Liveblogging: The Shoutfest in St. Pete

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8:02 PM I suddenly understand Mark Foley.

8:02 PM Wait, I thought we were meeting “great” candidates. Oh, wait, here’s Ron Paul.


8:04 PM And here’s Romney and his entourage of imaginary advisers.

8:04 PM Wait, I thought there was going to be a debate. They’re taking pictures and whatnot. OMG I JUST SAW A BLOGETTE!

8:07 PM I’m willing to bet that none of the previewed ads will be asked. But they’re not bad ones. More Shmootzie!

8:08 PM “No electric shocks.” But there will be waterboarding.

8:09 PM It’s a troubadour Republican, summing up the field. Kill me now.

8:10 PM NYC was not a sanctuary city. Mostly. BUT JUST TO KEEP THE BROWN CHILDREN OFF THE STREETS.

8:12 PM Oh, awesome, calling on Romney to counter Rudy on “sanctuary cities.” If only they were all Cuban…

8:14 PM Points to Rudy: “Sanctuary mansion” to describe the governor’s residence. And then Romney FLATLY DENIES that he employed illegal immigrants. Okay, I take it back, THIS IS TEH AWESOME. MURDER SUICIDE! “You have a special immigration problem, that no one else here has, you employed illegal immigrants.” Rudy sort of winning this one. This is Rudy the prosecutor, and part of me sort of loves it. But it’s the part of me that also used to like to pulling the wings off flies.

8:18 PM Fred just said of immigrants, “we all know and love them.” NOT TOM TANCREDO! (Score a Kerik point!)

8:19 PM Everyone losing at this point. (Though Bernie Kerik isn’t losing enough.) Writes a GOP pal: “This party depresses me.”

8:20 PM And it was not John McCain, tho he is a GOP pal. He just said: “This whole debate saddens me.”

8:23 PM And this is why: “All I’m hearing is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo.”

8:24 PM Almost 30 minutes in and NOTHING but immigration… even though it’s not in the top five issues for Republican voters. BUT it is a source of a lot demagoguery! Fun!

8:26 PM And another illegal immigrant question! Because it’s guaranteed to make people foam at the mouth. Which is so helpful in debates.

8:28 PM Huckabee has a perfectly reasonable answer to the question of “in state tuition” for illegal immigrants. Basically a state version of the DREAM Act.

8:29 PM A theory: Lou Dobbs chose ALL the questions.

8:29 PM Go Huck. “We’re a better country than to punish children for what their parents did.”

8:30 PM What’s the emotional equivalent of “tone deaf”? Mitt Romney has that.

8:31 PM “The Trilateral Commission exists.” I love Ron Paul. I saw him at the last X-Files convention, I think.

8:33 PM You know where all that money that Paul raised is going? Tin foil. Yards and yards of tin foil. Also: “The knowledge is out there!” I think you mean the “truth,” my little mulderite.

8:34 PM I like how everyone looks politely board bored when Mitt is speaking.

8:36 PM Rudy just said he’s solve the trade deficit by “strengthening the dollar.” I’m not an economist, but… wha?

8:38 PM ACTUARIAL! Drink! (Here’s to you, SwampDad!)

8:39 PM Ron Paul wants to abolish foreign policy!

8:41 PM Huckabee just called the “Fair Tax” the “most researched” tax reform proposal. Yes. Researched to show it doesn’t work, right?

8:43 PM Did McCain just go all Godwin on Ron Paul?

8:43 PM GROVER NORQUIST!? WTF?????? PLANT! PLANT! PLANT! (And I thought the point of the YouTube debate was open up the debate to people who don’t usually get to ask questions…)

8:45 PM When Duncan Hunter thinks your proposal is overly authoritarian, you’ve crossed some kind of line…

8:47 PM Romney just declared that, market-wise, we’re “competing with Brasilia”! Does he mean the high-modernist but non-functional capital of Brazil? Because I think we could win that one.

8:49 PM No follow-up to Rudy’s weaselly (or ferretty) answer to the Politico story? Anderson! You can’t count on the Tubers for everything!

8:50 Hillary! Drink!

8:51 PM Duncan Hunter wants to build a fence to keep out lead toys.

8:52 PM Fred attacks with FAT HUCKABEE! Ouch.

8:53 PM Anderson: “What’s up with that?” Okay, he’s 12. BUT: We would accept that as a follow up to Rudy’s FERRETTY lovenest answer, as surfer dude as it sounds.

8:58 PM Count Dracula wants to help me with my taxes.

8:59 PM Okay, guns. Will refill my glass. (Did Hunter just imply that someone wants to disarm American soldiers? And a whole suite of gun questions? We’re back in foam-inducing CrazyTown again, aren’t we…)

9:01 PM Wait, is Rudy going to say he made NYC safer? Wait for it… wait for it…

9:01 PM Drink!

9:03 PM Apparently, Rudy made New York City safer.

9:04 PM It’s the Johnson Compensation Segment of the debate. (My dad owns 12, by the way. But that’s just because he likes guns.)

9:07 PM Mitt should probably not talk about reducing crime. But, you know what? Rudy made New York City safer.

9:08 PM SAFER I TELL YOU!!!!!!

9:09 PM The audience just applauded the idea that we should not have “federal abortion police.” I’m so confused.

9:12 PM And Rudy not signing a federal abortion ban: applause. Fascinating.

9:13 PM Huckabee says that implementing the death penalty was the toughest kind of decision he had to make as a death penalty. But he did it a lot, anyway!

9:16 PM Nonetheless, Tom Tancredo looks to Huckabee for guidance in deciding whether to institute the death penalty.

9:16 PM It’s the pander to the Christians Segment! Rudy has, however turned to the Bible when in crisis. He must know it better than anyone on that stage…

9:18 PM Mitt was stumped by the Bible question. Like, deer-in-the-headlights, no-one-told-me-this-would-be-on-the-test stumped. (And the answer was bad. Someone-unplugged-him bad.)He does know that the Bible is the word of God. Had that written on his palm.

9:23 PM Points to Rudy for at least a decent “YouTube style” ad. Not only is NYC safer, but also LESS SNOWFALL! The thing is, he’s going to start using that in his stump speech. As truth. He read it in City Journal.

9:26 PM Not all Muslims are evil. Rudy told you it first. After he made New York City safer.

9:29 PM Mitt Romney is against torture. Except when it works.

9:29 PM Go Johnny Mac. Waterboarding is torture and it’s okay to denounce it. It’s vital that you denounce it. (Romney: I won’t say what interrogation techniques I approve of! You can’t make me say! Because I don’t know!)

9:30 PM Romney gets his torture guidance from the one of the guys who runs Blackwater (Cofer Black). That’s all you need to know.

9:33 PM The only person John McCain is in favor of torturing is Mitt Romney.

9:37 PM Tancredo: “I wish we lived in the world that Ron described.” You mean with the scary black helicopters and the North American superhighway? That they’re building at night? Under tarps? I find that world scary.

9:40 PM My friends at the DNC just sent this out: “Romney: I Get My Counterterrorism & Torture Device From Cofer Black.” Actual devices??? It’s even worse than I thought!

9:41 PM I think McCain just selected Al Gore as his VP.

9:48 PM Hunter: “Most people in the military are conservative.” Excuse me, I have MY ENTIRE FAMILY to introduce you to.

9:49 PM We’re in the middle of the war, where we’re letting CRIMINALS into the army… and it’s a bad idea to repeal don’t ask don’t tell? (That was Romney. Who’s answer wasn’t different from any other candidate’s… except his own.)

9:50 PM American soldiers “are professional enough to serve with lesbians and gays.” Yes. Period. Put your faith in the fundamental decency of our soldiers. And their flair for fashion.

9:52 PM McCain says the top brass are against allowing open gays and lesbians in the military. They were also against integrating the military.

9:53 PM Huckabee will be the president of anyone who asks.

9:56 PM The MARS SOCIETY! Let’s stop the debate now because that was too awesome.

9:58 PM Surprised that Huck was the one to pop out the “send Hillary to Mars” joke. McCain would like to send Mitt to Mars, however. But Ron Paul has already won the primary there.

9:59 PM Yeah, I wonder why blacks don’t vote Republican. Total mystery.

10:00 PM Notes from the peanut gallery: “For the record, Duncan Hunter just used the phrase small, tight unit’ when discussing homosexuality.” And: “Duncan Hunter said we can’t have gays in the military because we have stronger Judeo-Christian values than ISRAEL. What, Judeo’s not good enough?”

10:03 PM I think Mitt Romney just took three different positions in course of his answer to a single question — the confederate flag one. 1) It’s not an important enough issue to answer the question. 2) It’s just a symbol. 3) But you shouldn’t display it. Wow. Is that a record?

10:05 PM McCain’s veto pen is a Sharpie! He won’t just veto bills, he’ll draw big black marks through them. Also: pow on Rudy’s previous criticism of the line item veto. (There’s well a Sharpie would be handy!)


10:09 PM Rudy’s worst answer of the night may be that he’s an American League fan over a Yankees fan. And he just took credit for the Yankees winning the world series. You think he’s kidding now but I think City Journal has an article….

10:11 PM Every single one of my correspondents asked me why isn’t this over yet. I’m just wondering why they need to “hose down the stage.” Did someone get overexcited? Tancredo, maybe…

10:12 PM And I am outta here. Good night, good luck, let’s get thing over with.