4:08PM With just under an hour to go, we’re setting up the glassware and ice bucket. Please form an orderly line and we’ll cover some of the pre-debate highlights, lowlights and completely made up news from Florida.
4:19PM Some early predictions for candidates’ opening comments:
1. Mitt will one-up Newt’s moon base claims by promising to forbid any hurricanes in Florida while president.
2. Newt will produce evidence that none of the ethics charges brought against him as Speaker were upheld. Moderator will ignore.
3. Having seen the success Newt had by attacking the moderators, Rick Santorum will challenge one of them to arm wrestle.
4. Ron Paul will announce that he did, in fact, pick up milk on the way home.
4:26PM If the drunkblogging squad can offer one piece of advice to all the candidates, it would be this: Dear debate participants – Face it, nobody watching is going to vote for Obama. You may go back to attacking each other now.
4:32PM Romney – If elected, I will send in the Navy SEALs to rescue Rand Paul from the TSA.
4:37PM For those watching the pre-game show on CNN, their “analysts” are describing how Newt would be living in a trailer park someplace if a casino magnate wasn’t “keeping him in the race.” Thanks, CNN. America’s place for news.
4:44PM The CNN coverage crew positioned themselves *outside* the campus debate forum and seemed genuinely surprised that an army of Ron Paul supporters showed up to chant, wave signs and demand an end to the Fed.
4:48PM David Gergen (CNN) has a lot of negative comments about the entire GOP field, but steadfastly refuses to answer the question about his nose and whether or not one of his parents was actually a manatee.
4:51PM (From Outside the Beltway’s Doug Mataconis)Actually saying that Erin Burnett has nice legs is like saying that the Nimitz-class carrier is a “large ship”
4:54PM The candidates are now finally approaching the podiums, which were not called lecterns after a lengthy pre-debate negotiation session. Everyone looks good, but I thought the Kevlar vest on Romney was a bit of overkill.
5:02PM There isn’t enough gin in America to handle CNN’s “high tech” bells and whistles combined with Blitz’s Kafkaesque beard. And this is coming from somebody who drinks Bombay Sapphire.
5:06PM For the umpteenth debate in a row, Mitt Romney is the only candidate to wear a BLUE TIE for the event. Hey, Mitt! You do know we wear RED TIES, right? You should hire R.C. Hammond away from Newt.
5:07PM BREAKING: Newt won the coin toss. Will receive. Mitt will defend the North end of the hall.
5:08PM In a surprise move, Rick Santorum brings out his mom.
5:09PM Repeating the pattern from South Carolina, Newt opens up immediately with a reference to bringing more Navy shipyard work to Florida. That’s how he won last time.
5:12PM Santorum’s first answer includes the phrase, “that needs infuses.” Not sure if that’s colloquial or not…
5:16PM Ron Paul gets off to a fine start, saying that illegal immigrants would be fine if the economy is vibrant and we have work for them all. #headdesk
5:18PM Newt took a lot of heat before from his comments about letting “grandparents” stay here. He’s playing that card nicely in Florida.
5:19PM “Mr. Speaker, I think you should apologize.” Anyone care to lay odds on Newt apologizing to Mitt?
5:21PM Twenty minutes in, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are splitting a Subway Fajita sandwich waiting for the camera to land on them again.
5:23PM At 8:22 Politico realized the debate was in Jacksonville and not Tampa. Stay sharp, boys. https://twitter.com/#!/politico/statuses/162706916504649728
5:25PM Ron Paul: “It’s time we have friendship and trade with Cuba.” Not mentioned: Ron Paul has a nasty addiction to Salsa.
5:31PM When they got to the Spanish language question, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much applause for Mitt at one of these debates. Newt looks a little like the fly in the ointment
5:32PM “Maybe Gov. Romney should tell us how many millions he’s made off Fannie and Freddy” BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE
5:33PM Fannie May? THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!!!!!!
5:35PM This is a battle of who hates hates the mortgage giants they made money of off more.
5:37PM E-mailed to me during the last exchange from Newt’s campaign:
So Did Mitt Romney Approve this Message or Not?
5:44PM From S.E. Cupp via Twitter. “These debates are starting to remind me of the scene in Idiocracy w/ Pres Camacho ”
5:46PM Newt scores some points when he says that he’d like everyone’s taxes to be as low as Mitt’s, not raise Mitt’s to the levels Obama wants. Crowd favorite so far.
5:47PM Santorum: “I don’t believe in a flat tax.’ And now he’ll pull the set of quivers out of his chest.
5:49PM Ron Paul will challenge any of the candidates to a 25 mile bike race, but “there’s age discrimination, so watch out.”
5:51PM Mitt: Hey, I want to blow a lot of money on space programs too!
5:54PM Newt is clearly ready to ship Social Security checks to retirees in our new lunar colony.
5:59PM WOW! Romney just called out Newt for pandering to the Space Coast. Actually drew a round of applause.
6:01PM One hour in, Rick Santorum began growing small fangs and whiskers. Where the Wild Things Are cartoons displayed in the background.
6:07PM Unemployed woman asks how she can have health care while she’s unemployed. Ron Paul says she’s a victim of the system. Newt says she needs a job. Mitt manages to agree with both of them. Santorum busts a beer bottle over the lectern after the other three stole his answer. The woman in question wanders back outside to panhandle.
6:08PM Bonus points to Newt for working in a plug for one of his books while essentially calling Santorum a liar on health care.
6:12PM The health care questions have the most spice of any topic – including space programs – and Santorum brings the hammer to Mitt on Romneycare. Kind of amazing that nobody else does that.
6:15PM When they finally got back to Ron Paul on the health care question, he looked like he’d just swallowed a fly. Those of you who had “Lizard” on the “Guess Ron Paul’s Sub-species” game card may now drink.
6:17PM At 9:15 eastern, Rick Santorum wins the “First to suck up to Marco Rubio” award. Odds were 7:2. All of you who had Newt can tear up your tickets.
6:19PM Oh, good. Blitz will finally veer away from the shallow questions and dig into “which of your wives would make the best first lady.” The first reader to correctly guess the exact time Newt Gingrich punches him in the face wins a free PJ Media T-shirt. GO!
6:21PM From Hot Air’s Allahpundit via Twitter: “Question for the field: Which Latino politicians would you send to the International Space Station?”
6:27PM It may be the gin talking, but all four of the wives are probably more attractive than any of the four candidates at this moment.
6:30PM Blitz asks Romney if he can claim the mantle of Reagan. To his credit, Mitt seems to barely remember who Reagan was.
6:32PM Will be interesting to fact check Mitt saying he always voted for a Republican if ‘there was one on the ballot.’ I know there’s not many Republicans in Mass. but don’t they at least run somebody?
6:34PM I’m very confused. 3/4 of the debate is over and the word “condom” hasn’t even hit the airwaves. What is this… NPR?
6:36PM The trade portion of the debate must be worse than usual. I’m now eating lime jello with a martini.
6:40PM Seriously? They found a Palestinian-American Republican to ask a question? I assume that next up will be a unicorn asking about fart subsidies.
6:43PM Rick Santorum flashes some street cred about knowing more about Puerto Rico than any of these other candy arse white boys!
6:47PM “How would your religious beliefs affect your decisions as president?” Why… in which ever way wins me the most votes in Florida, of course. Oh, and… WAR ON CHRISTMAS!
6:50PM From the Washington Times Kerry Picket: “Keep it short, Rick.” You know, Kerry, that could go a few different ways.
6:56PM We are approaching the time when we have to ask the ugly, if drunken, question as to who “won” the debate. What do you think? The crowd being allowed to chime in was supposed by many to be to Newt’s advantage. But I was frankly shocked to see how many times Mitt got the crowd up on their feet. He actually did pretty well in terms of crowd response, if nothing else. Rick Santorum needed to come down like the hammer of God to dig himself out of the polling hole. It just didn’t seem to happen. Ron Paul, as always, did what Ron Paul always does and likely won’t move the polls in Florida. Winner? Probably Mitt, though Newt did very well as always.
7:00PM Biggest disappointment of the night? No Herman Cain to call Wolf “Blitz”
7:03PM Want to thank everyone who stopped in tonight to join us for the live drunkblogging! Thankfully, this is the last debate until well into February, so we can all give our livers a rest for a while. At least… UNTIL NEXT TIME! Cue the dramatic music and… the hamster!