GOP Presidential Debate: Live Analysis
Seven GOP presidential candidates are in Las Vegas, Nev., for a CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate. Throughout the evening, National Journal's editors will use this space to provide instant analysis of the debate's key moments.
10:05 Sean Sullivan: Perry showed signs of fight in him, but his best moments came at the very top of the debate. Romney faced some tough attacks from a variety of directions but played steady defense during his exchange late in the debate against Perry over jobs. And Cain got his first real taste of life at the top of the pack, as his 9-9-9 plan faced an onslaught of criticism form the get-go.
9:50 Sean Sullivan: Late in the debate, Perry and Romney spar over their respective record on jobs, the crucial issue. This is Perry's bread and butter issue, but Romney holds his own on defense when Perry takes digs at his job creating record in Mass. That's what's made Romney tough in all these debates; he's been able to deliver concise rebuttals.
9:48 Kathy Kiely: In bragging about his ability to win election as a Republican in a Democratic-leaning state, Santorum always fails to mention that his last appearance on the ballot: when now-Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, crushed him 59 percent to 41 percent.
9:08 Jessica Taylor: This is perhaps the most we've seen of Rick Santorum in any debate, and he's playing the provocateur. He may be benefiting the most from the absence of Huntsman.
9:03 Tim Alberta: The near-screaming match between Romney and Perry over immigration was as ugly an exchange as we've seen during this primary cycle, and shows both men smell blood on the issue. We've wondered for months whether a non-economic issue would surface as a potential game-changer in the nominating process; it seems we've gotten our answer.
8:51 Kathy Kiely: Las Vegas is accustomed to hosting lots of hard-hitting prize fights but even this audience seems impressed by the punches that are being landed in this debate. Was it the setting of the Iowa caucus date that lit a fire under these cats? Something's got them fired up and, um, ready to go.
8:50 Kathy Kiely: Cain is handling the combative tone better than any of his rivals. He sounds like the reasonable adult in the middle of a food fight.
8:44 Josh Kraushaar: Romney's getting rattled at this debate -- first with Santorum, now with Perry. Immigration's a very volatile issue in Republican primary politics.
8:43 Jessica Taylor: We're only 30 minutes in, and this is the feistiest debate yet -- but it's also providing real differences between the candidates on health care and the economy. It's do or die time now.