(CNN) - The CNN Political Ticker is live blogging the CNN Florida Republican Presidential Debate in Jacksonville. Check here for live updates throughout the event and be sure to follow @PoliticalTicker, @CNNPolitics and use #CNNDebate.
Participating in Thursday's debate are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
10:39 p.m. ET – Read the full transcript from tonight's debate here.
10:29 p.m. ET – @EWErickson: Live by the debate, die by the debate. Romney got the better of Gingrich and Gingrich is probably locked out of a FL win. Will be tough.
10:10 p.m. ET – @JohnKingCNN: Sen Santorum working crowd after #cnndebate. His now famous mom standing by w/ staff and family. http://t.co/YAE2XJsH
10:09 p.m. ET – Read a transcript of the third 30-minute chunk of tonight's debate here.
10:06 p.m. ET – Speaking to CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Santorum said he was the first candidate to campaign in Florida. Santorum said he had raised twice as much money in the past three weeks than it had in the first nine months of the campaign.
10:03 p.m. ET – Speaking to CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, Romney said he had a "terrific" debate. When asked about his attacks, Romney said "When I'm shot at, I'll return fire. I'm no shrinking violet."
10:02 p.m. ET – Following the debate, CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta and CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser take you inside the spin room.
10:00 p.m. ET – Blitzer closed the CNN Florida Republican Presidential Debate and said good night.
9:58 p.m. ET - Gingrich pointed to his role in Republican takeovers of Congress, and said the election was a "big choice" that would go to the core of who America is.
Santorum said his values were consistently conservative, and that he had stood for values that were often unpopular.
9:54 p.m. ET – Paul cites national polls that show him competitive with Obama. Said he's for limited government, an idea popular with Americans.
Romney said he was for dramatic change in Washington that would allow economic recovery. Said he was on the outside and knew how business worked.
9:52 p.m. ET – Last debate question to candidates before Tuesday's primary: Why are you the one person on stage to beat Obama?
9:50 p.m. ET – Read a transcript from the second 30 minutes of tonight's debate here.
9:46 p.m. ET – @OpenSecretsDC: Ppl in Jacksonville have given $362,550 @MittRomney so far this campaign, far more than any other candidate http://bit.ly/xSzoJg #CNNDebate
9:46 p.m. ET – Paul said his religious beliefs wouldn't affect his governing. Said he would only be beholden to his oath of office.
Romney said he would seek "guidance of providence" in making big decisions.
Gingrich said he would look to God because the job carried such large responsibility. Said there was a war against Christianity in America by secular elite.
Santorum said rights come from God, and that the role of government was to protect rights.
9:45 p.m. ET – Question: How would your religion affect your decisions as president?
9:44 p.m. ET – Santorum praised Puerto Rico, and said he supported self-determination for the island.
9:43 p.m. ET – Question from the Hispanic Leadership Network: Do you support statehood for Puerto Rico?
9:41 p.m. ET – Gingrich also stikes a strong tone on U.S.-Israel relations, and said "technically" the notion of a Palestinian people was an invention of the 1970s.
9:40 p.m. ET - Romney said there can be no space between Israel and the United States.
9:40 p.m. ET – @psteinhausercnn: Jewish Republicans in Florida are KVELLING right now #CNNDebate
9:38 p.m. ET - Question from an audience member who identified himself as Palestinian-American: What would you do to bring peace between Israel and Palestine?
9:37 p.m. ET - Gingrich pointed to his role in the Helms-Burton act, which strengthened the U.S. embargo to Cuba. Said Obama was ignoring Cuba.
9:35 p.m. ET – Romney said Obama had been ignoring Latin America, something he would change as president. Said he would use every resource to make sure that when Fidel Castro dies, people of Cuba can enjoy freedom.
9:34 p.m. ET – Paul said sanctions are well-intentioned, but they end up helping dictators and hurting people. Said there wasn't threat of Cuban invasion, and that American people had changed their minds on Cuba.
9:32 p.m. ET – Santorum said he would stand with the Cuban people, but that we shouldn't reward countries that harbor jihadists and supporters of Iran.
9:32 p.m. ET - Question: What will be your approach toward U.S. policy on Cuba?
9:30 p.m. ET - Gingrich said he is much closer to Reagan, pointing to statements from Romney's past that demonstrate more liberal leanings. Romney counters, saying he's never voted for a Democrat when a Republican was on the ballot.
9:29 p.m. ET – Romney said he couldn't claim that mantle, since he was just beginning in politics when Reagan was president.
9:29 p.m. ET – @PeterHambyCNN: Romney looked at politics "from afar," even though pops ran for president and mom ran for Senate
9:28 p.m. ET – Question to Romney: Can you claim the Reagan mantle any more than Gingrich?
9:23 p.m. ET – Paul pointed to wife Carol, said they had been married for more than 50 years. Mentioned her as the author of the Ron Paul Cookbook.
Romney singled out his wife Ann, who is a breast cancer survivor and would be able to connect with people who are suffering.
Gingrich pointed to wife Callista's passion for music and music education, and her books heralding American exceptionalism.
Santorum said his wife Karen was his hero who worked as a nurse and then a lawyer.
9:23 p.m. ET – Question: Why would your wife make a great first lady?
9:22 p.m. ET – Read a transcript from the first 30 minutes of tonight's debate here.
9:19 p.m. ET – Gingrich also mentioned Rubio, saying he was thinking of a more "central and dignified" role for the Florida senator than a cabinet post. Ron Paul didn't mention a specific name, saying there are "plenty in the Hispanic community that would give me good advice."
9:16 p.m. ET – Santorum mentioned Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Gingrich suggested New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Romney pointed to Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
9:15 p.m. ET – Question from the Hispanic Leadership Network viewing party: Which Hispanic leader would you consider appointing to your cabinet?
9:14 p.m. ET – Paul said neither Romney nor Santorum was correct in the health care debate. Said the government wasn't the solution for providing health care to Americans.
9:13 p.m. ET – Romney made another defense of his plan, telling Santorum it wasn't worth "getting angry over."
9:12 p.m. ET - Santorum continued his attack on Romney's health plan. Said more people were uninsured since paying the fine associated with going uninsured was cheaper than the insurance itself.
9:09 p.m. ET – Gingrich and Romney defended themselves on Santorum's health care charges. Gingrich said states should be responsible for health care. Romney said his plan worked in Massachusetts but was never meant to be enacted nationally.
9:07 p.m. ET – Santorum hit Gingrich for supporting an individual health insurance mandate, and Romney for his role creating Massachusetts' health care law.
9:04 p.m. ET – Paul said getting the government involved in health care increased costs and reduced the quality. Gingrich said there were two problems: expensive care and persistent unemployment. Romney hit Obama for not creating an environment conducive to creating jobs. Santorum agreed somewhat with the other candidates, and also floated a health savings plan.
9:04 p.m. ET – @ronpaul: So Newt just agreed that he lied about balancing the budget. #CNNDebate #tcot #RonPaul
9:03 p.m. ET – @PeterHambyCNN: GOP source sends along the buzz inside the debate theater: "Huge pro Romney energy"
9:03 p.m. ET – Question from audience member about health care benefits for unemployed people. Florida's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.9% in December, higher than the national average of 8.5%.
9:01 p.m. ET – Gingrich said candidates should take the time to learn about the states they were campaigning in. Said the programs were possible if costs were kept under control.
8:58 p.m. ET – Romney slammed Gingrich for pandering to local audiences, listing proposals Gingrich made in other early voting states.
8:56 p.m. ET – Paul continued, saying going to the moon should be pushed by the private sector. Government involvement in space travel should be limited to national defense, he said.
8:54 p.m. ET – Santorum said Americans needed an inspiring program, but that the focus now should be on cutting costs. Paul said we shouldn't be going to the moon, but suggested "sending politicians there sometimes."
8:52 p.m. ET – Romney said Gingrich's plan of an American base on the moon would be an "enormous expense." Gingrich defended the plan, saying NASA had been mismanaged and a space program would inspire American innovation.
8:51 p.m. ET – @ShepherdCNN: CNN space stories yesterday http://on.cnn.com/ysFifM and today http://on.cnn.com/wPdfuc #CNNDebate
8:50 p.m. ET – Question from the audience about the future of America's space program. NASA has a major presence in Florida, particularly on the "Space Coast," site of the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.
8:49 p.m. ET – @jimacostacnn: Paul issues challenge to candidates for 25 mile bike ride in the heat of Texas. Press will be skipping that one. #CNNDebate
8:49 p.m. ET – Blitzer asked Paul if he was willing to release his medical record. Paul challenged all the candidates to a 25-mile bike ride.
8:46 p.m. ET - Santorum said he wasn't for a flat tax, but was for simplifying the entire tax code. He disagreed with Gingrich's plan to reduce the capital gains tax to zero.
8:45 p.m. ET – Gingrich said he thinks every American should have the option of paying Mitt Romney's 15% tax rate.
8:42 p.m. ET – Romney said he was proud of being successful, and the he wasn't going to run from it.
8:41 p.m. ET – Gingrich said the question was distracting from real issues. Audience cheered. Blitzer pushed back, saying if he was going to make accusations against Romney, he needed to explain them.
8:40 p.m. ET – Question to Gingrich: are you satisfied with level of transparency of Romney's tax returns?
8:36 p.m. ET – Santorum said we need to decrease the number of mortgages held by Fannie and Freddie. The former senator added he thought the discussion of Gingrich's work with the firm, along with Romney's personal wealth, were distracting from real issues. The audience cheered.
8:35 p.m. ET – Paul said the discussion of investments in Fannie and Freddie didn't interest him. Said the real discussion should be shutting down the two housing agencies.
8:34 p.m. ET - Gingrich said his investments compared to Romney's are like a mouse and an elephant.
8:33 p.m. ET – Context on tonight's housing discussion: Florida has one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates in the nation. According to RealtyTrac.com, one in 360 homes in Florida is under foreclosure.
8:31 p.m. ET - Gingrich countered Romney's claim he was complicit in Freddie Mac's work, saying Romney had invested in the government sponsored entity. Romney hit back, saying Gingrich also invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
8:30 p.m. ET – Romney said Freddie Mac should have been a whistle-blower, not an enabler of the housing crisis.
8:29 p.m. ET – Question from Twitter about phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
8:28 p.m. ET – "Language of the Ghetto" ad is indeed an ad from Romney's campaign. Gingrich claimed he never said those words. Listen to the ad here.
Also see a press release announcing the ad from Romney's campaign.
8:25 p.m. ET – Santorum slammed Obama's policy in Latin America. Singled out relations with Honduras as having great potential that Obama's administration ignored.
8:24 p.m. ET - Paul encouraged free trade, and limited involvement militarily. "Strongly believe it's time we have friendship and trade with Cuba."
8:23 p.m. ET - Question from the Hispanic Leadership Network watch party: What would you do to encourage trade between America and Latin America?
8:21 p.m. ET – Gingrich said Romney's distortion of language in a television ad was offensive. Romney said he wasn't sure what ad Gingrich was talking about.
8:20 p.m. ET – Gingrich said grandmothers who have been in the U.S. for many years should have path to citizenship. Romney said the problem wasn't 11 million grandmothers.
8:18 p.m. ET – @shepherdcnn: @newtgingrich on immigration: I am prepared to be very tough, very bold but also prepared to be very realistic. #CNNDebate
8:17 p.m. ET – Romney said Gingrich should apologize for calling him "anti-immigrant." Said that was a "highly-charged epithet" and called it "repulsive."
8:16 p.m. ET – Gingrich received applause for saying English should be the official language.
8:16 p.m. ET – Context on tonight's discussion of illegal immigration:
In the 2008 general election, Latinos made up 14% of the voting electorate in Florida. Fifty-seven percent voted for Obama and 42% went for McCain.
In the 2008 Republican primary, Mitt Romney received 14% of the Latino vote, compared to 54% for Sen. John McCain.
8:15 p.m. ET – Paul said the current handling of border was hurting the economy. People looking to do business aren't able to get into the country. Said we're spending too much time on border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
8:14 p.m. ET – Romney defended plan of 'self-deportation,' saying two of his rivals had previously supported it. Said need to focus on making legal immigration work.
8:13 p.m. ET – Gingrich said he didn't think grandmothers and grandfathers would 'self-deport.'
8:12 p.m. ET – @jimacostacnn: Santorum says illegal immigrants are doing more than just crossing border unlawfully: "You’ve probably stolen a social security number."
8:12 p.m. ET - Gingrich said system for visas should be streamlined. Also said that system for deportation needed to be easier.
8:10 p.m. ET – @psteinhausercnn: A very different start than in Charleston #CNNDebate
8:10 p.m. ET – Santorum said illegal immigrants are breaking the law. Said we need to enforce law at the border, and have sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
8:09 p.m. ET – First question from the audience on illegal immigration.
Florida has one of the largest Hispanic populations in the country. In the 2010 census, 22.5% of Florida residents described themselves as Hispanic, compared to 16.3% nationwide.
8:07 p.m. ET – Candidates introduced themselves to the audience. Santorum pointed out his mother in the audience. Gingrich said Jacksonville will be the site of the next nuclear aircraft carrier group. Romney acknowledged his family in the crowd. Paul said he was a champion of a responsible monetary system.
8:06 p.m. ET – Blitzer explained the rules of the debate. Candidates have one minute to answer questions and 30 seconds for rebuttals.
8:04 p.m. ET – @jimacostacnn: Were they booing or yelling Newwwwwt! #CNNDebate
8:04 p.m. ET – The National Anthem was sung by the University of North Florida Chamber Singers.
8:03 p.m. ET – Wolf Blitzer introduced the candidates onto the debate stage.
8:02 p.m. ET – Tonight's debate is co-sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network.
8:00 p.m. ET – Wolf Blitzer opened the CNN Florida Republican Presidential Debate.
7:58 p.m. ET – @DonnaBrazile: These debates show that the GOP sure have had a lot of choices this election cycle. The problem is that all of them have been bad choices.
7:56 p.m. ET – @MittRomney: For updates during the #CNNDebate follow @EricFehrn @AndreaMSaul @GGitcho @ZacMoffatt @LanheeChen @RyanGOP @TeamRomney #Mitt2012
7:53 p.m. ET – @SamFeistCNN: Only minutes away from the Florida #CNNDebate. Here's a preview of the open to tonight's debate. http://on.cnn.com/A0mH2N
7:51 p.m. ET – @CNNSitRoom: Less than 10 minutes until the #CNNDebate moderated by @WolfBlitzerCNN. Watch #CNN or http://CNN.com/LIVE.
7:44 p.m. ET – @NewtGingrich: Don't miss the debate tonight. During the debate you can follow Newt 2012 on twitter @newt2012HQ and @newt2012FL #withnewt
7:43 p.m. ET - Florida fact: Florida is a winner-take-all primary, meaning the candidate with the most votes will win all 50 of the state's delegates.
7:39 p.m. ET – Watch a sneak peek of the video open to tonight's debate.
7:34 p.m. ET - Florida fact: A solid majority (61%) of GOP primary voters in 2008 were self-identified conservatives. Romney beat McCain among them, 37% to 29%.
7:31 p.m. ET - @ShepherdCNN: CNN about to get it's debate on #cnndebate. Kudos to our awesome team who put it together PHOTO
7:28 p.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN: Feisty ron paul supporters marching pre #cnndebate PHOTO
7:27 p.m. ET – @AndersonCooper: Just arrived in Jacksonville for #cnndebate. Tune in to @AC360 at 10pm for full coverage of the most important moments. I'm excited!
7:24 p.m. ET – Newt Gingrich arrived at the debate hall, accompanied by his wife Callista.
7:21 p.m. ET – Florida fact: Mitt Romney lost the 2008 Florida GOP primary to Sen. John McCain, 36% to 31%. This time around, McCain endorsed Romney, and campaigned for him in the Sunshine State this week.
7:17 p.m. ET – @MittRomney: Tune in at 8:00 P.M. tonight for the #CNNDebate (@ CNN Presidential Debate w/ 8 others)
7:16 p.m. ET – As candidates prepare for tonight's debate, polling shows a two-man race for first in Florida. According to a CNN/Time/ORC International survey released Wednesday, 36% of people likely to vote in Tuesday's Republican primary say they are backing Romney as the party's nominee, with 34% supporting Gingrich. Romney's 2- point margin over Gingrich is well within the survey's sampling error.
The other two candidates are far behind, with Santorum of Pennsylvania at 11% and Paul at 9%, and 7% unsure of who they'll vote for.
7:12 p.m. ET – More from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said on CNN's "John King USA" the GOP needs to move away from being the "old white guy" party.
7:10 p.m. ET – Florida fact: Florida's contest is a closed primary, meaning only registered Republicans may vote in the Republican primary.
7:08 p.m. ET – Mitt Romney arrived at the debate hall, accompanied by his wife Ann and his son Tagg.
7:06 p.m. ET – Rick Santorum arrived at the debate hall. The debate is taking place at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
7:04 p.m. ET - @WolfBlitzerCNN: Less than one hour to go before I moderate the final #CNNdebate before Tuesday's Florida primary. 8PM ET. I'm excited.
7:02 p.m. ET – @David_Gergen: Winner of tonite's debate could well win Fla and close in on nomination. Huge nite for GOP. Join us live at 8 on #CNN.
6:55 p.m. ET - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King earlier Thursday, and had a few pieces of advice for GOP presidential candidates participating in tonight's debate. Read more here.
6:23 p.m. ET – @RickSantorum: Tune in to tonight's #CNNdebate in Jacksonville 8pm ET http://ht.ly/8HOw7
Throughout the debate Santorum and Gingrich kept agreeing with Romney's positions and statements! Why do we need Gingrich or Santorum? we don't since they continued to endorse Mitt Romney! Thank You!
I don't understand how the post debate commentators can state that Romney had a strong night. I found his attacks to be bullying and negative...and falsely based as usual. Am I the only one that hears a potential future president claiming the 5th on his negative attack ads, his former statements, and so forth. How will that play out as a president? What will he actually know, and won't he? I shudder to think about it. The description that Gingrich was "flat" in this evening's debate is incomprehendable to me. Newt Gingrich was the MOST presidential this evening, requesting that a truce be called (ie stop the war of words). I certainly cannot see Mitt Romney debating Obama because it will end with Mitt Romney taking his marbles and going home because he doesn't want to play the game anymore. As far as Romney's new debate coach benefiting him? I don't see it. Just my 2 cents worth.
GOOD DEBATE... I believe the debate showed itself very clear. Newt Gingrich President, Rick Santorum Vice President, Ron Paul put in a position to go through the constitution and every amendment that has perversed and distorted our constitution be reversed and spend four years cleaning up the constitution so that what our forefather's invisioned for this country be recognizeable again and send Mitt Romney back to the private sector to make his millions and let him bail Capitalism Out for us.
Newt is a spin, can't put behind me the years of trash he has been spewing and I'm supposed to believe he's a reformed man wake up. Romney is a snake. Sanatorum is trying. Losers try. Ron Paul is a stud he does give you some answers I like what I heard unfortunately they give him no shine.
What's going on with CNN? Are we not allowed to have our own thoughts? Rick Santorum has to go home already. You weren't even re-elected in your own state as Senator. And having seven children is not a good thing. We no longer need to procreate so that we have enough people to work on farms. People are the biggest problem for the environment so please think about that for a minute.
Mitt is the clear front runner but Santorum was really impressive. Newt better be careful, Santorium could take a bunch of his support. Ron Paul may make a good Surgeon General.
Good Debate.. I believe the debate showed itself very clear. Newt Gingrich President, Rick Santorum Vice President, Ron Paul put in a position to go through the constitution and every amendment that has perversed and distorted our constitution be reversed and spend four years cleaning up the constitution so that what our forefather's invisioned for this country be recognizeable again and send Mitt Romney back to the private sector to make his millions and let him bail Capitalism Out for us.
I would like to get an understanding of how the Republican candidates would approach the tremendous amount of "giveaways" we provide to so many people that are capable of working but are just too lazy to do anything. I feel this must be eliminated except for people with true scenarios where they need the help and not "just unemployed" - some will be in that status their entire life.
Under Santorum everyone gets free health care!!!! No??? well he said it was wrong to charge people for health services if you do not have health insurance... Obviously FREE HEALTH CARE FOR EVERYONE
Thats a pretty ignorant comment, that's what your basing a president off of. Papers. Its been almost four open your eyes and look around " goo ol boy" why this country don't stick together in the first place.
I have not been looking at Ron Paul....I am now. Please when you recap include him on how the debates went. All media seems to just dismiss him.
we can't have Jefferson or Adams for President, but we can have Newt! When Romney suggested a historical event in
history, Newt said he was there and part of it. His experience blows away all of the other candidates. He won tonight.
The republicans would do best to draft Jeb Bush at the convention in Tampa. Additionally someone needs explain to me why when we protect Kuwait and in effect Saudi Arabia against an Iraqi attack and then spend American dollars to rebuild Arabian infrastructure; why doesn't our country get price breaks on Arab oil or even free oil to reimburse our expenses
I am not sure how I feel about the Palestinian comments by the candidates. Why didn't they ask Ron Paul what he thought? Maybe because they know that the person who asked the question would have liked his answer. I honestly don't feel that Israel needs our help the way that politicians would have us think that they do. They have also committed acts of terrorism against Palestine. Isn't it time for us to stop taking sides and let them fight their own battles?
Listening to the talking heads go on about who won and who lost. Not sure I agree with them. They are all up on Romney and down on Gringrich. Romney did a very good job making himself look like a spoiled rich kid who is being denied his prize. Gingrich held is own and unlike the other candidates had to do so against the other candidates and Wolf. I thought Wolf was out to correct the wrongs of John King. Here is a hint Wolf...you should never become part of the debate. The gotcha stuff was demeaning...even for you. Santorum had the best night of his candidacy and should be rewarded in the polls. Ron Paul should just go away.
Mitt Romney won this debate. It's interesting how the commentators totally jumped on the Santorum bandwagon. He did pretty well too, but Mitt was far and above the best tonight (and has been throughout, actually).
Wolf Blitzer distinguished himself as one of the worse moderators in history. Stupid, personal questions!
Fantastic debate tonight! Wolf Blitzer's performance was the best in every other televised Republican primary debate this year. I don't believe it is humanly possible to moderate a debate in a more fair or professional manner. The real winner in tonight's debate was the listening audience who , thanks to Mr. Blitzer, had a unique opportunity to observe all the candidates fairly and equally. Thanks CNN!
I hope CNN learns from these debates to focus their questions on content and policy, not on headlines. When they focus on headlines, they ask questions that force them to argue and bicker. That is not a debate for President of the United States, that belongs in places like American Idol or The Kardashians. I know CNN is trying to get these viewers but leave that for your TV shows, not for a debate for the Presidency. Hopefully by the time we get to the general election, CNN and other "news" agencies will learn this and moderate debates that live up to the office of the President of the United States.
The Conservative attack machine has it's scope on Newt, they know he can not beat Obama and they want to stop Newt from being the GOP candidate....so I say.....GO NEWT GO!!! So you can lose to Obama.
Gingrich DID say that Spanish was the language of the ghetto, CNN. Why is everyone saying he wasn't referring to Spanish in particular. That's what his conversation was about – immersion or some such nonsense.
What was up with the question about their wives being first lady? Was Hillary asked that question in a debate with Obama because I honestly think Bill would have made a better first lady that Michelle. What does that have to do with the candidates being a good president? Ridiculous.
When I finally started hearing a good discussion between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney about Romney’s Government healthcare in Massachusetts, Mr. Blitzer hurried the discussion along as if it had dragged on. And now I’m hearing about the candidate’s view on the quality of their wives being the first lady?
Mitt is highly coached and it’s probable that he doesn’t believe anything he says. I wish we could morph Ron Paul, Newt Ginrich, and yes…Rick Santorum into a super conservative. I hope we can fix ourselves.
Republican attack dogs all over Newt tonight. I hope the people speak up next week and put the dogs out on their ears.