Live blogging to all three readers, who are probably watching themselves! Oh well, this debate could be fun, irritating, or boringly stupid. Here goes.
First of all, Charlie Crist the most popular governor in America? Who knew? Wait, says who?
Candidates announced ala the All Star Game. Paul might have gotten a tad more screaming but not by much. CNN is leaving some awkward pauses at the beginning. Mitt Romney laughing too much at the snowman. Guess he knows they've canned it.
No electric shocks from Cooper. No laughing at that, they must remember their sniper series. Song was pretty good. First question for Rudy, and it's a zinger..
This back and forth between Mitt and Rudy is laughable. Who's the worst on immigration? Mitt makes his point about subcontractors. He's coming out strong. Booing for Rudy. Ouch. And now the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughn asking Fred to pledge against amnesty, and he's quietly scoring. But he still looks old.
McCain- illegals are 'God's children, too'. Tell it to the people killed by illegals. Or Jim the Reno flag cutter. Tancredo is shining on his only passionate cause. Now Duncan Hunter actually reminds us he's done something. Neither can win.
Question to Huck, about illegals again, and smacking him where it hurts. 'Academic Challenge Scholarship' was put into perspective by Mitt "he fought for it" and "it's not your money". Pow. Mike--they earned it. Ok, but where does that line get drawn, sir? And doesn't that serve as an incentive to come here illegally?
OK, here we go. Finally a Q for the Paulster, and on the NAU! And he takes the ball and runs with it, exposing all the conspiracies, including the NAFTA highway. If not for his isolationism (and that's what it is) he might be the man.
Mitt advocates elimination of pork. Maybe he's trying to get back in good graces with the Muslims! Rudy wants to cut the federal workforce in half but through attrition. Who could argue with that (other than the federal unions)?
(CNN is picking decent, good questions. Bravo so far).
Fred on cutting the fed budget--'target rich environment'. Fred reminds everyone he's actually putting out plans, although he wouldn't specifically name the programs he'd cut. The Paulster lists them, "Dept of Energy, Education and Homeland Security". Oh, and brings all the troops home.
Huck- to loud applause - kill the IRS, bring on the Fair Tax. Heeeeee's back. McCain does not. And he's starting in on Paul's isolationism. Boooooos. Mark it--first mention of Hitler at 7:42 PM CST.
Grover Norquist made it on the air. Will everyone pledge to cut taxes? All but Fred, John and Dunc (not to Grover). Smart. Never get boxed in.
As to cutting farm subsidies, blah blah.. oooh, Anderson Cooper just hit Rudy with the money story. Rudy says he did nothing wrong. Shocking.
After saying they wouldn't let kids make adult points, CNN now allows an adult to use their kids as a prop vis a vis the Chinese lead toys. Tanc says he'd just go ahead and nuke Chiner. Dunc agrees. Wait.... maybe I misheard.
Fred, that meanie. Huck, "when they're kicking you in the rear, that means you're still out front". That continues to be the impression of both men--Fred's a tough conservative and Huck's a fighter with a heart who's been maligned but keeps swinging. These little intangibles are important.
As the commercials roll, it's clear that nobody has taken the lead in this event as yet. And CNN is not screwing it up yet. Well, maybe Rudy would disagree.
Gun control guy-- score! (although Duncan reminds him of his gun safety rules). Rudy is ambushed yet again. They're making him backpeddle on gun control, then right to Freddie, who continues to flog. But he won't divulge his favorite gun or its whereabouts. McCain doesn't carry--he's done it before. Dunc is literally glowing talking about his arsenal while Rudy and Mitt don't own or carry.
Doctor Paul is thrown the abortion question and waffles a little on the answer by throwing it back to the states. Says he never seen a medically necessary abortion. Surely some of the Paulnuts' mouths are hanging open at this point, wishing they could get refunds on their donations.
Question from Memphis on the death penalty!(it's not me). "What would Jesus do?" Huck- some crimes are just too heinous. "Jesus was too smart to run for public office". Deflect, score!
Dallas wise guy: "do you believe every word" of the Bible? Again they pick on the mayor first. Non-literal answer. Huck is scoring on this as would be expected. The more face-time Hucks gets, the better he does, even if he's not a true conservative.
Iraq time, and the first question used is by a woman named Yasmin, who continues the canard that Bush has ruined our image by fighting back against terrorism. Rudy fires first and fires a howitzer, at the Dems. About time. McCain advocates for continuing the surge, and for never surrendering to AQ. "Let us win". Finally Duncan Hunter smacks down Yasmin's propaganda. Never apologize. Never surrender. Hoorah.
Now cometh the waterboard.
Using McCain as an instrument against the others with his torture background, smart. McCain is sorta pandering to the moderates here but making sense. Yet he abstained from voting on Mukasey, who wouldn't admit waterboarding is torture. Thompson is strong on Iraq. And Paul sounds like an idiot.
Paul is getting boo'ed over what he calls our interventionism, loudly, and for good reason. Tancredo, as airy as he is, picks up an easy cheer. Let's get something straight--nobody is in favor of interventionism per se. We should control ourselves and continue being the beacon on help and hope. But giving up on the world or refusing to protect the American public is not an option.
Ah, the first CNN cheap shot with the Cheney caricature. Fred finally scores a laugh out loud moment. But his charisma is still sadly lacking.
The gay General, ooh, another sucker punch. Hunter deflects to Powell. Weak--he's Mr. Military. Cooper reminds Mitt of his previous advocacy of gay service, then we watch as Mitt wilts trying to explain why he doesn't still believe that. Pretty bad.
CNN is bizarrely letting the gay general filibuster because of his devious effectiveness. Their followup with the Log Cabin Republican then backfires with Huckabee's answer.
And Huckabee answers the space program question well, at least gets a laugh. He's winning this debate.
Wow, a rebel flag question. Interesting. Mitt displays some southern hate. Fred is more qualified to talk, and he says the right thing.
And Paul's commercial is bat-crap scary.
Paul's answer on infrastructure goes back to Iraq. Of course. McCain is shaking his Sharpie! No pork! No pork!
On to a question for Ron Paul about whether he'll run as an independent, quite a good one. He says no but nobody believes him.
All in all, I'd say Huckabee won.
Bill Bennett just dropped a bomb on air--the gay general is on Hillary's gay steering committee. And Anderson Cooper was shocked, shocked.