Live Blogging the NBC-Tampa Bay Times Debate

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Pre-debate expectations: Gingrich is by far the best debater. Romney typically maintains an even keel. Santorum will get lost in his own arguments. Paul will continue his consistent positions on issues.

All I know is that as a Republican Voter in Florida, I still don’t know who I’m voting for. Hopefully tonight helps me make my decision.


Holy crap is the Ed Show on MSNBC a steaming pile of crap. Thought I’d try watching it since the debate is on NBC tonight. Makes me want to poke out my eyes.


NBC show right before the debate: Who’s Still Standing? Quite appropriate.


Debate begins… “The fight’s now come here to Florida…”


First question to Newt on electability. He had a good answer – sending someone to Washington for change, and be controversial when necessary.


Romney on electability: it’s about leadership. Dings Newt about resignation, twice. Comes out swinging against Newt. Newt tries to deflect it (“four things are false”)…


Brian Williams calls Romney on being negative… Romney says he can’t sit back and not defend himself.


Finally get to a third candidate… to Santorum “What is your path to the top?” Boils down to “I can win Pennsylvania.” Uh… but you’re “former Senator”, Williams notes.


Ron Paul praises Gingrich’s handling of Congress… then doesn’t rule out a third party race, but might support Newt.


Romney is asked about releasing his taxes… Says there are no surprises, and turns the answer into a chance to talk about his tax proposals.

Romney’s income is entirely from capital gains, that is why he pays 15% tax.


Mitt Romney “American’s pursuing their dreams make us all better off.”


Romney needs to get off the Freddie Mac issue… not. playing. well. Newt is right on this issue.


The debate takes a break to run some commercials…


Debate returns to talk about foreclosure. Santorum and Paul talk about what they did years ago… *yawn*

Romney says creating jobs will lift the housing issue. Gingrich says Dodd-Frank is keeping the recovery from happening — it’s a bad idea. Romney says banking was not properly regulated, and says Gingrich is right about Dodd Frank.


First question that affects Florida – what do you do when Castro dies and 500,000 Cubans flee to the US. Romney stands on Cuban line. Gingrich wants to keep pressure on Cuba, using same efforts for fighting Soviet Union. Paul says it’s time to quit isolating Cuba and open up trade.


Question about Iran. Romney says it would be an act of war, and response would be the same. Gingrich – Americans have no interest of going to war anywhere – we like peace and stability, but we have a commitment to the freedom of the sea. Dictatorships respond to strength.


Next break, and now it’s time for the other moderators to have a turn – Adam Smith and Beth Reinhard.

Beth’s first question about off-shore drilling – spill would threaten tourism. Santorum says oil price spikes threaten worse. Drill baby drill… eh? No one else answered.

Good question – why court voters in Spanish, but not let government serve them in Spanish? Gingrich campaigning you go where the voters are, but in a country with 300-400 languages, we need a central language that we expect people to learn. Romney people need to learn English to be successful.


Gingrich would allow illegal immigrants to join the US military, but not going to college. Romney agrees with Newt.


Adam Smith continues on immigration. Romney says the best plan is self-deportation… what?


Smith asks Gingrich about sugar subsidies… one of the two or three hardest things to do because of the special interest groups. Romney views that we should get rid of subsidies.


Adam Smith dregs up Terri Schiavo… ugh.


Beth asks if space exploration should be a priority. Romney believes we need a vision for NASA. Gingrich supports the use of government funds encouraging private sector.

Beth shifts to tax cuts, but Gingrich deflects to anti-regulations with a good answer. Cutting regulation will grow the tax base, and allow for more tax cuts.


Back to Brian Williams. What has Romney done to further the cause of conservatism? Romney worked in the private sector, created thousands of jobs. Touts some of his record – doesn’t mention the Massachusetts health care plan. Hmmm.

Gingrich talks about his life-long efforts. From organizing for Goldwater. Electing Reagan. GOPAC and Republican takeover.


Williams asks about Romneycare and Mitt’s relative conservatism. Mitt’s position is to allow the states to craft their own programs.


Williams asks Newt “what scares you about being president?” We have institutional biases against doing the right thing, and interest groups that would rather preside over their turf than help.

Great. Freaking. Answer.


Brian Williams gives a Go Bulls! WOO HOO!

So I think Romney won the debate. Gingrich won a round or two, but Romney was more consistent. I think Romney’s opening took Gingrich off the game while Newt was just trying to hold serve.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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