Iowa Debate News: Live Updates From The Hawkeye State (VIDEO)

08/11/2011 08:14 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2011

Eight Republican candidates are facing off in Iowa's first presidential debate of the 2012 election season on Thursday night.

The list of names taking part in the Hawkeye State forum includes: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

The GOP primary event comes ahead of the widely-anticipated Ames Straw Poll, a test of conservative strength and table-setter for next year's Iowa caucuses set to take place on Saturday.

Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold in the Hawkeye State.

08/12/2011 8:14 AM EDT

Reactions To Spat Between Bachmann And Pawlenty

HuffPost's Sara Kenigsberg and Jon Ward headed to the spin room after the debate to get reactions to the sparring:

Video by Sara Kenigsberg

08/11/2011 11:19 PM EDT

Obama Campaign Renders Judgment

The Obama campaign urged its email followers to pay close attention to the GOP presidential campaign at various moments while it was taking place on Thursday night -- suggesting that the whole thing was theater that only helped the president seem, well, presidential.

By the end of it, however, the campaign rendered a judgment, and it came in the form of a tweet from national press secretary Ben LaBolt.

"Once again," LaBolt said, "through all of the rhetoric, Republicans don't mention the middle class."

-- Sam Stein

08/11/2011 11:04 PM EDT

'Spicy Or Mild?'

"American Idol" or "Dancing With the Stars"? Thin crust or thick? Remember all of those stupid either/or questions that riddled the last debate on CNN?

Well, credit where credit is due. Fox/Washington Examiner got through the entire debate without resorting to either format frippery or pointless frivolity. The moderators kept the questions on serious matters, and weren't afraid of ruffling the candidates' feathers. For all of Newt Gingrich's carping about the "gotcha" questions, many of the non-Newt Gingrich contestants found ways to shine when they were put on the spot. Overall, it was a fast-moving, topical, riveting debate, and let's face it: it really put shame on CNN's game.

-- Jason Linkins

08/11/2011 10:54 PM EDT

Santorum vs. Economic Crackpots

Rick Santorum passively rebukes Bachmann: "Of course we need to raise the debt ceiling ... saying otherwise is showmanship, not leadership."

-- Jason Linkins

08/11/2011 10:53 PM EDT

End The Fed Watch

Ron Paul: "I'm delighted that Main Street is catching up with us on auditing the Fed, this is great."

That's the theory that this Ron Paul campaign is testing: how far the country has swung in his direction. It's moved a lot closer to Paul's position in the past two years. Enough to win the Iowa Caucus?

-- Jason Linkins

08/11/2011 10:52 PM EDT

Candidates Debate Whether Marriage Should Be Left To States

There is a growing divide among conservatives about whether the issue of same sex marriage should be left to the states under the 10th amendment. The majority of the presidential candidates support a constitutional amendment to outlaw the practice. But some of the candidates argue that until then, states have the right to allow it, while others argue they don't.

Mitt Romney said the issue of marriage "should be decided at the federal level," because people "move from state to state."

"Marriage is a status, not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state," he added. "As a result, our marriage-status relationships should be constant across the country. I believe we should have a federal amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman."

Jon Huntsman, who supports civil unions, said the issue should be left up to the states: "I believe in traditional marriage first and foremost. ... I also believe in civil unions. I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality. ... I believe this is something that ought to be discussed among the various states. I don't have any problem with states having this discussion."

The most hard-line -- and anti-states' rights -- on the issue was Rick Santorum. He touted the fact that in Iowa, where the debate was taking place, he helped throw out the justices who legalized marriage equality in the state. "I campaigned and worked to make sure those justices were defeated," he said.

"We can't have 50 marriage laws," he continued. "This was the approach the left took on abortion. ... That's where I disagree with Rick Perry, where I disagree with Michele Bachmann."

Bachmann reiterated her support for a federal amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

-- Amanda Terkel

08/11/2011 10:49 PM EDT

Bachmann Really Wanted Default And The Destruction Of The Global Economy

Michele Bachmann is back at it, telling the audience that she opposes any attempt to actually pay for debts already incurred, preferring default. And numbers ... well, they are not her forte.

Bachmann: "Congress gave Obama a $2.4 million blank check."

Uhm...by definition, that's not a blank check.

-- Jason Linkins

08/11/2011 10:47 PM EDT

Romney And Unemployment Insurance

Mitt Romney said at Thursday night's debate that he was in favor of ending the current system of unemployment benefits, but did not support doing away with unemployment insurance altogether.

"If I were president right now," said the former Massachusetts governor, "I would go to Congress with a new system for unemployment [benefits], which would have [individual] accounts from which people could withdraw funds…"

How that would actually work, Romney didn't say. And he stressed repeatedly that he was against "endless unemployment benefits." Still, the mere idea that Romney would support some form of unemployment insurance is kind of noteworthy for this Republican field.

-- Sam Stein

08/11/2011 10:44 PM EDT

The Fight Karger's Itching For

The biggest reason that Fred Karger is trying against long odds to qualify for a debate is so that he can bring his beef with Romney on marriage equality to the highest stage possible. Here's an unadulterated taste of the fight that Fred Karger wants: "Mitt Romney, your father would be ashamed of you. Federal marriage amendment, your Church make you say that?"

That wouldn't have been good television, Fox News Channel?

-- Jason Linkins

08/11/2011 10:42 PM EDT

Bachmann Gets The 'Submissive Wife' Quetsion

The crowd did not appreciate Byron York asking Michele Bachmann about this part of a recent Washington Post profile:

"He is her godly husband," said Peter Bachmann, Dr. Bachmann's oldest brother, who lives on the family dairy farm across the eastern border in Wisconsin. "The husband is to be the head of the wife, according to God." It is a philosophy that Michele Bachmann echoed to congregants of the Living Word Christian Center in 2006, when she stated that she pursued her degree in tax law only because her husband had told her to. "The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands," she said.

When York asked about whether she was submissive, the crowd booed and hissed, loudly.

Bachmann batted it aside. "I respect my husband, he's a wonderful godly man, and we respect each other."

As I said at the time of the Post profile, "Bachmann's really comfortable being her own woman. She gets by in the House's "boy's club" just fine. When she wanted to issue a response to the State Of The Union address that would steal away from her party's official response, she asked for neither permission nor forgiveness. If Bachmann's been spending her career doing her husband's bidding rather than her own, it's not remarkably apparent." I'm honestly surprised this even came up as a question.

-- Jason Linkins