The debate begins at 7:00 CST. In the meantime, who do you most want to hear from or learn about in this debate?
Update 7:01: Here we go. The candidates are introducing themselves. Rick Santorum, now Michelle Bachmann. Newt: "We need a new president to end the Obama depression." Mitt Romney: "Hopefully we get it right this time." Ron Paul: "I delivered 4,000 babies...now I defend the Constitution." T-Paw, Herman Cain: "I am NOT a politician, I am a problem solver."
Update 7:05: A question about jobs. What are the plans for jobs? Cain goes first. "The thing we need to do is get the economy boosted...this economy is like a train stuck on the tracks." He suggests putting money into the private sector.
To T-Paw: "Where's the proof that cutting taxes will create jobs?" Pawlenty says his plan involves much more than cutting taxes. He has a 5% growth target and a pro-American energy policy.
To Romney: "Is 5% overly optimistic?" Romney compliments Pawlenty's "instincts" and then quotes the dire economic numbers. "This president has failed," he says. "He delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid...".
To Newt, a question on higher taxes for the wealthy. "The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business....". He calls for repeal for Dodd-Frank.
Update 7:11: Bachmann announces she has filed her paperwork. She says a formal announcement will be coming soon.
Update 7:15: Ron Paul: "We haven't developed any new jobs in the past decade!" The moderator cuts everyone off after 30 seconds which is sort of distracting. Everyone rushes to get as much in as they can and King cuts them off pretty much as soon as they get going.
Question: What steps would you take to defund and repeal Obamacare? Bachmann: "I was the first member of Congress to file to repeal Obamacare." She promises that as president she WILL repeal Obamacare. Lofty.
She cites CBO saying Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs. With Obamacare, she says, a half trillion dollars was shifted from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.
Update 7:20: Romney also promises to repeal Obamacare. He tries to distinguish Romneycare from Obamacare, without much success as far as I can see. T-Paw gets the next question - why "Obamneycare." King wants him to answer why does he refer to it as "Obamneycare" and Pawlenty says because Obama looked to Romneycare as a model. King is baiting here trying to get T-Paw to go after Mitt. He's not biting.
Mitt: "Mr President, why didn't you give me a call? I'd have told you what did and didn't work!" Good line!
Update 7:25: Newt now. "This campaign can't just be about the presidency. We have to pick up seats in the House and the Senate!" If you want to repeal Obamacare you have to have a majority. Good point.
An audience question. "How will you convince myself that you'll bring a balance and not torn from one side or the other?" Lame question. As soon as T-Paw begins to answer, King cuts him off again. Asks him about the Tea Party to which T-Paw says "It's great." King goes to Bachmann, "What I've seen in the Tea Party...is really made up of disaffected democrats, independents, people who have never been politically active before in their life which is why the left fears them so much."
Bachmann gets a cheer with "President Obama will be a one term president!"
Finally to Cain. "Address the concern that some people in the Tea Party are too negative and too critical." Cain says they are not. You must, he says, "be sure you're workin' on the right problem....I will be sure to do what's right and not what's politically right. Cain says this administration has "excluded the people."
King plugs the upcoming Tea Party debate.
Update 7:30: "How will you bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States?" Ron Paul says we need to "invite capital back." Our money stays overseas, he says. We have to quit printing money and entice people to repatriate their money. "As long as we run a program of deliberately weakening our currency our money will continue to go overseas."
Bachmann: The United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. We need to bring that down. "We need to pass the mother of all repeal bills" that get rid of job killing regulations like the EPA.
Question to T-Paw: "Where do you fall on right-to-work and would you support a right to work law?" He says the government has no business there and fully supports right to work regulation. "We don't have a government tell us what organizations we should be in. We tell the government what to do."
Newt says we should defund the National Labor Relations Board. Newt advocates keeping right-to-work at the state level.
To Cain: He believes in right-to-work and he backs what Newt said. "The free market system is what made this economy great and we need to keep that system."
Update 7:40: They just took a break and are back now after playing a silly game called "This or That": Elvis or Johnny Cash to Bachmann. She says both.
Question to Ron Paul: "Given the current state of the economy what kind of government assistance would you plan for private enterprise?" None. He says it's immoral and not in the Constitution. It's a fallacy to think that government and bureaucrats should manage the economy, Paul says.
To Cain: "You initially supported the TARP program...." Cain says he studied the financial meltdown and concluded that we needed to do something drastic but pulled back when the administration began picking and choosing and selecting winning and losers. "I don't believe in this concept of too big to fail."
To Romney: A question about the auto industry. "Would you say the bailout program was a success?" No. "It was not a success because it wasted a lot of money." He says they should have gone through bankruptcy and re-emerged in a way to get on their feet again. $17 billion was wasted. "Obama put his hands on the scales of justice and gave the money to the UAW," says Romney.
Update 7:48: Newt - the bailout was a "tip to the cronies."
Bachmann: I was in on this debate, I was behind closed doors. "I fought behind closed doors against my own party on TARP."
A question for Newt about the space program. "What role should the government play in future space exploration?" Newt says "NASA has become an absolute case study on why bureaucracy can't innovate." It's a tragedy, he says. NASA should be encouraging the private sector, he says.
Pawlenty says we shouldn't eliminate the space program just retool it. Newt defends what he said - "I didn't say we should end the space program...I said we should end the bureaucracy."
Romney tried to jump in on the topic but he gets cut off.
A question about the housing market. Pawlenty says the market has to adjust; Obama's programs have been a failure. We have to get the economy moving again, he says, and growing government is not the way to do it.
Ron Paul says the government shouldn't be involved in all. We need to "clear the market" he says.
A food safety question for Cain. "Should the federal government be doing food safety inspections." Cain says yest but he wants to talk about the housing market so he blows off that question. He talks about the housing market.
Romney, in response to a FEMA funding question, says it's just immoral to rack up all this debt and pass it on to our kids and grandkids.
Newt: Dancing with the Stars or American Idol? Newt says American Idol. Bachmann guffaws.
Update 7:58: Blackberry or iPhone to Ron Paul. Much thought. "Blackberry."
Finally the Medicare questions. Ron Paul: "It's not solvent...it has to change...we have to have more competition in medicine." We have to cut a lot of money and this money ought to be cut from foreign welfare and foreign militarism... "We need to give people a choice to opt out of the whole system." Why can't we opt out and take care of ourselves!? Applause.
Newt says he supported the Ryan budget. "We all got mad at Obama when he ran over us." You've got to convince the American people, he says.
Santorum supports Paul Ryan's proposal. He says Obamacare will be rationed care from the top.
Cain says "We don't need to slow down." The reason we're in the situation we're in today with social security in medicare is that the problem hasn't been solved. Cain supports the Ryan proposal and calls him courageous.
Update 8:10: Romney: Entitlements are about 60% of all federal spending. Why isn't the president leading? He's not leading on balancing the budget and he's not leading on jobs.
Bachmann says we have to have "serious spending cuts."
A question about the separation of church and state and how that will affect decision making. Pawlenty says "We are a nation founded under God...the Founding Fathers recognized that the blessings we have come from our Creator." Applause.
Santorum: Use faith and reason.
Ron Paul: Faith has something to do with the character of the people who represent us. We can't teach people how to be moral. Congress should never prohibit the expression of your faith in a public place.
The Muslim question to Cain: Cain says he would NOT be comfortable placing a Muslim in his cabinet because we have peaceable Muslims and Muslims who want to kill us. He says he does not believe in sharia law and that sharia law should not influence American laws.
Cain says he would NOT have a "purity test." Cain says he would ask certain questions in an interview to be sure a person is committed to the Constitution.
Romney: "Of course we're not going to have sharia law in American courts. That's never going to happen." Romney says "We treat people with respect regardless of their religion." He explains that obviously anyone in his administration would be someone he knows and is comfortable with.
Newt: If you're not comfortable defending the United States, you aren't in my administration. "Period." Newt's not about being politically correct at all!
To Cain: Deep dish or thin crust? In a deep voice, he says, "Deep dish." Hah!
Update 8:30: To Romney. Spicy or mild wings? Spicy! And he gives the hockey score. Applause.
To Bachmann. "As president what influence would you use to overturn state laws" about same sex marriage. "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman." She says there are lot of single families and lots of extenuating circumstances and that's why she is a foster mother. She avoided the question. When pressed, she says as president she would not interfere with state laws.
Are you a George W. Bush republican or a Cheney republican? What kind of question is that!?
Cain answers with "state decision."
Ron Paul: Get the government out of it! The government shouldn't give us a license to get married; it should be in the church!
On Don't Ask Don't Tell: would you leave it or change it?
Cain: I never would have overturned don't ask don't tell in the first place, but as president I wouldn't create a distraction by trying to overturn it.
Romney: It should have been kept in place until the conflict was over. We really ought to be talking about the economy though.
Newt: I'd listen to the commanders.
Bachmann. I'd keep Don't Ask Don't Tell. I'd confer with the commanders (but then do what I want to anyway.)
To Santorum on Romney's changed position on abortion. Santorum says you should look at a person's overall record. The issue of pro-life, the sanctity and dignity of a life, even at the end of life, will be top priority for me.
Romney: People have had a chance to look at my record. People understand I am firmly pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of life from beginning to end.
A question for Bachmann about abortion. "I'm 100% pro-life." I believe in the sanctity of human life. "Only God can give and only God can take." "I stand for life from conception to natural death."
Update 8:35: An immigration question - "How will you as president prevent illegal immigrants from using our health care, education and welfare systems?"
Santorum says he believes in legal immigration but the feds should not require states to provide government services to illegals. We should be offering them government benefits.
To Ron Paul: We shouldn't have the mandates. We've bankrupted the hospitals and the schools in Texas. We should be protecting our borders and not the borders in Iraq and Afghanistan. Applause.
Paul says the weak economy has slowed illegal immigration.
To Cain: If two illegals came in should their child be considered legal? Cain says no. Secure the borders. Enforce the laws we already have. Promote the path to citizenship by cleaning up the bureaucracy. Empower the states to do what the federal government hasn't done and won't do.
To Pawlenty: I'm a strong supporter of states rights but if the feds won't do it, let the states do it. On birthright citizenship - we should appoint conservative justices.
To Newt on illegal immigration: One of the reasons this country is in so much trouble is we are determined among our political elites is to draw up catastrophic consequences. Newt says Cain is right - control the border. We'd have done more for American security, he says, if we'd used the National Guard to secure the border.
It's not really a yes/no answer, Newt says. There are "human, practical steps" to solve the problem.
To Ron Paul, a question about imminent domain. The courts should get out of the way, Paul says. They shouldn't take land from people to provide advantages to another group.
To Romney: Land should not be taken by government to be given to a private individual. It's the wrong way to go. For energy independence, we should develop our own resources and we're not doing that.
To Santorum a question about ethanol. Santorum favors phasing out the ethanol subsidy over five years time. We should also phase out the tariff on ethanol coming into this country. He says the ethanol industry is quite capable of surviving and going ahead without government help.
This or that. Coke or Pepsi to Pawlenty. "Coke."
Update 8:55: Question: Isn't it time to bring our combat troops home?
Romney: As soon as we possibly can. Eeeek. Romney goofed on Taliban military when he meant Afghan military, but quickly corrected. Romney says the troops should come home when the generals say so. He says America should not go into another country and fight for their independence. Only Afghanistan can win Afghanistan's independence.
Ron Paul of course, says we have no purpose there and we need to get the hell out. I'm paraphrasing.
A question on Libya for Bachmann - Secretary Gates could not identify any American interest in Libya. We have no business there. "The president was wrong." "The president deferred leadership in Libya to France. That's all you need to know." Heh! "What possible vital American interest do we have..." there?
To Newt: Yes, the price tag is a factor; that's a part of the decision. Newt says what Bachmann said ought to sober everyone; ten years after 9/11 our foreign intelligence is so weak that we have no idea what the situation in Libya is. Good point.
To Cain: It starts with making sure we understand the problem. Is it in the vital interest of America? The answer here is no. "It's a mess. It's just an absolute mess and there's more we don't know than we do know."
Santorum defends the case for military bases overseas to address threats that arise. He says Obama has turned his back on American allies and embraced our enemies.
Break. At this point, Bachmann has done great and Romney has held up well too. Ron Paul is, well, Ron Paul. I'm not thrilled with Santorum or T-Paw. Milquetoast. Bleh. Herman Cain has been steady but not stellar like he has been in the past. It might be the forum. Newt is trying. He's ...authoritative.
Last update: To Cain a question on polls and public sentiment. He said he believes that polls to represent a barometer but it's still real early in the process. He believes this is actually a good field of candidates - and gets applause.
To T-Paw a running mate question. Who made the best choice Obama or McCain? Awkward! Pawlenty cites Biden's plan to partition Iraq. He defends Palin and says she's qualified to be President and says Biden is wrong on everything. Nice save.
Mitt - Anyone on this stage would be a better president than President Obama. He's failed on everything. "This is the first time we've had a president with no foreign policy!"
To Bachmann: If you had to hire only one of the candidates on this stage who would it be and why? Dumb. She says she'd have an American Idol contest. Nice save!
To Ron Paul - I'd invite everyone! When pressed to pick one, he says he'd have to be a "bit more quizzing."
To Santorum - What have you learned in the last two hours? "We've got a great field of candidates!"
Bachmann: "I've learned more about the goodness of the American people!"
Newt: Once again New Hampshire has proven why it's first in the primary!
Romney: We've got to get the economy moving again!
Cain: "All of these candidates up here share one thing in common. It's about the children and the grandchildren. We're not that far apart on the big issues."
Not bad, but what a ride it would have been with Palin up there! Love her or hate her, she makes it interesting.
If I had to pick a winner, well, again, Romney did really well and so did Bachmann.
But it's early.
And now it's late. So I'm off. Did you watch? What did you think?
(Photo via Hot Air)