I am live-blogging the Fox GOP debate tonight, beginning at 8pm CDT. If you are looking for my daily Christmas tree, find it here. Watch the debate live on the Fox News Channel. 9:40 pm CDT:
Moderators are Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Neil Cavuto and Chris Wallace.
Participants are Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.
Feel free to leave comments. I’ll answer back during commercial breaks. Please excuse my typos. The debates move quickly.
Candidates and moderators are introduced.
Bret to Newt: Can you put to rest the persistent doubts that you are the best candidate.
Newt: Merry Christmas to everyone. I remember in 1979 when Reagan was running 30 pts behind. People said he believes what he is talking about, he has big solutions and he has foreign policy ideas. He is the person who can debate Jimmy Carter. I can debate Barack Obama.
Bret: Romney attacked you today. [gives details]
Newt is giving his history, he taught military the art of war. Gives his past successes while speaker. I believe in very large changes and I can make those changes.
MEGYN to PAUL: Republicans doubt that you can be elected president, and will you pledge tonight that you will support the candidate.
PAUL: Fortunately, anyone here tonight can beat Obama. The question is what do we have to offer. I emphasize a pro-American foreign policy, rather than policemen of the world. We must balance the budget. I am willing to cut $1T out of the budget the first year [doesn’t say how he will cut $1T – or if he will support the candidate. He has said in the past, he didn’t know if he could do so].
MEGYN TO SANTORUM: Why have you failed to catch fire in Iowa, after spending so much time here?
SANTORUM: I think Iowa will light the fire. I am a strong conservative, I’ve been there, I’ve done it and you can trust me. I was fighting for conservatism when it was popular and when it was not. I am strong in my political and personal life. I want to make Obama the issue.
CHRIS TO ROMNEY: Viewers tell us they are supporting Newt because they believe he will be tougher than you. How do you make your case.
ROMNEY: People are hurting. Middle class is seeing incomes go down. I can get America right again. Govt doesn’t create jobs. The private sector does. I’ve spent my life doing that. I can debate Obama on that. Mentions the businesses he has been involved in. I can get the economy going.
CHRIS TO BACHMANN: Your conservative credentials are not questioned, but how will you attract independents.
BACHMANN: In the last 4 yrs I’ve won 4 elections by attracting independents and Republicans. They knew I say what I mean. They knew that I was an action person who would serve them. That’s what I’ve done in Congress. Five years I’ve gone toe to toe with the issues. I will do that as President. That’s my proven track record.
CAVUTO TO PERRY: If you become the nominee, how will you deal with Obama in a debate?
PERRY: I’m getting where I like these debates. I will get there early and I will talk about balanced budget amendments, the type of part time Congress people are ready for. I want to debate him often. [talks about Tim Tebow – hopes he is the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses]
CAVUTO TO HUNTSMAN: Voters are leary of your refusal to sign onto a no-tax pledge.
HUNTSMAN: Voters are finding that I’m not going to pander. I’m not going to sign those silly pledges and I’m not going to show up at a Donald Trump debate. We have been kicked around. We are getting screwed. We have an economic deficit and we have a trust deficit. People don’t trust those in power. We need to tell Congress we need term limits, we need to go to Wall Street. We don’t want banks too big to fail. I will fix this country’s trust deficit.
BAIER TO SANTORUM and then the whole panel. How will you make people feel better.
SANTORUM: We must reinstate trust (sorry, I missed much of this answer).
PERRY: You would think this president would have learned how to work in D.C. We need a president with governing experience. We should have never gotten to this point. He put a Super Committee into place. He’s an absolute failure.
ROMNEY: What is leadership? 85% of Massachusetts legislators were Democrats when I was governor. I learned how to lead and get things done. I’ve had 4 leadership periods in my life.
GINGRICH: Leadership is the key. When you have a Saul Alinsky radical in office, the constitution cannot work. I actually worked things out with Bill Clinton, in a way that was required, and we got things done.
PAUL: Government is too big. We have to cut spending. One wants welfare and one wants warfare. Go to each and get the cuts needed.
BACHMANN: I would have called all 535 mbrs of Congress to sit down. I would have said no new taxes. The government cannot spend more money than they are bringing in, and I would tell them we WILL follow the U.S. Cosntitution.
HUNTSMAN: Leadership is not words. Leadership is doing. I did this in Utah. [The list went on an on and on.] I ran for reelection and won 80% of the vote.
8:21 pm CDT: Commercial Break
So far, no extraordinary questions (which have been promised)
CHRIS – DC Culture – to Romney: Gingrich has said you have a lack of understanding about how things work. What do you think about what Gingrich said?
ROMNEY: I believe it is a great opportunity for us. Obama will say to me, look at some of the businesses you were involved in. Some failed. Well, I will explain to him that not every business succeeds. I have led four different business and all have succeeded. I have learned from successes and failures. I will point out what he has done with the companies the government took over, and then they failed.
CHRIS TO GINGRICH: You said you liked the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac model. Now you have said that Barney Frank should go to jail. Now that we know that you were on the payroll and earned $1.6M from Freddie Mac, how do you explain that?
GINGRICH: I was a private citizen, engaged in business like any other business. Frank was a U.S. Representative. [says some government programs are good]
CHRIS TO PAUL: What do you say about what Gingrich said.
PAUL: He has a different view of government than I do. Government sponsored business is bad. It can become facism. I talked about the excessive credit from the Federal Reserve. I talked about the Community Reinvestment Act. The money came from the tax payer. It is not a free market enterprise.
GINGRICH: The term Government Sponsored Enterprise means different things. Visit the electric co-opts. Not all are bad. I did no lobbying of any kind, for any organization.
CHRIS TO BACHMANN: You accused Gingrich of peddling influence. What is your hard evidence that he engaged in influence peddling?
BACHMANN: He cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That’s the evidence. There is a big difference between credit unions and Freddie Mac. The speaker had his hand out to influence senior Republicans to support FM. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae need to be shut down.
GINGRICH: That’s just not factually true. I never lobbied. I never went in and suggested we support this. While I was Speaker I tried to pass reform bills.
BACHMANN: PolitiFact said everything I said was true. Gingrich took $1.6M. That’s influence peddling. Keeping the grandiose scam that Freddie Mac was, going.
GINGRICH: My policy is to both break up FM and FM. I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment. I was a national figure, writing books and making speeches and I would not jeopardize that by supporting something I don’t believe in.
CAVUTO TO GINGRICH: Paul Ryan’s budget plan – there’s an updated plan. Private option, etc. You have said his initial plan was right wing social engineering. Later you backed off. Romney says you have an consistency problem.
GINGRICH: A free society should make very big decisions with the people. The point I was making is, when you make a change, communicate with the problem. Ryan has come up with a new concept and Romney was involved in that. It’s a good thing. I look at it in a positive way, and believe it will save Medicare.
ROMNEY: The spending crisis is extraordinary. This President has racked up more spending than all presidents combined. Today Republicans and Democrats came together. This is a big day for our children and grandchildren because Repubs and Dems came together. I applaud it.
CAVUTO TO PAUL: We are on the brink of another government shutdown. You have supported earmarks that have benefited your district. You have said that government shouldn’t be doing that, but you must take care of your district.
PAUL: If the government takes money from you, and someone is going to get that money back, it is my place to represent my people. Congress has the responsibility to earmark every penny, because if you do not it goes to the executive fund. I never voted for an earmark, but I argue the case for my people.
CAVUTO: Isn’t that that the same thing – having your cake and eating it to.
PAUL: It is the principle of Congress meeting the responsibility of their district. If I had my way, there would be no earmarks. But we have earmarks, and the money should not go to the executive slush fund.
CAVUTO TO PERRY: You have said the only way to get government to stop spending, you have to get Congress to stop spending. In your state you were criticized by the Austin American Statesman.
PERRY: Don’t believe everything they write. The state did not bail out any programs. Some failed and some worked. I am calling for a part-time Congress. Cut their pay in half. Cut their staff in half. Pass a balanced budget amendment
CAVUTO: They worked only 151 days last year.
PERRY: I suggest 140 days every other year like we do in Texas.
CAVUTO to HUNTSMAN: Relationship with China.
HUNTSMAN: Invite a few dissidents seeking asylum to D.C. That’s the kind of thing that will create a change and reform in that country. The 21st Century will have only two relationships that matter and that’s the U.S. and China. That’s greater tolerance and freedom. I would drive that home.
CAVUTO TO SANTORUM: Explain your “made in the USA” Plan – details?
SANTORUM: We must rebuild the manufacturing base in America. I would offer special tax rates and repatriation. Cut corporate taxes on manufacturing to zero. Repeal regs. I promise to repeal every single Obama regulation.
BRET WITH A QUESTION FROM TWITTER TO ROMNEY: What section in industry will create the most jobs.
ROMNEY: The free market will decide that. Not the president who thinks batteries are the future. I think manufacturing will come back to the U.S. High-tech will be a source of growth, and energy – opening those up, giving permits for gas and oil – very powerful. We will lead the world. This will be an American century.
MEGYN to GINGRICH: You want to subpoena judges to come before Congress to explain their controversial decisions. Doesn’t it compromise the branches of government?
GINGRICH: The courts have become arrogant and too powerful. They misread the American people. One Nation Under God is wrong, they say. They shouldn’t be on the court. I taught a course on this. If they keep attacking the core base of American exceptionalism, you are in trouble. We do not have a judicial dictatorship in this country.
MEGYN: These are conservative judiciaries who are criticising.
GINGRICH: He mentions the Founders and quotes them. Jefferson and Lincoln – no 9 people can make law in this country. (HUGE APPLAUSE)
MEGYN TO BACHMANN: Gingrich references the 9th Circuit Court and has suggested abolishing it. Do you agree that the 9th Circuit should be abolished? And if so, where will it end if a left-leaning president came in with a Democrat Congress and abolished a right-leaning court.
BACHMANN: I agree with Gingrich. We must follow the Constitution. The court system is not the final word. If we give the courts the right to make law, the people have lost their representation. (HUGE APPLAUSE)
MEGYN TO PAUL: Do you agree with Bachmann and Gingrich? The Congress can get rid of these courts. The proper procedure is impeachment, but I do not believe we can bring judges before Congress. We can get rid of courts, but it is opening up a can of worms. I question the idea that the Congress can subpoena judges.
MEGYN TO ROMNEY: Why will people believe you will appoint Conservative judges, as you didn’t always do that in Massachusetts?
ROMNEY: I didn’t get to appoint. I nominated and they went in front of a liberal congress. I had to choose people, after vetting, who could get confirmed. We have the ability to remove judges who need to be impeached. Where a statutue has been misinterpreted, Congress can correct that.
SANTORUM: I’ve done this. You can talk about it or you can make it happen.
MEGYN IS ASKING WHO THE FAVORITE SCOTUS JUSTICE IS FAVORITE
They are all saying Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts.
PAUL: All good and all bad. Personal liberty and economic liberty is looked at as two issues, but it is one issue.
BACHMANN: Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts – all great.
HUNTSMAN: We have Rule of Law. Judiciary is very important. Governors have to make the hard decisions. Alito and Roberts are my two picks.
8:58pm commercial break.
PAUL: There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapon. I believe there is another Iraq coming, that we will soon bomb Iran. Sentiment is very mixed, even in Israel. An Israeli spokesman said it makes no sense to take them out because they might have a weapon. We must sit back and think and not jump the gun. That’s how we got into that useless war in Iraq.
BRET: The question was based on the premise that we had solid evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapon.
PAUL: An Israeli said if he was an Iranian, he would want a nuclear weapon too. We have to work with people. Pakistan and Israel have nuclear. We don’t need another war.
BRET: Iran is running exercises on closing the Strait of Hormuz.
PAUL: Why wouldn’t they try to send out some information – if you try to stop us, we will close the Strait of Hormuz. The president is doing this right.
BRET TO SANTORUM: Iran has supplied weapons to terrorists.
SANTORUM: Weapons from Iran are being used against the U.S. They are a radical theocracy. The principle is martyrdom, not freedom. The principles used in the Cold War will not work on Iran. It would be an inducement to war. They want to create a calamity. They want to take on on the West. We must be sure that they do not have a nuclear weapons. We should be working with Israel, and we should tell Iran, if you do not open your facilities to inspection, we will close them for you.
BRET TO ROMNEY: We have asked Iran to give us back our drone. You have said Obama’s actions are timid.
ROMNEY: A strong America is the best ally of peace. Obama says “pretty please” give us back our drone! He’s wrong. This has to be the American century. We have to lead the free world. Obama plans to appease the tyrants and shrink our military. We must strengthen our Navy – go from 9 ships a year to 19 ships a year. A strong military brings peace.
BRET TO BACHMANN: Today is the end of the Iraq War.
BACHMANN: I think the biggest mistake that Obama has made in foreign policy is Iraq. He is choosing intentionally to lose the peace. We know that Iran will be the hegemon and will have dominance with Syria. Pauls assessment is dangerous to America (HUGE APPLAUSE). We know Iran will take a nuclear weapon and they will use it against Israel and the U.S. The constitution states that their mission is to extend jihad across the world and set up a caliphate. We will be foolish to ignore it.
PAUL: I’d like for there to be fewer nuclear weapons, but all Muslims are not the same. The CIA has explained that Muslims want to end America because we are bombing them. We shouldn’t have been flying a drone over Iran. The danger is us overreacting. We need a strong defense and a declaration of war before we go to war. [wonder who Paul’s CIA contact is???]
BACHMANN: The problem is, that’s the greatest underreaction if Iran is within just months of a nuclear weapons. The IAEA says they will have a weapon.
PAUL: The IAEA is wrong. They have no enrichment. They have no nuclear weapons. [he talks about the cold war] We must always declare war if we are going to war.
BRET TO NEWT: United Nations – You have said we don’t need to fund a corrupt institution. Do you want to leave the UN?
NEWT: No but we will drastically reduce our involvement. 200 missles were fired into Israel last month. If you are firing missiles at me, you are not so friendly. The UN camps we fund, are terrorist camps. We have no obligation to lie and every obligation to tell the truth about their radical strategies.
HUNTSMAN: The UN fills a useful purpose in peacekeeping. I hate the anti-Americanism. We need to update our foreign policy. We need a strategy that we have to fix our core at home. When we are strong we project values of goodness. I want a foreign policy driven by economics.
BRET TO PERRY: Recent UN report on Syria, killing and torturing their own people, at what point should the US step in?
PERRY: I’ve already called for overflight. There should be no space between the US and Israel. Obama’s foreign policy is muddled. [mentions Egypt and Libya]. We should have destroyed or returned our drone in Iran. Obama took the weakest way.
CAVUTO TO NEWT: President does not want to tie Keystone Pipeline to payroll taxes. How do you recommend that GOP deal with this to force the issue.
GINGRICH: I don’t want to be “zany.” The Iranians are practicing closing the Straits\ of Hormuz. If we don’t do the Keystone Pipeline, it will go to China. The US will lose 30 or 40 years of work in Houston. It is utterly irrational to say I will veto a middle class tax cut so that I can stave off the Keystone Pipeline. Doesn’t make sense (HUGE APPLAUSE)
Republicans should attach it to the middle class tax cuts. Send it to the president and force him to veto it. Then do it again. He will look like he is totally out of touch. We must keep doing it.
CAVUTO TO HUNTSMAN: Is there any condition when you would see an advantage to stopping the pipeline.
HUNTSMAN: Our economy has hit the wall. We need a relationship with Canada, but I want to know that I can disrupt the oil monopoly. We have more natural gas than Saudia Arabia has oil. Let’s convert the power generation, electricity – a president must understand the delicate balance.
CAVUTO TO BACHMANN: You were critical of the BP shutdown for an extended time. What is an acceptable time for drilling to stop to get to the bottom of the problem?
BACHMANN: Obama put a moritorium on drilling without knowing the details. Keystone would have brought thousands of jobs. Obama’s calculus is dependent upon his reelection. I would have put Keystone on line immediately.
CAVUTO TO PERRY: Green technology and Obama’s allowance for it? You have afforded the same for the oil industry in Texas. You have helped the natural gas industry. Are you guilty of favoring an industry, as Obama has the green industry.
PERRY: The 10th Amendment. That’s how our Founders saw our country. A state should be able to put tax policies in place to make them more productive. We did it for wind and many industries, but government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in my state. Keep government out of the state’s business.
9:29 pm Commercial Break
MEGYN TO PERRY: You have called for the the US Attorney General to resign due to Fast and Furious. So far there is no clear evidence he knew about it. Are you and other Republicans politicizing the issue?
PERRY: If am president and I learn about a Fast and Furious and my Attorney General did not know about it, I would have him resign immediately. The DOJ came to the border and said it was safer than ever. We face fire from the other side of the border constantly. It is not safer. Iran, Hamas, is using Mexico to penetrate the US. Venezuela has the largest Iranian embassy and they are coming into the US
SANTORUM: I agree with Perry. I wouldn’t have him resign. I would fire him. Perry is right. We need to pay attention to what’s going on in our hemisphere. There are flights from Venezuela at jihadist training camps. They are planning assaults on the US. This President has ignored these threats, and embraced Chavez and Ortega [calls them scoundrels].
MEGYN TO ROMNEY: You said the 12M illegals have to go home and get in line, but also said we will not round them up. Why would they leave?
ROMNEY: We will have an ID card for people who come here. If they are here legally, they will show that to an employer. If employers hire people without that card, the employer gets serious sanctions. You will not be able to work here. You will have to go home and get in line behind everyone else. You must get at the back of the line.
GINGRICH: Congress and Steve King has introduced this ID idea. I think someone here 25 years should have some kind of certification. On day one I will drop all the law suits against Arizona and Alabama. I will cut off all federal aid to sanctuary cities. Those steps will begin a fundamental change.
MEGYN TO HUNTSMAN: People want a path to citizenship. Latino vote is important. Does the GOP need to take a more moderate stance.
HUNTSMAN: We need to stand on our principles and values. We don’t need to pander. Obama has so screwed up the economy. No one is coming across today. The numbers are the lowest in 40 years. Legal immigration is an engine of growth for this country. Look at Homeland Security. Remake how people are moving back and forth and take advantage of the economic development.
CHRIS TO ROMNEY:You have taken several positions on gay right and guns.
ROMNEY: I am firmly against discriminating against gays but am not for same-sex marriage. I have changed my mind about abortion. I am pro-life – firmly. I’ve learned over time. Guns – I’ve always supported the 2nd Amendment.
CHRIS TO SANTORUM: What do you think about Romney’s answer.
SANTORUM: The Massachusetts Constitution says only the governor and courts could change marrigage to allow same sex marriage. Romney chose the court and ordered marriage license for gays to be issued.
ROMENY: That’s a novel understanding of our Mass Supreme Court. The SC determined that under our Constitution gay marriage was required, but it wasn’t left up to me. I fought it and wanted a constitutional amendment to make marriage between a man and woman. I fought it every way I could. I am a champion of traditional marriage.
CHRIS TO BACHMANN: You say Gingrich has an inconsistent stance on life.
BACHMANN: When Gingrich was speaker, he had an opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood but chose not to. He said he would support and campaign for Republicans in support of partial birth abortion. George Will asked, is it a virtue to tolerate infantacide? We can’t get this wrong. I am 100% prolife.
GINGRICH: Sometimes Bachmann get is wrong. I have a 98% Right to Life record. I believe life begins at conception. When I said “implantation” I was talking about another issue. I have been clear and consistant.
BACHMANN: This isn’t just once. Gingrich keeps saying I don’t have my facts right, but my facts are accurate. Gingrich said he would campaign for Republicans supporting partial birth abortion.
GINGRICH: I said I wouldn’t go out and try to purge Republicans. Twice when I was speaker Clinton vetoed our ban on partial birth abortion legislation. I would defund Planned Parenthood.
BRET: Reagan’s 11th Commandment – thou shalt not speak ill of another candidate. How do you balance this?
SANTORUM: Let’s find out who can stand up, who will uphold our principles. The other side will kick hard.
PERRY: An NFL player said if you’re not getting your tail kicked occasionally, you’re not playing at a high enough level. Thank you for letting me play at this high level.
ROMNEY: We can take it and we will get more from Obama.
GINGRICH: I reserve the right to correct attacks against me, I’ve worked hard to talk about big solutions. These folks are friends of mine, and they will all be better than Obama. We have to beat Obama.
PAUL: The media has a responsibility and we have the same. The media hasn’t asked enough questions. I think there should be lines drawn. I don’t like hitting below the belt.
BACHMANN: Reagan brought clarity in his challenges. Are we better today under Obama? No we are not. Who will continue Reagan’s legacy and hold Obama accountable?
HUNTSMAN: I worked for Reagan. He would say a rigorous debate will bring about trust, which we desperately need. These debates will increase the trust level.
THAT’S IT. IT’S OVER!
Now that it’s over, you can vote for the winner at Wayin.com, but your choices are only Romney, Gingrich and Paul.
Published by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook