Note: This live blog event has concluded.
Closing statements (the 2nd most boring part of any debate)
Bachmann: I'm humbled by the support of many fellow citizens and encouraged that America's best days are ahead.
Gingrich: Returning America back to job creation, balanced budgets & limited govt will be a team effort.
McCotter: We face tough challenges, but our best days are ahead because we Americans are at our best when challenged.
Cain: The 2012 election will be a good year for the GOP, and I hope I can count on your support.
Santorum: Thank you for this opportunity & for fighting for Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness.
Johnson: We need to reduce govt to be free to prosper.
It wasn't the most exciting thing, but this debate was interesting for a couple of different reasons. First, I think it's always a nice idea to limit politicians' debate responses to 140 characters or less -- bravo for the approach. Secondly, S.E. had some unique questions for the candidates and it's always nice to break out of the mold of traditional debate questions and challenge candidates to deliver candid and honest answers.
Finally, it's amazing to see how technology is changing not only today's politics, but democracy from a historical standpoint. Americans are engaging with candidates and their fellow countrymen in ways our Founders could never have dreamed of. The real question is how we will use these technological advances to positively affect change and pass on a legacy to future generations we can be proud of.
With general questions out of the way, moderator S.E. Cupp now directs questions submitted by Twitter users to each individual candidate:
Q to Gingrich: Many say Obama doesn't have a plan to deal with the debt. What's YOUR plan?
A: Control spending. Put Americans back to work. Get back to a balanced budget as we did when I was Speaker
Q to Santorum: What would be your first executive order after the disastrous Obama presidency?
A: To suspend all spending on the implementation of Obamacare
Q to Bachmann: Why isn't anyone talking about the 47% of Americans that don't pay taxes?
A: I am -- simple, fair, flat; everyone should pay something.
Q to McCotter: Do you believe Obama is anti-Israel?
A: The impact of his policies, both proposed and pursued, have strained our special relationship and emboldened our enemies.
Q to Cain: Do you have a plan to replace Obamacare, not just repeal it?
A: We need to control costs -- the private sector would be key in a Herman Cain healthcare plan; govt regulation is not the way.
Q to Johnson: Do you support NLRB recent actions against Boeing in SC?
A: Absolutely not. For as obsessed as the admin appears to be with creating jobs, this is one more example of fewer jobs.
Question 5: What role do you think the Tea Party will play in the 2012 elections?
Gingrich: Developing local solutions as we move power out of Washington.
McCotter: That depends on the GOP -- will they fight for self-govt, liberty, prosperity & security like they're supposed to?
Cain: It's a powerful voice in the conversation, checking the priorities of the GOP.
Santorum: Hopefully as great as they did on the last election. Defending the constitution and limited govt.
Johnson: By giving voice to millions of Americans who are not satisfied with the traditional parties.
Question 4: As president, if you could enact any policy to fix the economy without congressional approval, what would it be? Be specific.
Bachmann: Repeal Obamacare.
Gingrich: I wouldn’t even if I could -- congressional approval offers legitimacy of the consent of the governed to the law.
McCotter: A president must not infringe upon the constitutionally prescribed powers of the separate ,equal branches.
Cain: I would limit the EPA, Department of Energy and other executive agencies from getting in the way of businesses.
Santorum: I would freeze all Obama regulations in process and overturn any antibusiness executive order.
Johnson: Change regulatory & enforcement policies that are preventing common-sense energy solutions.
Is there really a safe answer to this question? The last thing conservatives want to hear is that a candidate wants to unilaterally enact their own policy (or even fantasize about doing it). That said, if you say you'd never want to do that, would people think you're ducking the question?
That said, I'm old-fashioned and would have to give this question to Gingrich and McCotter who stick to the constitutional letter of the law.
Question 3: Can a president create jobs without expanding the role of the federal government?
Bachmann: Cut taxes, reduce gov't spending and simplify tax code.
Gingrich: No tax increase, 100% expensing, reduce business tax to 12.5%, eliminate cap gains & death tax
McCotter: A Pres only "creates jobs" in the bloated & imploding public sector.
Cain: The president must make the government smaller and reduce regulations on businesses.
Santorum: The federal govt kills jobs!
Johnson: Govt creates jobs by reducing its role, not expanding it.
Question 2: How do you weigh the cost of fighting the war on terror against the exploding debt crisis?
Bachmann: Defense spending did not cause our budget crisis & we must maintain our military strength.
Gingrich: We spend less on defense today as % of GDP than at any time since Pearl Harbor.
McCotter: I reject the premise of the question, for it's a corollary to the Left's inane "peace dividend" trope of the 90s.
Cain: You can't really put a price on national security and defending our borders.
Santorum: I would not cut defense budget -- I'd freeze it, cut waste & plow savings back into Defense.
Johnson: We do not need 60-100k troops in Afghan and Iraq to protect ourselves.
Classic McCotter! Gotta love it.
Question 1: As president, how will you avoid continually raising the debt ceiling?
Bachmann: Real spending reform, no empty promises
Gingrich: We don't need Obama's "balanced approach" -- we need a balanced budget
McCotter: Cut, cap & balance! (for now)
Cain: Like in business, make targeted cuts in spending with vertical & horizontal cuts across many gov't programs
Santorum: I wrote and helped pass welfare bill ending some entitlements.
Johnson: Medicaid and Medicare and reforming Social Security.
Gingrich wins the points on this one for best sound bite.
Opening statements -- (the most boring part of any debate)
Bachmann: I'm running to bring the voice of the people back to DC. That voice requires fundamental changes.
Gingrich: Replacing a Dem w/ a Repub is not enough; The era of big govt is over… I mean it.
McCotter: Our American Dream is endangered and We The People matter more than ever!
Cain: I'm a job creator & a solutions-oriented leader uniquely qualified candidate to be America’s CEO.
Santorum: Obama is a threat to Americans' God-given liberty and I have record in DC of believing in the American people
Johnson: I have a good record as a former two-term governor of New Mexico
Overall, nothing terribly interesting. I'm surprised Santorum would highlight his past experiences in DC given the country's anti-incumbent sentiment right now. In addition, while Cain's experience as a CEO may go over well with pro-business Republicans, it likely won't get him anywhere in a general election against class warrior Barack Obama. Poor Gary Johnson is still trying to get on the political map.
FYI: Radio host Rusty Humphries is covering the debate live:
With technology ever-expanding and presenting new ways of bringing people together, TheTeaParty.net came up with a novel idea -- a debate via Twitter. My favorite part of this means that candidates' answers will be decidedly brief.
Participating in today's Republican presidential debate will be Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Thaddeus McCotter, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson. The moderator for today is our good friend S.E. Cupp. I'll be bringing you the latest tidbits and juicy details right here on the blog, so let the debate begin!