News Center

August 11th, 2011

Fox News Ames Debate Live Blog

More articles by »
Written by: Kevin Hall
Tags: , ,

We are just a half hour away for the Fox News debate.

Kevin Hall will be live blogging the debate here and you can follow Craig Robinson on Twitter @iowagoper

Greetings and welcome to’s live blog of the GOP Presidential Debate from Ames, Iowa.

We will be offering updates and insights live from Ames for the next two hours or so.

The debate airs live, starting at 8pm on Fox News Channel.  Feel free to offer your own thoughts in our comments section.

They have the media stationed on the Hilton Coliseum floor, with the debate on the scoreboard screens.  The actual debate is next door in Stephens Auditorium.  Tons of national media here.

I’m disappointed there were no debate rallies from the campaigns, at least that I could see.  The sign war victory goes to the Santorum campaign.  That’s not saying much.  They had a few signs off the Hwy 30 exit and in the median on Lincoln Way.  Also a big Santorum RV riding around the parking lot.   There’s a Mid-South Tea Party group with a band in the parking lot.  There’s the extent of outside festivities, as best as I could tell.

Made a brief pit stop before the debate begins.  National media guys rumbling about the size of the restroom.  Only one stall and one urinal in the nearest one.  They’re definitely not feeling the “Hilton Magic”.

7:57-Starting soon.  Craig Robinson went to grab us a beverage.  I gave him $5.  He came back with a Powerade and 4 quarters.  Yes, we just spent $4 on one Powerade.  And Craig is drinking it.  Looks like I’ll go thirsty.

Getting ready to start.  You’ll notice that as always, the top tier candidates are standing in the middle, and the lower tier are out on the edges.  Looks like Romney and Bachmann are next to each other.

8:00- Game time.  Raucous crowd.

Bachmann treating the first answer like it’s a stump speech.

8:05  Romney grilled on his absence on the debt ceiling debate.  Handled it well, now Baier is grilling him.  Romney is smooth.  Got to give him that.

8:07 First question to a candidate not name Bachmann or Romney.

Uh oh.  Congressman Paul responds awkwardly to the divided Congress question.  He looked stumped for a second.  But his fans cheer him anyway.

Bret Baier is asking excellent questions.  Only 10 minutes in and this debate is miles better than the debacle CNN aired in June.

8:12 Newt is the first to mention Reagan.  I bet he won’t be the last.

Pawlenty scores with his “I’ll come to your house and cook you dinner” line.  And takes a little jab at Romney.  Finally.

8:16  Pawlenty doesn’t shy away from criticizing Bachmann’s thin record.

Ouch, Bachmann hits back hard on T-Paw’s support of cap & trade and more.

BTW, hit “REFRESH” often to keep up.

8:20  WOW.  Slugfest between T-Paw and Bachmann.  Both are scoring body blows.  Great back and forth.  It’s like Gatti vs. Ward.

Kudos to the three of you who got that boxing reference.

So, who won the first round between M-Bach and T-Paw?  We’re scoring the first round for T-Paw.  It’s the strongest he has looked in this entire campaign.  Bachmann has the most to lose here, and he successfully put her record in question.

Hopefully more fireworks to come.

8:27  Wow.  Newt just laid the smackdown on Chris Wallace.  Great response.

8:36  Good answer from Cain on immigration.  That one was in his wheelhouse.

8:38  Someone should tell the moderators that Rick Santorum is also in this debate.  He’s had, I believe, one question come his way so far.

8:43  Bachmann smacking Pawlenty again.  Another dust-up.  Santorum raising his hand to get some recognition.

8:45   Finally, Santorum gets a question.

8:48  No one would raise taxes.  Everyone raises their hands.  I’m missing Fred Thompson’s classic “I’m not doing any hand shows today” line from the December 2007 debate.

8:50  T-Paw’s getting a mulligan on his chance to take on Romney on healthcare.  He hits him and scores a few jabs on spending and judges.

Romney has all of the sudden became a Federalist.  I don’t remember him advocating for the 10th Amendment like this four years ago.

8:56  Santorum hitting at Bachmann, Paul, and a thinly veiled slap at Rick Perry, without mentioning his name.

9:00  Just checked my email.  Got two emails from Pawlenty.  One fact checks Bachmann’s “false attack”.  Bachmann’s campaign sent out a slam on Pawlenty.  Bachmann’s went out first, at 8;40.  T-Paw’s responded at 8:55.

9:08  Newt is battling with the moderators again.  Gingrich is showing lots of fire tonight.  If he had campaigned like this, he coulda been a contender.

9:10  Who is Jon Huntsman and why is he on the stage?

9:12  Pawlenty with a good answer on dealing with Syria.  He’s slammed Obama repeatedly, as well as Bachmann and Romney.  Good night for T-Paw so far.  He has to fight and he’s finally doing it.

9:15 Ron Paul’s ok with Iran having nukes.  Just when I think he starts to make sense, he loses me.  Sorry RP. They’re the number one terrorist country in the world.  We cannot allow them to have nukes.

Santorum slamming him now.

The Paulbots are fired up and angry at Santorum.

9:16   The moderators are doing a great job using the candidates’ most controversial statements and grilling them on it.  They are also allowing them to go tangle with each other.  FNC is doing a FANTASTIC job so far in this debate.

9:20  Just got another email from the Bachmann campaign responding to Pawlenty.   Not sure this is necessary.  She’s punching down at a candidate way behind her in the polls.

9:22  Ron Paul fans cheering, others are booing him.  This is fun.

9:29  Crowd is booing question about Bachmann previous statement that she would be “submissive” to her husband.  She handled the response well, saying it’s based on “respect for each other”.

Some in the crowd didn’t like it, but the question is legit.  She said it.  Now she’s responded and was able to put the issue to rest.

9:31  Romney sheds his flirtation with the 10th Amendment when it comes to marriage.

9:32  Checked email again while that Huntsman guy was talking.  T-Paw campaign sent another smack at Bachmann.  No doubt the battle between these two will be the story of the night.

9:34 Santorum getting applause for campaign for ouster of Iowa justices.  Wise move on his part to mention that.

9:36 GREAT answer from Santorum on the issue of abortion in the case of rape and incest.  He’s scoring now that they’re letting him talk.

9:41  Many of the media in this room are responsible for the enormous hype Huntsman got when he entered.  They’re partially to blame for him taking up space on the stage tonight.  I just don’t get the appeal.  He’s has offered nothing to the debate tonight.

9:45  Sean Hannity in the house, getting ready for his live broadcast.

Frank Luntz is here too, in a suit, with tennis shoes.

9:50  Santorum has criticized Bachmann a few times and she has not been given a chance to respond.

9:53  They come back from commercial and let Bachmann respond to the criticism.

9:56  Ok, Santorum should stop complaining about not getting media recognition.  He was right in the first hour.  Got plenty of the time in second.

9:58  Romney giving his closing remarks.  He kind of disappeared in this debate.  Between all the bickering, he flew under the radar.  He’s the national frontrunner and doesn’t care about the Ames Straw Poll, so that helps him.

9:59  Bachmann made it the whole two hours without mentioning she’s from Iowa.  Thank goodness.  I can’t take it anymore.

10:01  Newt has the best close by talking about America’s problems instead of advocating for himself.

That’s the end of the debate.  It was a lot of fun. Thanks for following along.

TIR founder Craig Robinson and I will have our debate recap here on the website tomorrow morning, scoring the winners and losers and breaking down how each candidate did.


About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

blog comments powered by Disqus