Liveblogging: The Orlando Oral Exam

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Pre-game: This is Huckabee’s opportunity to do something with the “moral victory” of the Value Voters straw poll. If he can pull out another technical knock out in the debate, people who previously had discounted him as unable to win may reconsider. Also look for sparks to fly among McCain, Rudy, and Romney (something that could help Huckabee). Rudy sort of needs to nail this one, as well. Funny to see Frank Luntz’s focus group say, unequivocally, that Hillary Clinton is a “socialist.” I wish!

8:01 PM ECHO-Y BRIT HUME SOUNDS LIKE GOD. God is less self important, however.

8:03 PM Applause steadily grew louder for Huck, Mitt, and Rudy. And then there was McCain.

8:04 PM I had totally forgotten that Fred was even going to be here. I suspect he did as well.

8:05 PM Okay, who mussed Mitt’s hair so carefully? I think that curl follows Fibonacci sequence. Also, I love that he is not even attempting to answer the q — “who is more conservative” — instead, he goes off on that “stool” metaphor again. Always makes me think of prunes.

8:07 PM Fred gets some laughs! Hopefully, that will wake him up. Also, does the guy really need to read that he has a good pro-life voting record?

8:08 PM First Hillary mention of the debate! DRINK!

8:08 PM I wish “tort reform” was as dirty as it sounds.

8:09 PM I think Fred’s natural posture is to speak into his chest. Also: “sanctuary cities”! Drink!

8:10 PM You know what else makes me think of prunes? Fred Thompson.

8:11 PM McCain has reached a state of zen. Unfortunately, he needs to reach a state of first tier.

8:13 PM Mitt’s curl as disappeared! Could it possibly mean that there is something about Mitt Romney’s campaign that is not planned in advance?

8:13 PM Hillary mention! Drink.

8:14 PM McCain to Romney: “You’ve spent the last year trying to fool people about your record, I hope you don’t try to fool them about mine.” I believe the technical term for that is “snap.” McCain isn’t bringing it on, it has already been broughten.

8:15 PM I appreciate that Romney is responding in a rational way to the “lawyer” question, but every time he says something like “ought to,” I think, “who among us…”

8:18 PM Romney totally hates the gays more than the other guys. I mean gays. I mean guys… oh, darn. In any case, he wants a “national standard” for marriage. Let’s just say that Giuliani sets a particularly low bar.

8:20 PM Giuliani doesn’t hate gays, just the judges that love them. Also, he keeps mentioning something about “New York City”? Was he in the government there somehow?

8:21 PM A friend writes: “Wait, he was involved in 210 marriages? I thought it was just three.”

8:21 PM Big laughs for Giuliani’s jokes about what a cesspool of sexual confusion NYC is. Funny because it’s true!

8:22 PM Huckabee again out classes them all. Above the fray, erudite and, uhm, “folksy” (has Fred copyrighted that?) all at once. Relates “life” to the constitution, which R voters looooovvee.

8:23 PM If I looked like Fred Thompson, I wouldn’t even hint about perhaps having “forgotten” something as important as lobbying client.

8:27 PM The DNC points out that Giuliani was potentially involved in 211 marriages:

REALITY: Giuliani Said He Would Marry Openly Gay Couple He Lived With During His Marital Spat If Gay Marriages Were Legalized. “Howard Koeppel, half of the gay couple that Giuliani lived with during his marital spat, said [Giuliani told] us that if they ever legalized gay marriages, we would be the first one he would do.” [New York Times, 8/04/01]

Heh-heh, he said “do.”

8:28 PM McCain gets in a HillaryCare reference! Drink! He suggests that anyone interested in nationalizing health care visit Canada or England. Does he mean the countries that have been infant survival rates than us, or just the ones that lose a smaller percentage to heart disease? (That’d be Canada.)

8:32 PM Ron Paul is not crazy. I don’t believe that. But sometimes he yells like he’s chasing the moderators off of his yard. I do love how he turned a health care question into a tirade against Iraq.

8:33 PM Too many Hillary mentions to count. At least I don’t need to drive home.

8:34 PM Pressed to prove he has a sense of humor, Romney cites PJ O’Rourke. Truly, the Romneytron 3000 has an impressive historical database.

8:35 PM Huckabee: “We don’t have a health care crisis, we have a health crisis.” A framing that a bleeding heart could love.

8:38 PM Tancredo has a point: we have moved to the point of debating what kind of government health care program we should implement. I don’t think that’s because the country has become more liberal, necessarily, just that our health care has gotten worse. What more harm could the government do?

8:39 PM Fred’s Lake Woebegone joke goes nowhere. Not an NPR crowd.

8:40 PM Wait, Rudy gets to joke about blowing up schools and not go to Gitmo? But, aw, he cares about the kids. Just not his own.

8:42 PM Pop quiz: Who’s gotten more zings tonight: Hillary Clinton, the Kennedys (Ted, Bay of Pigs), or “bureaucrats”?

8:46 PM Fox tips its Hillary hand (thanks, Rupert!): “All of you, I repeat, all of you, are losing to her.” BOOS! Also, I LOVE that Fox is showing the polls numbers for how badly each of them would lose to her. This is just giving them all a chance to pull out their best HRC jokes and applause will follow. It will not help their poll numbers.

8:48 PM Asked if she should be C-in-C: “I’d vote no.” Mitt always thinks he’s at board meeting.

8:50 PM Rudy blows a kiss to Florida. No comment.

8:51 PM Interesting to remind folks that McCain is running the closest to Clinton. Chris Wallace tries to neg him on the war issue, and JSM gets a chance to be the serious statesman guy.

8:52 PM On Hillary’s Woodstock museum earmark: McCain didn’t go. “I was tied up at the time.” I think we get to chug on that one.

8:54 PM Huckabee: “There’s nothing funny about Hillary Clinton being president.” Oh, I don’t know about that. Reversing NAFTA, DOMA, and “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It’ll be like a 1990′s blooper reel.

8:55 PM Oh, is Fred still there?

8:56 PM Fred has to look at his notes when he talks about supporting the troops.

8:58 PM Does Brit Hume know what a bright green tie and a red pocket square mean if you’re in a Minneapolis airport restroom?

8:59 PM Fred Thompson doesn’t want to be bound by Brit’s exact words, not unless he can get them on a teleprompter.

9:00 PM Commenters wonder if I “hate them all.” No. I just hate the way they sound in these debates.

9:01 PM I will admit that Rudy has been less prickly and more engaging in this debate than he has in others. One almost forgets that he’s an authoritarian control freak. And he’s right about the fact that if more people where buying independent health insurance, the market might be more effect. Then he ruins a perfectly reasonable answer with a cell phone joke. That bombs.

9:05 PM Did Mitt really just say that Rs have things to learn from Ds? Well, if they’re running against Ted Kennedy, they do.

9:07 PM Whenever Ron Paul talks about the government wasting money, I get the sense that he thinks everyone should keep it in their mattress.

9:08 PM McCain gets laughs for being old. Also, he has entirely too much faith in the American people. He sounds like a Kennedy or something.

9:11 PM I love how Brit just called b—-s— on Hunter for a policy issue rather than, say, the fact that he’s running.

9:12 PM Shorter Tancredo: Brown people can be blamed for everything.

9:16 PM Is McCain the first person tonight to tell a Bush joke? (“When I looked into Putin’s eyes…”) If you haven’t drunk already, drink!

9:19 PM Audience kind of not caring about Russia. Their people do not hate freedom enough. Nor are they brown.

9:21 PM Pelosi hit! Take a sip.

9:22 PM Second Pelosi hit!

9:23 PM You have to love R’s hating on Turkey for having the temerity to want to invade Iraq!

9:26 PM Ron Paul gets more boos than Hillary.

9:27 PM I’m realizing that Ron Paul would be doing better if he had Fred Thompson deliver all his lines. Thompson would be doing better as well.

9:30 PM Goler just said Thompson’s speech yesterday was about “five minutes long.” He’s being generous. Lodges “lazy” charge against Thompson. Thompson’s resume suggests that this is, at the very least, a recent phenomenon.

9:31 PM And it’s over. Finally. Snap judgment: McCain had the best line, Rudy had the most good ones, Huckabee continues to shine but maybe not brightly enough. Fred needs to take a nap, and Romney totally knows how to use contractions. New in version 3.0!