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Vote: Who won the first GOP presidential debate?


10:32 p.m. -- Thanks for following along on the live blog!

Interesting: On Fox News' Hannity, Frank Luntz's focus group overwhelmingly says Herman Cain won the debate. What do you think? Vote in the poll:

10:27 p.m. -- Closing remarks

Paul: Today's biggest issue is the budget. Gov't job is to promote a free-market economy and provide for defense. Bring troops home and restore fiscal sanity.

Cain: We need more leadership and less "positionship"

Pawlenty: We need to restore American common sense to Washington, DC

Santorum: I've led on conservative issues--social, national security, domestic policy. "It's not just checking the boxes, it's having the courage to lead."

Johnson: We need a "common-sense business approach" to government. We're on the verge of financial collapse and need to make tough choices.

Questions on other candidates not at debate

Cain: I supported Romney before b/c I thought he could create jobs. I'm running now because he did not win. (LOL!)

Pawlenty: "I love the Huck." Adds that momentum is on his side as name recognition grows.

Paul: Rep. Michelle Bachmann's influence in the tea party doesn't threaten me.

Santorum: On Gingrich's past -- "All of us make mistakes... [Newt] should stand for the truth and let the chips fall where they may."

Johnson: If I had a reality TV show like Trump, it'd focus on physical activity and competition.

What will be Obama vulnerability in 2012?

Paul: The economy

Cain: "One right decision doth not a great president make... vulnerable in many ways."

Pawlenty: Gas prices, unemployment, big government

Santorum: I've beaten Democratic incumbents before (WORST answer I've heard all night)

Johnson: The budget, collapse of economy

10:16 p.m. -- Lightning round

More from the live blog coverage after the jump...

Cain: "How about sending a problem solver to the White House?"

Johnson wants liberty for drug use but would implement behavioral controls via higher tax. Gov't control either way.

Why would social conservatives vote for Ron Paul? You have a right to do things that are very "controversial" as an exercise of liberty, he says. "Like using heroin." Speaking of drugs... Gary Johnson fields follow-up question about his support of legalizing marijuana.

Santorum questioned about Senate re-election defeat and opinion on women in the workplace: "We should be affirming women's choices to stay at home or work outside the home... both decisions should be applauded and affirmed based on the decision she wants to make... society needs to be supportive of basic family structure."

Pawlenty questioned on cap-and-trade support in the past. Says he's "subsequently" realized it was a bad idea, bad for the economy. If you've been an elected official, "you're going to have some battle scars... I made a mistake and I've opposed cap-and-trade since. Nobody's perfect."

10:05 p.m. -- New topic: the upcoming campaign season

Pawlenty on creationism vs. evolution: "There should be room in curriculum for intelligent design," left up to local school districts, not federal gov't. "I think this is a reasonable approach." Shifting gears, Pawlenty notes that he was in a union for many years and resents assumption that GOP is "anti-union." "It's not about being anti-union, it's about being pro-jobs."

Paul: Jobs are coming to Texas from union states b/c cost of doing business is much higher. NLRB is "unconstitutional" -- Interstate Commerce clause exists to allow companies to make decisions, not inhibit business decisions.

Cain questioned on NLRB/Boeing ruling and Wisconsin ban on collective bargaining. Cain not concerned that GOP is becoming "anti-union" party. Highlights free-market beliefs and now NLRB ruling runs contrary to free market. "We need to get government out of the way, including telling a company where they need to build a new plant." (Camera catches a smiling Gov. Nikki Haley in the audience!)

Santorum: No truce on moral issues. Founding principles involving Creator demand respect for human life -- the belief in "family, life and dignity of every person" are what transformed the world. "If we give up on that, we give up on America."

(Side note: I'm really happy with Fox News' research in preparation of this debate's questions. Well done.)

Gary Johnson "outs" himself as a pro-choicer. "I support a woman's right to choose up to viability."

Herman Cain offers good, one-line response in defense of DOMA.

Ron Paul fields question on gay marriage and plugs his new book -- "the government should be out of it," says values should not be imposed on others. (what are laws?)

9:54 p.m. -- New topic: social issues

9:50 p.m. -- Another commercial break. Coming up: the union situation in Wisconsin

So far, I think Pawlenty remains on top, then Santorum. Paul, Cain and Johnson are battling it out for a weak third position. I'm a bit surprised Cain hasn't been stronger, but then again no one is really shining as outstanding.

Johnson asked to respond to Trump's proposal to tax Chinese imports: "I'm a free-market guy... no, i don't favor tariffs against China. I don't favor tariffs of any kind, whatsoever."

Paul: Israel has become "too dependent" on the United States. The "principal" of foreign aid is wrong, he says. Israel should be "in charge of their foreign policy." (Paul's response seems muted compared to his usual more abrasive rhetoric.)

Santorum on Pakistan: "We have to engage the Pakistanis at a level that we haven’t done before. We have tolerated a lot of bad behavior." Proposes ultimatum -- either Pakistan works with us on Afghanistan/terror or there will be consequences in the form of cutting aid.

Pawlenty: Libya's Qaddafi has "American blood on his hands." President Obama hesitated and waited for Arab League/UN to act; if he'd acted sooner, we wouldn't be in continuing situation. "If the president says Qaddafi must go, he must go."

Cain: we need a clear national security strategy with every nation on the planet, "friend or foe."  Slams Obama for "inconsistencies" in foreign policy.

9:43 p.m. -- New topic: foreign policy

Johnson explains "amnesty grace period" -- "We should make it as easy as possible to get a work visa... immigration needs to be about work, not welfare." Illegal immigrants are here illegally because gov't has made it too difficult to obtain a visa.

Santorum recounts his family's immigrant past. "We're not doing anyone any favors" by not requiring immigrants lean English. President Obama is "playing political games" with the Latino community.

Cain on immigration: AZ did not go "too far" -- secure the border, enforce the laws, clean up bureaucracy and empower the states.

Gary Johnson interjects to complain he's not getting enough questions. (tiny violin)

Cain: a "fair tax" would even the playing field for everyone

Ron Paul: We're spending too much on our "militarism" around the world -- spending problems wouldn't exist if we'd "stick to the constitution." Calls for look into Federal Reserve system.

First question to Santorum -- "Is defunding Obamacare more important than preventing default on US debt?" Santorum says Obamacare is #1 issue facing the country because it's about freedom and government controlling people's lives.

9:33 p.m. -- New topic: spending at the national debt

9:30 p.m. -- at the first commercial break, Cain doesn't seem to have hit his stride yet. Santorum has been playing a bit of defense, but seems to be delivering strong, principled responses. Most impressive performance so far probably goes to Pawlenty.

Paul delivers a very tough answer on tort reform, slams lawyers and receives big applause.

Santorum: Rx and Medicare should be private sector with a cap. (free-market?)

Pawlenty is first candidate to smack Obama over NLRB/Boeing. Answer for health care crisis is not to drag it into DC -- "[Obama] jammed down our throats one of the most partisan, misguided pieces of legislation in the country." T-Paw also bows out of an opportunity to criticize former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney because "he's not here to defend himself."

Gary Johnson: let's abolish the corporate tax -- "that will literally create tens of millions of jobs overnight." He also supports limiting unemployment benefits -- "At the point at which it runs out, that's when we really deal with the problems we have."

3 of the 5 candidates (Pawlenty, Cain & Santorum) would support resumption of waterboarding interrogation techniques -- Paul and Johnson do not. Paul argues that waterboarding doesn't accomplish anything; Santorum vehemently disagrees. Cain says we should use "whatever means possible" to protect American people.

9:15 p.m. -- Panelist Chris Wallace visibly annoyed at applause for Ron Paul after he slammed secret prisons and indefinite detention.

Santorum gives strong answer on need to confront Islamic ideology.

(Side note: it's very refreshing that these candidates actually stop their answers when the bell rings.)

Johnson: Timetable for Afghanistan pullout should be tomorrow. But "I realize tomorrow may mean months." (Uh, ok...?)

Cain: Ongoing mission and roadmap to victory in Afghanistan are not clear and must be clearly defined. This is true, but deference to the experts sounds more like a dodge on foreign policy.

When asked about his call to remove troops from Afghanistan, Ron Paul points out that OBL was not found in Afghanistan. Now that we've gotten OBL, it's time to remove troops from Afghanistan, he says. Paul fans are first to break the "no cheering" rule.

Cain is only candidate who says he would not release photo of dead OBL if he were president today.

Pawlenty praises bin Laden's demise, but insists Obama is still weak on foreign policy and points to ongoing situation in Libya as evidence.

Santorum praises Obama for continuing some policies of the Bush administration, but says Obama is missing the boat when it comes to Iran.

9:00 p.m. -- Show time

Not near a TV?  Fox is broadcasting the debate online here.

8:43 p.m. -- It's hard to believe, but we're already wading into the next presidential election season. Tonight, some of the GOP's potential contenders go head-to-head in South Carolina in a debate event hosted by Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party. Participating in tonight's debate event will be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. (see here for more info)

Dubbed the party's "B-Team," these possible candidates are looking to expand their public images and catapult their campaigns into the national spotlight.

FNC host Bret Baier is moderating.  Panelists are Chris Wallace, Shannon Bream and Juan Williams.

Stay tuned. The debate kicks off on Fox News at 9:00 p.m.

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