Republican/Democratic Debate Thread: Desperate Mitt and Slightly Less Desperate Hillary Edition


It starts at 7 on ABC. Discuss it here—I may or may not be around to blog it. And I'm scrapping my idea of splitting the thread: Enjoy this one giant leviathan thread.

I ended up attending another Paul volunteer shindig at 7:30.

7:36: Ah, I'll one day miss the sound of Ron Paul fans smacking around Giuliani. He says "the war against Islamic extremism," they shout "Kill 'em all, Gulie!" He talks about his power to do so: "Forget the Constitution, right? Go back to New York!"

7:38: Charlie Gibson can't find anything to chide Ron Paul about. Big cheers at the Paul party.

7:41: The crowd here is utterly convinced that Thompson and Huckabee are stealing from Paul when they invoke the Constitution.

7:42: Well, Paul feels much the same way. "You can't pay lip service to the Constitution." Fist-pumping and yelling in the Paul bar.

7:43: Excellent cut to McCain smirking when Paul talks about foreign policy: "If we don't like them we bomb them, if we do like them we give them money."

7:45: These health care rounds are as awkward as the Democrats' Iran rounds. Giuliani proclaims we have the best health care system in the world: the bar yells "Bullshit!"

7:49: The room's response to Romney's description of Massachusetts health care: "Lies! LIES!" I'll disagree. Romney really only sounds credible when he's wonking it out about economics and health care.

7:51: A hilarious exchange between Paul and Thompson, the one man Paul is absolutely assured of beating next week. He sarcastically repeats Paul's answer and rolls it around on his tongues. "I'm just trying to slow it down so I can understand." "Keep trying," Paul says, off-camera.

7:57: I can't help but remember that fixing our health care system to focus on prevention was basically the central plank of the Natural Law Party. It's what Huckabee's saying, too.

7:58: There's the surging, populist McCain Jonathan Chait warned us/implored us to love in the early oughts.

8:00: "Don't turn the pharmacuetical companies into bad guys," Romney says. I don't think there's a political party on earth where that would be a vote-winning line, but I bet he believes it.

8:04: I don't know if the national broadcast has the same ads as the local WMUR broadcast, but we just got Joe Kennedy's ad/apology for taking Citgo oil for Citizens Energy. "This oil is from Venezuela. Some people say it's wrong to take it."

8:09: The reaction here when Giuliani mentioned ID cards was all I hoped for: "Chip! Chip! Chip! Chip in the head! Chip the animals!"

8:15: Hah! I was just about to join a conversation here about how much Rudy was talking about Reagan, like Reagan died on 9/11 or something. And then Rudy says "if Ronald Reagan was here, he'd say I paid for this microphone."

8:16: A fusion ticket moment: Fred elbows Rudy when he refuses to expel all Mexicans from the lower 48. A lone voice yells "Give 'im hell, Fred!"

8:17: He invoked Reagan to… uh… hint that he might sign an amnesty if he was president.

8:25: So far the answers on how these candidates would face Barack Obama aren't very convicing, not least because Fred Thompson can only name one interest group ("The NEA and, uh, others"). Romney says he can be the candidate of change, which has a great potential for giggles if attacked the right way.

8:27: McCain responds with some sweet Victor Von Doom cackling at Romney's answer. "I agree, you are the candidate of "change." I almost want Romney to respond by cackling back. Instead there's some quibbling about the Senate cloakroom.

8:34: Two questions in a row for Paul, about how he'd run against Obama—he talks about the youth vote but runs over and repeats himself—and the price of oil. Anti-war populism all over the place: "Oil was $27 a barrel when he went into Iraq to protect the oil, to take the oil!"

8:43: God, I hope somebody put bugs under that desk.

Stick around for the Democrats… I'm not blogging blow-by-blow because I'm milling around talking to Paul people. Whenever a candidate says "change," people lift their glasses and take swigs.

9:35: Clinton's big attack on Obama—a laundry list, something she's gotten too familiar with—is stomped on by both Obama and Edwards.

9:44: The Republican debates are more frustrating (and, typically, fun) than the Democratic debates because they're so focused on history and the past stances of the candidates. The Democrats have an inherent advantage as long as this primary goes on, because they're not really talking about what they believed in the past. The exceptional issue: Iraq. Everyone's scrambling to explain their positions before 2007 and during the surge, and Obama runs awfully quickly to the fact that he spoke out against it in 2003.