Live Analysis: GOP Presidential Debate
Nine Republican presidential candidates are gathered in Orlando, Florida, for a debate co-sponsored by Fox News and Google. National Journal's editors will use this space to offer real-time analysis of the debate throughout the evening.
11:04 Sean Sullivan: Romney turned in another steady performance, leveling criticism at Perry on immigration and playing quick defense against Perry's barbs. Perry didn't have to contend with secondary candidates going after him as much as he did last time, but he did have to contend with himself, as he fumbled his flip-flop charge against Perry and once again did not appear at ease when discussing foreign policy/national security. Finally, Gary Johnson will probably fade into the background again, but his shovel-ready comment won't. Count on seeing his zinger in just about every story tomorrow morning.
10:53 Kathy Kiely: There's a lot that could be said about Rick Perry's suggestion that you could "mate up" Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain to come up with a dream running mate, but maybe it would be safest to just leave it at this: We now understand why the governor got a C in Animal Breeding at Texas A&M
10:45 Josh Kraushaar: Line of the night from Gary Johnson: My next-door neighbors' dogs have created more shovel-ready projects than this president.
10:39 Sean Sullivan: The broader flip-flopping charge against Romney was offered (ineffectively) by Perry at a point when he could have gone after Romney specifically over the health care plan he signed in Massachusetts. Perry tried to go bigger but missed an opportunity to hit Romney where it hurts.
10:34 Josh Kraushaar: As he's done in the past debates, Perry's fading towards the final stretch. He flubbed his prepared attack line against Romney on his flip-flopping.
10:20 Sean Sullivan: One of the defining characteristics of the last debate: the extent to which candidates not named Romney went after Perry. We're seeing less of that this time and instead, more JV side scrimmages between Johnson/Bachmann and Santorum/Huntsman.
10:18 Julie Sobel: When Huntsman, who's been a non-factor so far in this debate, finally goes on the attack, his target is Santorum. Santorum is still the only second tier candidate who's mixed it up with the frontrunners in this debate.
10:13 Kathy Kiely: Bachmann seizing a moment to blast Cuba, a sure applause line in a state that is home to many Cuban exiles and their children. But she's having to pick a fight with Gary Johnson. Romney and Perry are still focused on each other.
10:10 Kathy Kiely: Parsing words? Perry's press shop just sent out a releasing saying that Perry "never said Social Security was unconstitutional" and offering this quote as evidence: "And there stands a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal, in stark contrast to the mythical notion of salvation to which it has wrongly been attached for too long, all at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government."
No, he didn't use the "u-word." He said Social Security came at "the expense of respect for the Constitution."