Nashua GOP Presidential Debate: Live Blog

10:00 – All done.  I must say that John King, CNN, and the candidates did a very good job of making a debate between 7 candidates interesting and worthwhile.  Thank you, good night, and God bless America.

9:57 – Romney showed great discipline in maintaining a steady barrage of criticism against Obama (who deserves it).  This tactic plays into the image that the news media are perpetuating that he is the presumptive nominee.

9:55 – When Barack Obama runs for the Democrat nomination, he’s the black candidate.  When Herman Cain runs for the GOP nomination, he’s the business candidate.

9:54 – Why was Gary Johnson excluded tonight?

9:49 – Cain says the standard for military action is “whether it’s in the vital interests of the United States.”  OK, but what does “vital interests” mean?  Is preventing a humanitarian crisis in our vital interests?  Would he have bombed the tracks used by the Nazis to take European Jews to the death camps?

9:46 – Bachmann comes across to me as a knee-jerk conservative sloganeer.  I believe that she’s principled, but she doesn’t come across as a deep thinker.

9:44 – Paul would do an immediate withdrawal regardless of the conditions on the ground.  I believe this is a principled position by him, but he’s wrong, and his position would endanger our national security.

9:42 – Romney calls for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan based on conditions on the ground and not politics.  Interestingly, that’s what Bush said that was derided by Obama – until he became president and started considering conditions on the ground.

9:29 – Paul says to audience applause that we should protect our borders “rather than the border between Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Uh, Ron, there is no border between Iraq and Afghanistan.  The two countries are not adjacent.

9:25 – Romney is “firmly pro-life” – now that he’s not running in Massachusetts anymore….

9:22 – All of the candidates except Paul favor repealing the new policy allowing gays to serve openly in the military.  They’re wrong.  (Bachmann says she would consult with all of the “military commanders-in-chief.”  Groan.)

9:19 – Cain says same-sex marriage is strictly a state issue.  Pawlenty, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Bachmann want a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.  Paul wants to get government out of involvement with marriage altogether.  Cain is right.  Pawlenty, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Bachmann are wrong.  Paul provides food for thought.

9:18 – Great question to Bachmann:  As an opponent of same-sex marriage, would she use her position as president to try to overturn state same-sex marriage laws?  Her answer:  No.  Right answer.

9:12 – Cain (former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza) emphatically and good-naturedly chooses deep dish pizza over thin crust.  Gingrich could learn a thing or two about style from Cain.

9:11 – Romney properly says that he would not discriminate on the basis of religion.  Gingrich, on the other hand, resorts to base demagoguery against Muslims.  Disgusting.

9:09 – Cain says he wouldn’t be comfortable having any Muslims in his administration.  Sad to see bigotry rear its ugly head.

9:07 – Pawlenty isn’t saying much of substance tonight.  Romney has been much more impressive, and I say that as someone who has been very critical of him.

9:05 – Bachmann points out that then-Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling saying that to do so would be a “failure of leadership.”  Obama has since retracted those comments as “political.”  How convenient.

9:01 – Cain calls for private saving accounts as an alternative to Social Security while acknowledging that young people will still need to support the current system for current recipients.  He’s right again.  It’s refreshing to hear a candidate speak candidly about these entitlement programs that are bankrupting the country.

8:59 – Cain states bluntly that people are not going to get out of Medicare and Social Security what they paid into it without major restructuring of the programs.  He’s right.

8:57 – Gingrich reiterates that Paul Ryan made a mistake in not selling his Medicare plan to the American people before submitting it to the Congress for a vote.  He’s right.  However, Gingrich’s former characterization of the Ryan plan as “right-wing social engineering” was wrong.

8:54 – Ron Paul calls for increasing funding for Medicare by cutting foreign spending – which would amount to an insignificant fraction of a percent of Medicare’s deficit.

8:51 – Gingrich is asked his preference between Dancing With The Stars and American Idol.  He chose American Idol.  His facial expression was as serious as if he was giving one of his history lessons, and then he smiled as if to say “I guess I’m supposed to smile now.”  The guy has no charisma at all.  (But his choice of American Idol was right.)

8:50 – Romney:  “Instead of asking what in the federal budget we should cut, we should be asking what we should keep” and then get rid of the rest.  I like that.

8:44 – Gingrich expresses support for continued space exploration, but through the private sector.  He’s right.  At this point there are now enough profitable applications to space exploration for the private sector to be able to do it better than the government, and with $15 trillion in debt and a $1.3 trillion deficit, we can’t afford to have the government do it anymore.

8:43 – Bachmann speaks well and says the right things, but she undermines her effectiveness by caking on the make-up like Tammy Faye Bakker.

8:39 – Herman Cain states support for TARP in principle and criticizes only the selective way that it was implemented.  He’s wrong – TARP was wrong in principle.  Romney opposes it in principle.  He’s right.

8:37 – Ron Paul opposes any government assistance with private enterprise as immoral, unconstitutional, and bad economics.  He’s right.

8:31 – Gingrich calls for defunding the NLRB, citing the SC Boeing issue as an example of its leftist political bent.  I agree.

8:30 – Pawlenty takes a strong Right to Work stands to audience applause.  I wonder where Santorum, who supported labor in the Senate, stands on this issue now.

8:28 – Bachmann wants to take on the EPA  and its jobs-killing regulations.  She’s right – we should.

8:26 – Ron Paul is talking economics and giving people credit for being smart enough to understand.

8:24 – John King announces that CNN is hosting a tea party debate in September – whatever that means.

8:21 – John King continues to try to interrupt the candidates just a few seconds into their answers.  A few seconds is not enough time to give meaningful answers to serious questions.

8:18 – Pawlenty points out that Obama based ObamaCare on RomneyCare.  Romney responds that ObamaCare was more expensive, but that’s the case because it’s the same scheme done on a national level.

8:15 – Romney says he will repeal ObamaCare if elected and will begin by granting waivers to all 50 states.  But he goes on to list differences between ObamaCare and Romney Care that are meaningless.  He continues to defend the RomneyCare scheme on which ObamaCare was modeled.

8:12 – Ron Paul can’t think of anything that Obama has gotten right with the economy.  I can’t either.

8:11 – Michele Bachmann just announced her formal candidacy for president.

8:10 – John King is starting to annoy me in that he’s only giving the candidates a few seconds to answer complex questions.

8:08 – Pawlenty:  “Obama is a declinist who sees America as equal to every other nation.”  He’s right.

8:07 – Santorum is all over the map and needs to learn how to give concise answers that make one or two points clearly.

8:05 – I like John King’s relaxed style.

8:03 – Newt Gingrich comes out swinging, referring to the “Obama Depression.”  Problem is that we’re not in a depression, so Newt is once again exaggerating and hurting his credibility.

8:00 – Tonight’s debate is being televised by CNN and is moderated by John King.  The participants are

Michele Bachmann

Herman Cain

Newt Gingrich

Ron Paul

Tim Pawlenty

Mitt Romney

Rick Santorum

Not appearing are candidates Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson and expected candidates Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry.

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