Hello, and welcome back. I am once again sitting on a living room couch in Paris. It is 1:56 AM, and yes, I am repeatedly questioning my life choices. (Am I questioning my life choices as much as Republicans are questioning their presidential choices, however? I think not. I hope not.)
So then, let us begin.
1:59 AM – The CNN.com online feed is showing crew members walking self-importantly back and forth across the stage.
2:01 AM – The CNN intro just dubbed Ron Paul “the delegate hunter.” Not a great start for him. But then, Mitt Romney got called “the long-distance runner,” so that’s not much of an improvement.
2:04 AM – I think Rick Santorum got the weakest cheers when he walked out. And I’m not sure Ron Paul actually shook Newt Gingrich’s hand when he got to the center of the stage. (Probably just missed it.) Also, given that this is a GOP event, yes, we are in fact being treated to a cheesy choral rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. It’s in their contract (for America?).
2:05 AM – How’d they find an Asian female willing to sing at the Republican debate? We’re all disappointed in you, ma’am.
2:07 AM – They’re sitting! Somehow that disappoints me slightly.
2:08 AM – Newt Gingrich is wearing a purple tie, and immediately mentioned energy in his 10-second intro. Weird choice. Or maybe not, given gas prices.
2:09 AM – Santorum has just promised to cut the budget by $5 trillion in 5 years. This seems reasonable enough. Also, he just assured us he won’t cut defense. But welfare’s on the chopping block. I am so glad to hear we’re not going to cut our military funding. We haven’t had a really fun war in quite awhile.
2:11 AM – Romney’s had his first “I’m a businessman!” moment. He loves to work that in. Also, these camera views are awesome. They’re sitting close enough together to play footsies under the table. I think that’s what Gingrich and Romney are doing now, in fact.
2:12 AM – Did Romney just say he’s going to cut unemployment by 10%? So we’ll have roughly -2% or -3% unemployment? Actually, I can almost understand the math: that horrible feeling when you have a job and can’t seem to get fired.
2:14 AM – Romney, in responding to Santorum, just made a point of assuring the audience that he would cut taxes for the top 1% as well. Way to pander? (Not so much.)
2:15 AM – Gingrich: “You’re never going to balance the budget on the backs of a highly-unemployed country…So I would focus on jobs-based growth.” So…you’re dropping out and endorsing Obama?
2:16 AM – Ron Paul! Jon King asks him why he called Ron Santorum fake. Paul: “Well…because he’s fake.” Best part? Santorum’s sitting two inches to his left. Paul’s still going at him for fake fiscal conservatism and got some loud cheers. Finally, he closes with a weird, off-tangent complaint about foreign aid spending. Come on, Ron. You’re better than that.
2:22 AM – Gingrich looks sad and lonely, but also oddly at peace with himself. Methinks he just downed a solid pre-debate burger.
2:23 AM – It’s strange to see Gingrich address Romney’s ideas with so much deference and friendliness. He looks like a man who’s well aware of his impending defeat and has been given strict orders to derail Santorum.
2:25 AM – No fireworks so far.
2:26 AM – I hate to say this, but I kinda, sorta agree with Santorum on this one. Earmarks aren’t the end of the world. OK, quick, must disagree with him on something quickly before I become unable to recognize myself.
2:29 AM – OK, and now it’s getting heated. Santorum’s getting pissed about the earmarks discussion, Mitt’s talking over him, then Newt tried to get involved because Mitt mentioned him (gently) as a leader of an earmarking Congress, followed by Paul trying to talk after Santorum called him a prolific ear-marker. This is all getting very confusing. And more and more irrelevant.
2:35 AM – This audience is weird. They’re booing and clapping at the strangest things. Literally, as soon as I typed that, they clapped when Mitt Romney said the word “bankruptcy.”
2:39 AM – I love watching ol’ Rick start to get heated. You just know his advisers keep telling him, “Keep your cool, keep your cool, keep your cool,” but he just can’t help himself sometimes. People can just be so wrong.
2:44 AM – First commercial break, and I’m out. Too tired, and nothing’s going on.