Live blog of CNN's first-ever Tea Party Republican Debate
September 12th, 2011
07:29 PM ET
3 years ago

Live blog of CNN's first-ever Tea Party Republican Debate

Eight Republican candidates participate in the first Tea Party Republican Debate Monday on CNN. Read the live blog below. Follow all the issues and campaign news about the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter. Watch the debate on CNN TV, CNN.com and mobile devices.

10:31 p.m. ET@JenScogginsCNN Spin Room at #CNNTeaParty Debate yfrog.com/ntms4oj

10:17 p.m. ET@CNNPR Photo: @TheHermanCain in the #CNNTeaParty spin room. yfrog.com/h0e62xzj

9:53 p.m. ET@DanaPerino I'm with Cain – bring a sense of humor...PLEASE!

9:51 p.m.ET– Huntsman: I'd bring my Harley Davidson and my motorcross bike.

9:51 p.m. ET–Cain: A sense of humor, Americans are too uptight.

9:51 p.m. ET–Bachmann: Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution

9:51 p.m. ET–Romney: A bust of Winston Churchill.

9:50 p.m. ET–Perry: The most beautiful, most thoughtful, incredible first lady the nation has ever seen, my wife Anita.

9:50 p.m. ET–Paul: A bushel basketful of common sense. A course in economics.

9:50 p.m. ET-–Gingrich: Well, first of all, I would reduce the White House by kicking out all the White House czars the first day, creating a lot more space. And then, because of Callista's interest, we'd have a lot more music, because of my granddaughter, Maggie, we'd have ballet, and because of my grandson, Robert, we'd have a very large chess set. So it'll all come together.

9:50 p.m. ET –Santorum: We have 7 children. We'd add a bedroom, or bring some beds to the White House.

9:49 p.m. ET–Q: What would you bring to the White House if you were president?

9:46 p.m. ET@DWStweets Hispanic voters were sent a pretty clear message tonight about how GOP field feels about their priorities. #notwelcomehere #CNNTeaParty

9:46 p.m. ET–Perry: We need to keep a presence there.

9:45 p.m. ET@AriFleischer: Ron Paul meets deep end. Dives in. #CNNTeaParty

9:44 p.m. ET–Huntsman: We are 10 years into this war, Sahar. America has given its all in Afghanistan. The time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan. We don't need 100,000 troops there when this nation needs to be built.  When we start shining again, it's going to help the women of Afghanistan, along with any other NGO work that can be done there and the collaborative efforts of great volunteer efforts here in the United States. We can get it done, but we have to make sure that the Afghan people increasingly take responsibility for their security going forward.

9:43 p.m. ET–Q from audience: I was brought here from Ronald Reagan. I am from Afghanistan.
What will you do to secure safety and protection of the women and the children of Afghanistan from the radicals?

9:42 p.m. ET–Paul: As long as this country follows that idea, we're going to be under a lot of danger. This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this, and they're attacking us because we're free and prosperous, that is just not true.

9:41 p.m. ET–Santorum to Paul: On your Web site on 9/11, you had a blog post that basically blamed the United States for 9/11. On your Web site, yesterday, you said that it was our actions that brought about the actions of 9/11.  That is irresponsible. Someone who is running for the president of the United States in the Republican Party should not be parroting what Osama bin Laden said on 9/11. We are not being attacked because of our actions.

9:40 p.m. ET–Paul: I'm tired of all the militarism we're involved in and wasting this money. There's a lot of room to cut on the military, but not on defense. We're under great threat because we occupy so many countries.

9:39 p.m.ET–Q from Twitter: Do you believe in cutting military spending to balance spending? Or do you believe high spending is essential to security?

9:37 p.m. ET–Cain: Remove barriers by the federal government. I would start with an EPA that's gone wild.

9:37 p.m. ET–Q from Phoenix, Arizona: What will you do to ensure that energy independence will finally become a reality?

9:37 p.m. ET@AnnCoulter I didn't mind the vaccine, social security is a ponzi scheme, but the illegal immigration issue is killing Perry.

9:36 p.m. ET–Huntsman: Fix Homeland Security.

9:35 p.m. ET@PaulBegala: Boos for Perry & his DREAM Act for children who came to TX w/undoc parents. I'm beginning to think this crowd is right-wing. #CNNTeaParty

9:35 p.m. ET–Perry: This is a states' rights issue. And that was to give people the opportunity to go on to college and not be a drag on the system. It worked well and it works for the state of Texas.

9:34p.m. ET–Romney: The question was how to we attract Hispanic votes. And the answer is tell them what they know in their heart and that's that they and their ancestors did not come here for a handout. Of course we build a fence. Of course we don't' give in-state tuition credits to people who come here illegally.

9:32 p.m. ET@PeterHambyCNN Bachmann & Santorum doing what they needed to do tonight: Not let up on Perry, stay punchy, be as conservative as possible

9:32 p.m. ET–Huntsman: For Rick to say that you can't secure the border is I think pretty much a treasonous comment. We can secure the border through the use of fences...we can get it done.

9:31 p.m. ET–Bachmann: That's not the American way.

9:31 p.m. ET–Perry: In the state of Texas if you're working and pursuing citizenship, you pay in-state tuition and it doesn't matter how your last name sounds.

9:30 p.m. ET@rolandsmartin: Santorum wants English as the official language on what to do to attract Latino voters. Yep, that'll do it, Rick! LOL #CNNTeaParty

9:30 p.m. ET–Santorum: What Perry's done is give illegal immigrants scholarships.

9:30 p.m. ET–Q from Twitter: What are the candidates doing to attract Latino voters?

9:29 p.m.ET–Perry says he has more experience than anyone else on the stage when dealing with immigration. Perry: 1200 miles of Texas and Mexico and our federal government has been an abject failure at securing our border. The idea that you're going to build a wall is just not reality. What you have to have is boots on the ground.

9:28 p.m. ET–Santorum: We need to build more fence, we need to secure the border using technology and more personnel. After the borders are secure, then we can deal with the problems that are in this country.

9:27 p.m. ET–Q from Cincinnati, Ohio: What would you do to remove illegal immigrants from this country?

9:20 p.m. ET @David_Gergen: Debate losing steam? So interesting that people watching so divided in responses - some love, others horrified. Splintering.

9:20 p.m. ET–Bachmann: No state should be able to force anyone to buy anything. This is the election that's going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not.

9:18 p.m. ET–Paul: That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. It's about individual responsibility. I've worked in hospitals, we've never turned anyone away. We should legalize alternative health care and allow people to do what they want.

9:18 p.m. ET–Q: If an uninsured 30-year-old has a serious accident, who would pay for treatment under your health plan?

9:17 p.m. ET@murphymike: That screaming laughter you hear in the distant air is the POTUS doing a wild happy arm flapping super jig in WH while watching all this.

9:15 p.m. ET–Romney stands by his law in Massachusetts.  Romney: I'm not running for governor, I'm running for president. On day one as president I'd repeal Obamacare. Says what he did and what the president did are very different.

9:14 p.m. ET@PaulBegala: Perry stumbles and stammers on rebuttal to HPV attack. Seems hesitant. Does he sense he's vulnerable to cronyism attack? #CNNTeaParty

9:14 p.m. ET–Cain: Repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Pass loser-pay laws. Restructure Medicare.

9:14 p.m. ET–Q from Orange Park, Florida: What will you do to reduce the cost of health care?

9:12 p.m. ET–Santorum: What Gov. Perry is saying is he believes his policy was right. I believe it was wrong. This was bad policy and it should not have been done.

9:10p.m. ET–Perry: The company was Merck. The donation was $5,000. I've raised $30 million on my own. I can't be bought for $5,000. If you're suggesting I can, I'm offended.

9:10 p.m. ET@rolandsmartin: Ooh! Bachmann went there! She is trying to tie the drug company with the vaccination in Texas to campaign contributions #CNNTeaParty

9:10 p.m. ET--Bachmann accuses Perry of benefiting from executive order in Texas

9:08 p.m. ET–Perry: If I had it to do over again (signing executive order requiring vaccine against cervical cancer in Texas), I would do it differently. But what was driving me was making a difference in young people's lives. I will use an executive order to get rid of as much of Obamacare as I can.

9:07 p.m. ET–Paul: They've been grossly abused by the administration for years. It should never be used to legislate. That's what is so bad.

9:06 p.m. ET–Q from Virginia: How frequently should executive order be signed?

9:05 p.m. ET–Romney: The idea of a national sales tax has a lot to go for it. It would make us more competitive globally and level the playing field in the country. But the way it's structured is a real problem, it lowers the burden on the very highest income folks and it hurts the middle class the most.

9:04 p.m. ET–Q from Cincinnati, Ohio: Would any of you be willing to support a fair tax?

9:04 p.m. ET–Gingrich: I'm cheerfully opposed to raising taxes.

9:03 p.m. ET@ChristineOD: Newt is rockin' tonight

9:02 p.m. ET–Gingrich: If we make it possible for you to keep more of your own money, you will do more with it. I'm for energy independent America and that means I favor people who create energy.

9:02 p.m. ET–Q: Are oil subsidies fair?

9:01p.m. ET–Huntsman: Would flatten tax rate if elected president.

9:01 p.m. ET–Q from Napa, California: Of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?

9:00 p.m. ET–Romney: Of course we should see what the Fed is doing.

8:59 p.m. ET@CNNSitRoom: Happening now: Send your comments and questions for the first-ever #CNNTeaParty Republican Presidential Debate.

8:58 p.m. ET
–Perry stands by statements.

8:58 p.m. ET–Bachmann: That's up to Gov. Perry. I wouldn't keep him as chairman. The federal reserve has a lot to answer for. They've got to be put on a tight leash.

8:57 p.m. Q: Do you agree with Perry, who came close to accusing Fed chief Bernanke of treason?

8:56 p.m. ET–Cain: Yes it should be audited. And I believe it's focus needs to be narrowed. I don't believe in ending the fed, I believe in fixing the Fed.

8:55 p.m. ET
– Santorum: Yes. With respect to the last segment, what we need to do is have a pro-growth plan that can pass the Congress with Democratic support.

8:54 p.m. ET–Q from Gastonia, North Carolina: What is your position on the Federal Reserve? Should it be audited?

8:50 p.m. ET–Cain: Absolutely.

8:49 p.m. ET–Q: Can you be pro-business and pro-worker at the same time?

8:49 p.m. ET - @EWErickson: My big question right now: will Perry fade into the 2nd hour? He did last time. If not, he's locking in his front runner status.

8:48 p.m.ET-Gingrich: Go to the American people. Turn up the light on the people and they'll turn the light up on Congress. I'd be glad to work with Democrats in any office but I'd do it on principle, not on compromising principle.

8:48 p.m. ET-Q: Would you compromise with Democrats?

8:47 p.m. ET- Perry: While I've been governor, I've cut taxes. There are people coming to Texas because they know there's still a land of freedom in America and it's called Texas.

8:46 p.m. ET-Paul: Not quite. I'm a taxpayer there, my taxes have gone up. I don't want to offend the governor, he might raise my taxes.

8:44 p.m. ET
- Romney: Yes. But if you're dealt four aces you're not necessarily a good poker player.

8:43 p.m. ET-Q: Does Perry deserve credit for jobs created in Texas?

8:42 p.m. ET–Romney: The world has changed. We've gone from a pay phone world to a smartphone world and President Obama keeps jamming quarters into the payphone...its not going to work, it's not connected.

8:41 p.m. ET–Cain: Do something bold. Repeal the entire tax code and replace it with my 9-9-9 plan.

8:40 p.m. ET–Bachmann: I was one of the only people in the country that said "Do not raise the debt ceiling." Repeal Dodd-Frank, repeal Obamacare, it's really not that hard to try, you just have to have the backbone to do it.

8:39 p.m. ET–Perry: People are tired of us spending money on programs we don't want.

8:37 p.m. ET
–Huntsman: Reform the tax code. Second is regulatory reform. Businesses are saying there's no predictability. Third, energy independence.

8:36 p.m. ET– Q from Portsmouth, Virginia : what would you do to get the economy moving forward?

8:32 p.m. ET@DWStweets: Don't be fooled:"personal accounts"=privatization of Social Security-will leave Florida & America's seniors twisting in wind. #CNNTeaParty

8:32 p.m. ET--Bachmann: Principles needs to change. For years politicians have run on the idea that government takes care of these things...we've been paying for the freight of all these things. We have to be an ownership society with individual responsibility.

8:31 p.m. ET–Paul: No. Cut the Dept. of Education, the Dept of Energy.

8:29 p.m. ET–Perry: No.  Romney: No. Stop the growth of federal government, start the growth of private sector.

8:29 p.m. ET–Q: Would you work to repeal the Medicare prescription drug benefit?

8:26 p.m. ET–Gingrich: We need to cut government waste.

8:25 p.m. ET–Q from Pleasanton: What is your plan to balance the budget and get spending under control?

8:24 p.m. ET - EWErickson: I think having a #CNNTeaParty debate helps the candidates. Tonight they know who their audience is.

8:22 p.m. ET–Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: Well, the question is who is with me? Because I've been out here talking about - you want to talk about courage to tell the truth, Governor? I was out in 1994 running against a Democratic incumbent in a campaign managed by James Carville, and I went out and talked about Social Security reform.

8:22 p.m. ET
–Q:Senator Santorum, when it comes to Social Security, are you with Governor Romney or Governor Perry?

8:21 p.m. ET–Gingrich: I just want to make two simple points about Social Security and how you save it. The first is, you get back to a full employment economy, and at four percent unemployment you have such a huge increase in funding, that you change every single out year of projection in a positive way. The second is if you are younger - everybody who is older and wants to be totally protected, fine, no change. If you're younger and you would like a personal account, you would control instead of the politicians.

8:21 p.m. ET–Huntsman: I don't think anything should be off the table except the drama. To hear these two go at it...all I know is we're frightening the American people...the fixes are there.

8:21 p.m. ET–Businessman Herman Cain: I don't care what they call it, it's broken.

8:20 p.m .ET–Texas Rep. Ron Paul: I agree that Social Security is broke.

8:20 p.m. ET– Romney: Governor, the term Ponzi scheme is what scared seniors.

8:19 p.m. ET Perry: The issue is are there ways to move the states into Social Security for employees or retirees. Rather than scare seniors, it's time to have a legitimate conversation in this country about how to fix the program.

8:17 p.m. ET Perry: If you're asking if they did the right thing 70 or 80 years ago, I'm not going to agree with that. But the question is do you believe it should be ended as a federal program?

8:16 p.m .ET–Romney: The term Ponzi scheme is over the top, unnecessary, and frightens people.  He criticizes Perry's view on Social Security.

8:15 p.m. ET
–Romney: The real question is does Gov. Perry continue to believe that Social Security should not be a federal program, is unconstitutional, and should be returned to the states?

8:15 p.m. ET–Texas Gov. Rick Perry:  People who are on Social Security need to understand that program will be there for them. But the idea is we've not had the courage to look Americans in the face...look them in the eye and say this is a broken system...it's been called a Ponzi scheme by those long before me...but it needs to be fixed.

8:15 p.m. ET@TeamBachmann: #Michele: “For those seniors who are currently on Social Security, we made a promise and we will keep it.” #CNNTeaParty


8:13 p.m. ET
@TeamRickPerry: @GovernorPerry I simply want to get America working again and make Washington, DC as inconsequential in your life as I can.

8:13 p.m. ET Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann: The system has to be reformed in order for it to work. Programs need to be saved to serve the people.  In their current form, they can't.

8:13 p.m. ET- Q from Jacksonville Florida: How do you change and reform Social Security and Medicare  and ensure that you get votes from senior citizens?

8:10 p.m. ET--Beginning with Huntsman, candidates introduce themselves.

8:05 p.m. ET@rolandsmartin: I wonder how many African American, Hispanic & Asians Tea Partiers are at the #CNNTeaParty debate. Is ethnic diversity their cup of tea?

8:04 p.m. ET–Candidates enter stage.

7:55 p.m. ET@BarackObama: You know the drill–the GOP debate starts at 7pm CT, and we'll be keeping score at http://t.co/oxxx8fm. Follow live. #debatewatch

7:44 p.m. ET @GovernorPerry: Getting ready for debate... Thanks to Gov. Jindal for being here. yfrog.com/h62wxjnj

7:22 p.m. ET@RonPaul: (PICTURE) Congressman Ron Paul in his green room prior to the #CNNTeaParty debate: ow.ly/i/hdyW ... #RonPaul #GOP2012 #tcot #tlot

7:09 p.m ET
@GovernorPerry: At the Florida State fair getting ready for the CNN Tea Party Debate. Looking forward to it!

7:03 p.m. ET–Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman arrives at the debate site, accompanied by his wife, Mary Kaye.

6:45 p.m. ET–Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty arrive at the debate site in Tampa located at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Criteria for the debate can be found here.

For the top 5 things to watch, click here.

See poll results leading up to the debate here.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate • GOP
soundoff (2,499 Responses)
  1. paravecchio

    Everyone voted for Obama because they didn't want another neo-con war hawk in the office. We got fooled again. Obama is one of them. Ron Paul is winning by a landslide and will continue to represent Americans desire for real reform , and reinstatement of the constitution. Obama will continue to give thousands of guns to Mexican criminals to promote gun laws.

    September 12, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. smidge

    this is nonsense. why are these people allowed on stage?

    September 12, 2011 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. smidge

    talking about the pre-debate nonsense- not the candidates

    September 12, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Ben

    Why should the United States vote for Rick Perry, When he led Texas in trying to succeed from the United States?

    September 12, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. Joe B.

    Ron Paul or nobody else.

    September 12, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Go Tea Party !!!

    September 12, 2011 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. snackdaddy

    Why do you preseet this debate as the Tea Party Republican Debate? Should any future meetings with the Democratic Party be labeled "Socialist / Democratic Party"?

    September 12, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. opief

    Go Tea Party !!!

    September 12, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. ed donnelly

    your station is bias...you talk about everyone else & by-pass Ron Paul....your station sucks & is a complete joke....don't think that by ignoring Ron Paul & pushing the 2 other cookie cutter political hacks that you will pick & crown the next pres...it's not going to happen!!

    September 12, 2011 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. birdmaster29

    Ron Paul!

    September 12, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. Ben

    Is there anyone thats in this debate not trying to destroy the education system?

    September 12, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. T'sah from Virginia

    AND IT'S ON!!! Why do they always put Mittens next to Perry???

    September 12, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. girish desai

    This is a question to those who oppose Social Security.
    1. Why all congressmen need pension? even a congressman with term is eligible for pension. why?
    2. why this hefty pension?
    3. I suggest for them to get social security instead of pension. Based on their service. will they agree?
    4 .in fact they are there to serve country not earn. Why pension?
    if their pension is derived from Social security, they will stop talking about eliminating SS.

    September 12, 2011 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  14. Punch

    Rick Perry doubled the size of Texas government. A REAL REPUBLICAN WOULDN'T DO THAT
    Rick Perry raised taxes on Texas. A REAL REPUBLICAN WOUDLN'T DO THAT
    Rick Perry mandated innoculations on the citizenry. A REAL REPUBLICAN WOULDN'T DO THAT
    Rick Perry was a Democrat who flip flopped. A REAL REPUBLICAN WOULDN'T DO THAT
    Rick Perry snorts cocaine. A REAL REPUBLICAN WOULDN'T DO THAT
    Rick Perry is an adulterer. A REAL REPUBLICAN WOULDN'T DO THAT

    September 12, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. T'sah from Virginia

    For ONCE Bachmann is looking up for a reason – @ the FLAG!!

    September 12, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  16. opief

    And the next president will surley be a Tea party candidate !!

    September 12, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  17. Ray Gardner

    I hope this is a more evenly questioned field tonight. I wanna know all the people on stage not just Perry and Romney.

    September 12, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. Tired of Drama

    Is CNN hosting a debate or is this a reality TV show? The opening definitely looked as if it were promoting a cheesy reality show as opposed to a serious debate. CNN and all the rest of the so-called 24 hour news channels need to get their act together and start presenting news and moderating debates as if they are serious journalists.

    September 12, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  19. Andrew

    What did I just watch? The introductions for a prize fight or a game show?

    September 12, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. JacobJones.slc

    How much you wanna bet CNN completely neg Ron Paul

    September 12, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  21. Diggins

    GO Ron Paul

    September 12, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  22. kelly

    Go Dr. Paul! You are the only one that has this country's best at heart.

    September 12, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  23. T'sah from Virginia

    OMG – who was that singing the National Anthem???? Where's Whitney Houston when you need her???

    September 12, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. Batt

    Could they have picked a worse vocalist to sing the National Anthem?

    September 12, 2011 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. smidge

    this cnn theatre is laughable. its a presidential debate- not the miss america pageant. they cant even get this right...show some class

    September 12, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
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