9:03 Kathy Kiely: Only in front of a Tea Party audience would a question about whether the chairman of the Federal Reserve is committing treason be a test of (wo)manhood. Michele Bachmann flubbed it by not being willing to stand for or against Perry's controversial line. Perry looked stronger than he has most of the night by refusing to back down. 9:02 Sean Sullivan: Bachmann passed on a clear chance to directly take on Perry over his controversial Bernanke comments. When you are at 4 percent in the polls and fading, you don't have the luxury of passing up many of those chances. 8:57 Tim Alberta: After a strong showing in the last debate, Huntsman has taken a step back tonight. His lecturing tone comes across as condescending, and his multiple attempts at caustic humor -- targeting Romney and Perry -- have fallen completely flat. He spoke at length last week about Reagan's optimism and sunny demeanor; he would do well to channel the Gipper for the remainder of this debate. 8:42 Reid Wilson: The stimulus created zero jobs? Even the most anti-stimulus Republicans don't agree with that. Rick Perry just gave Republican elites in D.C. another reason to worry about his electability, and he looked like he realized what he was doing halfway through his answer. Perry has a reputation for stretching the facts. 8:39 Kathy Kiely: There he goes again. Huntsman cites "what I did as governor" and the recommendation of the Wall Street Journal as a recommendation for a Tea Party audience? Not sure those are props that are going to impress this anti-politician, anti-establishment crowd. 8:36 Tim Alberta: It's early, but this Tea Party audience is already affording a noticeable home field advantage (of sorts) for Perry, and also for Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. Paul's answers have been repeatedly interrupted with cheers, while Perry has earned sustained applause for criticizing Romney. The Texas governor, who appeared tentative at times during last week's debate, will have plenty of crowd support should he choose to continue his offensive against Romney tonight. 8:30 Ron Fournier: Perry says it's time to have a serious conversation about how to reform Social Security. Just not any time soon, apparently. He twice dodged Romney's simple question: Do you still believe the retirement system is unconstitutional and should be returned to the states? Those are positions Perry staked out in his book. Perry stuck to talking points, saying politicians need to show courage and propose how they would reform Social Security. But he did not. "We ought to have a conversation ...," Perry said before being cut off by Romney. "We're having a conversation now, governor," Romney said. "We're running for president." 8:23 Kathy Kiely Huntsman's too cool for his own good: How many Tea Partiers in the audience know or care who Kurt Cobain is? 8:22 Josh Kraushaar: The debate's in Florida, but it's also being sponsored by the Tea Party Express. One wonders if it's the best venue for Romney to aggressively attack Perry on entitlements. 8:18 Josh Kraushaar: Much crisper Social Security answer from Perry the second time around. If he was more prepared to deal with it at the first debate, he'd have been in better shape.
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