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. Peter

    Candidates, who among you agrees with this concept: The solution to the economy does not lie with government or with any person on that stage. The solution lies out here, in individuals pursuing their freedom and happiness all across America. The solution to the economy is to get the government OUT OF THE WAY!

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. cynthia

    Debate Question: Would you support term limits for Congress and have Congress pay into their own healthcare and receive Social Security as the average American does?

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. cfitzrun

    Rick Perry is a moron. Ron Paul 2012.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. njm

    We know you recommend cuts for everyday people because of the debt. . What should congressional leaders, governors, etc give up to help reduce debt? What should business sacrifice?

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    So, if she doesn't want the debt ceiling raised, then how does she plan on the federal governnent pay its bills because we don't have the money coming in.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  6. AGTR

    I don't know why Romney is not being applauded as much. He's an excellent candidate!

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. Cee.La.

    Bachmann is nuts. What $2.5 trillion blank check. raising the dbt ceiling was for past debt not future debt.....

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  8. kenny

    only one candidate mentioned the raping of social security, these folk's are true spin doctors, none of the people up there mentioned the stopping of raiding sociasl security, nor did any of the candidates say anything about paying social security back.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. KG

    Why are we talking about reducing the senior entitlements when they have paid in for decades and depend on the system AND NOT TALK ABOUT THE 55% OF ILLEGAL ALIENS WHO LIVE OFF OF OUR TAX DOLLARS? HOW LONG HAVE THEY PAID INTO OUR SYSTEM????? WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT REDUCING THEIR BENEFITS?????

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. Joyce

    Rick Perry took 17 billion of the stimulus money. His state is the last in the country. Have him write a check for 17 billion to the government.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  11. Richard Fulbright

    The Republicans want to get rid of Healthcare reform because it hurts EMPLOYERS

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  12. Bob

    Wonder if any of these Repubs ever took science in high school. Really doubt it.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Harry

    Why do we have another GOP debate. There is nothing new, they are all talking and not saying anything substantial. Wolf Blizter, who has a reputation as a hard interviewer, is just tossing softballs and when these candidates out right lie (Perry "recovery created zero jobs") Wolf acts like it is actual fact. Blizter is actually becoming part of the mis representation. He might as well move to FOX News.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  14. JacobJones.slc

    Have you noticed Romney is sure to point to his privat sector expierence every time he oopens his mouth as if that is his golden tickett

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. Jim

    The courage is are willing to admit that the problem is that there are no term limits put on the congress and Senate. Its the same old people every year. In college being a senator or congressman was not a choice as a liftetime profession. The system wont change until we put in term limits.New people with new ideas. Its the same old people running the country.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. Phil

    When are they going to let Herman Cain talk a little bit?

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. Randy

    All candidates seem to have solutions for "fixin" social security. I have noticited no one addresses the issue of fraud in the program. My question is to the candidates is what would you do to eliminate the massive amount of fraud in social security and medicare?

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. Debra

    Many new regulations have been instituted by agency regulations and executive order recently by this Administration. Would you "undo" these and how would you accomplish this.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. michael

    Question for Perry: President Reagan depended on science and technology to give his Star Wars program the leverage over the Soviets and bring down the Berlin Wall. Why, then, is Gov Perry running on such an anti-intellectual/anti-science platform dismissing such topics as evolution and global warming?

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. Michael Carter

    Yeah if the government gets out of the way of businesses, the businesses will take advantage of the people. Do you all really want Trusts again?

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  21. Chrisg510

    And stop bringing Reagan into this mess,he is turning over in his grave when the republican party mentions him. He would have the current Teapublican party jailed for treason. The tea party's malicious agenda to destroy Obama will destroy our economy and our country.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  22. Rexob13

    I want to know how many of these candidates pay for their own private individual insurance policy. I suspect few or none. These candidates are all used to having someone else pay for their insurance.

    Ask them who buys their own private insurance. If they don't, I want them to renounce their provided insurance on the air and deal with the private insurers like the rest of us. They don't know what the real world is.

    September 12, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Deb in CA

    I want to ask the candidates whether they support federal subsidies for birth control for low income American women. I know most if not all of them are anti-abortion so what about birth control for low income women, married or not, who can't afford it? Shall they be left with no other option but to bear more children than they want or can afford to support? Are their lives not valuable and meaningful too?

    September 12, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Don Gerard

    Question for candidates. You cannot accomplish all you want all alone. How do you plan on supporting candidates for the House and Senate who will team up with you to do the right thing?

    September 12, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Bets73

    Watching the Republican Presidential debate for only thirty minutes has convinced me to VOTE FOR OBAMA! His conversations, at least, reflect intelligent, thoughtful comments!!!

    September 12, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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