Liveblogging the Debate

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 05, 2007 9:05 PM
Update: I just highlighted some of my favorite moments. Will have video highlights later.

9:08 p.m. Ouch, Fox opens with a Fred-bashing question?

9:10 p.m. Huckabee takes a few easy shots at Fred. Frankly, I expect more clever jibes from him.

McCain gets the good jab in: "Maybe we're up past his bedtime," and a nice ending asking Fred to get out there and join the fun.

9:12 p.m. Mitt's pimping his stats. 462 visits in N.H. and Iowa. A little too overt for my taste.

9:13 p.m. Rudy: "I think he's done a real good job playing my part on Law and Order...but I prefer the real thing." That's my winner on the Fred-bashing scorecard.

9:14 p.m. Yeeeouch, Chris Wallace says to Mitt, "You didn't even catch the illegals on your front lawn...How can we trust you..."

Mitt parries well, hits Rudy and McCain in his answer.

9:15 p.m. Pow! And, Rudy gets hit with an old quote about how he wants hard-working illegals in NYC.

"I had to do something intelligent with them...I didn't have the luxury of political rhetoric. I had safety and security on my shoulders....I want illegals reporting crimes...immigrant children, does it make sense to leave them on the streets? Programs led to a city that was the safest large city in America, so they must have been sensible policies."

9:17 p.m. Bam! Wallace brings up McCain's "small varmint gun" quote on Mitt (from a blogger conference call, I might add).

"Obviously, we have to succeed. There's 12 million people that are in this which is de facto amnesty and we need a guest worker program."

"I commit to securing the borders first."

9:19 Zing! Wallace: You called some people in favor of illegal immigration crackdown racists one time. What's up with that?

Huckabee: I've listened to the nativists. That's what's up with that.

References Fed Ex as a model for immigration reform, I think.

9:21 Wallace: So, seriously, are y'all racist?

Tancredo: These guys only talk about this when people are angry.

I think he wants to "feel in their hearts," or something. "It has to do with the rule of law. Does anybody understand that?"

9:23 How do we maintain a border fence in Texas?

Hunter: "It's not that scraggly little fence they keep showing on CNN with people hopping over it. If you get over my fence, we sign you up for the Olympics immediately," he said of his border fence in San Diego.

854 miles of the fence in 6 months. "I'm gonna build the fence. It's the law."

John Rogers, police officer: "The crimes are getting more violent. The illegal immigrants get here; who says they'll follow any rules. INS is undermanned. What do we do?"

Rudy: "Nobody is deporting...2000 was the best number of deportations ever. We do have to stop illegal immigrants from coming in at our borders. Physical fence, electronic fence."

Tamper-proof single ID card for every immigrant. "We want to encourage legal immigration and end illegal immigration."

Brit: How do you not call that amnesty?

McCain: Proposal requires fines, going back to country, deportation for some, long time before anyone can become a citizen.

"It was a comprehensive bill."

Tells about 128 immigrants given citizenship in Iraq after serving.

Mitt: Z-Visa was amnesty, in fact. Allowed everyone to stay for the rest of their lives.

"Close down the magnets." Sanctuary cities and jobs. (Got a modest applause on that, one of the first of the night.)

Gohler: What do you think about Craig's second thoughts?

Brownback: Sorry, Craig, you done pulled that trigger. Rebuild the family. We should be bolder about standing up for

Hunter: He should resign immediately. "When our guys have problems like this, they leave. When Democrats have problems like this, they often make 'em Chairmen of their respective committees." (Big applause line.)

"What'd you do for America today?"

Mitt: We'd love to live in America without abortion. Have states have ability to put in pro-life legislation. Allowing states to fashion their own laws is very, very important. "It is, without question, the taking of a human life...but we have two lives involved here. We have to have respect for both lives...work to change hearts and minds and that is how I think we will have

Huckabee: Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. Begins at conception, try to preserve it until it's natural end. We must show respect for life whether it's in a womb, mine, long-term care facility.

Gohler: Fred says VT would have been lesser tragedy if students had been able to carry guns (BIG applause). He also says he never felt safe in your city with its gun laws.

My roommate: "Is Wendell serious with that tie?"

Rudy: "I took a city that was the crime capital of America...made it safer than 189 small cities...He was safer in New York than a lot of other cities...We are a federal system. States have rights to make their own laws."

"I did it by focusing, not on guns, but on criminals."

Gohler: Something about guns on board airlines and preventing terror attacks.

Paul: You're quoting me incorrectly. What I said is it's the airlines' responsibility to protect us, not the government. Private industry and personal responsibility were the way to go."

(Huge applause for Paul.)

Should we have a federal marriage amendment? (Split applause on that, and pretty loud on both sides, though I think the libertarian applause was louder.)

Brownback: "When you take the sacredness out of marriage, you will drive marriage rates down." Kids need a mom and dad, not a village.

Commercial break.

McCain: I've been right on the war strategy for, like, 4 years. Whatchoo got, Rudy?

Wallace: Are you gonna go to Iraq? And, what do you say to McCain's critcism.

Rudy: "I hope so. I hope I can go without causing a bunch of publicity."

"If I weren't running, I'd probably be supporting McCain. I happen to think there's a better candidate-- Me."

I'm not running on what I did on 9/11.  I'm running on a bunch of other good stuff that Mary Katharine doesn't feel like typing even though she thinks they're worthy and really great.


Mitt:  Hemming and hawing about surge. "We don't start pulling back troops until we are successful with the surge."

McCain: "The surge is working, sir. It is working. It is working."

The great debate will be whether we set a date for surrender or let it work.

"I can assure you, it's more than apparent. It's working."

"I want our troops home, too. I want them home for the right reasons. I want our troops home with honor. Otherwise, we'll face catastrophe and genocide in the region."


Wallace: What about possible genocide?

"The same people who say it would be a bloodbath are the same people who said it would be a cakewalk and a slam dunk. Why listen to them? They've been wrong all along?"

"They don't want our troops on the Arabian peninsula...Threatening Iran is the worst thing we can do for our security."

Isolationism is totally gonna work. No, really.

Wallace: So, we should take our marching orders from al Qaeda?

"I'm saying we should take our marching orders from our Constitution." (Good line.)

Brownback gets the momentum slot and blows it: "I didn't hear your question." We should have a federation in Iraq, split up the country. Long-term U.S. presence.

Huckabee: "What we did in Iraq is we basically broke it." Nice kudos for McCain, "understands the word honor."

"We bought it because we broke it. We have a responsibility to the country and to every man and woman who has served in Iraq and in Iraq

Paul: Neo-conservatives hijacked the nation!

Huckabee: "We are one nation. We make a mistake as a united America."

Paul: "How much do we have to pay to save face? We need to get outta there. We're going down next year if we don't change our tune."

Hunter: 1350 attacks last October; now pulled down 70 percent, civilian casualties down. When Iraqi battalions are battle-hardened, they can be replaced

"That's the right way to win. It's called victory."

Gohler: No matter how long it takes?

Hunter: If you think we're gonna be there a long time, you don't understand the determination of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army."

Tancredo: We're at war with radical Islam. We were not attacked because we have troops in Saudi. We were attacked because radical Islam wants to destroy the United States of America and everyone who disagrees with them.

Question from citizens: Romney, I didn't hear you tell me how the war will end.

Kapowie! A N.H. citizen goes after Romney for comparing his son's service in getting him elected to their son's service in the military.

Mitt: Romney parries simply and shortly, but probably should have been more expressive. The guy asking the question was clearly sincerely bothered by the original question.


"This is a broad war. We need a global strategy to overcome jihad. The surge looks successful...We haven't heard from Petraeus, give them the benefit of that."

Mitt has a good line about his "right to be kept alive" with respect to the government's response to terror.

10:12 Hunter: "If anything, we've been too liberal in releasing terrorists."

A really rousing defense of Gitmo from Hunter. Cites released terrorists who show up again, explains the good treatment terrorists get. Challenges any Democrat to find a prison in his or her home state that's had no murders.

10:14: Brownback makes me zone out.

10:14 Wallace: Pledges not to raise income taxes a big deal here. Six of you have signed the ATR pledge; two haven't. McCain, why haven't you signed?

McCain: Because I stand on my record, 20 years of opposing tax increases. It's very clear that the increase in revenue is due to the tax cuts and they should be continued.

What we need to stop is spending. Mentions corruption. Wants to make pork-barrel politicians famous.

I don't have to sign pledges. My record stands for itself.

"I voted against the tax cuts because there was no restraint in spending."

Brownback: "We're already taxed the the max." (He's a rapper!)

Rudy: "You take one pledge, to uphold the Constitution. You'd sign a thousand pledges if you let all the groups do that to you...I lowered taxes in a city that never lowered taxes. I made supply-side economics work in a city that didn't understand them."

10:20 p.m. Gazonk! Wallace: Wasn't your nickname in Massachusetts Fee-Fee?

Mitt: "Um, I never heard that...I lowered taxes. Democrats have a plan-- they will raise taxes. I'll lower them."

Good line about Edwards' tax-free savings not being enough to pay for his haircut.

10:22 p.m. Fair Tax proposal, some say it would take 24 % tax, not 23% and would only help two income groups.

Huckabee: "Eliminate all the taxes on productivity...ends the underground economy...eliminates those 35,000 lobbyists."

10:23 p.m. If you get rid of CIA and FBI, how would President have intelligence?

Paul: $40 billion was getting us nothing much great before 9/11

"Increasing the bureaucracy doesn't solve the problem."

My roommate: "He's so entertaining."

Paul: "When you sacrifice liberty for security, you lose both."

10:28 p.m. Really good answer from Rudy on his private life.

10: 32 p.m. What to do about Iran? Hypothetical...

Tancredo: "Political correctness is going to kill us!"

Hunter: Need to use precision weapons, some with earth-penetrating capability...Need help from allies, have to ensure they have no nuclear device and no nuclear materials. That would require some boots on the ground for assessment.

Huckabee: "I would go with every bit of preparation, not only in my head, but in my heart, to make a decision that would best protect the American people now and for generations to come."

Brownback: "It's an all too likely scenario."

Rudy: Iran is right now the biggest state sponsor of terrorism. Realistic risk, to me, is them handing off nuke material to terrorists. They're already giving them weapons. America's position should be that Iran is not allowed to go nuclear. When and how you act; it's foolish to answer a hypothetical because you want there to be an element of surprise.

"Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot, but he did it with, like, a thousand missiles pointed at them."

Mitt: It's unacceptable for a regime that talks about genocide to have nukes. We want to make sure Democrats sign up for this. My experience is building consensus, and I think we can work together.

Put pressure on China to help. See military option in our hand, and hopefully abandon their folly.

McCain: I think it's clear that the UN Security Council will not behave well. Hypothetical is closer to reality than most of us appreciate. Need to work together with allies, but at the end of the day, it's America that will make the decision.

Makes the point about Iran releasing hostages the same day Reagan came into office. "I'd employ some of his methods."