CNN/Salem First Found Debate Live Blog/Open Thread

Welcome! In just about five minutes, the first round of the CNN/Salem debate will be underway between Bobby Jindal, [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ], Rick Santorum, and Jim Gilmore Whoops, George Pataki, who might be even less relevant.


I’ll be liveblogging the event here and updating regularly. Refresh for new content and participate in the comments! Enjoy!

5:57pm ET – CNN just finished allowing Jerry Brown an uninterrupted 10 minutes to attack all the GOP candidates. So that’s over with. The stage is set. This being the Reagan library, the over/under on Reagan references during this debate is at 50.

6:08pm – The candidates are coming to the stage. Shame that Jindal has to share the stage with three guys who have no chance and should have no chance.

6:12pm – Tiresome commentary from the pre-debate panel, marveling that all the candidates are trying to portray themselves as outsiders. Every presidential candidate since JFK has tried to portray themselves as outsiders.

6:18pm – The debate has started. Lots of preamble from Tapper here.

6:20pm – Millions of people just remembered that George Pataki exists, as he is introduced last to the stage. Man, what is he even doing here? Rick Santorum is the only candidate who sings along with the national anthem, so his love of America is obviously highest.

6:22pm – George Pataki gets first opening speech, and makes it 6 words in before the first invocation of “Reagan.”

6:24pm – Rick Santorum looks like an SNL actor pretending to be a Presidential candidate – badly.

6:25pm – Bobby Jindal is pretty clearly the only normal person on stage tonight. It’s jarring how much more… regular.. he seems compared to these other three, who are… weird.


6:26pm – Jindal gets the first question, and it’s an eleventh amendment question about Trump. Basically says it doesn’t apply because Trump is neither conservative nor Republican. Gets off a few good laugh lines in the process.

6:27pm – Rick Santorum, who rose to fame by yelling incoherently at Mitt Romney, says he doesn’t believe in personal attacks on other Republicans. Good grief.

6:29pm – Lindsey Graham is asked why he is a loser. Seriously, why he is so far behind Donald Trump in his own state. He responds, but it’s very hard to listen to Graham because he is just kind of staring off into space.

6:32pm – Hugh Hewitt eats George Pataki’s lunch over saying he wouldn’t vote for Trump. Pataki’s response is basically stammering and non-responsive.

6:34pm – Is Lindsey Graham drunk? I’ve seen him on talk shows, he’s normally very capable, but he looks absolutely lost out there tonight.

6:35 – Rick Santorum is trying to answer a question on immigration, he talks for a minute. No clue the point he was trying to make. Jindal interjects and sets forth the basic points of his plan in about 15 seconds. It’s a pretty shocking contrast. Santorum talks for about another minute aimlessly. Dana Bash makes her first appearance for clarification on a Jindal’s points. Jindal says we should arrest mayors of sanctuary cities as accessories.


6:38 – Apparently, we get to have a debate between George Pataki and Lindsey Graham about birthright citizenship. Pataki’s response to the question was so non-responsive that Tapper basically just repeated the question and asked him to try again. Graham’s rejoinder is even more awkward and worse. This is truly painful.

6:42pm – An actually physically painful exchange between Santorum and Graham on birthright citizenship. Graham seems to think he is going to get applause for invoking George W. Bush on immigration. Silence. He randomly stammers through Santorum’s answer, yelling “HISPANICS. ARE AMERICANS. IN MY BOOK.”

6:46pm – Graham delivers his first remarks with conviction of the night in regards to the Syrian refugees. Invokes McCain forcefully. I don’t think Graham has any clue where the GOP electorate is right now. It’s kind of stunning how out of tune he is.

6:48pm – Graham tries to force the other candidates to commit to boots on the ground in Syria. No one really responds.

6:50pm – Jindal gets a question about Ahmed the clock maker. I’m not sure the point of the question but Jindal handles it well. States the obvious point that the 14 year old kid shouldn’t have been handcuffed but it’s good that police are vigilant.

6:53pm – Pataki forcefully says that Kim Davis should have been fired, which wasn’t even part of the question.


6:54pm – Break time. Prepare a cocktail or two, folks.

6:57pm – Santorum gets a question about Kim Davis. Santorum, as expected, stands strongly in favor of Davis. Pataki fires back and gets a surprising amount of applause for saying Davis should have followed the law – probably his biggest applause of the night.

7:04pm – Jindal says that Roberts was a mistake but won’t criticize Santorum or Graham for voting for him. The responsibility is with the President.

7:08pm – Holy crap, Hugh Hewitt is still here. Jindal unloads a pretty good broadside against Graham and Santorum.

7:14pm – Here we go with the annual ritual where the candidates promise tax reforms they cannot deliver. Moving on.


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