Republican Debate Breaking News Coverage

Monday, 16 Jan 2012 08:51 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Newsmax will be live blogging tonight's Fox News Republican Debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

11:00: Debate concludes.

10:45: Romney says he wants super PACs to take down or edit ads that are inaccurate. He slams pro-Gingrich super PAC ad based on the "King of Bain" movie. Romney: Ad and movie are  the "biggest hoax since Bigfoot."

10:43: Santorum defends his record and says he's got a 100 percent voting record with the National Rifle Association. He criticizes Paul, who opposed a gun liability bill. "Here's a man who would have wiped out the Second Amendment if his vote had carried the day," Paul defends himself and says states should be dealing with liability issues. 

10:42: Santorum and Paul tangle over gun rights and Second Amendment.

10:38: Romney: no new gun laws, restrictions.

10:36: Consensus seems to be emerging that Gingrich has been winner tonight: He has dominated debate and gotten most of the best applause lines; he had delved the most into detailed explanations of policy: from Larry Sabato, political expert at U of Va. Larry Sabato @LarrySabato "Newt's entire career (historian + politician) has led up to this debate, his best."

10:34: Wall Street Journal points out the difficulty of speaking in a debate about Social Security plans: "Santorum usually needs at least 10 minutes to explain the problems with the entitlement program, how they came to be and what he'd do about them."

10:28: Santorum launches into a passionate defense of the idea of removing seniors making over $1 million a year from Social Security

10:25 Romney says he expects the Democrats to attack him by showing pictures of seniors being thrown off cliffs. Romney says he'd fix Social Security by allowing lower cost-of-living growth for high-wealth individuals and raise the retirement age by a year or two.

10:22: Larry Sabato tweet: What would the other candidates do if they didn't have Ron Paul to beat up on? They want him to stay on the stage.

10:20: Paul says we now have a policy of "pre-emptive war" and slams the National Defense Authorization Act.

10:18: Romney draws loud boos for saying that he supports the National Defense Authorization Act.

10:13: Perry launches attack on administation for calling Marines despicable who were caught urinating on corpses; says what's despicable is beheading of Daniel Pearl, and the contractors who were murdered and strung up in Iraq.

10:12: Perry discusses cutting off foreign aid to Pakistan, Turkey, other countries who don't have America's "best interests at heart."

10:11: Romney tries to piggy-back on Gingrich applause line about South Carolina favorite son Andrew Jackson: "We should go wherever our enemies are and kill them. The right thing for bin Laden was a bullet to the head."

10:09: Paul is not silenced by the audience’s boos. “The idea that all we have to do is start another war” is misguided, he says. “We need to quit the wars we’re in.”

10:08: Gingrich is getting huge applause lines: Wall Street Journal coverage of debate: "During a commercial break in the debate, several audience members yell out the name of Newt Gingrich. The crowd appears to be warming to Mr. Gingrich."

10:05: Gingrich says Paul's analogies are "utterly irrational." Says that bin Laden is not a Chinese dissident, and says he has no trouble provoking Pakistan. Launches big attack on Paul, cites Andrew Jackson: "Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear idea about America's enemies: Kill them."

10:04: Paul: Why didn't we try to capture bin Laden? Why didn't we try to apprehend him? Question him?

10:03: Fox host Bret Baier suggests that Paul, with his foreign policy views, "would be running far to the left" of President Obama.

10:02: Paul says "we're digging bigger holes for ourselves" in the Middle East.

10:00: Paul asked about quote that he was against killing of Osama Bin Laden. Paul says his frustration was that we didn't go after him right away; instead we got bogged down in Iraq and nation building.

9:56: Gingrich quote: "Here's my point," Gingrich says, raising his voice. "Every American of every background has been endowed by their creator to pursue happiness," as he vows to "help people learn how to get a job and . . .  learn how to own the job."

9:55: Gingrich brings the house down with line: "Even if it makes liberals unhappy, I'm going to work to help poor people learn how to get a job, hold a job and learn one day to "own the job."

9:54: Gingrich: More people have been put on food stamps by Obama than any president in history.

9:52: Gingrich: NYC pays janitors absurd amount of money; you could employ 37 kids for one janitor's salary. Again, huge applause.

9:51: Williams challenges Gingrich on recent comments that blacks should choose jobs over food stamps, should be employed as janitors inside schools. Gingrich says that's not racism and he owes no apology, draws huge applause.

9:49: Williams to Paul about racial disparities in drug sentences. Paul answers that blacks sentenced disproportionately, sentence to death disproportionately. Paul launches into attack on the drug war. Cites MLK in ending drug war.

9:47: Juan Williams asks about poverty, immigration: Santorum: work, gradaute from high school, get married before you have children -- findings of a Brookings study that shows you do that, you don't live in poverty.

9:44: Asked about what the highest income tax rate should be, candidates offer these limits: Santorum, 28%: Romney, 25%; Perry, 20%; Gingrich, 15%, Paul, zero.

9:43: Romney says he's not opposed to releasing tax records but doesn't commit to it; says he's released asset records.

9:41: Says he gets more campaign donations from the military than all his opponents combined. Paul challenges WSJ's Gerald Seib on his question.

9:40: Paul: There's a difference between military spending and defense spending: Spending millions on a new embassy building in Baghdad is not defense spending, it's waste.

9:39: Paul: I want to bring the troops home; I want to have more bases at home; denies that his plan would cut aid to military and soldiers; wrong to say that we'd have less money for defense, "we'd have more money."

9:36: Gingrich: Efforts by the best food-stamp president in history to maximize dependency is a disaster.

9:35 Gingrich finally speaking after 15 minutes out of debate. He's asked about benefits being available to the unemployed for 99 weeks.

Gingrich: "99 weeks is an associate degree."

9:33: Full Perry quote: "I'm saying that the state of Texas is under assault by federal government. South Carolina is at war with this federal government and this administration."

9:30: Perry says Texas is under assault from federal govt; South Carolina "at war" over issues like voter ID, Boeing situation in South Carolina;

9:28: Romney takes on the charge of his flip-flopping: he's very pro-life; has always opposed gay marriage;

9:27: From Politico: As has happened in the past few debates, Ron Paul took a moment in which Mitt Romney was struggling, and used it turn the attacks on another candidate — this time Rick Santorum, with whom he's been feuding on the trail.

Romney was trying to explain what happened with a particular company taken over by Bain Capital, AMPAD, and suggested it was part of free enterprise at work.

"I know people are gonna come after me, I know President Obama's going to come after me, but the record's quite good," Romney said, adding that Obama had had three years to put out a jobs plan. "I've got one out there already and I'm not even president, yet."

The questioning turned to Paul, who could have joined in despite the change of topic. Instead, he hit Santorum.

“If you’re exposing a voting record, I think it’s quite proper. There was one ad that we used against Sen. Santorum . . . I couldn’t get in all the things I wanted to say in one minute . . . He voted against right to work . . . He voted for Sarbanes-Oxley," he said.

9:26: Larry Sabato tweet: Who knew that felons' voting rights and African-American views would give Santorum a score against Romney? Debates have surprises.

9:23: Again, discussion about attack ads have dominated first 20 minutes of debate; Romney defending record on Bain Capital; Gingrich defending his use of questioning Romney's job-creating credentials; Santorum attacks Romney for ads about his votes on union rights; rights of convicts to get back the vote.

9:22: Perry jumps in, calls debate between Romney and Santorum an "insider" debate; Perry draws huge applause by saying Washington should let states decide.

9:18: Passionate debate between Romney and Santorum on voting rights for convicts; Santorum argues that blacks suffer disproportionately from incarceration; should be given second chance; Romney says violent criminals should not have right to vote. Both sides drawing applause.

9:18: So far, questions about negative attack ads are dominating the discussion; Santorum says his ads have been largely positive.

9:16: Santorum argues he was supporting his costituents on pro-labor bill since he didn't represent right to work state.

9:15: Santorum says Paul is drawing on work of liberal mogul George Soros for his negative ads.

9:12: Paul: talking about negative ads, mentions ad he launched against Santorum: couldn't say everything he wanted to say in one minute.

9:09: Perry, speaking to his job creation success, makes reference to mill town where Romney's work left people laid off and without jobs.

9:08:
Romney: having worked in "real economy" I'm the guy best positioned to take on Obama.

9:06:
Gingrich: Republicans should not be intimidated by the charge that they are acting like Democrats by raising legitimate questions about Romney's business expertise.

9:04:
Gingrich making the argument that if Romney is using his business experience as his chief campaign plank, then questioning that experience is a legitimate point of debate.

9:02:
First up is Gingrich: Question is about his attacks on Gov. Romney's Bain Capital business.

8:59: From Politico: Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee is objecting to the use of audio from his radio show of him defending Romney. He issued statement earlier tonight: The use of the actual audio from my show, The Huckabee Report, was not authorized for use by any candidate. My quotes are public domain and just like the numerous complementary things I have said about other candidates they have been used to highlight something positive in a political ad. However, this in no way is an endorsement of any candidate. I have not nor do I anticipate endorsing anyone until after the primary at which time I will fervently campaign for the Republican nominee so that we can make sure Obama is a one term President. Any attempt by anyone to imply an endorsement of a candidate or opposition to a candidate is not true.

8:54 pm: Wall Street Journal: When South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint are introduced before Republican debate, Mr. DeMint draws huge ovation.

Reuters:
A newly trimmed field of five Republican presidential hopefuls meets on Monday in a South Carolina debate that gives front-runner Mitt Romney's rivals one of their final chances to derail his growing momentum.

The debate comes hours after former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman dropped out of the 2012 Republican race and endorsed Romney, bolstering the former Massachusetts governor's drive for his party's nomination. Romney won the first two state nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire this month.

It also provides Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich a prominent stage for their battle to become the top conservative alternative to the more moderate Romney.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, gained valuable backing in that effort over the weekend when a group of 150 religious and social conservative leaders agreed to coalesce behind his candidacy in an effort to stop Romney.

The debate is the first of two this week in South Carolina, where a Romney win in Saturday's primary could put him on an almost certain path to clinching the right to challenge President Barack Obama in November's election.

Polls show Romney with a solid lead in South Carolina over Gingrich, the former House speaker, heading into the debate. Another debate will take place in Charleston on Thursday, less than 48 hours before South Carolina Republicans start to vote.

"At this point, Romney just has to remind people that he is the one who can take on Obama and win in November," Republican consultant Rich Galen said. "He can't let the other guys get under his skin."

Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Texas Gov, Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul will meet in Monday's two-hour debate at 9 p.m. Eastern Time in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The last Republican debates were back-to-back meetings within 12 hours of each other before the New Hampshire primary, which Romney won easily after narrowly winning in Iowa.

Those debates featured several sharp attacks on Romney for his work at a private equity group that critics say plundered companies and slashed jobs, but his Republican rivals have eased off those criticisms in recent days.

South Carolina's unemployment rate is higher than the national average of 8.5 percent, making jobs and unemployment one of the most prominent topics expected to be tackled in the debate.

Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry have pursued South Carolina's large bloc of evangelical and social conservative voters, who have been split here, as they were in Iowa.

Santorum, who came in second in Iowa, and Gingrich have argued they are the most electable conservatives, but neither have shown signs in polls yet that they are breaking through in South Carolina, which could be the last chance to stop Romney.

The next battleground after South Carolina will be Florida on January 31, a huge and diverse state where Romney's financial and organizational advantages would make him hard to stop.

"Romney seems to be pulling away if the polls are to be believed," Galen said. "But he can't put it on cruise control yet."

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