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Live Blogging the Debate

5:59 -  New line of the night:"... It was getting a little boring without me." - Fred Thompson

5:57 -
"If we do Hillarycare ... Canadians will have nowhere to go to get their healthcare."
- Rudy

5:56 - Huckabee
refers to airlines leaving passengers sitting on planes as, "holding the passengers hostage."

5:55 - Fred Thompson knows who the Prime Minister of Canada is. 

5:54 - Romney has the line of the night.  He says this debate is like Law and Order because "It seems to go on forever, and Fred Thompson shows up at the end."

5:52 - Finally, some economic meat:  Romney wants to take out section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley.

5:51 - Rudy
stays optimistic.  Makes the point that the reason we have an immigration problem is because everyone wants to come here.

5:50 - Will Duncan Hunter support the GOP nominee, no matter what?  If we don't nominate a Pro-Life candidate, the "Party of Lincoln" will go away.

5:47 - Ron Paul probably won't support the Republican nominee for president.  He mentions George W. Bush's initial promise for a "humble" foreign policy.

5:43 - SCHIP talk - Huckabee says Dems won the political battle, but that it was posturing.  Good quote:  "I don't trust the government, and I don't trust the insurance companies ... I trust me."

5:40 - Rudy's campaign sends along info linking Romneycare to Hillarycare. 

- Yippie.  Lightning round segments coming up!

5:38 - The question right now is about stopping online predators.  Isn't this supposed to be about the economy? 
Rudy does make a good point that we don't need to set up new agencies for this problem, that we should use current agencies.

5:33 - The Giuliani campaign sends along a quote from former Solicitor General Ted Olson -- and other conservative legal scholars -- saying the Clinton Line-Item veto was, in fact, unconstitutional.  Romney's campaign sends along their own Line-Item info, including a dissenting opinion from Justice Scalia.

5:31 - Rudy's grandmother was a union member.

5:30 - Chris Matthews cuts off Romney while he's trying to tell a story about his dad...

5:27 - Populist Mike Huckabee says unions will be more important in the future because the average CEO makes 500 times the amount of the average worker.  "Unions are the natural result of workers saying, look, I can't go from a 75K a year job to a $15K a year job ..."  He also bashes hedge-funds, again.

5:26 - Romney wants to apply "market dynamics" to healthcare.  "My plan gets everybody in America insured ... and to do that we say, look, we're going to let states create their own plans ..." - Romney 

5:22 - On Bush's trade policy, specifically CAFTA: "The worst vote I ever cast was to give the president fast track."  - Tancredo

5:16 - Tancredo has the best answer on how to restore the trust of America: Quit pandering. 

5:14 -
As predicted, Romney and Rudy
are both already going after Hillary.

5:11 -
Matthews asks all the candidates how Republicans can win back the voters.  Paul says we can't subsidize farmers or ethanol.  Huckabee taps into fears that tomorrow may not be better than today.  McCain says we've got to restore trust and confidence, but doesn't provide answers for how to do so.  Romney, perhaps answering Huckabee and McCain, says we need to be confident and optimistic.  Amen!

5:08 - Thompson and Huckabee are now talking about the Andy Griffth show... (I'm a fan, too!)

5:07 - Huckabee on energy: "We once had a president who said, 'let's go to the moon' ...

5:05 - "I wouldn't drill off the coast of Florida, unless the people of Florida wanted to." - McCain.

5:03 - Brownback
says we can't be energy independent, but we can be energy secure.   He also likes hybrid cars, tax credits and incentives ...

5:01 - Rudy says being energy independent is a matter of national security.  We haven't built a nuclear plant in 30 years ...  Says the President needs to treat this "like putting a man on the moon."  Good stuff...

4:59 - Rudy disagrees with Paul. that America hasn't faced an immenent attack.  Paul responds:  "That was 19 thugs, it had nothing to do with a country."

4:57 - Fred Thompson says that if it's a close call, a president should go to Congress.  That's because in a long war, you'll need the support of the American people.  (Good point).

4:55 - "You're not allowed to go to war without a declaration of war" ... "this is just war propoganda" ... - Ron Paul  (Who gets applause)

4:54 - Hunter makes a good point that, in this modern technological time, a President can't wait for Congressional approval if "the target is fleeting."

4:51 - Thompson's answer on WMDs is good.  He is, at least, establishing competence.  On this issue, he seems to be in the moment -- not just spouting generalities.

4:49 - Brownback says he voted for war to stop terrorism and WMDs.  He gets applause for saying the military has done an excellent job.  He also plugs is plan (with Joe Biden) for 3 separate states.

4:47 - Ron Paul says we wouldn't have gone to war if we weren't so dependent on oil, though he says that argument is "mercantilistic."  He adds: "We're going broke, we have this huge deficit, we're spending a trillion dollars maintaining our empire over seas ..."

4:44 - On Break:  The most important exchange, so far, has been the Line Item veto dispute between Rudy and Romney.  It's a bit inside baseball, but I think that most conservatives would side with Romney on this one.

4:39 - Message to Fred Thompson -- using the 20s as an example of why we should cut taxes may not be wise.  (I know what you're saying, but it's not a smart political argument)...

4:37 - Brownback
says he's the only one who as worked in the trade field.

4:36 - "I think Fred's officially left out"- Amanda Carpenter.

4:35 - Rudy's
campaign reminds us via email that Cato Institute rated Romney "C" in 2000 for his tax policy.

4:34 - Lighten up, Maria!

4:31 -
Good quote: "For me, Michigan is personal.  I'm going to go to work for Michigan." - Romney.

4:30 -
So far, I think the fact that there are so many candidates has hurt Fred.  He would do better if he got to talk more.  At this point, I think Romney is winning.

4:26 - McCain proves he gets it"I think we are in the midst of a revolution that we haven't seen since the Industrial Revolution."  He's right.  We're not going to get back to the days where you make $20 an hour building cars with a high school education, and can provide for a family.  I'm not saying this is the way I want it -- I'm saying this is the world we live in ...

4:25 - The Romney/Giuliani fight is interesting.  Like watching the Red Sox play the Yankees.  Fred Thompson's questions, by contrast, seem perfunctory.  Not bad, but boring.  Sort of like watching the Devil Rays ...

4:24 - Rudy points out that in taking the line item veto all the way to the Supreme Court, Rudy has already beat Bill Clinton at something ...

4:22 - Rudy responds:  "The line item veto was unconstitutional ... what the heck can you do about that if you're a strict Constitutionalist?"

4:21 - Romney makes a good point about the line item veto. He used it 844 times, he says.  Romney also points out that Rudy fought against it all the way to the Supreme Court.  This is what he sees as a clear contrast...  (I strongly agree with Romney about this).

4:20 - Rudy rests on his record as NY Mayor.  "I cut, I think, as many taxes as you possibly could ..."

4:18 - This debate would be better without Tancredo, Brownback and Hunter.  (Ron Paul has earned his keep).

4:16 - Who is this moderator/chick Maria Bartiromo.  She needs to grow a sense of humor.  She is raining on my parade...

4:15 - Fred Thompson responds to Hunter:  "Free and fair trade has been good for America."

4:13 - Duncan Hunter makes a good point about outsourcing to China.  This is especially concerning when it comes to producing military equipment (such as tanks which used to be made in Michigan).  Hunter attacks his opponents who voted for most favored trade status for China.  "I would connect up the middle class of America with the Republican Party one more time."

4:11 - Chris Matthews asks Huckabee if a fair tax will hurt the economy by causing people to buy less.  This is a typical Keynesian argument, and shows a lack of knowledge on fiscal issues.  Sadly, Huckabee goes straight to his populist message that is essentially class warfare.

4:09 - The question is loaded.  "Rich people are getting richer, blah, blah, blah, blah."  Sadly, McCain answers it.  Rudy would have rejected the premise.   He's right about social security and medicare going broke.  Go with the Straight Talk!

4:07 - Ron Paul is doing a good job of playing the populist card.  I think this will work to a certain degree in Michigan, and other places, where the economy is struggling.   His populist line: "Everybody doesn't suffere equally." 

4:06 - Rudy makes me laugh (but nobody else, it seems), by poking fun of his NY Yankees.  In response to a Chris Matthews question: "Joe Torre is the best manager in the history of the Yankees ... and he's my friend."

4:05 - Fred stumbles a bit.  Romney gets the first laugh with his Jennifer Granholm joke.  Let's face it, if it comes to Michigan-specific questions, he wins. 

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