GOP Presidential Debate: Live(ish) Blog

It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates relating to Colorado and the race for President. We’re back to do it again tonight, but this time we’re going to try a slightly different approach compared to our last live-blog.

We’re calling this our “Live-ish” blog, because while the blogging is happening in real-time, the actual Presidential debate is not. We’re using the luxury of the PAUSE button to make sure we really heard what we thought we heard. We’re also going to let the debate run for a few minutes before we pause to give you our thoughts.

Let’s do this thing(ish)!


*NOTE: The most current update appears at the top of the page. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time. If you are following along in real-time, we’ll be a little slower than your TV as we pause and rewind to make sure we caught everything correctly.



8:10 pm
And we’re finally headed to a commercial break. We can’t possibly watch another hour of this tonight. For our health, and yours, we’ll finish up the final hour of our not-so-live debate diary with a fresh perspective (perhaps) on Thursday morning.


8:08 pm
Trapper teases a commercial break, then tries to get Fiorina to say something bad about Trump for a Rolling Stone interview in which Trump talked about Fiorina’s appearance. The Fiorinabot responds brilliantly by saying, “I think every woman in this country heard that statement loud and clear.”


8:02 pm
Jeb! says he is the most pro-life Governor on the stage. Trump responds by talking about how Jeb will be haunted by his recent statement that we shouldn’t be spending $500 million on women’s health, while at the same time Jeb is trying to talk about his commitment to women’s issues. Trump +25


8:00 pm
Fiorinabot boots up and repeats something from the first debate about the first two people she will call once she becomes President. She looks in the camera and tries like hell to force out a tear as she talks about selling baby parts.


6:55 pm
John Kasich says he doesn’t know anyone in America who doesn’t think that we should defund Planned Parenthood…then says that Congress should not shut down the government over the Planned Parenthood issue.

Ted Cruz now talking about these “secret” videos of Planned Parenthood that prove a criminal enterprise of selling baby parts. We get it, dude, we get it. You are the craziest person on the stage.

Oy vey! Christie just said that Hillary Clinton wants to systematically kill unborn babies so they can be sold for profit. Why are we watching this again?


6:53 pm
Let’s talk Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis! The question is for Huckabee, who was quick to rally behind Davis when she refused to do her job.

Huckabee is now trying to explain why it is okay to ignore the Supreme Court of the United States.

Let’s repeat that: Huckabee is trying to explain why it is okay to ignore the Supreme Court of the United States.

Now Huckabee is complaining about America allowing Muslim prisoners to grow beards, which somehow connects to Kim Davis being persecuted for her Christianity.

Jeb! decides to get in on the action because he thinks Trapper is misstating his position on Kim Davis. Jeb! then clarifies that he has multiple different positions on this subject; he says he disagrees with Davis, but that we should solve this problem at the local level by allowing her to skip some of her legal duties because of her religious views.


6:47 pm
Hugh Hewitt talks for a few moments about how much President Obama sucks, then asks Trump about Obama’s infamous “line in the sand” comment about Iran. Trump speaks fairly eloquently here, saying that he wouldn’t have drawn a line in the sand but that Obama had to act forcefully once he did so.

Rubio jumps in and talks about how you can’t use military force unless we have a plan to win. Rubio is trying to present himself as the grown-up in the room, even though he is significantly younger than the other candidates.

Ted Cruz starts talking, and perhaps without even knowing it, he explains how he opposes any theoretical solution put forth by President Obama. Then, Cruz says that if you vote for Hillary Clinton, you are voting for the Ayatollah of Iran (he has a lot of trouble saying “Ayatollah,” BTW) and for nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians. Tonight’s debate could be a turning point for Cruz, but not in a good way — he sounds foolish and ridiculous every time he opens his mouth.

Cruz is still talking. Now he says President Obama is violating federal law for something.


6:44 pm
Jeb! really sucks at running for President. He just spoke for 60 seconds about…something.

Mike Huckabee finally gets a chance to talk after about 40 minutes. Rather than wait for his question from the moderators, Huckabee blathers on about Iran for 90 seconds. Tapper was about to ask him a different question that would probably have been more helpful.


6:39 pm
Ted Cruz gets a turn to rip into President Obama over the Iran nuclear weapons deal. Says he will rip up nuclear deal on his first day in office.

Tapper responds: How is that not just playing to the crowd, as Gov. Kasich has argued, and an example of your inexperience?

Cruz doesn’t seem to know what to say to that, so he talks about being Solicitor General in Texas and then mutters some crap about the United Nations. Cruz sounds like an absolute idiot.

Over to Kasich, who talks about not having strong relationships with allies and the need to change that. Talks about his foreign policy experience, and avoids a tit-for-tat with Cruz. Kasich +1.

Rand Paul now gets a turn to speak, and starts questioning the logic of Walker and Florina who advocate cutting off dialogue. Great line when he says that we would have been in trouble as a country if Ronald Reagan had just stopped talking to Russia. This was a very good moment for Paul, who badly needs some very good moments.


6:35 pm
Jake Tapper tries to say that Trump didn’t answer his question, but he looks scared to death as he awaits the response.

The question was about Russia, and Marco Rubio makes his first appearance. Doesn’t say anything interesting.

Carly Fiorina: “Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. I think we talk to him too much.” Did Fiorina just clean up her own name-dropping? Oh, wait, guess not. She just dropped a bunch more names to show how much she knows about foreign policy, but got into so much detail that everyone stopped listening. Also, why is it a good thing that you would refuse to talk with the President of Russia?


6:31 pm
Another Trump question, this one for Bush. Question is whether Bush is a puppet for his donors because of $100 million PAC in his favor.

Bush says that Trump wanted to build a casino in Florida, and that he stood up to him and said no. Trump looks like he bit a lemon. Trump says it isn’t true, then adds this, “But believe me, it would have happened if I wanted it done.”

Trump says that he is not accepting any money from anyone.

Bush tries to attack Trump for supporting Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, and then goes back to the casino accusation.

Trump: “Jeb, come on, don’t make things up.” Ouch. Go sit in the corner, Jeb!

Ben Carson tries to interrupt, speaking so softly that it almost sounds like an apology. Says he won’t lick the boots of billionaires. Says the people are in charge.


6:27 pm
Question for Chris Christie about something Ben Carson said about him. Christie doesn’t take the bait and instead talks about his own record. Smart move.

Christie jokes that Carson wasn’t talking about him, so the question goes to Carson, who might have been sleeping.

“Typically politicians do things that are politically expedient,” says Carson. Um, okay. Somebody get this man a cup of coffee.

Carly Fiorina…blah, blah, challenge status quo, blah blah.


6:24 pm
Scott Walker jumps in and starts attacking Trump, leading off with a silly Apprentice joke but at least being on attack. Walker’s campaign is absolutely cratering of late, but so far tonight he is the only GOP candidate who seems to understand the Trump phenomenon.

Walker says that Trump is using “Democratic talking points” to attack him. Says Trump, “I don’t use talking points. I use facts.”

Walker stops talking and Trump takes over, and absolutely undresses the Wisconsin Governor. Maybe this is why GOP candidates are afraid to punch Trump; he hits back.

John Kasich jumps in with an effort to get the moderators to stop talking about Trump and start talking about issues. Good strategic move by Kasich to say, “I think it’s important we get to the issues.”


6:22 pm
Now another question for Trump, who is asked to respond to Jeb!’s assertion that Trump is not a serious candidate. Jeb! seems completely perplexed as he stares at Trump.

Tapper asks Jeb! if he would be comfortable with Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes…and Jeb punts by saying, “that’s for the voters to decide.” Trump is smiling next to Jeb! This couldn’t be going any better for Trump right now.


6:19 pm
First debate question is for Fiorina and is about Trump. “Would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes?”

The Fiorinabot 2016 says repeatedly that all of the candidates will be judged under pressure and show their true character. Moderator Jake Tapper immediately reminds the bot that it didn’t answer the question.

Fiorina refuses to answer, which is weird. You’re on a debate stage with Donald Trump — you can’t punt and expect anybody to remember you.

Now to Trump, who immediately says that Rand Paul shouldn’t be on the stage because he is 11th in the polls. See, Fiorinabot, that’s how you do it. Nobody, including us, thought Trump could win the Presidency back when he jumped into the race, but we’ve gotta hand it to him — he’s getting better and better and better at this campaign thing.

Rand Paul is given a chance to respond, and he immediately makes sure to confirm Trump’s point. “I kind of have to laugh, because he’s using a non-sequitur…” Yeah, just stop there, Rand. Trump hit Paul in the jaw right out of the gate, and Paul’s answer is to spend 30 more seconds talking about…Trump. Paul doesn’t understand what’s happening at all.


6:12 pm
Opening statements. First up is Rand Paul, who opens by introducing himself as “an eye surgeon from Kentucky.” Maybe he’s hoping people will confuse him with Ben Carson, who is also an eye surgeon but is not watching his campaign crater at the moment.

Mike Huckabee goes next, calls the candidates on stage “The A-Team.”

Marco Rubio, who seems to have dried off, drops an awful joke about bringing his own water to the debate because he knows California is in a drought.

Grandpa Munster Ted Cruz up next. Says he will stand up to career politicians, and has done so over and over again. Doesn’t mention that “standing to career politicians” has largely rendered Congress impotent since he started thinking about a Presidential bid.

Ben Carson looks very, very sleepy. Like, can barely keep his eyes open sleepy. Maybe he spent too much time in the Green Room listening to Jeb!

Donald Trump just used the word “bragadocious.” Even spell-check is confused.

Jeb Bush opens with almost the exact same line he used on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” last week. Good gravy, is this man boring.

Scott Walker’s turn to speak. Amazing that we waited this long for somebody to say that Ronald Reagan is the greatest President of our lifetime.

Carly Fiorina misses her cue and stares at the camera for a moment. This isn’t the Jayvee debate, Carly!

John Kasich says he flew on the plane behind them — with Ronald Reagan. No joke: Kasich spoke for 60 seconds and never once uttered a complete sentence.

Chris Christie asks the camera to turn toward the audience, because this election is about the people, or something.


6:10 pm
We’re back from a commercial break. Jake Tapper just said “the 11 leading Republican candidates are ready to go,” which sounded as silly as it looks in writing. Tapper is explaining the rules and introducing the “moderators.” Marco Rubio is glistening with sweat.


6:07 pm
Wolf Blitzer just informed us that the candidates all have notebooks, water, and a pen or pencil at their respective podiums. Quality reporting, Wolf.

Oh, and Wolf? Please stop calling this debate “historic.” Unless something major happens, this debate is only historic in the sense that it is something that occurred at a point in history.


6:06 pm
CNN analysts are droning on about “what to expect tonight.” Wolf Blitzer says it’s “do or die” for a lot of candidates tonight, but that seems like a bit of an exaggeration. The fact that it’s September 2015 and there are still 16 candidates running for the Republican nomination kind of eliminates some of the drama here.

“Do or die?” More like “Do, or Don’t, But Limp Along for Another Few Months Either Way.”


6:00 pm
We’re just minutes away from kickoff, and CNN has a live shot of the 11 Republican candidates walking down the hall toward the stage. With so many candidates, you probably could have snuck a 12th podium on stage, at least for a few minutes.

All of the candidates are on stage posing for photographs in front of a giant Air Force One airplane — the same one used by President Ronald Reagan.





48 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gilpin Guy says:

    Thanks Pols.  It's a thankless job to watch assholes eat their own so the rest of us can water the pansies and cook spinach waffles for dinner.  Thanks for taking one for the team.

  2. Progressicat says:

    Not that I blame you, but did you actually take an hour break from the debate or did the Tivo just catch up? smiley

  3. MADCO says:

    If Kasich gets the nomination (when the sensible adults bolt from the bankruptcy guy) he will be the next President, absent, of course, some unnamed and as yet unknown D candidate (or a Constitutional amid net that allows 3).

    Electoral math is hard. Let's go shopping.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      I played the shot game with friends (this was my first debate watch). We cried Uncle long before the close. One of the biggest missed opportunities of the eve for Tapper was when Kasich mentioned he was the only one on stage who has passed a balanced budget in Congress (2000). So wouldn't the perfect follow-up been, "so who was President leading up to the balance budget and surplus (a Democrat) – AND WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED??? (We elected Jeb's brother) 

  4. notaskinnycook says:

    No one is talking about the JV debate, but I just stumbled across this while reading news briefs.

  5. BlueCat says:

    Wasn't about to watch a three hour crazy party debate but watched after coverage switching  between MSNBC, CNN, and even Fox to see what the official network of the GOP had to say about it. Saw plenty of highlights. A few things struck me.

    1) How out of his depth the and, yes, low energy Donald seemed this time around. How completely dependent on juvenile jabs in the absence of having any substantive knowledge about anything compared to pretty much all the other candidates. Fiorina made  him look like the crass blowhard he is and she did it with grace and without breaking a sweat.

    2) How out of place Kasich seemed in this crowd, a throw back to the days when you had grown up Republican statesmanlike candidates for whom you could have respect while you disagreed with them. You could picture him working  across the aisle while all the others competed with each other to make clear that compromise would most certainly not be in their vocabulary. Naturally he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell.

    3) How low CNN has sunk and how Jr. High so many of the questions were. How often, instead of asking policy questions, candidates were being asked to respond to mean things other candidates had said about them. Their debate format and questions seemed more about staging petty grudge match controversy than staging a substantive debate. On the plus side this didn't work well for the Donald because he had to spend so much time reacting to other candidates reacting to mean things he had said and he looked and sounded so Jr High. But then so did CNN. It was a toss up whether it was Trump or CNN that showed the least gravitas.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Apparently, I didn't miss much by not watching the debate. CNN has decided that it is not a serious news organization any more, judging by the quality of their "lite" questions, as BC noted.

      I saw this in HuffPost:  How Fiorina scored, but not on substance, just on delivering the better zinger to put Trump in his place.  What is this, SNL? Who the hell cares what Trump thinks of her "face"?

      If we don't ask about issues and real policy proposals with people who want to be leader of the free world, then we might as well admit that America is a joke,  that it is not exceptional, that it has devolved to the level of a second-rate reality TV show.

  6. FrankUnderwood says:

    I made it through  first 45 minutes of the grown-up (I use that term loosely) table debate. I did not see the first debate on Faux last month. Did Trump make those ugly facial expressions then too?

    I've been watching these things since Ford and Carter in 1976, and I've seen some candidates commit bloopers inadvertently (Ford liberating Poland, Ronald Reagan zoning out during his first debate w/ Mondale, Dukakis' idiotic response to the death penalty question, Quayle comparing himself to JFK, Ross Perot's running mate forgetting to turn his hearing aid on, etc.) but I don't think I've ever seen anything like Trump's behavior.


  7. Davie says:

    Here's a pretty good take on the debate:

  8. itlduso says:

    Chris Matthews had Kasich on his set last night.  Kasich started out sounding like a "get things done" kind of politician.  But, then he tried to attack Trump by saying we need someone who knows how to "land the plane", and that "I have landed planes before" and got completely lost in his analogy.  Matthews was like, "WTF is wrong with you?"

    My money is still on Jeb!?…  And, I think that Kasich is our greatest threat.  But, last night watching Kasich got me wondering, "WTF is wrong with you?"

    • BlueCat says:

      Kasich would be our greatest threat if he had any chance of winning the nomination.

        • itlduso says:

          A couple of differences between Kasich and Huntsman:

          1) Ohio vs. Utah

          2) Kasich didn't work for Obama.  (Huntsman was Obama's ambassador to China)

          3) Kasich gave huge tax breaks to OH millionaires which will endear him to the GOP establishment.

          4) I suspect Kasich would be recognized at Washington National Airport, unlike Huntsman who was recognized only by me literally four days before his presidential announcement.  (I could be wrong about someone recognizing Kasich.)

        • itlduso says:

          A couple of differences between Kasich and Huntsman:

          1) Ohio vs. Utah

          2) Kasich didn't work for Obama.  (Huntsman was Obama's ambassador to China)

          3) Kasich gave huge tax breaks to OH millionaires which will endear him to the GOP establishment.

          4) I suspect Kasich would be recognized at Washington National Airport, unlike Huntsman who was recognized only by me just four days before his presidential campaign announcement.  (I could be wrong about someone recognizing Kasich.)

          • BlueCat says:

            True.  But he still has no chance of winning the nomination. Which of the two has/had the lesser of the zero chance they share is kind of getting into how many angels can dance on the head of a pin territory, argument wise.

  9. DaftPunk says:

    Newsmax thinks Trump kicked ass.  The MSM thinks Fiorina is a rising star who can woo female voters. She said:

    "Anyone who has watched this videotape," Fiorina said, presumably of one of the misleadingly edited videos created by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), "I dare, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain."

    That didn't happen. Even all the wackadoo anti-choice "news" sites I get through my Google News feed for Planned Parenthood aren't making that claim. If you're challenging your opponents to watch the videos, due dilligence would be watching them yourself. It's like invading Iraq for an attack based out of Afghanistan.  Not presidential, not the way to woo female voters.

    • BlueCat says:

      Politi-fact says no video  of what Fiorina describes exists.

      • BlueCat says:

        PS. Not that it matters to righties.

        • MichaelBowman says:

          It's a well-oiled machine…

          This is a disturbingly serious problem for a political system that purports to not only reflect the “will of the people,” but that also respects reality as a basic matter of course. “Facts are stubborn things,” John Adams observed — a true man of the Enlightenment. “Facts are stupid things,” Ronald Reagan famously misquoted him. It’s painfully obvious whose world we’re living in now. It’s a good deal less obvious how to escape.

          • BlueCat says:

            Celebrity reality news is, I'm afraid, here to stay.  Last night's debate got CNN approximately 23 million viewers and everybody knows it's because people are watching  the Trump Running for President Show just like they used to watch him on The Apprentice. That's why his early rallies got carpet coverage while weeks went by during which Bernie Sanders  was pulling in shocking and unexpected numbers while never getting more than the occasional mention in passing and no footage of his high attendance events. Reality TV fans are not his followers. He doesn't bring the ratings. News networks are now fully committed now to news as entertainment.

    • itlduso says:

      Jeff Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management just took down Fiorina for her disastrous (it was HUGE!) time at Hewlett-Packard.  He pointed out how she took a fine company and left it in tatters.  He also noted that she has been kicked off another board of directors, and has not been asked to be a CEO of any other company in the ten years since HP. 

      All she is good for is attacking Hillary.  Big deal.

    • BlueCat says:

      As for Fiarina and the nonexistent video she couldn't possibly have watched because ….you know… it doesn't exist, not even in the form of a video doctored to look like what she described, fact checkers all agree, I think she should be up for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance in the Donald Trump Presidential Debates Reality TV show.

      She  was brilliant in the Planned Parenthood video scene..  She choked up, brought a glint of a tear to her eye, appeared barely able to keep it to together recounting the horror she had (not) witnessed in this video. Not to mention her sheer off the charts chutzpah in challenging Obama and HRC (voice shaking with righteous outrage) to view this video which she herself could never have viewed because, once again, it… ummmm…. doesn't exist.

      Guess somebody might have told her it did?  An e-mail from Sarah Palin or something? Anyhoo, what a Diva! Great acting, nerves of steel, untroubled by ethics, totally shameless. I don't know if she'll ever catch Trump in the polls but if they ever get into a back alley knife fight I'd bet every cent I have on Carly. She'd wipe the floor with any of those guys up their on that stage with her. She’s certainly in better shape than any of them.

      That said, I'm very sorry about her stepdaughter's death due to addiction and am sure that part was not acting. But to make the connection between that and pot is a stretch. To imply that drinking a beer is harmless by comparison to having a smoke defies all the evidence. Drinking, mainly beer, is the main cause of carloads of prom going teens getting vaporized on our highways every year. Or it was before they all started texting. Sorry, Carly, but that's the truth.

  10. BlueCat says:

    Well he won by a landslide in Drudge post debate poll. The love of  Trump Nation  is apparently completely unconditional.

    BTW still having intermittent slow navigation issues. 

    • BlueCat says:

      That one took forever.  Also had trouble clicking on recent comments. 

    • BlueCat says:

      We're in the celebrity reality TV age. The 21st century version of bread and circuses. We all know how well that ended for the Roman Empire. 

      The first time I tried to post this it was slow, an intermittent problem all day so far, and then an internal server error message. Anyone else still having less than an ideal experience here? Here goes. Trying again.

      • BlueCat says:

        OK I know I hit reply in Michael's comment box. This finally went through on the third try but in the wrong place. Wherever this one turns up, I'm using the reply in my  own comment box. Here goes again.

        OK. That worked.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        I've had two comments disappear and had to attempt log-in three times as it wouldn't recognize my password the first two. 

        • Davie says:

          I've been getting 503 bad gateway or host not available type of errors most of the morning.  I wonder if some sort of Denial of Service attack is going on.  I thought the new server had lots of capacity so a few dozen (even a hundred) users shouldn't bring down the network connection, thus the thought of a network bombardment from the "friendly" competition.

  11. FrankUnderwood says:

    I didn't make it through the entire show last night but I read Gail Collins' column today in NY Times. Apparently the Donald is making a play for the vax populi wing of the GOP. He said something about knowing someone (who apparently worked for the Donald) whose kid became autistic after being vaccinated.

    Perhaps President Trump will appoint Michelle Bachman to be his surgeon general.

  12. Davie says:

    Accurate take on last night's debates…

    Every week, another candidate will be sent home until the GOP is left with one hero who can achieve, if nothing else, the highest ad revenue for media conglomerates. Time to go back and re-read Neil Postman's 1985 book on the subject: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business because that, apparently, is the one book GOP strategists all have on their bedside tables.


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