[Re-published from 2008Central.net. This liveblog on Donklephant will be updated periodically. For the latest please visit the active liveblog at 2008Central.net]

7:30: Time Russert and Brian Williams (henceforth, Bri-Wi) are moderating this debate, and participating are John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul. I’m looking for Huckabee and Giuliani to be particularly aggressive, as a bad finish in Florida could really hurt them.

As an aside, today is the one year anniversary of 2008Central.net. So for those of you who have stuck around for all 1,053 posts now, I’m sure you realize how damned lucky you are to have us. But enough about us, you’re here to see two old white men question five other old white men about who should replace another old white man. How thrilling!

8:46: MSNBC says the debate is “DO OR DIE.” in large all-cap font. Note this, because your children will want to know about the time that four presidential candidates were all killed on stage by a major news company. In other words, don’t expect this debate to be a subtle discussion of minor differences.

8:59: Want to skip us as middlemen and watch it yourself but don’t have cable? Screw you! Seriously, though, watch here. Brian Williams just told people not to cheer to give people at home misleading impressions. And now he’s thanking military people in the audience.

9:01: Lyndon Johnson was at the university when it opened. Hillary Clinton just issued a press release that it takes a president to open a school.

9:02: Candidates are tired; apparently, they requested the debate only goes 90 minutes instead of 2 hours at their request. Tim Russert looks angry.

9:03: Romney is asked about the stimulus plan, and contrasts it with Bush’s. Is he disappointed? Romney says it is effective, he just wishes it went further. Romney somehow says that a permanent tax cut is equivalent to a rebate or no taxes on capital gains. Talks about creating jobs and the mortgage crisis. He sounds like he’s somewhat competent, but pandering at the same time.

9:05: McCain says he will vote for the plan, and is disappointed it does not make the Bush tax cuts permanent. McCain talks about people having uncertainty in their budget for 2010, and it sounds like a punch line. Segues into pork barrel talk. Talks up the rate cuts by Bernanke and the need for tax cuts. He’s completely trying to erase any doubts of him on the tax issue.

9:07: Giuliani says the package is OK, but does not go far enough. Talks up his surrogates introducing legislation (Dreier and Bond). Says there is no difference between temporary and permanent. Says that if America over taxes, spends, sues, or regulates that America loses. Specifically excludes military spending. Said he is worried about London overtaking NYC as financial center.

9:09: McCain is asked about a quote that said he did not know the economy well enough. He flatly denies the quote and says he is well versed. Cites support of Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm and his experience in the Senate on the “Congress committee.” I’m not sure about any of the credentials he’s mentioning here.

9:11: Does Huckabee trust Romney on taxes or fees? What an awfulo question. Huckabee demurs, and says its about voters. He talks up him balancing the budget. Huckabee says that we’ll borrow money for the package from China and buy Chinese packages (Did Duncan Hunter take over as speech writer?) Huckabee says that a bigger priority ought be building infrastructure, and says 95 should be widened. I’d love to know his plan for widening the Cross Bronx.

9:13: Does Romney trust McCain and Giuliani on taxes? He says he respects them despite differences but share a common goal. Cites his bipartisanship in solving problems without raising taxes. Talks about the surplus. Criticizes McCain for not voting for the Bush tax cuts the first time, and says that the POTUS needs to understand the private sector like he does.

9:15: McCain says that the people who had fees raised by Romney thought they were a tax increase. Flat joke. Talks at length about needing to cut spending to cut taxes at first. Talks at length about pork barrel spending.

9:17: Paul is brought in and asked about government intervention. Says the fed cutting interest rates and printing money is the problem. Says less regulations and taxes is the problem. The dollar is crashing and it’s hurting foreign policy, and we’re spending money on an empire, etc. Criticizes no one cutting money overseas.

9:18: This is very antiseptic, with almost no interaction between candidates. Bri-Wi asks Giuliani about banks borrowing money from overseas. Giuliani first talks about his trip to Ground Zero with a Saudi prince, when he found out that the prince criticized American foreign policy. Says that is fundamentally different from investments where there is no other reasons behind it, and a mutuality of interest. Moves in Japan buying into America that brough Japan and America closer together. Wants America to sell something to the world. Not sure what, exactly.

9:21: A poll showed Democrats with an 18 point lead of trust on the economy. Russert lkists a bunch of stats that showed problems with the economy over the past 6 years. McCain says Democrats will increase government and raise spending, calling that ‘straight talk.’ He just mentioned 10 minutes ago that the Bush administration was the worst at increasing the size of government since LBJ, and now that? He concludes by talking about taxes and Democrats like he’s a 5 year old.

9:24: Huckabee takes credit for not being in Washington. Then says it’s not all on Bush as he kept us safe. Huckabee takes credit for being the only one to say the economy was doing bad at the CNBC economic debate a few months ago. Huckabee says that trickle down may be true, but trickle-up is a sign of a bad economy coming. Funny, but conservatives probably won’t buy it.

9:25: Romney takes the bold stance of running on his record. Attacks Washington and says promises are never met. Cites spending, Social Security, immigration, and foreign oil. Blames both parties, and says Republicans are the party of change.

9:27: Giuliani says he is the only one to turn around an economy. And yes, Huckabee and Romney both took credit for a turnaround earlier. Cites his stimulus plan being touted by the Club for Growth.

9:28: Paul says he cannot be identified with a high spending crowd, but Republicans need to fix their goals. Says America is moving into a new era. Sure, I guess.

9:29: Local question for McCain, about the military being on the verge of breaking and the economy being on the edge of breaking. How will McCain manage staying in Iraq militarily and economically? He says no one in the military says we cannot stay. Attacks Clinton for wanting to withdraw. Says no one complains about troops around the world a mere ten minutes after Paul complained. Dodges the economic issue completely.

[Continued at 2008Central.net]

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