GOP CNN Debate 2-22-12: Live Blogging GOP Debate

I will live-blog tonight’s CNN GOP debate in Arizona tonight. Arizona and Michigan primaries will be held on February 28th. Washington State has a March 3rd Caucus and then Super Tuesday with primaries in Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virgina. Super Tuesday Caucuses: Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota. See the full schedule of primaries and caucuses after Super Tuesday here.

This will be a fingers-flying-on-the-keyboard event, so please be tolerant of misspellings, etc. I’ll clean it up after the debate is over. Also, I can’t get down every word, so I will paraphrase more often than not, but try to be diligent about getting the gist of the candidate’s comment.

CNN talking heads are yucking it up about the possibility of a brokered GOP convention. Ari Fleisher, GW’s former chief of staff is saying if we get close to the Convention and no Republican candidate is polling close to Obama, there will be a brokered deal.

7:00 pm – John King moderating…again. From Mesa, Arizona Art Center. Some questions will come from the audience and Twitter. Tweet your question to #CNNDebate.

Gingrich getting big applause. Romney medium applause. Santorum ONLY A LITTLE BIT of applause, and Paul about the same as Santorum! WOW! Sounds like they love Newt.

Arizona Symphonic Corale performing National Anthem – beautiful.

One minute to answer, 30 secs for rebuttal.

Hey, everyone is sitting down in this debate. I like that.


P: I am the champion of Liberty


R: The American promise has been broken by Obama. I will restore it.

G: I have a program for American energy so that no future president will ever bow to a Saudi King again.

Audience: First time in 65 years National Debt exceeds Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

S: I have a specific plan. Cuts $5B for 5 years. Not inflation adjusted. It will shrink the budget. I have experience in tackling the growth of spending. Get rid of ObamaCare. Less than 10% of budget was entitlement when I was born. Today it’s 60%. Defense spending will not be cut. I’ll go after food, freeze welfare, block grant it to the states. Time limit on welfare and a work requirement.

To Romney does Rick’s answer please you.

R: No and he’s recounting Rick’s voting record. To the audience members question: if you don’t balance your budget you go out of budget. I would divide all the programs into three categories and ask if we can afford it. Is it so critical it is worth borrowing from China to keep it. I will make important programs leaner, send them back to the states, block grant them. I will cut employment 10% and link government worker’s pay to the private sector. Government workers should not get paid more than the people they serve.

S. Government as a percentage of the spending went down when I was in Congress. Look at my record I never voted for an appropriations increase. Never voted to raise taxes. Romney suggested raising taxes on the top 1%. I’m not raising taxes on anyone.

R: I said I would cut everyone’s taxes by 20%. Rick, government increased 5X. We must have a cut, cap and balance approach.

G: When I was speaker we balanced the budget for 4 consecutive years – the only time that ever happened. Hamilton would have said you have to have jobs. You can’t balance the budget on the backs of the unemployed. $18 TRILLION to federal government if you open up energy. We need to reform govt – repeal Civil Service Laws and save billions. Apply the Tenth Amendment.

To Paul, you call Santorum a fake? Why

P: Because he’s a fake. When people are running for office they are Conservative, but when they get the job it’s the opposite. I’ve never voted to increase the national debt. The only appropriations bill I voted for concerned Veterans.

[Maggie: Note that Paul is spending huge money on ads attacking the only Conservatives, Santorum and Gingrich – BUT NOT ROMNEY. Isn’t that strange?

S: Weekly Standard is writing about the National Taxpayers Union are very high [A-]. 90% from Conservative (something). Recounting his many reforms and his leadership – saying his district was not Conservative.

P: That’s a cop-out when you compare yourself to other members of Congress. Comparison of conservative, I don’t rank at the top unless it’s for less spending and I rank at the top.

To Romney: What does saying you are a “severely conservative” mean?

R: recounting his Massachusetts accomplishments. It was a liberal stand. I stood on the side of life. Embryo farming and cloning, I said no. You can’t be anything but a fiscal conservative and run a business.

To Newt: Asks if Romney’s tax plan is sufficient.

G: Gov Romney today moved in the right direction – closer to supply side. I don’t agree in capping Capital Gains – but we can argue about that later. Everyone talks about managing the current government. It’s a disaster. I want to Repeal the 130 yr old Civil Servant laws and change everything. You have to ask what would a modern system be like? Take control of the border. That’s one example. It’s ridiculous to say you can’t do that. What if tomorrow morning a president began controlling the border? You just took a major step toward saving money. Let’s look forward.

To Rick: What about earmarks. The Tea Party doesn’t like them.

S: I voted for the Olympics earmark, but Romney asked for them. He has said he would have been foolish not to go out after money for the Olympics. I have said there are good earmarks and bad earmarks. Without them we would have the Osprey – so critical to our military. Several of us made sure it was there. Congress has an important role to play in appropriating funds. It has been abused. Congress has a role to play when they think the administration has it wrong. As president I will not ban earmarks.

R: I would ban earmarks. We’ve had it with them. Vote the bill up or down in the House. The earmark process is broken. Coming to Congress to ask for support for the Olympics is the way it’s done. The federal government has always provided transportation and security. You Rick were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere.

S: The process you just described, an open process to have them voted on independently, is how it happened in the past, so you would have supported earmarks?

R: Earmarks are typically tagged onto other bills.

S: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Congress would put the requests on paper and have them voted on as part of the bill. I voted for line item veto but the Supreme Court struck it down. Paul is one of the most prolific earmarkers today.

G: Think about this. This is an easy demogaugic fights. If you have Obama for president, and Republicans have the House you might want earmarks. I helped with Olympic earmarks. It was appropriate for you to ask for and get what you got, but then running an ad criticizing it.

P: There is reason for the confusion because it is all congress’ fault. They don’t know what they are doing. If Congress doesn’t designate what is to be spent, it goes to the Executive Branch. Take hwy funds. We pay our gas taxes and we should get money back, but instead they send our money overseas and we have to beg for our highways to be safe. The answer is vote against a bill. We need to vote against the spending.

Why was Bush wrong in his efforts to save the auto industry. Address your answer to the auto workers.

S. I oppose government coming in and bailing out any market. Huge government influence is corrupting. Limited governments are more efficient over time. I had a consistent position when it came to the auto bailouts. Mitt was for the Wall Street bailout and against the auto bailouts.

R: In 2008 Bush was still in office. Auto exes flew to Washington they wanted $50B. They need to go through a managed bankruptcy. Once that’s done, they shed the excess cost of Unions costs. After that, the government can help lift them out with guaranteed loans. I don’t want Wall Street to collapse. Rick you voted for the airline bailout after 9/11. I agree with you. You also voted for the bail out of the steel industry (Rick shakes head). The president gave auto companies to the UAW, which was part of the reason they were in bankruptcy.

S: The government shut down the airline companies. Government didn’t shut down banks and financial institutions. It’s not fair to compare them.

G: A huge part of the auto industry was doing just fine. The UAW and the management system that grew incapable of tough decisions, said we can’t change, and Obama bought that. Managed bankruptcy would have happened had Obama turned them down. Unprecedented violation of 200 years of bankruptcy.

P: I don’t like the idea that we have good and bad bailouts. If you say the GM bailout works, that’s like saying a robbery worked and was good. The government is not supposed to undermine contracts. Free market regulations are tougher. You have to go through bankruptcy. The politicians can’t figure this out. I opt for the free market and the defense of liberty.

Break time 7:43 pm CDT

Since birth control is the latest hot topic. Which candidate believes in birth control, and why? [AUDIENCE BOOS AND BOOS AND BOOS]

G: There is a legitimate question abt the power of the government to impose their will on religion.  But not once did anyone ask Barack Obama why he voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. [we won’t see that clip on msm]

R: Talking about the decisions to force the church and affiliates to provide birth control. We haven’t seen that kind of attack on religious intolerance in our history. His decision on religious conscience is clear. We want freedom of religion.

To Santorum: you told a group you would talk about what no president has talked about before: the dangers of birth control.

S: There is a danger to children being raised by children and outside of wedlock. When children have children. The New York Times was talking about the same thing. Over 40% of Americans are born out of wedlock. Children born in homes almost possible to get out of poverty. Someone has to talk about it.

P: As an OB doctor I have dealth with bc woes for a long time. Gov has control of medical care. Once they take over control you have to argue about the details. Govt should not be involved, esp at the federal level. I don’t see the pill creates immoratility. It’s the other way around. Guns don’t kill, it’s the other way around. The immorality cause the need for the pill.

R: As Rick has said this is not an arugument about bc. Are we going to have a nation of healthy families. In certainly ethics, the major are born out of high school. We aren’t talking about this. When we have programs in schools to teach abstinence, Liberals go crazy. Children born in homes with mother and father, they do better.

R: No in Massachusetts I did not require Catholic hospitals to provide the morning after pill. It was voluntary. I worked very closely with the Catholic church. We battled to help the Church stay in the adoption business. They had to get out of that business because the legislature would not support me in trying to place children in two parent homes.

G: The public health department was ready to give a waiver to Catholic hospitals and Romney’s office said no. That’s the newspaper reports. When you have government as the central authority, you move toward tyranny. You inevitably move toward the coercion of the state – if you don’t do what politicians define you will be punished whether by fines or some other way. I suspect all 4 of us are more worried about the power of the state than anytime in the last 25 years.

P: We talk about the morning after pill, which is nothing more than a bc pill. They are the same hormonely. If you voted for plannedhood, you voted for bc and abortion. You have to have a strong resistance to these votes. Planned Parenthood should get nothing.

S: I’ve always opposed Title 10 funding, but it was included in a major funding. I did something no one else did, I said we would have Title 20 which would fund abstinence. I pushed Title 20 to accomplish it. I proactively stepped forward and tried to counterbalance. I’ve always been very public – if president I will defund Planned Parenthood.

P: There’s always an excuse. I would support Title 20 to get into our lives.

R: Ragging on S about voting for bills that included Planned Parenthood. On an individual basis I would have voted against it. We have talked about this before. The whole reason this is alive is because of your RomneyCare which led to ObamaCare. [audience boos] The fundamental problem is government coercions. When you give up your rights for the government to take over, we are in trouble.

R: Four years ago, well after RomneyCare was put in place, you endorsed me and said American can trust me. My bill is different from ObamaCare. I will repeal ObamaCare. I won’t spend another Trillion dollars. I don’t think the feds should cut Medicare by $500 Billion dollars. You supported Arlen Specter, the pro-abortion Senator. Had you not supported him, we would not have ObamaCare. [audience cheers]

S: You funded RomneyCare through federal taxpayers to make sure you didn’t have to raise taxes right away. Yes you balanced the budget. It was mandated for you. Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years. Does that make him qualified to be president. Arlen Specter – because he was going to be the chairman of Judiciary at a time when 2-3 SCOTUS judges would be coming up. We had a conversation. Every nominee he supported passed. He save Clarence Thomas. He defended Roberts and Alito. I did the right thing for our country.

R: Supporting Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey – terrible.

Audience: What will you do to fix Arizona’s vulnerability on the border?

Roberts says the border fence will cost $3M a mile. Is that a good investment?

P: We need to not build fences overseas. Bring that money home. $3M per mile – we can do better than that. We should have much more immigration services on the border. We are losing visitors and workers because of inefficient border management. This president is not doing a good job.

Perry said: If you build a 30′ wall, the 35′ ladder business is really good.

G: He’s right. You have to two ladders because you’ll have two fences. Ridiculous – that we have to work around wetlands. You John quoted a government study. If you did it right, you can do it for 10% of the $3M per mile. I would ask governors to become co-leaders in their state to apply what is need to be done by January (sorry didn’t get the year). This is a doable thing.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is here: it is political garbage to not arrest illegals here in this country

R: You see a model here in Arizona that says if you come her for work, the employer looks them up on e-verify. As a result of that illegals drop significantly. Drop lawsuits against Arizona and let these states do the job Obama is not doing. I will build the fence. I will check documents. If an employer hires and illegal, they will be sanctioned.

What about individuals. Abt one-quarter of all inhome workers are illegal. Should that homeowner be sanctioned?

S: I’m not going to force homeowner to use E-verify. I want the states to be able to enforce their laws, and illegals be detained and deported.

G: Was it intolerable for Obama to go to ElPaso and make a demagogic speech. Reagan says I signed this bill because we have to get control of the border. Those of us who voted for that bill got shortchanged. Bush couldn’t pass it. Obama can’t pass it.

Break time 8:14 pm CDT

Great. Big question coming up: Please define yourself using one word and one word only. Nothing like moving off the big issues.

Without caveats or explanations, please define yourself with one word

P: consistent

S: courage

R: resolute

G: cheerful

11 months from now the Pentagon announced they will open up 14,000 new jobs to women on the front lines. Where do you stand.

R: I would look to the military for guidance. Over 100 women have died. They have a responsibility. I do think the key decisions being made by Obama about our military are severely awry. The world is more dangerous. He is cutting our military. Arab spring has become Arab winter. Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico. We must add planes and ship and troops.

G: It’s a misleading question abt women in combat. Anyone anywhere in a war zone can get blown in. Ask the combat leaders rather than the social engineers in the Obama administration. We have to worry bombs in our communities – the fire fighters, police, all of us. That’s the context that we will have move forward. This is the most dangerous president on nationals security grounds in our history.

P: The problem is the nature of our wars. I fear the draft coming back. We keep registering our 18 year old. When it comes we will draft our women. We need declared wars, not undeclared. I don’t want the women killed and I don’t want the men killed. We have pre-emptive wars today. When it’s an offensive war, going where we should not be going we need to review it.

S: Women are on the front lines now, as Mitt said. I said I had concerns about some roles, particulary in infantry. I want to hear the commanders. We should not have social engineering.

Audience: How will you deal with the nuclear threat in Iran?

Gen. Dempsey said A strike at this time will be destablizing

G: This is two diff questions. Dempsey went on to say he thought Iran was a rational actior. I can’t imagine how he can says that. Ahmadinejad says he wants Israel gone, etc. I believe him. If the Israeli prime minister calls me and says I believe in the defense of my country, I do believe there are times when you preempt. If you think a madman is going to act, you have the obligation to limit the madman’s opportunities.

Roberts says Americans don’t pay attention. Should our leadership be prepared to look the American people in the eye and say the price of gas will go up/

R: The price of gas will go up while Iran is in play. We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. This president has a lot of failures, but none so serious as Iran. He should have put crippling sanctions on Iran. He did not. When freedom fighters were on the street, he did not stand with them. He has said he does not want Israel to take action. He should have told Iran we are prepared to act. Someday nuclear weaponry will be used – but not if I’m president.

S: I agree with Mitt’s comment. Right on and well spoken. To send that clear msg to Iran, there will be no one better equipped than me. I’ve been on the trail of Iran for years. I used to say when I was in Congress, if you want to know the right position to take, find out what Biden is for, and do the opposite. We did nothing to help the pro-democracy forces. But the president is more than happy to help out the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. We do nothing. I will take them on.

P: I disagree that this is a valid threat. We don’t know that they have a weapon, but we are encouraging them to get a weapon because we threaten them. Iran can’t possibly attack anyone. We talked to the Soviets and we worked our way out of it. Worry about the nuclear weapons still floating around from the Soviets. If we are determined to go to war, do it properly, ask the people and Congress for a declaration of war. The sanctions are already backfiring. We are enhancing their power. Look at the sanctions against Castro – 50 years of sanctions and they don’t work. We don’t have proof Iran has a weapon.

Should we intervene in Syria?

S: They have been a complete destablizing force in Syria, and we can do no worse than the leadership in Syria today. It is the timidness of Obama in dealing with the Iranian threat and Syria. He is afraid of standing up to Iran. He opposed the sanctions until his own party made his support them. We need a new president.

If you were president today about Syria.

G: Across the board for the entire region, I would have a dramatic energy problem. The Iranians are practicing the closing of the Strait of Hormuz where so much oil passes through. We set the stage her to not be afraid of energy threats. I agree with Rick. This president thinks if you are against the U.S. you are great.

R: It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Syria is arming Hezbollah. One little piece of good news, the key ally in Iran, Syria, has a problem, the leader is in trouble. We should grab onto that and say you have a future. If we can turn Syria away from Iran, with a clear msg that military action is on the table, we can turn the issue.

P: There is an economic plan. Al-Qaeda is purposefully dragging us down economically. We don’t have the money to go to war. I am going to win this battle – remember what happened in the cold war. We are destroying our currency.

Audience: What is your stance on education reform and No Child Left Behind

S: When I supported it, it was the principle issue with George Bush. I voted for it. Wish I hadn’t. Politics is a team sport. Sometime you have to rally together to do some. I thought testing was a good idea. What was not a good idea, is the money we put into it. I am a homeschooling father. I understand it. I believe the feds should get out of the education business.

R: In Massachusetts Republicans and Democrats required an exam in English and Math. I enforced it. We added more school choice and overturned no vouchers. These principles drove our schools to be successful. Mass was No. 1 in success. Excellent curriculum, teachers and schools if the answer. Teacher’s Unions don’t want school choice, but we have to stand up to the teacher’s unions and know if our children are suceeding.

You supported Race to the Top?

G: It takes courage to advocate for charter schools. Obama is wrong in two ways. I would return all the power to the states and ask the states to turn the power to the locals, and the locals to turn the power to the parents. It is increasingly seen that we trap children in abysmal schools. You have to learn about how you learn and then you have self-esteem because you are told you have self-esteem. We need rethinking from the ground up.

P: Newt is going in the right direction but no far enough. The feds should not be involved in education. Rick was for No Child Left Behind and now he is for repealing it [he bashes Santorum]. We need to follow our oath of office and follow the Constitution.

Break time 8:47 pm CDT

P: I dislike the perpetuation that I can’t win. It is the biggest myth. When you talk to the people at our rallies, that misconception isn’t there.

G: If there is one thing I would want the American people to understand abt me is my background and how much work it took to get the balanced budet, reform welfare. I did it. I can do it.

R: I worked in business. I do what needs to be done. I have the background and skill.

Roberts asks but what misconceptions are about you. Romney said you get to ask the question. I get to give the answer I want.

S: The perception that I can’t win is the biggest misconception. Obama doesn’t have to spend a dime in the primaries. I can run a campaign on ideas and a vision. I have principles and convictions that will persuade the American people. I can do a lot with a little. I am from a key swing state. I have the programs and the plan.

That’s it. It’s over. Stacy McCain also live-blogged. Check it out here.

Linked at The Desk of Liberty – Ms Liberty has some excellent insight and opinions into the debate – read them here