LIVEBLOG: First 2016 GOP Presidential Debate

IMG_20150806_165014872Live from Red State Gathering 2015 in Atlanta, I'm with some of the nation's most passionate conservative voters preparing to watch and liveblog both debates. Red State's having a watch party for the Main Event at 9 p.m. EDT, but not for what Carly Fiorina apparently dubs "the Happy Hour Debate" at 5 p.m.. So, I've managed to secure an invitation to watch it with a few friends in the Club Level lounge. I've got a Coke Zero at hand, and will tap this out on my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (uncompensated product placement). Afterward, I'll join the RSG15 crowd to watch the main even with you.

"If this election is a resume competition then Hillary Clinton will be the next president." -- Rubio FTW

Trump starts a circus of boos and cheers by refusing to pledge not to mount an independent run if he fails to secure the GOP nomination. Rand Paul takes the bait and nips at trumps heels. Not a pretty picture for the first 5 minutes.

Ben Carson deflects Megyn Kelly's question about his knowledge of affairs foreign and domestic, basically saying folks will see if he can bring it tonight.


Megyn Kelly, in pre-debate warm-up, says, "I'll bet some of the guys on stage are glad that Carly Fiorina is not here, because she unleashed a can in the earlier debate."


IMG_20150806_182640190No career-ending injuries in the happy hour debate, but no rockstar performances with the possible exception of Carly Fiorina, although her performance was not unusual for her. Note, I'm in a hotel lounge in Atlanta where several dozen people are eating and drinking, but almost nobody is watching the debate but me and a few Red State folks. We, and the candidates, should remember that most people don't give a flying rip about this stuff. A breakthrough candidate must find a way to connect with people like these...and clearly a policy debate is not doing it.

You could say that people don't care about our country, or that the politicians don't know how to connect with real people. But perhaps it's like when we go house shopping and my wife wants to look at every home we could possibly afford. I usually say, "Let me know when you've narrowed it down. No use me falling in love with a house that there's no chance we're going to get."


Now that we've got the kinks worked out in the liveblogging gizmo, I'm excited to join the Red State Gathering crowd across the street in a little bit to bring you the blow-by-blow of the main event at 9 p.m. eastern.

Closing statements II...

Graham: We'll become Greece if we don't work together.

Pataki: Washington gets bigger, taxes get higher and the American people feel more distant from their goverment.

Gilmore: The direction of this nation must change. Then he rattles off his resume.



Closing statements...

Perry: I am Texas and you can too. (H/T Colbert's book title)

Santorum: Passionate, but needs to smile when he's talking about the future.

In fact they all need to do that.

Jindal: Immigration without assimiliation is an invasion. I've got the backbone, bandwidth and experience.

Fiorina: We need a nominee who's going to throw every punch, not pull punches.



The Club Lounge is starting to get noisy as Santorum gestures passionately about something. Sshhhh!

Graham says "I will be the Ronald Reagan if I can find a Tip O'Neill...I'm going to put the country ahead of the party. This country has been great to me, and I'd like to pay it back."




Carly Fiorina says "This is a great nation...everyone has a right to fulfill their potential...and that right comes from God and can't be taken away by government."

Perry was manspreading.

Lightning round: each candidate rattles off what they're going to do on day one in office. Rick Perry said he'll take a bottle of "White Out" to change all of Obama's executive orders. The 1980s called. They want their typewriter correction fluid back.