Closing arguments Santorum – come kick the tires. I may not get a lot of national media exposure, but he points out he's beaten three incumbent Democrats in his career. Cain – This is going to be hard. Paul – Our liberties don't come from government. It comes from our creator. We need to get out of these wars costing trillions. Lower the regulations and the taxes. Romney – This Country is in economic crisis and we have a leader who is out of his depth. Need someone who loves America and knows the economy. Bachmann – Send a message to Obama and Washington by voting for me at the straw poll. Pawlenty – If we don't fiercely protect the blessing of liberty, we may lose it. I'll make sure America's brightest days are ahead. Huntsman – I'm running for President because I love this country. This nation is hurting. Obama won on hope. I'm going to win on solutions. Gingrich – Presidential election is 15 months away. The crisis is now. Call your congressman and tell them to go back to Washington. 10:55 – Cain talks about opposing No Child Left Behind and wanting education to be focused at the local level. Fox's lights behind him go out. The Fed Newt says its a "scandal" that the Fed is so secretive. And that its the primary villain against having a sound monetary policy. Ron Paul says that it'd wipe debt off the books if the U.S. didn't have to pay interest to the Fed on money printed "out of thin air." 10:53 – Santorum admits that ultimately you have to raise the debt ceiling. Bachmann says that's totally wrong. The American people, she says, are looking for a different public voice. 10:55 – Huntsman – the thought that people would just let this nation default… this nation should never default. He sided with Boehner. Deficits and Debt 10:43 – Bachmann says the worst thing you can do is borrow money and spend money you don't have. What do you say to analysts who said it would hurt the economy more not to raise it? Bachmann – I was proved right (downgraded anyway). This will require a factcheck. S&P said the downgrade came because of the gridlock and outlook for change on Capitol Hill. She criticizes the deal passed by Boehner and others in her party because it gave President Obama $2 trillion "blank check." Jobless Benefits 10:39 – Romney – surely we're going to help those people that can't help themselves. But surely we're going to replace Obama. Then says we've got to find ways to reform unemployment benefits. Wants to give people personal accounts for unemployment rather than give people year upon year. But he wouldn't continue the current plan. Gay Marriage 10:33 – Paul suggests maybe the government shouldn't be involved in marriage. "Why don't we just go down to the church." Otherwise, let the states handle it. Santorum says this is a lot like saying polygamy is ok if the state says its ok. Points out he worked to repeal judges that okayed gay marriage in Iowa. 10:32 – Huntsman – this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality. He supports civil unions. Romney said he supports a gay marriage amendment. Bachmann – Would she be submissive as president? 10:31 – Bachmann asked if she would be submissive to her husband as president? She didn't want to be a tax lawyer, but he suggested it and she has written that she did because God says to "be submissive." Thank you for that question, she says. What submission means to us, she says, is respect. she respects him and he respects her. ABC's Sarah Kunin points out this is what the dictionary says: Submission (n): The action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. Mormonism 10:28 – Cain says people in Atlanta don't understand Mormonism. He's just tried to impart that, not disparage Mormonism. Cain says he believes in the first amendment. Loyalty Tests? Gingrich defends his suggestion that there should be loyalty tests. But they wouldn't be about religion. He points to FBI spy and the Cuban spys. References Verona papers and says there were really socialist infiltrators. Santorum v. Paul on Nuclear Weapons, Foreign Policy. 10:22 – ABC's Jonathan Karl reports that Santorum just condemned Iran because they "trampled the rights of gays." Santorum has been criticized for opposing gay rights. He says he just opposes gay marriage. Paul has a long discourse with Santorum and Bachmann on trying terrorists and the rule of law. That leads to more discussion of Iran. 10:12 – Santorum says more should be done against Syria. Ron Paul says if countries, like Iran, want a nuke, so what? He points to all the countries around Iran that have nuclear weapons. A policy of peace, he says, is free trade. No sanctions, he argues. "we tolerated the soviets (when they had nukes) and we didn't attack them." Refers to "pretend free traders." Suggests we should "talk to Cuba and stop fighting these wars that are 30 or 40 years old." Santorum gets ruffled. He wrote an Iran sanctions bill. And he says "Iran is not Iceland, Ron." And he says they've killed many Americans in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan. 10:11 – Huntsman, former Abm. to China, says cyber war is an act of war. ABC's Sarah Kunin points out that Huntsman himself was once hacked. Cables Show Huntsman Deeply Involved in Obama Policies on.wsj.com/nrTJOX Afghanistan 10:07 – Romney also says Obama should have gone slower and waited for the end of the fighting season. This is a different tone than last debate, when there was agreement that drawdown should happen. 10:05 – Pawlenty – The Afghanistan drawdown is happening too fast. We need to have a successful drawdown and not one based on Obama's campaign schedule, he says. On Perry and Bachmann Bachmann says their is room in the race for Gov. Palin, Gov. Perry or even Bret Baier. Gingrich says Perry is formidable and Palin has a big audience. But they're missing the opportunity to have the fun of campaigning. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tweets: "Half time in debate. Highlight first half was tension between Pawlenty/Bachman" 10:01 – Bachmann didn't make it back on stage quick enough from the commercial break. Individual Mandate 9:54 – Romney gives a full-throated defense of the individual mandate, but says the authority comes from the Massachusetts constitution. "Are you familiar with the Massachusetts Constitution, Romney asks? On the federal level, he's into the 10th amendment. Bachmann – shoots over that the individual mandate is unconstitutional at the federal level or the state level. She says if the government can force you to buy health insurance, there's nothing the government can't do. Ron Paul says the states have leeway and can have their own mandate. But he says the larger problem is that the health system is based on corporatism. ABC's Amy Walter points out that Bachmann's plan to repeal Obamacare involves electing 13 more Republicans to Senate. That could be a high bar for NRSC Chairman John Cornyn. Santorum launches into a Constitutional law seminar on the 10th Amendment and says the federal government should have the power to overpower states where a wrong exists. Pawlenty v. Romney 9:50 – Pawlenty says he won't miss another opportunity to criticize Romney of what he once called "Obamneycare." Says the federal law is modeled on the Massachusetts law. And that health reform is indicative of Romney's moderation on lots of issues – from spending to judicial nominations. Romney says he'd repeal Obamacare, and, short of that, offer waivers. Super Committee Gingrich says the super-committee is a horrible idea. Says deficit reduction should happen through regular order. He has also said Congress should come back into session. ABC's Steven Portnoy wonders if Gingrich is running for President or Speaker. Where's John Boehner? Who's winning? ABC's Rick Klein argues debates wind up with story lines, usually written in first half hour. Tonight, it's Bachmann vs. Pawlenty. Again, Mitt smiles. Last time around, the storyline was Bachmann and Pawlenty not going after Romney. Enter Santorum…finally 9:45 – What about Santorum? Gets a question at 9:45. He points to his record of compromise on welfare reform in the '90s. But he wouldn't negotiate on raising taxes. More Pawlenty v. Bachmann 9:42 – Pawlenty points to his CATO A rating. Admits he raised a tobacco fee, but says he regrets it. Not a tax, he says, a fee. Bachmann also voted for the fee/tax increase. Bachmann turns question about tobacco fees into issue of abortion rights. Pawlenty shoots back – leading and failing is not the objective. Leading and getting results is. 9:41 – Romney says he cut spending and didn't raised taxes and balanced his budget every year in Massachusetts. What about the fees? Immigration 9:38 – Paul says a church shouldn't be blamed for helping an illegal immigrant. He says one way to fix the American border problem is to spend less time paying attention to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 9:36 – Herman Cain on his previous immigration statements – "America's got to learn to take a joke." Later – "We have a path to citizenship to America. It's called legal immigration. High fences and wide open doors." 9:35 – Romney – staple green cards PhD's diplomas. 9:31 – Huntsman talks about the Utah flat tax. Says it doesn't matter that he worked for Obama as Ambassador to China because he did a good job as governor. Says he loves America and that's why he served under Obama. Gingrich v. Chris Wallace 9:27 – Gingrich is asked about how well he's run his campaign. His staff quit and he's in debt. Gingrich attacks Chris Wallace's questions. Gingrich used to work for Fox. Then he pivots to say Congress should come back Monday and repeal the Wall Street Reform bill, Health Care Reform and more. He says Republicans should lead where "this president has failed to lead instead of playing Micky Mouse games." Wallace shoots back that Gingrich is responsible for his record. Gingrich says the press is paying too much attention to the campaign and not enough to ideas. ABC's Rick Klein points out that Gingrich mentioned Ronald Reagan twice in two questions. Job Creation 9:23 – Romney is asked about all the companies he put out of business with Bain Capital Management. That's how the free economy works, says Romney. some businesses will not survive. He points to the low unemployment rate in Massachusetts. But others have pointed out that his state did not create many jobs compared to others in the nation. Minnestoans spar 9:19 – The Minnesotans – Pawlenty and Bachmann – continue their tiff. She brings up her leadership on the issue of incandescent light bulbs. Read more on that here. 9:17 – Pawlenty given the opportunity to criticize Bachmann's fitness because she get migraine headaches. He says he's focused on the "headache" Obama has caused. But he does say she has no record of accomplishments in Congress and lacks executive experience. Bachmann shoots back that Pawlenty instituted a "cap and trade" policy. And she points to his health plan, which suggested a health care mandate. Says his record as governor sounds more like Barack Obama. In a Republican room, that deserves an ouch. Economic Policy 9:15 – Pawlenty offers a prize – if anyone can find Obama's economic plan, he'll come cook you dinner or mow your law. But he says if Romney wins, he'll only mow an acre. (Suggesting that Romney is wealthy and has a lot of lawn). ABC's Matthew Jaffe points out that Pawlenty uses the "I'll mow your lawn" line on the stump. 9:13 – Gingrich points out that when he was speaker, unemployment was at 4.2 percent. Wonders – how would the people feel about that today? Says he'd follow the same plan today. 9:11 – Huntsman points to his record as governor and Utah's AAA rating. Massachusetts was AA under Romney, but improved. 9:10 – Herman Cain says to make the tax cuts permanent. Take the capital gains rate to zero. 9:09 – Paul, Dr. No, says you have to cut militarism. "Have to put the militarism on the table." Gets cheers. Unexpected in a Republican crowd. 9:07 – Ron Paul says the booms and busts come from a "failed monetary system." Paul says you don't bail out the system and put the debt on the people. Gotta liquidate the debt. AKA let things fail. Romney – I won't eat Barack Obama's Dog Food 9:06 – Baier asks Romney why he didn't weigh in on debt ceiling until late. Invokes the "Mittness protection program" line used by critics. Romney, pushed, says he didn't like the deal – wouldn't "eat Barack Obama's dog food." 9:05 – Bachmann said we can see recovery within three months. For starters, she says we shouldn't have increased the debt ceiling. How would that have helped spur recovery? Says Obama will be a one term president. Romney says Obama would have acted differently (than his economic policy) if he'd spent his life in the private sector. Mitt's prescription 1. Be competitive 4. Energy Policy 5. Rule of Law 6. Capital system. 7. Have a government that doesn't spend more money than it takes in. 9:02 – Bret Baier encourages candidates to put aside talking points. 9:00 p.m. et – Let the games begin. 8:57 – Democrat and top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod did a little pre-debate spin with @jaketapper.
8:50 – All those stories you read with a dateline from a debate are not written in the same room where the candidates sit or even by people in that room. Journalists tonight will watch the debate on a jumbotron. (via @matthewbjaffe)
8:43 – 15 minutes before debate time, the White House offers this tweet: "Today, President Obama called on Congress to "put country ahead of party." RT if you agree. #countrybeforeparty" We'll be live-blogging the Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa tonight. The debate is sponsored by the Iowa GOP, The Examiner and Fox News. The debate comes after a week of focus on Iowa, which will hold the first-in-the-nation caucus early in 2012. But this week the coverage has been dominated by retail politics – candidates' bus trips around the state and visits to the Iowa State Fair. The week will culminate on Saturday with the Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll in Ames. It is an early test of strength for campaigns in a state where organization is key. Learn more about why Iowa is important this week and what happens at the Ames Straw Poll Saturday. Catch up with everything that happened on the campaign trail Thursday.