Saturday Night Republican Debate Liveblogging Fever!



Hate handicapping these things, especially since my biases can stand in the way of objective analysis. Overall, the candidates got sucked into the moderator-spawned cage matches too much.

When they weren't quibbling and cross-talking, almost all of them had solid performances, compared with previous outings.

That doesn't include Trump. If he were any other candidate, would be gone after tonight. His "Bush lied, people died" routine was beyond the pale. Despicable.

If the needle moved for anyone tonight, it was Cruz, and perhaps even Bush...though not enough for the latter to make a difference.

Rubio put New Hampshire's gaffe in the past.

Kasich's grandchildren will be proud of their Pop-Pop's last presidential debate ever.

Thank y'all, from here in Texas, for your vigorous participation in the comments.

Trump: We need a very big change, from the politicians who have run up $19 trillion in debt.

"We don't win"...blah, blah. "We're going to start winning," blah blah.

"I'm working for you. I'm not working for anybody else."

Where was the mirror to which he was saying that?

Cruz: "Do you want a proven conservative who will stand and fight with you."

It's not going to be easy to repeal Obamacare, and reform the tax code.

Our country hangs in the balance.

Probably his best close to date.

Rubio: "We're going to re-embrace free enterprise." Life. Marriage. Family.

Nails the dismount to the cheers of the crowd.

Bush: "Who do you want to have sitting behind the big desk in the Oval Office," when the inevitable crisis hits?

He faced eight hurricanes...he's up to the job.

If only Washington D.C. were merely as destructive as a hurricane.


Ben Carson: "Our country is heading off the cliff."

Actually, it's his best debate performance to date, so it's sad that his campaign is heading off the cliff.

Seriously, he rocked that closing statement.

Closing Statements...Whew. I'm cramping.

"I'm going to send a lot of power, money and influence back to where we all live." -- Kasich


Rubio: Reagan inherited something similar to what #45 will inherit.

The American people were scared, but Reagan was able to instill a sense of optimism, and turned this country around.

"This country needs someone like that."

Trump goes into his classic boasting about how he "used the laws of the land" -- which means his casinos went bankrupt. Funny, you don't hear all that many people bragging about their business bankruptcies. Usually, sticking others with your debt is considered shameful.

"Not using profanity is very easy."

Great moments in Trumpian restraint and prudence.

"My wife tells me I'm wrong all the time, and I listen," says Trump, but then dodges the question about which of his advisers can rebuke him and succeed at it.

"I hire top, top people, and I do listen. And you know what? Sometimes they're wrong."

So, Trump listens to great people say wrong things. Glad we cleared that up.

Every Democrats favorite Republican, Kasich, says all people are the same and want the same things.

I want beach-front property on St. Kasich's Isle -- a Utopian resort in Lake Erie.


Moderator asks Carson to say something "politically incorrect."

Carson obliges, mildly. "Free college is a non-starter."

'Nuff said. But he goes on to explain why.

"It's not the evil rich people. It's the irresponsible, evil government."

Rubio: "We need anti-poverty programs, but not as a way of life." Turn it over to the states.

Gives a shout out to Gov. Nikki Haley, who, like other governors, would do a better job with poverty than D.C. does.

Cruz says Trump would appoint Liberals to the court, because he always has supported Liberals.

Seems like a reasonable conclusion.

"They're all big babies," says a lovely voice from my kitchen.

My lovely bride may be right.

Trump: "You [Cruz] are the single biggest liar, probably bigger than Jeb Bush...Nasty guy. Now I know why he doesn't have one endorsement [from colleagues]."

Cruz: "Donald didn't argue with the substance that he supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood."

Trump: "[PP] does do wonderful things, but not when it comes to abortion."


Moderator asks why Trump attacks others for changing opinions, and likens himself to Ronald Reagan when he does it.

Trump says he's "a common sense conservative" but loves eminent domain. Claims that the state of New Jersey was building a parking garage, not him. Bush has a better understanding of the Constitutional use of eminent domain -- public purposes, not private. Bush even disagrees with GWB's use of it in building a stadium.




Trump: "I would build consensus with Congress and Congress would agree with me."

Trump definition of consensus: When others agree with me.



Cruz says his Dad's rise from poverty would have been halted if Obamacare had been in place then.


Carson: Government regulators in 645 agencies and sub-agencies are running around looking for people to fine.

"Start trimming the regulatory agencies, rather than going after people who are trying to increase the economic viability of our society."

If he could only say that succinctly, with passion, he'd be above 20% in the polls.

Kasich: "I think we're fixing to lose the election if we don't stop this" [negative bickering].

Take all the negative ads down and talk about what we're for.

A rare moment of respect for Kasich I have just experienced.

As a Republican, let me just say: I hate this crap.

That is all.

Cruz: "There are sharp differences on amnesty" among the folks on this stage.

He fought against amnesty. Reagan would call it, "a time for choosing," Cruz says. Crowd boos him for mentioning Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan.

Rubio takes the bait and they relive the barrage of uncheckable facts from previous debates, and accusations of dishonesty by both parties. Each has his own set of facts about the other.

Rubio alleges Cruz doesn't speak Spanish. Cruz answers in Spanish.

Dos hombres mas pequeño, as a result of this quibbling.

Bush channels Christie, smacking them both for arcane arguments "over bills that didn't pass."

Rubio: We have to prove to people that our border control is working. Only then will we learn what the American people will support regarding someone who has been here a long time. Can't do it until illegal immigration is take care of once and for all.


[He ended right on the bell. Almost never happens.]

Immigration up next. Wonder what Trump thinks.

"I want everybody taken care of, but we have to take care of our people."

Guess what?

Wall. Paid for by Mexico. Believe me.

One who is believable needs not say "believe me."

Bush, like most others, says we need to reform and simplify the tax code.

"But I can dream, can't I?"


Bush says, "We should be fighting Obamacare," not going along with it as Kasich has.

Kasich, of course, says Bush was much worse than he was.

And now we're snipping and sniping. Doesn't America love this? Babbling facts that can't be checked.

Kasich ends his negativity by talking about how he's staying positive.


If Kasich is as great as he says he is, why don't more people love him? To hear him tell it, no governor has ever excelled as he has. And he's at 2% or so in the polls.

Rubio says his tax credit is "your money." Invest in children like a business can invest in equipment. Parents can keep more of their own money to help bring up and educate their children.

Cruz: [Economy] "is not going to be saved by magic pixie simply declaring it."

Reviews his postcard individual tax return idea.

Business flat tax is not a sales tax, like in Europe, he says. It's a flat 16% on all conjunction with abolishing various other taxes.


WSJ reporter Kim Strassel asks how Trump can keep his many extravagant promises.

He answers by making extravagant promises, then becoming melodramatic.

Trump: "We're dying. This country is dying. I'm the only one who's going to save Social Security, believe me."

He's naive at best to think he can save SS by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Even if he could do it, that wouldn't save it.

Carson says it's "asinine" to avoid bombing terrorists because there may be collateral damage, as Obama has suggested. As tough as I've seen him in any debate. Perhaps he understands this is his last chance.

Marco Rubio: "I thank God all the time that it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore. He kept us safe."

Trump: "The World Trade Center came down during the reign [of Bush]"

Rubio: "The World Trade Clinton came down because Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama Bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him."

If it were possible, Trump has sunk to a low of which even I didn't think him capable.

"As a businessman, I get along with everybody," Trump says to hoots from the audience.

"The war in Iraq is a big fat mistake...George Bush made a mistake...We have destabilized the Middle East...They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. They knew there were none."

Jeb is sick and tired of Trump going after his family.

"The World Trade Center came down under your brother," says Trump, the bilious bolus of human waste.

"When it comes to ISIS: We gotta have a focused objective," says Cruz. "They've declared war on us."

Arm the Kurds. Use American boots on ground if needed, but based on military expert judgment.

Moderator says Kurds can't operate outside of their territory.

"We oughta start with using our incredible air power advantage." Boots later if needed.


Trump says all the booers are Jeb's lobbyists in the audience.

Bush said we'll create a Sunni-led coalition to take out ISIS and we can't do that with Assad in power.

Trump and Bush engage in vigorous overtalk to a chorus of boos.

Kasich calls for a coalition of "civilized people" who expect women's rights to deal with ISIS. From the Middle East we'll gather these, Governor?

Bush wants to take out ISIS and Assad. Sounds like he may throw a punch at Putin too.

Bush's Top Three National Security Priorities

  1. Restore military. Reverse sequester.
  2. Have a strategy to defeat ISIS
  3. Contain Iran

Trump says, "Jeb is so wrong." Gets booed. "You can't fight two wars at one time."

Carson corrects his earlier SCOTUS appointment gaffe: "Of course, it's the president," who gets to nominate a Justice.

I guess Carson is reading this blog in real time. Scroll down.

Rubio's national security answer is so detailed I cannot possibly capture it here. Makes me want to go back to Trump's facile, but memorable answer. Oops...I forgot, I'm not the average low-information voter. Never mind.


"What we want to do, when we want to do it and how hard we want to hit."

Trump's first three questions on day one in office for his national security team.

I'm trying to picture this really happening.

Moderator tries to gotcha Ted Cruz with a question about Anthony Kennedy's nomination/appointment to the court. Not the right guy with whom to pick that fight. Crowd boos moderator.


Jeb Bush won't have a SCOTUS nominee litmus test on "specific issues," but "with a proven conservative record."

"I'm an Article II guy" but we need a consensus with the Senate, Bush says. Some guy in the crowd whoops with joy.


Ben Carson says the Constitution doesn't address who gets to select the next Supreme Court Justice.

What in the world does that mean?

Here's a link for the Doc to consult when he's back home after this week.

Appointments Clause.

Kicking off with what to do about the SCOTUS vacancy left by the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Too soon?

Trump: "A tremendous blow to conservatism and to our country."

Tells Sen. McConnell to stop Obama's appointment to the court: "Delay, delay, delay."

Kasich complains about the question, and claims that the country won't be divided when he's in the Oval Office, and he'd pick a Justice that would have "anonymous approval."

Magical thinking?

"Gentlemen, please join us on stage."

Saved us the confusion of New Hampshire. Get 'em out there first and then introduce them. Good move CBS.

I'll post quotes and paraphrased remarks that strike me as significant, or just fun, and I'll likely throw in my own bias along the way. But I like to give a fair evaluation even to candidates whose views I don't share, as to how well they represent themselves. So, if I say something good or bad about your guy, don't assume I love him or hate him. Feel free to weigh in with your comments and I'll dip into them during commercial breaks or whenever I can. Thanks.