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3:32 minutes into the show — Live-stream here... as Rick Perry gets the first question and a chance to tell us about the success in Texas. "I'm proud of what we done in the state of Texas." [Yes: what we done...]
5:13 — As Perry talks, Romney looks on. He's taller. He's got those graying temples and slight sideburns. He's wearing a blue suit... and maybe they all are. Romney gets the next question: "If I'd spent all my life in politics..." That's his angle: experience in the private sector. He's asked if life in government is a "disqualification," which he brushes off, even as he wants us to think it is. Romney looks calm and Perry a tad nervous. Romney is hot! And tan! Perry looks wrinkly and pasty. Romney stresses how hard it was to succeed in Massachusetts compared to Texas.
10:41 — Great interplay between Romney and Perry and Romney clearly won it. He needed to. Let's see if Perry comes back. Now, it's Santorum and then Cain. We're less interested in these characters. Sorry.
13:08 — Asked of Huntsman: "What does Romney not get about China?" "We are the most blue-sky, optimistic people on earth." And Utah beats Texas and Massachusetts.
14:37 — Michele Bachmann's hair is getting bigger and bigger. She says Obamacare is keeping businesses from creating jobs. It's killing jobs.
18:00 — Ron Paul is stressing out about regulations. We don't need the federal government to tell us if cars are safe. The consumer is smart enough to figure it out!
21:42 — On "Day 1," Romney will grant all the states a waiver from Obamacare.
23:05 — Perry is settling in, getting comfortable. Huntsman is coming alive too.
26:54 — Bachmann presents herself as the one who understands the legislative process: An executive order is not enough. And she's the one who will (somehow) be able to lead Congress to deliver up the anti-Obamacare legislation that is needed.
27:33 — Gingrich gets testy: "I'm frankly not interested in your effort to get Republicans fighting each other." Everyone on the stage knows "Obamacare is a disaster... it can't be implemented, it's killing the economy... Every person up here agrees with that." Nicely slammed. The media is going to try to get Republicans fighting each other, and he's calling their bluff. The Republicans are united: "a team." Well done!
32:00 — Rick Santorum believes "in the dignity of every person"... and he's not talking about abortion. He's talking about getting people off welfare and into work.
32:43 — What will Rick Perry do about the fact that white people are so much richer than black people? "Create an environment" where people who risk their capital will get a return on their investment. (He shrugs off the prompt to talk about race. He's not interested in that!)
35:23 — Green jobs?! Let's have real jobs, says Romney.
37:52 — Ron Paul: "Mandates! That's what the whole society is about!" It's not just Obamacare. It's also Medicare. "We don't need the government running our lives." He can get you a gallon of gasoline for a dime! (Because a silver dime is worth $3.50... or something.)
40:28 — Hey, John Althouse Cohen is live-blogging. "Perry takes a gratuitous swipe at Ron Paul for quibbling with then-President Reagan. This is a transparent gambit on Perry's part to give more time to Paul and take time away from the stronger candidates."
47:21 — Nancy Reagan embracing Ronald Reagan's casket. Tears. It's the Reagan remembrance interlude. Ah! She's there. Hi, Nancy!
48:13 — "Karl Rove is over the top," says Rick Perry, referring to Rove's insinuation that Perry is too extreme in, for example, calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." Perry says he's "not responsible" for Karl Rove. Everyone knows Social Security is "a lie." Does that mean if we vote for him, we're giving up our demand that government meet its promise to us, based on which it skimmed off our wages for our entire working lives? We shouldn't concede that.
51:03 — Romney is asked how we can have a "candid conversation" about Social Security without "scaring seniors." Scaring seniors! Why don't younger people have a basis for demanding that the money they paid in be paid out when they are old? The premise of the question outrages me. Romney says Social Security is "not working" but the GOP nominee must be someone who will save Social Security, not abolish it. "We gotta do that as a party."
53:51 — Ron Paul is invited to attack Rick Perry. Paul lights into Perry for an executive order — as governor — forcing HPV vaccines on 12-year-old girls. Bachmann follows on. (She's not getting much of a chance to show her stuff tonight.)
57:14 — "I will always err on the side of saving lives," Perry says emphatically, referring specifically to his order to vaccinate young girls against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. He concedes the executive order might have been a mistake, but he's also kind of not sorry.
58:44 — After Santorum attacks Perry, Romney takes a conciliatory tone. Perry's "heart is in the right place." Let's attack Obama! He "doesn't have a clue!"
1:23:54 — Romney, are you in the Tea Party? He believes in "a lot" of it.
1:26:25 — Huntsman wants to pledge: "no pledges."
1:27:30 — Huntsman would bring the troops home from Afghanistan (and do the "nation-building" at home).
1:28:53 — Romney says we need a President who "loves America" (unlike Obama). Then Perry decides to go out of his way to give Obama some credit: He killed bin Laden... "and he's proven once and for all that government spending will not create one job.... and he kept Gitmo open."
1:35:35 — Are you Republicans a bunch of crazy cranks? Which of these people on the stage are crazy? That's the question! To Huntsman. This gets back to what riled up Gingrich, at 27:33: The moderators want to turn the Republicans on each other.
1:38:30 — Perry uses the word "monstrous" a lot!
My overall impression? The moderators tried to provoke a war amongst Republicans, and Gingrich was the hero of the evening by calling them out. I thought Huntsman did himself some good, and Bachmann for some reason didn't find a way to stand out. The main focus was on Perry and Romney — in part because the moderators made that happen. And I think Romney looked better than Perry. As they say, he seemed presidential. He had a lot of poise and he made plenty of sense. Perry seemed rough, but it was his first go round.