This post is live-blogging the GOP debate.
10:46 pm A “wild card” question from YouTube, to close the debate, asks who people would want as a running mate. Johnson is honest, with no skin in the game, and he picks fellow traveler Ron Paul. Santorum picks Gingrich—weird—who says he will decline to hurt anyone’s feelings with a pick. Paul says that as a top-three candidate, it’s not appropriate for him to pick. (Huh, there’s a number cut-off for this?) Perry says he would like to mate Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich—a smart way to appeal to popular second-tier candidates. Romney demurs, saying the VP pick is a very serious, lengthy decision process. Cain says he leans towards Romney or Gingrich, and he notes that this is just hypothetical game of a question, anyway.
10:32 pm The debate starts to feel like the most boring book club ever, as Perry and Romney trade accusations about backtracking from their political tomes. Both deny the other candidate’s allegations.
10:31 pm In a largely rehashed discussion of healthcare, Perry says Americans must wonder “which Mitt Romney” they’re hearing, as he recounts several reversals in positions (on healthcare, gun rights and other issues).
10:12 pm Governor Johnson calls for pulling back from the Cuba embargo, at least for some air travel, to a small smattering of applause—an unusual view in GOP presidential politics.
10:09 pm In response to a YouTube question criticizing foreign aid, Gingrich implies that countries that vote against the US in the UN should not receive foreign aid.
10:03 pm According to a “word cloud” displaying the most common word in foreign policy questions submitted to the debate organizers, “Israel” was by far the most frequently used word. Asked about that, Romney criticizes Obama for being insufficiently committed to Israel as an ally, and he dredges up talking points about Obama “apologizing” for America on the world stage.
9:54 pm For the “Google” touch of the night, the debate takes a break from the candidates to go over data from Google searches, which show that Americans are now searching more often for home foreclosures and how to save money on gas. Feels a little forced.
9:49 pm Romney calls for “turning off the magnet” for illegal immigration posed by benefits like in-state school tuition, an attack on Governor Perry. Moderator Chris Wallace says that there were more questions online about Perry’s immigration views than any other candidate’s, an anecdotal snapshot of one weakness for the front-runner. Perry rebuts the idea that he is “soft” on immigration, saying he has spent more time on border security than any other candidate, but that you don’t have a “heart” if you want to punish the children of undocumented workers by denying them education benefits.