GOP Debate Liveblogging and Instant Commentary (5/15/2007)

7:57 PM Central, the candidates have taken the stage. Carl Cameron of Fox News says that the candidates might be allowed to be take on each other directly. This debate maybe better than the last one.

8:01 PM: Debate is being simulcast on Foxnews.com. South Carolina GOP chairman is giving an introduction. Nobody cares.

8:02 PM: Candidates being introduced. The only candidate with weaker applause than the rest was John McCain from the audience.

8:04 PM: Rules being gone over.

8:05 PM: No Falwell mentions allowed.

8:05 PM: McCain asked why Americans should continue to support the failed Iraqi government. Says Al-Qaeda will do nasty things if we leave Iraq. Supports the current strategy. Says Iraqi victory is in national interest.

8:06 PM: Tommy Thompson asked how he’s going to force the “freely elected” Iraqi government to vote whether or not Americans will stay and/or a partition. He defends his Iraq plan, which is actually a good one.

8:08 PM: Mitt Romney won’t project failure in Iraq. Explains the Islamofascist threat. Still has no plan for Iraq.

8:09 PM: Sam Brownback asked is consensus the way to win in Iraq. He supports consensus here at home, by attacking Democrats. Pushes the Jimmy Carter/Bill Clinton political solution for Iraq.

8:11 PM: Rudy Giuliani complains about being misquoted about Iraq and the Republicans. Asked whether or not he supports an open ended commitment for Iraq, dodges the question by talking about Fort Dix.

8:12 PM: Tom Tancredo supports November withdrawal of combat troops. Wants Iraqis to take the lead in Iraq, says Bush has set the November benchmark.

8:13 PM: Ron Paul asked whether or not he’s in touch with Republican voters with his withdrawal stances. He retorts by pointing out opinion polls of all the American people. Wants a declared war. Makes first Reagan reference by pointing out his withdrawal from Lebanon.

8:15 PM: Duncan Hunter asked whether or not Iraqis will actually fight. He says they will. Fighting whom is the question.

8:16 PM: Mike Huckabee asked how much he would listen to his generals. Basically, he’ll take everyone’s advice. Question is, would he fire General McClellan?

8:17 PM: Jim Gilmore asked if he would bomb Iran if they were close to a nuke. He wants serious, tough, UN sanctions and a discussion about Iran’s nukes here at home.

8:18 PM: Romney asked about flip-flopping on the no new taxes pledge, touts that he didn’t raise taxes in Massachusetts, but he did raise fees. Dodges the question overall.

8:20 PM: McCain asked about tax increases, support tax cuts and reigning in spending. Spending was the reason why Republicans lost the election.

8:21 PM: Huckabee supports the FairTax. Makes John Edwards joke about him spending money at a beauty shop.

8:23 PM: Giuliani asked where is his fiscal conservative credentials. He touts a Club for Growth report.

8:24 PM: Brownback asked about gas prices. He likes the ethanol scam in Kansas and Iowa and drilling in Alaska. He likes conservation also.

8:25 PM: Tommy Thompson asked which three programs he would eliminate. Says HHS stockpile needs to be eliminated.

8:27 PM: Ron Paul does much better. Wants to eliminate Education, HHS, and Homeland Security departments. Calls FEMA inefficient. Attacks Iraq War, welfare state, and entitlements. Condemns borrowing. Spent $40 billion before 9/11 and it failed. Past system was inefficient.

8:29 PM: Gilmore asked about Social Security reform wants to talk about it. Gilmore says he is the conservative.

8:31 PM: Duncan Hunter wants to stop the Chinese from stealing American jobs. Eliminate taxes on manufacturers.

8:32 PM: Tom Tancredo says Republicans have no fiscal discipline. Outlines the crimes of the Republican party. He wants to follow the Constitution.

8:33 PM: Commercial Break.

8:37 PM: Gilmore slams Romney, Giuliani, McCain, Huckabee. Gilmore has come alive.

8:38 PM: Giuliani attacks Hillary and calls her a socialist. Well, duh; but that wasn’t the question. The question is, are you a conservative? Chris Wallace gives him another try to answer the question. Giuliani gives the Eric Dondero response, “somebody said I’m conservative therefore I’m conservative”.

8:40 PM: McCain asked about his liberalism. Defends McCain-Feingold as bi-partisanship and working for the common good.

8:42 PM: Huckabee was attacking for raising taxes. Jokes about not being part of Rudy McRomney. Huckabee points out that gasoline tax was supported by 80% of Arkansas residents. Claims he was forced to raise education spending.

8:43 PM: Romney asked about his flip-flops. Still supports an assualt weapons ban. Likes the gays but opposes gay marriage. Claims he stood up for life, marriage, death penalty, abstinence education, and other conservative values. He’s still a flip-flopper.

8:44 PM: Brownback asked about amnesty and Iraq and Reagan. Says Reagan was a great compromiser.

8:46 PM: Tommy Thompson supports embryonic stem cell research.

8:47 PM: Rudy Giuliani asked about abortion, he says he wants to reduce abortion.

8:49 PM: Huckabee not liking Giuliani’s position, but he respects it because he’s honest. (Dig at Romney and Gilmore).

8:50 PM: Brownback asked about opposition to abortion even as a result of rape. One of the best answers to this difficult question I’ve heard.

8:51 PM: Romney asked about people who die during back alley abortions. Romney looked at the issue “long and hard”. Cloning pushed him toward the pro-life stance. I think it was probably polling, not cloning.

8:53 PM: Tancredo asked about immigration. He says McCain is soft on immigration. Slams candidates for “conversions” on the issues on the road to Des Moines.

8:54 PM: McCain opposes amnesty. Points out his bill is supported by President Bush. Says expired visas are bigger problem than border jumpers. He’s right. Chris Wallace asks McCain about the perception of him running away from his own bill. McCain says this is not the case.

8:56 PM: Romney asked about immigration flip-flops. Opposes amnesty, but also supports amnesty as well. Draws applause after attack on McCain-Feingold.

8:58 PM: McCain attacks Romney as a flip-flopper. Draws applause.

8:58 PM: Giuliani tries attempt at humor by thanking Tancredo for calling him soft. Asked about his flip-flopping on immigration. Dodges the question by saying he’s now tough on immigration.

9:00 PM: Hunter asked about how immigrants will be stopped from getting social services. He built San Diego fence. Attacks Bush on immigration. Border is biggest security threat. Dodges the question. Draws applause.

9:01 PM: Paul takes another question about being out of step with the party on Iraq. Points out Republican’s traditional isolationism. Republicans ended Korean War and Vietnam War. Republicans have been traditionally non-interventionist. Asked if non-intervention ended on 9/11. Paul says 9/11 was caused by interventionism. Paul says we should listen to Al-Qaeda.

9:04 PM: Giuliani was personally offended. Attacks Paul on 9/11 response. Draws loud applause. Asks Paul to withdraw his comment.

9:05 PM: Paul talks about blowback. Points out Iran example (a bad example).

9:05 PM: Wendell Goler asks McCain about Confederate flag. McCain says he was wrong in 2000 when he said flag should stay on state capital. He supports current agreement where it flies at a Confederate monument. Wants to move on. Very loud applause.

9:07 PM: Huckabee asked about controversial parole of a rapist. Huckabee denied him clemency.

9:08 PM: Tancredo asked about global warming. Doesn’t believe in man made global warming. Wants to reduce petroleum dependence for national security reasons. Muslims cause terrorism.

9:10 PM: Commercial break.

9:14 PM: McCain asked about interrogation at Gitmo. McCain opposes torture in all circumstances. Hurts us more than them. Tortured lies to stop torture. Best anti-torture response I’ve heard.

9:16 PM: Giuliani asked about waterboarding. Giuliani would allow torture, but he won’t call it torture. Loud applause.

9:17 PM: Romney wants to prevent terrorist attack. Romney wants Gitmo detainees at Gitmo, draws loud applause. Romney supports torture in all but name.

9:18 PM: Thompson would verify if fictional anti-American country is supporting terrorist attacks against America, then he would attack them.

9:19 PM: Brownback asked about going to UN. Would put American lives over UN opinion.

9:20 PM: Hunter would torture then bomb the country.

9:21 PM: McCain gives another good opposition to torture. Says Americans will be tortured if captured. Draws applause.

9:22 PM: Gilmore says we need share information.

9:23 PM: Huckabee wants to go after terrorists, calling them murderers. He wants Americans to sacrifice. About damn time a leader called on Americans to sacrifice.

9:24 PM: Paul asked about economic policies post attack. He wants to cut spending. Paul calls Enhanced Interrogation what it is, torture. Rambling about Pakistan, Osama, giving money…spouting the MoveOn.org talking points.

9:26 PM: Tancredo says waterboarding is not a bad thing after a nuclear attacks, makes a reference to Jack Bauer. All rules out of the window in the fight for Western Civilization. Wants to terrorize the terrorists.

9:27 PM: Gilmore asked about no minority or women Republican candidates. Says how he’s not a racist and he’s built the tent. Wallace wants him to answer the question about minority candidates in the Republican party. Gilmore says they’re coming. Gilmore says we need to look at records.

9:28 PM: Romney asked if he’s grown against the party grassroots. Romney likes the Department of Education. Calls education the civil rights issue.

9:30 PM: Duncan Hunter plays the China threat card again.

9:31 PM: Debate ends

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
  • http://www.RickSincere.com Rick Sincere

    How about that dust-up between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani!? Every candidates’ debate should be that interactive.

  • Ted

    No joke… But the comments on Blowback were accurate. There is always a price for intervention, just as there is often a price for isolationism.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Rick,

    The highlight of the night. However, Rudy definitely got the best of that tangle up.

    Ted,

    Paul was correct about blowback, but it was a bad example he used. Better one is Afghan-Pakistani example.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Rudy McRomney? I like it. I wonder how long it took him to come up with that.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    I’m not sure I would call waterboarding torturue. It’s not very nice though (not that I care if we are not nice to Islamofascist scum).

  • Ted

    I agree, Kevin, that the example was bad. I also agree that several others got one up on Paul due to his bad choice of words.

    Sadly, this may prevent others from recognizing the truths that blowback will occur, that we should decide how we would feel if a situation was on our soil.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Amercians will be tortured no matter what. We are not talking about civilized people here.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Kevin, are you saying that Gitmo = torture? (I’m not watching the debate so I’m a little unclear about the context).

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Kevin, are you saying that Gitmo = torture? (I’m not watching the debate so I’m a little unclear about the context).

    No. The context was whether or not detainees should be held at Gitmo or on US soil.

  • Ted

    Stephen,

    The reference to Gitmo was Romney saying we needed to keep detainees there, where they cannot access lawyers, or anything else. He said we should double the size of gitmo.

    The scenario that was presented in regards to the torture questions was this:

    Three attacks on malls around the US. A fourth was stopped, and the terrorists taken to Gitmo. There is evidence of a much bigger threat, which will happen soon. What is the view on torture.

    Also, Kevin, it might just be me, but Paul also seemed to support torture. He named it for what it was, but he did seem to support it.

    I do not support torture, but for some of the reasons McCain doesn’t. People will say anything to get out of torture, and it is rarely the truth.
    That means time lost. Chasing down false leads.

    Psychological interrogation has often proved more effective in getting real information, but there are often even false confessions and information gained from such interrogation.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Ok, thanks. I don’t think it really matters where they are held if they are under U.S. control.

  • TerryP

    Paul should have brought up the point when talking about 9/11 that Iraq and the war that we are currently in and have lost over 3,000 soldiers had nothing to do with 9/11. IMO he is not doing to well tonight. He has to many ums, etc. like he wasn’t very well prepared. In his first few questions he had opportunities to give much better anwswers. Rudy roasted him and somewhat deservedly so. The media is also trying to roast him by asking him a few times if he is running for the wrong party. He didn’t do to bad answering these questions but you can tell they are more out to get him tonight.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Ted,

    Also, Kevin, it might just be me, but Paul also seemed to support torture. He named it for what it was, but he did seem to support it.

    I didn’t hear if he did or not.

    I’m with you and McCain on torture, it is not productive and it does create false leads.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Ted,

    I think the jury is still out on whether or not torture works. I’ve heard reports that attacks have been prevented because of the interrogation tecinques used at Gitmo (though I haven’t done any research to verify this yet, so take that for what its worth). The problem is that no two people seem to agree on what torture is (playing loud or annoying music, limited sleep deprivation, manipulating the thermostat, etc…none of these are torture in my mind. What Sen. McCain went through in the Vietnamese P.O.W. camp was torture).

  • Ted

    I wish Paul had done a lot better. He made some good points, but I think he did not do as well as the last debate.

    I heard a few good answers from Huckabee and McCain. All in all an interesting debate. I have to compare comments from the previous debate to this one.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    TerryP,

    Paul should have brought up the point when talking about 9/11 that Iraq and the war that we are currently in and have lost over 3,000 soldiers had nothing to do with 9/11.

    He did, but it got lost in a ramble about Pakistan and spending.

    The media is also trying to roast him by asking him a few times if he is running for the wrong party. He didn’t do to bad answering these questions but you can tell they are more out to get him tonight.

    I don’t there’s a grand conspiracy against Ron Paul. You can make an argument for the first time he was asked the question because Republicans overwhelmingly support the Iraq War. But it should not have been asked again, that was the lowlight by the moderators.

  • Ted

    Stephen,

    When I was in psychology classes in college(Which I never finished) I did a report on torture. I interviewed 10 former POWs from Vietnam. Some admitted that they gave real information during torture, but all of them also admitted they made up information. Of course, this was a series of interviews, not a scientific study, or even a perfectly accurate study.

    So, you are right. The jury is out, but I tend to believe that if you can really understand how someone thinks, then it is easier to identfy lies, and to get real information than torture.

    I have to agree that some sleep deprivation, loud music, etc, is not torture as such, and in fact can be great tools in psychological interrogation.

    My views on what constitutes torture is based on the descriptions of those POWs and the scars they showed me.

  • http://doublethinkblog.blogspot.com Jono

    9:01 PM: Paul takes another question about being out of step with the party on Iraq. Points out Republican’s traditional isolationism. Republicans ended Korean War and Vietnam War. Republicans have been traditionally non-interventionist. Asked if non-intervention ended on 9/11. Paul says 9/11 was caused by interventionism. Paul says we should listen to Al-Qaeda.

    This last part made me cringe. I don’t know about the rest of you. I have been such a passionate supporter of all of Ron Paul’s policy stances, and this includes his non-interventionism. But I honestly hope, and believe its in his best interests, to avoid loony left ideas.

    Lets not blame 9-11 on the government, lets not try and sympathise with Al-Qaeda.

    I’ve got no problem with Ron Paul suggesting we oughtta ignore Al Qaeda. And let the Iraqis fix their own problems. When it comes to 9-11, most people are united in agreement that it was an atrocity commited by murderous thugs who should be opposed and not listened to.

    The means of opposing them is something for more debatable.

  • http://www.rogelsview.com Rogel

    I agree with Jono. I was in NYC at 9/11 and I was offended by Dr. Paul’s remarks. Yes, interventionism has risks and is a bad policy but it is no excuse for the terror attack of 9/11.
    I think, or rather hope, that Dr. Paul meant to simply point to the faults of interventionism, but it came across as justification for the terrorist and it sound horrible.

  • Tom Gellhaus

    It did sound to me, another strong Ron Paul supporter, that he seemed to be saying the President should be willing to order it if necessary. I don’t think I heard the surrounding context clearly though.

    The question was ridiculous, though. It’s a hypothetical situation that STILL hasn’t happened for real on American soil. It has happened a LOT in Israel (suicide bombers in civilian buildings).
    If it was so easy, why has it not happened here yet ?

    I note with glee that Fox is admitting that Ron Paul has won their text-message poll. (approx 11:05 pm).

  • http://doublethinkblog.blogspot.com Jono

    Looking at the quotes from Fox News, it doesn’t seem as bad. I think its been mis-reported and Ron Paul didn’t really put his foot in his mouth.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,272594,00.html

    “They attack us because we’ve been over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East — I think (Ronald) Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. Right now, we’re building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting,” Paul said in explaining his opposition to going to war in Iraq.

    “They are delighted that we’re over there because Usama bin Laden has said ‘I’m glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.’ They have already now since that time they’ve killed 3,400 of our men and I don’t think it was necessary,” Paul continued

  • http://doublethinkblog.blogspot.com Jono

    Ok well Ron Paul shouldn’t have opened his statement with the words ““They attack us because we’ve been over there.”

    It tarnishes everything else he says about why interventionism is harmful.

  • TerryP

    Kevin, the point I was trying to make was that Dr. Paul was mixing both 9/11 and Iraq together and they have virtually nothing to do with each other. If he would have said that he would have either not even received the follow up question about 9/11 or would have at least been able to come up with an answer that didn’t sound looney. I stopped listening at that point so if he later followed up with a better answer, that is good but probably to late. The media and likely the republican voters will roast him for his answer, no matter how right he is about it.

    Actually I think the media/commentators actually by asking him some very pointed questions show that they were a little scared that he did so well last time and what that could mean if he did real well again this time.

    Tom, even if he won the text poll, I think we could agree sadly that he did not win this debate at least in the eyes of the republican voters. Personally to my chagrin I think he got soundly defeated. He just had a real hard time putting his thoughts into a coherent message that the republican voters could grasp and get behind.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    TerryP,

    Actually I think the media/commentators actually by asking him some very pointed questions show that they were a little scared that he did so well last time and what that could mean if he did real well again this time.

    I don’t buy into the grand conspiracy against Ron Paul. I believe he was being asked the questions he was because the war is the issue that he’s trying to separate himself with.

    Paul’s answer was just plain loony. He will be roasted and deservedly so.

  • TerryP

    If I had to choose one person that came out of this better than going into it, it would be Mr. Huckabee. He had a couple of good one-liners and he didn’t make any bad gaffes like Dr. Paul.

  • TerryP

    Kevin

    I don’t buy into any conspiracy either about Ron Paul. I just think previously they pretty much ignored him. After the last debate, however, I believe that they started to get a little more serious about questioning him this time around.

    I agree that he will get roasted and somewhat deservedly so for his answer about 9/11.

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris

    Honestly, I don’t think we should even be talking about Paul at this point.

    If he ever had a chance (he didn’t), he’s ended it now; and permanently and publicly discredited every thing he says ever again.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/2005/11/22/a-bit-about-kevin/ Kevin

    Chris,

    Honestly, I don’t think we should even be talking about Paul at this point.

    If he ever had a chance (he didn’t), he’s ended it now; and permanently and publicly discredited every thing he says ever again.

    I bring up Paul because the commenters bring him up. I agree with you, he’s irrelevant in the big picture. Also, he’s not only discredited himself, he’s discredited libertarian leaners everywhere with his kooky remarks.

  • http://www.kaligulawired.com Kaligula

    Let’s be clear here. The GOP establishment read last rites over the libertarian wing of the party last night.

    There’s no media conspiracy against Paul, but if you don’t think Giuliani wasn’t lying in wait in pre-meditated anticipation to pounce on Paul to re-establish focus on his 9-11 credentials as opposed to his flip-flopping abortion stance, you’re not cyncial enough.

    Ron Paul is not part of the Rosie O’Donnell wing of the looney left, but the moderator put words in Paul’s mouth, saying, “are you blaming america for 9-11,” at which point rudy jumped in with his pre-meditated indignation.

    Frankly, I never quie understood Rudy’s terrorism credentials. This was the man who put the anti-terrorism unit in the World Trade center–which was why he was wandering aimlessly about in the streets on 9-11–and promoted his corrupt buddy for the head of homeland security.

    One thing for sure, rudy is no libertarian and freerepublic.com is a more appropriate forum for his advocacy rather than the liberty papers.

  • uhm

    He defended his argument well against Sean Hannity.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEZO7MPxJIs

    It is nice for people to have a choice because we are at a crossroads. If the American people decide not to listen to Ron Paul then they have made their decision, everything else is details.

    Time for a sort of Dondero moment:
    The War is a failure it is time for Plan B: The Ron Paul Plan or Plan C: The Hitler Plan. I’m hoping for no more politically correct childish games under Plan A: The wussy do everything half-assed, accomplishing nothing plan. No one will advocate Plan C, but if we want to wipe out Islamo-Fascist then it would do it all right. Plan B would result in Congress declaring war and having to take responsibility for their vote. We can go blow up whoever if Ron Paul is president if Congress declares war.

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris

    I don’t think anyone of the libertypapers contributors is a supporter of Rudy.

    Rudy is, was, and will be a prosecuting attorney. He approaches all problems from the perspective of an adversarial authoritarian.

    That perspective is anathema to liberty.

  • http://www.kaligulawired.com Kaligula

    Chris:

    Yeah, the main contributors to this site have been skeptical of Rudy–and for good reason–but there have been posters who have been trying to make the case for Rudy as a libertarian.

  • http://anarchangel.blogspot.com Chris

    Ahh yes, the eminently mockable Eric Dondero…Oh, I shouldn’t have mentioned his name, it may summon him from the depths…

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  • Andrea

    I thought Paul did ok, and the recap of the event doesn’t read as harsh as it played out. It was a shame that the only questions that Paul got were about the war. I’m interested in him, but I’d like to hear his words about issues like amnesty and health care.

    I mean, he’s an MD. He should have a pretty sound opinion about health care options.

  • http://anythingexceptthetruth.blogspot.com/ Iconoclast421

    Chris you dont know what you’re talking about. The idiots on Fox News jerk each other off with baseless statements about how Ron Paul “blames america” because he states facts. That’s all he does is state facts. And Ghouliani responded, after the debate, by saying he didnt even listen. And that just about sums it up. Whether you like it or not, Ron Paul is the only hope republicans have if they dont want to get stuck with another president who doesnt listen. So, just put your hands over your ears and say bla bla bla, but dont pretend like Ron Paul’s been descredited by doing that. Dispute his facts. Not the “he blames america” straw man. What you’re doing is so pathetic and beyond contempt, and I’m sure Hillary is thanking people like you.

  • http://www.hammer2006.blogspot.com Alex Hammer