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. Dan Broughton

    With great fanfare, President Obama celebrated the future of solar energy and arranged for a $533 million non-recourse loan to Solyndra. Less than two years later, Solyndra closed its doors, laid off 1100 workers and declared bankruptcy. We tax payers will have to absorb the $533 million write off.

    I own a small high-tech company with 15 employees. We build web-based college course teaching content which saves students money on their books. We need a line of credit to help us through the tough months and add more jobs. Banks won't even talk with us unless we fully collateralize our loans. If we could do that, we wouldn't need to borrow cash.

    We're not "politically connected" and haven't given large campaign contributions. What will the Tea Party/Republican candidates do to help real entrepreneurs to expand our businesses and grow the economy?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. Jonathan

    Question for the candidates: Will you withdraw American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately upon becoming President of the United States? Yes or No?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. phil

    What do the candidates intend to do to end the devaluing of the dollar by the private Federal Reserve bank?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  4. Paul

    How does governor Perry feel about his State ranking 36 overall in Education and does he plan that program to the rest of America?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  5. Henry Carleton

    Obama & Congress dernied cost of living increases for seniors, BUT, Obama gave his so called Czars large pay increases recently and congress voted themselves pay raises. This is criminal. Why did this happen?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  6. opief

    Surley Obumber knows he is TOAST !!!

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  7. defkon3

    Looks like some of the posters in here are worried that they might lose their govt sponsored looting of the American people. Tell ya what, why dont you go ahead and steal from others yourself instead of hiring a gang of thugs that call themselves "government" Let's see how well that works for you.

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  8. Robert Fallin

    SOS! Blitzer cuts Ron Paul off, then lets Huntsman, Perry, Romney, Cain and Santorum drone on and on.
    Wolf, where is your class tonight?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. Steve Rickard

    Can someone say that American's taxes will no longer go toward interest on loans? Can we get a balanced budget law?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  10. kimoSabey

    This debate should acre the stuffing out of the Dems like the last election did but do they change? No way. No Obama care, no reduction of energy and oil exploration, no more stimulus!

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. eileen

    I would like to ask why you call yourself right to life when republicans cut services for children, the sick and the elderly. If a pregnant woman or girl is poor how does she take care of this child without giving this child up? Also, death penality is dealth not life .. The 10 commandments state thou shall not kill? Explain.. an independent looking for change.

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. John Jackson

    For the past 5 years, almost everyone in Washington / Congress has admitted and known the USA was in grave trouble.
    Why is it, that in this country, nothing has been done? How do we, as citizens, hold politicians accountable for their promises?
    Thank you.
    John Jackson

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  13. Megan

    why should i vote for someone who won't give a straight on answer for the questions asked that matter the most?

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. Diane

    Exactly Reina, that is what they would love...stave us into submission!!

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. David Garza

    Food stamps are being sold .50 per Dollar for drug money that's a lot of money we give to people for their habits. What can be done to change it.

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Frustrated

    I would really like direct answers to the questions on what they would do to solve the nations problems. I am so tired of hearing talking points about just bashing Obama. We clearly understand he's your opponent. It just makes them look completely lost when they duck and dodge the questions. Wolf have them answer the questions before moving to the next candidate.

    September 12, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. RON PAUL SUPPORTER FOR LIFE

    how would you combat the immigration problem?

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  18. LMFAo@Teabaggers

    When are the GOP candidates going to admit they want to help the Rich get wealthier, and the Middle class get poorer?

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  19. Joseph Smith

    Would someone shut Huntsman up!

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

    I would like to ask the candidates: Once the Republican party has totally dismantled ALL forms of democratically elected government in the United States will the American people lie down and take it or will we the people rise up and begin a second American Revolution to take back our country from the Republican corporate masters?

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. MARK

    Why do the republicans INSIST on keeping the bush tax cuts, saying they create jobs, when they have been in place since 2003???? If they work, where are the jobs???????????

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. K

    What about cost of living increase for Social Security receivership?

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  23. Terry

    What is your view on immigration? What can you do to improve it?

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. TJ

    Wolf you jackass, let Ron Paul finish his comments.

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  25. S. Griffin

    Its easy. The american people are not puppets and the federal government is not our puppet master. GUT THE STRINGS.

    September 12, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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