GOP Debate Thread – CNN 8pm From Jacksonville Florida

Tonight will be the final debate before the Florida primary.   Newt and Mittens are both strongly attacking eachother with Romney carrying the full support of the “establishment” GOP behind him.    SuperPac’s supporting team Romney have been blasting attack ad’s at Gingrich 24/7 throughout every Florida market.   Tonight has a lot at stake for each candidate.

Please share your thoughts on the CNN debate here.   Your opinion and perspective matters.   The debate is available via simulcast at

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165 Responses to GOP Debate Thread – CNN 8pm From Jacksonville Florida

  1. Who is “in” tonight for the debate?


  2. Ronald Reagan’s eldest son Mike Reagan has issued a statement lambasting Mitt Romney and his supporters for claims that Romney’s Republican presidential rival Newt Gingrich was a strong critic of President Reagan. Reagan says such claims are false.

    Even Rush Limbaugh, shocked by the Romney claims, chimed on his Thursday radio broadcast to say “This is obviously a coordinated attack to take Newt out here in Florida.”

    Rush slammed the Romney-backed smear campaign against Newt.

    “That kind of stuff is why people hate Romney so much,” Limbaugh said.

    Limbaugh added that Newt has always been a conservative from his early days in national talk radio in the 1980s.

    “He was perhaps the premier defender of Ronald Reagan,” Limbaugh said.


  3. I was gonna say hullo on the open but I figured this is where the action would be.

    Though I have to say I’m pretty sick of these debates.


  4. Romney Must Lose !!! This is time to take him down. Period. Take the Doles, The McCains, the whole friggin lot of them at the same time. THE ESTABLISHMENT MUST BE DEFEATED.


    • Auntie Lib says:

      Even though I pretty much consider myself an “establishment” republican – in the sense that I am active in the party (volunteer capacity only), I am not, and never have been, nor never will be, part of the hierarchy. The elite, ruling component of the organization have gone too far in “choosing” the party’s nominees for the past several years. It’s time we pull back on the reins – HARD!


  5. Paulbots swarming the venue outside.


  6. Introductions:

    Santorum – I’m thrilled to be here on the Campus of North Florida. My mom who is 93 is with me tonight. ((((cheers))))
    Newt Gingrich – I’m from neighboring state. Jacksonville the next home of a Nuclear aircraft carrier.
    Romney – Hi I’m Mitt Romney and your not.
    Paul – Hi we need to take apart our military


  7. Sharon says:

    I was going to consider thinking about watching. Don’t think I have the stomach for it. These things aren’t debates. They’re cage fights—the fight managers hate all the fighters and are only interesting in poking them with sticks enough times to make fight with each other. The last thing it has do with is a debate between the folks on the stage. Sick. It’s just plain sick.

    The Paulbots and the Romulans need to be sent out to sea in the same leaky boat that we’re going to shove obama off in next fall. None of them give a rip about the welfare of the nation. None of ’em.


  8. First question: Audience – Immigration legal and illegal?

    Santorum – I agree with Romney, we need to enforce the laws. We are a nation of laws. Grandfather was an immigrant. Disobeying a law with illegal entry is not ok. As a result of all the laws broken that person should not be allowed to stay here. People found illegally need to be deported. I believe in legal immigration. Immigrants bring a vitality, but it needs to be legal.

    Question to Gingrich about “self-deportation”?

    Gingrich – First secure the border, second make legal immigration easier, employer penalties, and controls to institute the rule of law. Where I differ is on long term illegals, grandfathers and grandmothers, I support a long term person being permitted a sponsored path to citizenship.

    Romney – For those who come to the country legally they get an ID card to insure they are here legally to work. If you do that people who cannot work will self-deport. What about the 11 million here. 3 groups of people here illegally. First is those who came illegally, second are the ones brought by mules, third are the ones that are legally trying to get here. The third group should we should make it easier for them.

    Paul – The economic factors are what drives illegal immigration. Visitors have a hard time coming in. The borders are porous but visitors are put through difficulty. Bring troops home to secure the border here.

    Gingrich challenged about calling Romney to unreasonable on immigration (deportation).

    Gingrich we are NOT as a nation going to deport grandmothers and grandfathers after the time they have spent here. Romney would support them being deported. I would not.

    Romney – I am not in favor of deportation. I am talking about enforcing the law. The capacity to work will make them self-deport.

    Gingrich – I’m talking about grandmothers and grandfathers being given a path to citizenship.

    Romney – we don’t have 11 million grandmothers and grandfathers as the problem.

    Question to Romney about running an ad saying “spanish” is the language of the ghetto.

    Romney says he doesn’t know what the ad it about. He didn’t run the ad.

    Gingrich says English should be the official language of the United States.

    Romney – I agree English should be the official language of the US, as it is.


  9. Question about Latin America Policy and leftist influence.

    Ron Paul – The solution is free trade. and bring the military home.

    Santorum – This administration stands in support of leftists. We need to spread freedom and democracy. The threat of radical islam coming on to this side of the world is real. As POTUS I would visit South America frequently.

    Paul – We can achieve the goals without the bully attitude. We send money to buy influence. It ain’t gonna work. You want to bring force. I want to bring home the military.

    Santorum – I don’t know who Ron Paul is listening to but it wasn’t my answer. You cannot ignore leftists trying to influence the people within our continent.

    Blitzer points out that in the prior segment when Romney said that he didn’t know about the ad that in fact he did know about it because at the end of the ad it says “I’m Mitt Romney and I approve of this message.

    Romney BUSTED lying again.


  10. Question about housing crisis?

    Romney attacks Gingrich about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae again.

    Gingrich – I’m sick and tired of these attacks on me. Mitt Romney has investments in companies that foreclose on homes in Florida.

    Romney – I don’t control those investments their are people who are working with my investment portfolio. Newt was a lobbyist for Freddie Mac.

    Gingrich – Funny how you don’t know what ad’s you run, or what investments you hold. Yet you attack me. Comparing my investments to you is like comparing a mouse to an elephant.

    Ron Paul – I don’t have any interest in debating their stock portfolios. I have long advocated for the destruction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they should have gone bankrupt and been broken up in the first place. I have advocated for this for a long time.

    Santorum – I have told people many times that the housing crisis was coming, but what is really getting on my nerve is Gingrich and Romney attacking eachother on personal issues regarding this matter. Can we just agree that Newt used his experience and understanding to advise Freddie Mac, and that Romney worked hard and invested his money in Freddie Mac and just get beyond this entire thing and back to issues?


    • Sharon says:

      And the answer to Santorum’s question would, honestly, have to be, “No. No, we can’t ‘get back to issues.’ ” Since they have never been on issues.

      How on earth can they willingly subject themselves to this public embarassment of Debate 101 again and again and again? Unbelievable.


    • Patriot Dreamer says:

      I actually agree with Ron Paul here.


  11. tnwahm says:

    I’m debating the founder of the Memphis TP on FB right now. He’s a Mittens supporter.


  12. AFinch says:

    Does anyone get the sense that Newt is just in there trying to make everyone better? Don’t get me wrong, I think he wants to win. But I think he also appreciates a good, healthy argument. I think he wanted to give Santorum a pat on the back after his last response.


  13. stellap says:

    I happen to agree with Romney regarding his investments, charitable donations and taxes. Nothing wrong with it, as far as has been seen up to now.


  14. AFinch says:

    I wish someone would ask Santorum why he starts from the premise that the government is entitled to ANY capital gains income. Why?


  15. Question about Transparency. Tax returns.

    Gingrich – I’ve known Rick for a long time and I agree with him. Can’t we just get beyond this stuff.

    Romney – Gingrich won’t back up his attacks on the campaign here tonight.

    Gingrich – Ok, You wanna go there? Fine. I don’t know many Americans with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

    Romney – Again, I don’t control my investments they are in a blind trust and the trustee sent money into Swiss bank accounts. Gingrich is the one making the it an issue. I’m not afraid of holding my work and earnings up for scrutiny.

    Question to Santorum – Why are people wrong in wanting to raise taxes to pay for government.

    Santorum – I take the Reagan approach. If 28% was a top rate for Reagan then it’s good enough for me. I don’t think we need to lower capital gains to zero. In order to deploy capital we just need to have a more equitable tax system.

    Paul – Taxing the rich is not a viable solution. There is too much spending and no matter who pays the tax it will not catch up with the spending. Wall Street using the monetary system to make money and/or use federal money for bailouts to make them money.

    Question to Paul about his age. Will he release his medical records.?

    Ron Paul – sure and I’d challenge any of these candidates to a 25 mile bike ride.
    All other candidates agree to release their health records.


  16. painkillerjayne says:

    for some reason I just can not stand Mitt. Swiss bank acounts and blind trusts didn’t help.


    • Agreed. His response is consistently “I don’t know”, Or “I didn’t know”, or “it’s not under my control” etc. etc.

      Leaders don’t avoid responsibility. They take responsibility.


      • texan59 says:

        This was the biggest burr under my saddle tonight. He pawned off on his “trustee” two or three times. That is lame, sounds elitist, and just confirms (to me) his bona fides as a country club repub.


  17. Romney attacking Gingrich because Gingrich talks about state issues when he travels to those states and talks about things that each individual state needs.

    Ron Paul Attacks Gingrich on the balancing of the budget issue.

    Santorum attacks Gingrich on his ideas being too big and too expensive.

    *** Boy howdy does this look like attack Gingrich night ***


  18. AFinch says:

    Santorum hitting Romney on Romneycare again. He’s doing really, really well tonight.


    • MRM says:

      I do think someone has talked to him about his demeanor. He seems less whiny tonight, and he is consciously controlling his facial expression. It’s helping.


      • AFinch says:

        Yep. He sounds forceful and agressive–not angry and whiny.


        • MRM says:

          yup. I’m a few minutes behind (recorded and started late) but loved what he said about Mitt’s defense of RomneyCare being an issue….. hitting him hard!! and you’re right, he’s forceful – not whiny. I like this new Rick.


  19. LIB-VET says:

    the establishment seem to try to pose answers that they the president, the dictator can fix. the problem is more than that. they have too much power. how about govt get out at all. let the market take effect and lower all cost (with respect to health care) and improve care. get the govt out and lower cost. these people that act like they have the answers is a false promise, seems to have self fulfilling prophecies. they dont have all the answers.. they dont. let the market answer the questions, the gop peeps act like they have..

    RP and the paul bots have an idea. i mean, it get the govt out of if. let the docs have a relationship with the patient. not have the doc consult the patient, then the govt mediate the relationship. ugh.. come on!


    • LIB-VET says:

      haha.. at romney bc of santorum. san man is owning him. it is all about shaping the argument. nothing else. we will vote on the best argument, not the most principled. RP jus said they are all wrong. do not let the govt get involved. what is wrong with that?


      • QuantumVerp says:

        LIb-vet, these guys here are establishment repubs. Just so much freedom and on with big gov!


      • stellap says:

        RP has a lot of good ideas – and lots of bad ones, in MHO. Isn’t this a great country? We all have the right to express our opinions – respectfully, of course. Two of the things that frame opinion are age and experience. You’ll find that yours evolve over time. I’m not saying you will ever agree with me, but I think you will be surprised as time goes on.


  20. I think this is Santorums best showing so far. He is drawing bold lines between himself and Romney / Newt.


  21. tnwahm says:

    Santorum is on tonight.


  22. Santorum needs to take Mittens to the woodshed on Romneycare.


  23. AFinch says:

    Okay–Romney is a smug POS. “It’s not worth getting angry about.”????? Are you kidding me???


  24. AFinch says:

    Notice how Wolfe wants to cut them off now that they’re attacking Obama?


  25. Newt hints at picking Rubio for VP or position higher than cabinet. 😀


    • LIB-VET says:

      I watched the Ides of March (sp?). a good insightful movie about how deals are made. a very scary, but realistic move on newts part.

      again, the best showing of san man. newt is struggling to keep up. RP is attacking the wrong man(newt). Mitt is lost in the sauce and should be looked as a super moderate.

      I am real unbiased. this is what i see..


  26. MRM says:

    seriously???? why would your wife make the best First Lady??? Are we really going to participate in this?? Isn’t that the question you ask when everything else has been exhausted?


  27. Romney getting all smug factor with the FLOTUS question. Shares what agenda they have already formulated for her and what causes she will champion.

    She’s already picked the drapes last week.


  28. Harps and Halos from Santorum.


  29. Romney recognizing the Reagan attacks against Gingrich are stupid, takes a serious strategic angle to avoid the discussion. “I wasn’t in politics” I was busy building companies.


  30. Blitzers bias is slipping….. “what about Ron Paul’s policy”?

    ***Don’t you dare talk about Obama***


  31. Gingrich on Cuba – pressing the freedom agenda to overthrow Castro. A specific agenda to support democracy and freedom in Cuba.


  32. AFinch says:

    Good answer from Romney on Israel.


  33. A Palestinian Republican? (where did they find him?)


  34. 5 out of 6 questions from hispanics. This one from Puerto Rico.


  35. Puerto Rico is a de-facto arm of the DNC. 50% of PR residents are on US government assistance programs. Cut em loose. They cost too much.


  36. Rick Santorum losing me on leaving the door open for PR to become a state.? Let them decide? WTF.


  37. How would your religious beliefs affect your presidency? Sheeesh another liberal republican.

    Ron Paul – My religious belief supports my values, my character, my stability, but would not influence policy.

    Romney – In addition I would seek divine providence in decisionmaking.

    Gingrich – Three ways in which religion affects me. 1.) It is ok to go to God with the big questions. 2.) Religion should be a part of who you are 3.) There has been a particular attack on religion and especially Christianity and true religious freedom should be removed from the state.

    Santorum – Religion is a part of my foundation. Endowed by their creator”…, as in God given rights”, some say faith has nothing to do with it, faith has everything to do with it. The role of the government is to protect the rights that are from our creator not from govt.

    Santorum and Gingrich did really good in that part.


  38. AFinch says:

    Santorum just gave a great answer re America being founded on faith-based values.


  39. LIB-VET says:

    going to bed. san man is owning everyone.. though i think he is a super right winger, he has dominated the questions presented. i like the religious answers, though i think he left it open to put in his Evangelical dogma, it was a good answer to natural rights (Locke).


  40. Why are you better than obama and can beat him?

    Ron Paul – civil liberties are uniting. In national polls I can beat Obama. My positions underline Obama completely. A constitutional foreign policy will undermine Obama and my understanding of free markets.

    Romney – This is a time of great importance. This is about the heart of America. We are in danger of going in the wrong direction. I believe we will need extraordinary change in Washington DC. If you want to change Washington you need to bring someone else in from the outside. I’ve had experience in Governorship and in private life. My experience is how I will beat him.

    Gingrich – I’ve participated in the two largest Republican sweeps in our history. What I believe this fall is we have a big choice to make. I am running for my grandchildren. Do we want freedom and independence, or more dependency. We need an American campaign and we need a big campaign of restoring America.

    Santorum – This is a big election. An election of freedom. From the bottom up or from the top down. I’m not in support of Big Government. I’m not into bailouts they are. I’m not into cap-n-trade, they are. Obama is focusing on manufacturing jobs because they are Reagan Democrats, that has been the central point of focus on my campaign. I can defeat obama by getting centrist Democrats to vote for me.


  41. Staying on CNN for the post-game talks with Cooper and his panel.


  42. Cooper just said Romney has a new debate coach. That might explain Mittens improvement.

    Gergen gives Santorum a shout out and says that he thinks Romney had a great night. Romney people should be happy tonight.

    Blitzer says all did good. Exchanges were tough. Again says Santorum did really well.

    Ari Fleisher says you can’t say any other way other than Mitt Romney was the big winner. Gingrich was flat. Rick Santorum was strong. Ron Paul was funny.


  43. Spin Room chatter is all about how Romney is annointed. Snap I thought the vote was Tuesday. Didn’t know Romney was already the winner.


  44. Ms. Tee says:

    Oh and I just woke up, so I missed the fun. I hope Jville represented! I have peeps there. They ain’t Repubs but still.. 🙂


  45. Still can’t figure out how 5 of 7 questions could be from hispanics? Def. not random.


  46. TEAM CNN is all about endorsing Mittens 😦


  47. Patriot Dreamer says:

    Bill Maher: Obama Will Beat Romney ‘Like a Runaway Sister-Wife’

    I’m no fan of Mittens, but that is just an evil thing to say. Maher is a jerk.


    • No kidding. Speaking of Maher (may the curse of crotch herpes be upon him), does anyone know if it’s really true that he used to date that nameless chick (rhymes with Jan Moulter)? I saw something years ago and assumed it was just wishful thinking on Maher’s part, but somebody just said it recently like it was a fact. Really? If true, she’s more batsh*t crazy than I thought.


      • Patriot Dreamer says:

        I have also heard this. Not sure if it’s true or just rumor. My gut says true, though. Ugh.


        • Thanks, PD. I’ve gotten mixed search results, but it looks quite possibly true. I guess she may have been more disturbed than we thought, all along. After all, Bill is a truly vile, disgusting, evil little man, by any standard. The thought of any poor woman dating him makes me want to puke, even if they deserve it for being stupid. The only one I can imagine doing it willingly is Hilary Clinton, and then, only with 4 or 5 Grey Goose’s on the rocks.


        • Ad rem says:

          I checked around and most sites say they have no proof. He denied it when interviewed by Larry King…..FWIW. Ewwwww…..grosses me out just thinking about it. She’s like a foot taller than him too.


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