PolicyMic is live blogging tonight’s GOP debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the first of two before Saturday’s S.C. primary. Five candidates will take the stage after Jon Huntsman left the presidential race this morning.
The debate is sponsored by the South Carolina Republicans, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal. The debate begins at 9 p.m. EST:
10:49: Rick Perry wants predator drones flying up and down the Mexico border to defend America from illegal immigration.
10:45: Gingrich make a low-blow and says that Romney’s claims that he has no control over his super PAC makes us question how much control Romney would have over the government if he were president.
10:42: Why is Santorum going after Ron Paul on gun issues? Is he picking the wrong target? Should he be focused on Romney?
10:33: In South Carolina, can't wait for the social issues section. Could be very spicy.
10:27: As usual, Gingrich's strength is most definitely his position on social security. Sounds more comfortable on this issue then all others.
10:19: Romney making a strong second half push by talking about America maintaining as strong a military as possible.
10:10: It's been over 30 mins since Rick Perry has spoken a word.
10:05: Ron Paul’s rambling answers on foreign policy are losing my interest. Right idea that we need to keep international law in mind, but too unfocused in his responses. Hard questions from the moderator about bin Laden. Antiwar policies don't play well in South Carolina.
9:56: My question for the candidates (I just Tweeted in): "President Obama captured and killed Osama bin Laden. How could any of you be better on foreign policy or national security?"
9:51: Ron Paul says that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be "with him" on antiwar issues and the war on drugs. He's getting booed for his comments on the poor and racial minorities. His positions are indefensible if you ask me.
9:45: Pitiful. Moderator Juan Williams asks Romney a question about immigration, leads with "Your father was born in Mexico," and the crowd starts booing wildly. #racism #nativism
9:42: All candidates say we should have a flat tax. Romney says paying more than 25 percent is taking out of wealthy people’s pockets. Ron Paul says there should be no taxes whatsoever.
9:41: Ron Paul says that spending money on bases in Iraq is “waste.” He's making a distinction between military and defense spending. Warns Americans to watch out for the military-industrial complex.
9:24: At the first break, debate is not going well for Romney.
9:20: Romney is getting skewered and looks off his game. Responding to Rick Santorum's question "Do felons that have served their time (parolees) have the right to vote?" Romney says people who commit violent crimes "should not be allowed to vote again." Wow.
9:16: Responding to a question about whether GOP advertisements have gotten too extreme, Ron Paul takes a dig at Rick Santorum, saying, the "only regret I have is that I couldn't get enough in that one minute [ad] that I should have," attacking the fact that Santorum supports "deficits times five."
8:55 PM Early buzz suggests that tonight's drama is all about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and whether he'll be able to stay in the race. With Huntsman officially out, South Carolina marks the test for whether Perry has any draw in southern circles. If he has one of his characteristically poor debate performances, it could spell the end for Perry.
All eyes will also be on the rivalry between Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum for who will take second place, as the leading challenger to Mitt Romney.
Debate to begin shortly.
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