South Carolina Republican Debate Blog
The Algemeiner blogged live during Thursday nights Republican presidential debate. If you’re looking for a quick recap of the night’s highlights, it’s all below.
7:56: The Huffington Post reports, “The audience of 1,500 will comprise members of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and Tea Party Patriots, as well as state and local officials from South Carolina. Expect them to boo lustily — and to amplify an already loud theme in conservative and Republican circles: that the “mainstream” media is against them. Gingrich, a master of media bating and bashing, has risen in the polls partly on the strength of that notion.”
8:03: Candidates are being introduced.
8:04: National anthem being sung by cadets.
8:06: Candidates are introducing themselves. Rick Santorum leads off, thanking his Children, the people of Iowa (won on recount). Mitt Romney says it’s great to be in South Carolina with his wife, children, and 16 grandchildren.
8:09: Newt Gingrich is asked about his ex-wife telling ABC News that he asked for an open marriage while having an affair. Gingrich responds by by telling John King (moderator) that he’s “appalled” a Presidential debate would be led off with such a question. “It’s as close to despicable as anything I can imagine,” Gingrich said.
8:12: Mitt Romney tells John King it’s time to talk about real issues (applause follows)
8:14: Candidates are asked what can be done to put Americans back to work. Ron Paul leads off by telling “government to get out of the way. The most important thing to get over that hump that was created by bad economic policies, you have to get rid of that debt.” Newt Gingrich goes second and leads right into his opposition of the Dodd Frank Bill (banking regulation).
8:17: Mitt Romney says President Obama is practicing “crony capitalism”. Romney brings up Keystone Pipeline rejection and calls the President “the biggest impediment to job creation in this country”.
8:24: Ron Paul says government should provide an incentive for companies to hire war veterans “to some degree”. The Congressman says he receives twice as much in donations from veterans then from non-veterans. Says we have “an epidemic” of veterans coming back and committing suicide and the problem needs to be fixed.
8:27: Rick Santorum calls the President’s policy toward veterans “disgusting”.
8:29: We need a strong military. So strong, no one in the world would ever think of testing it”.
8:30: Citizen in the crowd asks candidates if they really believe they can repeal President Obama’s health care plan. Romney says “we’ll have to go after a complete repeal” and even if Republicans don’t have a super majority in both chambers, some democrats may be willing to work with them. On President Obama, Romney says, “he’s wrong, we’re right and that’s why we’re going to win.”
8:34: Gingrich offers American parents a plan to put their kids to work, so they can move out of their houses (huge applause).
8:35: Santorum attacks Romney by equating the health care plan he implemented in Massachusetts to the legislation President Obama got through Congress.
8:38: Romney defends his plan, attempts to differentiate his plan in Massachusetts from President Obama’s. Says he would turn health care laws over to the states for them to handle on an individual basis.
8:42: Ron Paul discusses his practice of medicine in the 1960’s and says government sponsored health programs are going to go bankrupt. “No one talks about where the money is going to come from. Even though these programs should have never started, I want to protect the people who are using them. Look at some of the overseas spending we’re doing. …We keep fighting these wars that don’t need to be fought. We could work our way out of here and take care of these people’s needs but we can’t do it…being the policemen of the world.”
8:50: Santorum gets after Gingrich, saying he beat him in Iowa and New Hampshire, despite Newt spending more money. “I’m not the most flamboyant, but I’m steady, I’m solid, and I’m the one who can make Barack Obama the issue in this campaign.”
8:55: Gingrich says that in the 90’s, “long before Rick Santorum got to congress” he was busy being a rebel and devising a plan to have Republicans win a majority in the congress. For 16 years I worked to make the Republican party the country’s majority party and those are “facts”, Gingrich said.
8:56: Romney: “I think America has to make a choice. Are we going to have people who have spent their lives in Washington?” (referring to Santorum and Gingrich)
8:57: Romney says Ronald Reagan didn’t give any credit to Newt Gingrich for creating jobs despite Gingrich’s claim that he worked with Reagan to do so.
8:59: Audience member asks candidates when they’ll release their tax returns. Gingrich responds: “an hour ago”. Ron Paul says he has no plans to, he would “be embarrassed with his financial situation” (crowd laughs). “I don’t think people need that, because nobody is challenging me because I have no conflicts of interest”. Mitt Romney says “every time the democrats are out there trying their very best to attack people who are successful, and President Obama doesn’t want to talk about this” because he’s playing golf “while people are out of work” and “while oil prices are doubling, he said no to Keystone Pipeline.”
9:03: Romney refers to his father who was born in Mexico and says he went off on his own, he didn’t inherit anything. Says dividng people by 1% and 99% is dangerous. “We are one nation under God.”
9:11: Santorum says he would back a right to work act if elected president.
9:12: The idea that government would sensor the internet is the wrong thing to do, says Gingrich.
9:13: Congressman Paul says Republicans have been on the wrong side of the internet regulation debate. Santorum responds that the idea that businesses in this country shouldn’t be protected by the government from people overseas stealing intellectual property is wrong. The idea “that anything goes on the internet, where did that come from? …property rights should be respected”.
9:23: Congressman Paul: “I believe free society provides us with the opportunity to work for our own virtue.” …”If I spoke slower and with more conviction I could do a better job…and I will work on getting better at delivering my message, which I think is a great message.”
9:24: On the issue of immigration, Gingrich says you have to control the border. Says he’s prepared to waive all federal regulations to get border controlled, which can be done relatively quickly.. He says he favors English as the official language of government. Gingrich adds that there are people who have been here 25 years that are married and working, and he doesn’t think we’re going to deport people with 25 years of “networking”.
9:27: Mitt Romney says the issue of illegal immigration is relatively simple compared to dealing with China and radical jihadists. The country should build a fence and provide enough people to police the border. Private companies should be penalized for employing illegal immigrants, he added.
9:29: Santorum says people who come here illegally, the first thing they’re doing in the United States is “breaking the law”.
9:31: Mitt Romney says people who have come here illegally should be given a temporary amount of time to stay and then must return to their native countries to wait in line with everybody else. He says the Republican party is the party of legal immigration and they shouldn’t do anything to let people think if they’re here long enough, they’ll be given amnesty.
9:34: Ron Paul says we should take the resources used for patrol of the AfPak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) border, and use them to take care of things in America.
9:35: Gingrich says “Romneycare” pays for abortions, Romney appointed pro-abortion judges, and this all happened after Romney became pro-life.
9:38: “I was governor in a state where pro-life is not easy.” Says he fought legislature on number of issues including abstinence education and providing morning after pills.
9:43: Santorum says Ron Paul’s record on pro-life issues is 52%, which is about “what Harry Reid’s is”. (Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, is the Senate Majority Leader)
9:54: Ron Paul makes his case to South Carolina and the country that his protection of “liberty” is what makes him the right candidate for the republican ticket.
9:55: Mitt Romney, following Newt Gingrich’s case including the statement that President Obama must be defeated, says he will restore free enterprise, which is something the President has strangled.
9:56: In the closing remark, Senator Santorum tells South Carolina that in the past they’ve been told they must settle for a moderate Republican, but this time they don’t.