PM - Question from animated Uncle Sam: do you agree with getting rid of income taxes for a national sales tax? McCain says no, but he wants to fix up the tax code. And somehow it morphs into an attack on Paul's stance on Iraq. Apparently his position would have lost us WWII. He ate with soldiers who told him to tell Paul to just let us win. As if Ron Paul had something to do with the problem. He's a pussy anyways, I could kick his ass.

8:43 PM - Paul: I'm not an isolationist, I just don't agree with us telling others what to do.

8:44 PM - Oh how the hell does Grover Norquist get a fucking question in this? Seriously, I thought this was supposed to be a debate with questions from the people! Of course they all rush to get in line to fellate Norquist and pledge to veto any bill with a tax increase...well now Thompson and McCain refuse to pledge (though they would still try to cut taxes as much as possible), Paul wants to cut spending too, and Hunter wouldn't say never. Interesting.

8:46 PM - Question to Romney on eliminating farm subsidies. About 1/3 of America's farms are used to grow crops for export, so we need to be on the same plane as the foreign farmers, since they get heavy subsidies. Giuliani agrees with him. Feel the love!

8:48 PM - Ba-BAM! Cooper goes right after Rudy on the taxpayer funding of his boffing-fests. Rudy denies it, he says he needed 24/7 security, and he had nothing to do with the handling of the records. Short and to the point.

8:49 PM - Candidate videos that they made for themselves. Tancredo goes first, and it leads with a clip of him on Geraldo's old Fox News show. The screen says: He took on Geraldo, now he's ready to take on Hillary! Well at least he won't have to deal with as big of a mustache with her.

8:50 PM - Tancredo gets a question on making sure that leaden toys from China don't come in. He doesn't want any foreignly exported toys because they're made with cheap labor, etc., I'm behind on typing. Hunter chimes in to buy American! Hoo-rah!

8:51 PM - Thompson video, and it's just him using other people's old speeches against them. Well actually just Huckabee and Romney. 30-seconds doesn't give you much to work with. Romney now gets to say how he was wrong when he was pro-choice, and that he "came down on the side of life" in every decision as governor - I don't think that's true. Huckabee gets his shot at Freddy. He gets to brag about the amount of tax cuts he pushed through as governor.

8:54 PM - pee break time!!

8:56 PM - I hope things slow down later, I really want to check out the new episode of The Hills. Oh no wait, it's Real World Sydney tonight. That's good enough, I'm really concerned over the whole Tricia situation. And I don’t care that she’s a bit overbearing and melodramatic, I would so nail Parisa…wait, that wasn’t supposed to be an out loud thought…

8:58 PM - Back with the videos, this time on McCain's. He's going after Hillary on the Woodstock Museum bill. Pretty shoddy work if you asked me.

8:59 PM - Gun question time! Question: we like our big guns in my small town, what's your opinion of gun control? Hunter gets first crack. He encourages safety (as the guy in the video chucks his gun around), but then links the 2nd amendment to gun control. Can we establish that Duncan Hunter is in fact bat-shit crazy? Why is it that the media goes berserk about how nutso Gravel and Kucinich are, but this guy gets a free pass?

9:00 PM - Question to Giuliani on why he believed that citizens should be required to pass a written exam to own a gun. He starts talking about his record of reducing crime, which is insanely over-inflated. He didn't reduce homicides by 75%, but whatever. But when he talks about the need for background checks and regulations, boos cascade from the crowd! So basically, he wants to have a framework of national regulation and leave the rest to the states. Hmmm....

I think it’s safe to say that, if Hillary had said something even half as ambiguous as that, The Politico would already have posted 38 articles slamming her and critiquing her smile/tone of voice/amount of boobage, and David Broder would be penning his editorial about how she was in no way bi-partisan enough to lead this country.

9:03 PM - Thompson takes Giuliani to task over being too liberal on the issue, working with Clinton's people and such. The horror of bi-partisan cooperation! The two argue over the merits of the case going before the Supreme Court case coming up on the 2nd amendment.

9:04 PM - Question to the candidates on what their gun collection is like. This is a familiar theme for the night, but what the fuck?!?! McCain sheepishly admits that he doesn't own a gun, he looked almost emasculated that he had to say that, he's a freaking veteran, he shouldn't need to do shit like that. I guess this is why I'm not a republican, I don't get this.

9:06 PM - Question to the candidates on black on black crime. Oh this ought to be fun. Romney praises those with multi-parent homes. He brings out the line about family values (i.e. hate the single moms). More law enforcement is his big key, I don't really think this is going to fly. Giuliani comes right back and says that Romney was weak on crime as a governor. He was strong on crime, again citing absolutely ridiculous statistics.

9:09 PM - Abortion time!! Question for "pro-life" candidates: if it becomes illegal and a woman gets an abortion, what are the penalties for the woman and the doctor? Paul responds that this is not a federal issue, but he feels the woman should not be punished, but abortion is a crime. The "abortionist" should be charged, but he won't weigh in on punishment. Thompson wants to make overturning Roe V. Wade his #1 priority, because there's clearly nothing else going on in this world more important.

9:12 PM - Another hypothetical: would the candidates sign a ban on all abortions? I hate these questions, these are just silly. Giuliani wouldn't, he wants to leave it to the states. He wants parental consents, no partial birth abortions. Romney can't get to that bill fast enough. He wants a world where everyone agrees that there should be no abortions, like he does this week.

9:13 PM - Question to Huckabee on whether Jesus would approve of the death penalty. He claims he's the only person on stage to deal with this type of decision. He feels that there is a need for the death penalty, that there are some crimes that deserve no other punishment. But he reconciles that position with his pro-life position. And Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, so he'd never make that call. Not a bad line. Tancredo then swoops in and says that Jesus would make the "right call".

9:16 PM - Question to all candidates: do you believe every word in the Holy Bible? Dear lord, this ought to be fun. Rudy doesn't believe it to be literal in every aspect, that there's room for interpretation. He reads it "frequently", especially during "crises" in his life, presumably during each of his affairs. Romney believes it's the word of God, which I can't wait to hear how he reconciles that with his Mormonism. Slippery response to follow-up by Cooper. Huckabee believes in the allegories, but focuses on the basics.

9:19 PM - Romney video time. He's the strong man to take on immigration and China and all those mean people.

9:23 PM - Back from break with Giuliani, actually funny stuff. He took on King Kong, reduced snowfall, and Hillary called him a mean name. Liked it.

9:24 PM - Foreign policy time: what would you do to repair the image of America in the Muslim world? Rudy's answer: go on offense in the war on terrorism!! Grrrreeat... But of course, we shouldn't blame all the Muslims for what they do. Dems are wusses because they don't use the words "Islamic terrorism". Obviously. McCain wants to repair our image by continuing the surge. Are these guys even listening to the fucking question?? Oh, and we can't set a withdrawl date or we're defeatocrats.

9:26 PM - George Carlin has a theory that countries go to wars because they think another country might have bigger dicks than they do – hence, the bigger dick foreign policy. It doesn’t take a genius to see that these guys are avid practitioners of the bigger dick foreign policy. Makes you wonder about the elephants…

9:28 PM - Hunter calls A.C. "Cooper". I'm pretty sure that only Mark Curry is allowed to be called Cooper.

9:28:30 PM - Woohoo!! Waterboarding question. How can the other candidates disagree with McCain that waterboarding is terrorism. Romney refuses to say whether it is, and he won't torture as president, but he won't say what he'll do. And of course they can't get legal protection, like lawyers. This is where the shit really is going to hit the fan.

9:30 PM - McCain gets to take his shot at Romney, saying that he's shocked that he doesn't realize that it is torture. Really is giving him a good whacking, telling him to go ask active military what they think of it. Romney repeats the same line he did before. McCain retorts that life is not like 24, and we're not Jack Bauer. Third time he refers to his recent trip to Iraq.

9:32 PM - Interestingly, very little reference to Hillary in this debate.

New question from a guy that wants to know who's going to make a permanent commitment to Iraq, because he thinks it's the right thing to do. Thompson doesn't want to be there forever, but as long as needed to complete the mission. Iran's just waiting to move in. Man, this is going to start getting painful.

9:34 PM - Ooh, Ron Paul retort time! It's time to give them back their country. He thinks Iraqis are starting to get control of certain areas. He compares it to Vietnam. McCain now jumps in that we didn't lose in Vietnam, it was the people's fault. And these guys want to follow us home, blah blah blah. Their ultimate goal is to wipe us off the face of the earth. Paul's response: we didn't lose a single battle, but it's irrelevant.

9:37 PM - Tancredo takes his shots at Paul. Radical Islam is the biggest threat to America since meteor showers. New question to Giuliani: how does he respond to the idea that he uses 9/11 to propel his candidacy? Well, he starts by talking about his role in the Reagan justice department, working with Haiti to reduce illegal immigration, and prosecuting organized crime members. He reduced welfare and taxes, abortions, and increased adoptions. He's been tested because he's been the mayor of a big city.

9:40 PM - Question from a cartoon of Dick Cheney of whether they'll give as much power to the veep as he currently has? Thompson: for a second there, I thought that was a picture of me! That's comic genius there, well done. Umm...he says that the VP should get as much power as he's given. Yeah, tough answer there. McCain slams Bush for needing to lean on Cheney because of his inexperience in foreign affairs. He wants to use him in areas where he's not as strong.

9:42 PM - Hunter video time. This thing has about as much video quality as those ads for work-at-home businesses. It's really time for him to throw in the towel. And yet somehow Chuck Yeager endorses him in the video. Last commercial break of the night. Oh sweet, Real World doesn't start until 10:00, I can easily catch that, not like I have any interest in Tila Tequila anyways...

9:46 PM - Actual commercial: for the Time-Life CD "Songs 4 Worship Country". I don't know what's more disturbing, the fact that they couldn't type out the word "for", or that they so stereotype the viewers of the show. Huckabee commercial: not bad.

9:47 PM - Question from a Brigadier General that is openly gay: why do they think armed services members are not professional enough to work with gays? Hunter cites that Colin Powell believed that gays would disrupt the culture of the military. Good values people couldn't deal with people like that. Huckabee believes that the "gay conduct" could disrupt the mission of the military. Romney once said that he looked forward to the day when gays and lesbians would be able to serve side by side with heterosexuals in the military; of course, according to him, today's not the day. The general is in the audience, and he doesn't believe that he got an answer from the candidates. He doesn't think that 'don't ask don't tell' works. It's a tragedy that people are being dismissed because they're gay. And he's getting booed. Nice.

9:52 PM - McCain believes that the present policy is working. Oooooooook.

9:53 PM - Question to all candidates: do they accept support from the Log Cabin republicans, and why should they support them? Huckabee will take any support he can get (guffaw), but he disagrees with them on same-sex marriage. In other words, sure, but I won't do anything for them.

9:54 PM - Question: what will the candidates to do rebuild the Social Security trust? Thompson goes off on how SS will be in the red by 2017 - false. But of course we can just fix it now ourselves, presumably through trashing the whole thing. Romney invokes the name of Reagan, and says we should focus on being a stronger America. In other words, he didn't answer the question at all.

9:56 PM - Off-beat question on space travel, courtesy of the Mars Society, is there any vision towards space exploration? Huckabee wants to expand the space program because of the great advances that it's brought us, like GPS systems. And he wants to shoot Hillary on the first rocket to Mars. Geez. Tancredo doesn't want to go anywhere, we can't afford Mars. I like Mars more now just because of him.

9:58 PM -Why don't African Americans vote for republicans? Giuliani thinks it's just P.R. work. They just don't do a good enough job of promoting their policies as helping minorities. Christ, I don't even have the energy to ridicule this anymore, thankfully it sort of just does it on its own. Huckabee says he got 48% of the African American vote in his state's election because he went out into the minority community.

And with that, I'm going to give this a rest, as there's a question on the Confederate flag and I don't have it in me to watch this any more. Give me 10 minutes to absorb and I'll be back with final comments.

Final Comments: If there's a winner, it's Huckabee. He said a couple things that were really out there, but he handles himself really well and speaks clearly. I think he wins points for his performance, but that's just in my book, and a lot of times I don't see eye to eye with republicans.

Giuliani did an ok job, which gets bumped up to very good since all of the stuff he lied about isn't going to get called out. He still just doesn't seem to want to show any sort of intellectuality about anything.

Romney was bad in my book, he just comes off as arrogant, and he gave way too many shady answers. Thompson was horrid, he should just pack it in now, he's barely trying.

McCain I thought probably had the second best night, but even so it wasn't fantastic. He wavers between cowtowing to the right and the center.

Hunter and Tancredo, nothing surprising with either one of them, they're just playing the far right wing cards.

Paul, he has his moments, but then he goes off on these nutbag rants about worldwide conspiracy-types things. Too bad, he could be an interesting part of the campaign if he could just stay in it for a while.

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