03/28/2008 02:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Liveblog! Letting The GOP Dogs Out In Boca

Who, who, who who? Why, the Final Five: Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, and Ron Paul, together on a Boca Raton stage for what will surely be a scrappy debate, perhaps the scrappiest yet for the GOP nomination for President of the United States (especially after losing their least-scrappy member, Fred Thompson, who bailed earlier this week). Don't be fooled: This night matters, because Florida matters. A lot. It's a make-or-break night for all the candidates except for maybe Ron Paul, who never seems to be short of just enough money or support. But for everyone else, it matters. Why?

(1) Rudy Giuliani put all his eggs into the Florida basket, eschewing earlier primary contests for the chance to walk away with all of Florida's 57 delegates. We said "chance" and that's what he's taking — especially now that he's tied in the polls for third place with Huckabee behind McCain in first and Romney in second. Meanwhile his banner issue of national security has just been eclipsed by the economy. So look for him to highlight his own "executive experience" while pointing out how little executive experience frontrunner McCain has had as a mere Senator. Also look for him to be sweating profusely.

(2) John McCain: McCain is now the frontrunner, with two primaries to his credit, NH and SC — but were they the right wins? Not if you consider winning the Republican vote important: It was the independents that pushed Mac back in New Hampshire, and buoyed him in SC, too (he actually lost among Republicans in both states). If he loses in Florida — a race only open to registered Republicans — suddenly he's a guy who can only win with independents, not the base. Also, the economy? So not his strong point. Look for him to argue that other "E" tonight: "Electibility."

(3) Mitt Romney: May just be letting the dogs of victory out in Florida now that the economy has taken center stage. It's his strongest message, and he's worked to brand himself a turnaround guy. He's got a great operation in Florida — staffed by lots of Jeb Bush people — and according to his spokesman Kevin Madden "crowds are getting bigger as the week progresses" — a sign that his economic message is getting through — especially in Florida, which has felt the real estate pinch worse than most. But — if he doens't win, he's just the guy who won the states no one else really bothered to try for. Ouch.

(4) Mike Huckabee: Huckabee's in trouble. He went from surging frontrunner soaring on a wink, a joke and his Southern charm to that guy who couldn't even take South Carolina on the backs of evangelicals. His money's dried up, and like Rudy he's had to suspend payment for some of his aides. Also like Giuliani, he's running at 15% — tied for third — good for Huck, who unlike a certain Mr. Mayor has not been basically (nay, actually) living in Florida. So there's nowhere to go but up. Tonight is Huckabee's best platform — a public debate, the chance to show his charm. He's also ready to throw a few elbows — a Huck spokesman told me that not only were they looking forward to the debate, he'd paired his five-mile run (press op!) with a zing on Romney's record: "If Romney wants to talk about his record, he should talk about his whole record, much of which detailed by Bob Drogin in the LA Times." That was over a month ago, in mid-December...funny, there were stories in December that Huckabee probably wouldn't want raised himself. But sometimes a good offense has no time for a defense.

(5) Ron Paul: Can he win? Eh, probably not. But man is he one hell of a spoiler. Especially now that Dennis Kucinich has just dropped out, we need a strident anti-war voice in the race — if only to be a strident anti-war voice. Also, we need cute little impassioned elfin men, and now we're down to one. Oh no! Ron Paul supporters are going to KILL ME in the comments. Er, Ron Paul Nation! Victory for Ron Paul! Serioulsy, he's not to be underestimated, obviously, but the stakes for him are just not the same; he has the money and the support to stay floating along in a comfortable fourth place for as long as this is a multiple-candidate race. Yes, I said fourth place. He beat Giuliani twice, remember? (There Ron Paul fans, are you satisfied?)

So! In conclusion....a big debate tonight, which is why you'll hang on our every liveblogging word. And who are we? We're HuffPo Liveblog stalwarts Glynnis MacNicol and John Neffinger, liveblog newcomer (but HuffPo super-duper stalwart) James Boyce, plus your moderator and debate-framer, me, Rachel Sklar. Who let the liveblogs out? Why, we did, starting....NOW.


9:02 PM Rachel: And we begin! We got a preview of the candidates crossing the stage at the end of Countdown, and now Brian Williams is getting it all underway. Wow, it just hit minute three and he's already in a question to Romney.
Glynnis: "At the request of the candidates the debate has been limited to ninety minutes."
Rachel: Economic stimulus package - niiiiiiiice package, Romney!
Okay, I just needed to get thtat out of my system.
James: They hate him.
9:04 PM The other candidates won't look at him
Glynnis: Is Romney angry at Bush because he did not follow his economic package?
Rachel: It's true - the other candidates are not Romney fans.
Glynnis: Romney is dodging. McCain has a pained look on his face.
James: Mitt can lie like no man in political history, shocking ability to lie, scary, Cheney-esque.
9:05 PM Yes, make those Bush tax cuts permanent because the top 1% is where we are hurting as a country.
9:06 PM Glynnis: McCain is disappointed! He wants to make the tax cuts permanent.
Rachel: "No pork-barrel projects...." McCain watchwords.
James: Oh even better Saint McCain, give more money to corporations, because the $70 billion in tax breaks they are getting as part of this bill are not enough
Glynnis: McCain is worried that this economic bill will collect pork.
Rachel: Which he needs while talking about the economy, which just ain't his thing.
9:07 PM He sounds coached, eh? That "rate cuts by Ben Bernanke" didn't exactly roll off the tongue.
BriWi telling people "time is up" after they're finished actually takes more time.
Giuliani breaks out the glasses! He's SERIOUS about the economy!
James: Five white men arguing about Bush's package.
Rachel: Haaaaaaa
Mission accomplished!

9:08 PM James: These guys represent the party that drove the economy down, with these same arguments.
you can't have tax cuts and spend $12 billion a month on the war
Glynnis: No one has yet mentioned the market drop of yesterday. My money is on Ron Paul to bring it back to the headlines.
9:09 PM Rachel: Ooh, zing! Russert to McCain: "I still need to be educated on the economy!"
James: I hate Tim Russert as well.
Glynnis: And Giuliani manages to bring it back to New York City.
And we have our first Reagan mention of the night, courtesy of McCain.
9:10 PM James: Ah, the Reagan Revolution - when we first learned that Republicans like to make the wealthier wealthy and screw the rest of the country.
Did I mention I hate Tim Russert?
Rachel: McCain smacks back! "I don't know where you got that quote from." Umm, didn't he say it recently, whilst touting the advisorship of Phil Gramm? Oh look, there he is! Phil Gramm! Jack Kemp! Marty Felstein! He's got a very strong team, McCain does. Though I'm pretty sure he pooh-poohed Romney when he said the very same thing recently about foreign policy.
James: Tim? Where is the quote from?
9:11 PM Being from Massachusetts, did I mention I hate Romney?
Romney, wondering if Huckabee thinks Mormonism is a cult.
9:12 PM These guys are just loving each other tonight.
Rachel: Huckabee's suit jackets are always a little too big.
James: Huckabee? Traffic?
He lost weight
Rachel: Ooh Tim Russert, pretty tie!
9:13 PM Yes I know, but is his campaign that broke that he can't buy a jakcet that fits?
Glynnis: But Romney isn't feeling the hate. He loves these guys.
James: Romney is lying through his teeth
9:14 PM he raised taxes $700 million
and left a BILLION DOLLAR defidt
Glynnis: Romney needs to stop smiling through his teeth. He is so much better close to the bone.
James: Massachusetts lost jobs when he was Governor
9:15 PM Glynnis: McCain is full of disdain.
9:16 PM James: I love guys like McCain, been in Washington forever, Republicans had all three branches of government and somehow it's everyone else's fault
Glynnis: Yay...Ron Paul!
BriWi to Ron Paul: Should government have anything to do with economic stimulus.
James: Ron's up there thinking -- I got more damm money in my campaign account than any of these yahoos

9:17 PM Rachel: BriWi to Ron Paul: "Does the government have any place in stimulating the economy>?"
Glynnis: Ron Paul: Not so much.
Rachel: Jinx!
Honestly, they don't even need to fight, I can just sit here dreamily and listen to them talk about stimulating the economy aaaaaaaaall niiiiiiiiight.
9:18 PM Glynnis: Ron Paul always sounds so frustrated with the stupidity of everyone on the stage.
James: that's because everyone on the stage is stupid
9:19 PM It's a minor point
but important one.
9:20 PM Rudy Giuliani
talking about honest investments
did the irony bell go off?
Glynnis: Giuliani says turning down that $10 million check was VERY different than letting the mid-east own Citicorp. hmm.
9:21 PM James: I think they ended up taking the money
Democrats have ADVANTAGE on economy
I love Tim Russert
I take it all back
9:22 PM Glynnis: Why should we put a GOP back into the White House when you have messed up the economy SO badly.
James: What a load of republican junk
Glynnis: McCain says all you need to do is listen to the Dem debates to know that they are a bad bet. He's going to give us some straight talk.
9:23 PM James: If Americans give these guys a chance, Lord help us all.
Glynnis: McCain is using the word "pork" a whole lot. Is "pork" the GOP "change?"
James: Sure you can Mike.
Glynnis: Huckabee says, don't blame me I was in Arkansas!
9:24 PM Rachel: Okay here I am, I'm just finishing the intro. Huckabee is trying to wield his charm — by far his best weapon — and it's not connecting tonight.
James: Huckabee? Democrat?
Rachel: Earnest Huckabee is not going to win it.

9:25 PM He needs to bust forth the charm and fast. This stage is his best platform, hands down. And he's already done Leno, and he's already done Letterman.
This is it.
Romney-Russert pushback!
Glynnis: I feel like in person Huckabee sounds like a Dem but on paper...not so much.
James: Seriously Mike, that's Democrat talking
Rachel: Russert: "Will you run away from this record?" Ooooowwch!
9:26 PM Glynnis: Romney is running! Or else there is nowhere to run to. Remains to be seen.
9:27 PM James: Giuliani - wait, he didn't mention 9/11
hold on
9:28 PM shocking
Glynnis: Ron Paul doesn't want to be identified with this!
James: it's the stupidity thing
9:29 PM Oh give the local guy a decent mike.

John has joined

James: Actually, McCain said 100 years
9:30 PM Glynnis: McCain says we are succeeding in Iraq. He says it again and again.
James: That makes it true.
I think
Doesn't it?
John: Hi gang. Greetings from the green room at Hannity & Colmes. Don't ask.
Glynnis: Hi John!!
James: Hi John
Glynnis: Fun. Is Frank Luntz there?
John: He is.
Glynnis: Wow. You're at the nexus, huh?
James: Say hi to Alan.
9:32 PM John: Frank has already threatened to do bodily harm if I share the pearls of wisdom he's peddling here.
Glynnis: Romney is much less frightening when he's not smiling.
John: Other than that, the mood is jovial.
Glynnis: You can take him, John!
John: Thanks Glynn.
James: No Mitt
that's simply right
9:33 PM Oh lord

John: Mitt is looking serious here, lost the smile for a minute, and you're right, he looks much better.
James: Here's an idea Mitt
You have FIVE sons
send them over
Rachel: Aha! Smacking down Hillary ALWAYS gets a round of applause.
Glynnis: Hillary gets her first name check via Romney calling her audacious.
But Tim says: no clapping!
9:34 PM John: Not five minutes ago Romney was saying Democrats had let the country down with that dippy little smile on his face though.
Glynnis: Tim wants to know if the war was worth the price in "blood and treasure?"
James: No it's not McCain.
The answer is no
No, it was not worth a trillion dollars and 4,000 lives
9:35 PM Glynnis: Russert wants a yes or no.
John: McCain has looked serious, commanding, forceful but not dour. He's not just giddy from New Hampshire, he looks like he is playing to win.
James: Saddam was about a big a danger as the chances of everyone hugging Mitt at the end
Glynnis: Giuliani brings it back to Hillary again. But Russert wants to know what Rudy Giuliani thinks!
James: Oh god.
I feel ill.
Glynnis: Giuliani was ALWAYS for it.
James: Islamic fascism?
9:36 PM Say no Ron
Glynnis: Hillary must be doing well, because she's been name-checked more than Reagan tonight.
James: I'm giving Ron Paul money

Rachel: Ron Paul: Was the war worth all the blood and treasure we've lost? Hell no! Are you people retarded?
(Paraphrasing Ron Paul)
Huckabee: How will he get out of this?
James: We owe him our thanks?
9:37 PM thanks for what?
Rachel: "We owe him not a lot of scorn, we owe him our thanks" --wha? This is Huckabee, the great orator?
Glynnis: To applause. Ron Paul points out that Al Queda wasn't in Iraq prior to the US.
Rachel: Dude! If there was ever a time to break out some ringing Bible verse, it's now.
James: Easter eggs?
I am so lost
Glynnis: Apparently Al Queda is affliated with the Easter Bunny,
Rachel: Yeah. It's SO not the Sermon on the Mount.
James: Is that like the war on Christmas?
John, from FOX
9:38 PM did they clap Ron Paul over there?
just wondering
Glynnis: To sum up: Bush was right, Rumsfeld is the devil.
9:39 PM James: Did Rumsfield hide the Easter eggs?
Glynnis: Apparently, it's not just Tim that hates applause. The audience was previously requested to keep quiet.
James: I am still wondering about the easter eggs
9:40 PM Saddam hide them?
I know it's Hillary
Glynnis: When we get back the candidates are going to ask each other questions...

9:43 PM And we're back.
9:44 PM Romeny is asking Giuliani how we deal with China - what should our relations be economincally?
James : Romney takes Giuliani
China is the question.
He should have added.
9:45 PM China also just bought a lot of the US in the past few weeks.
I think they own New York.
Glynnis: Giuliani tries to joke that he's not answering the question...and yet, like a good New Yorker, the Chinese are just un-tapped customers.
9:46 PM James: Huh?
we need to increase the military so we can do more trade with China.
McCain takes Huckabee
9:47 PM Fair tax
Glynnis: BriWi says PLEASE follow the blinking lights.
McCain is being nice to Huckabee. He makes generous reference to Huckabee's ground swell. This could be a GOP ticket.
9:48 PM John: Everyone with any level of expertise on all sides of the political spectrum who have looked at the Fair Tax say it taxes the poor more.
Note that does not include Huckabee.
9:49 PM James: But what about Joementum and McCain / Lieberman?
John: McCain looks a wee bit skeptical of this Fair Tax riff from Huckabee too.
9:50 PM Glynnis: Drug dealers, prostitutes, criminals...all non-Republicans according to Huckabee! But with the fair tax they will no longer be criminals off the books.
James: Saddam and Easter eggs,
prostitutes and taxes
it's Huckabee's night

9:51 PM Ron Paul takes on McCain
McCain doesn't know what Ron Paul is talking about
Glynnis: McCain looks confused as to why's Ron Paul's on stage.
John: McCain is now talking about himself as President in the present tense: "I, as President, rely on..."
9:52 PM James : That's because he is looking around the stage and thinking
'I can't possibly lose to any of these idiots'
Glynnis: McCain: I have a process of leadership...Ron.
James: especially Easter Egg Huckabee
Glynnis: McCain basically says, I'm going to let other people deal with this economic stuff.
9:53 PM James has left
9:54 PM Glynnis: Huckabee wants to know if Romney supports the 2nd Amendment
Rachel: Hi! So Huckabee hit at Romney, huh?
Tacit agreement to leave McCain alone?
Huckabee is SO all about the Second Amendment.
Glynnis: Is it my imagination, or is Romney speaking more slowly now that he's addressing Huckabee.
Rachel : He thinks the Second Amendment guarantees the First.
9:55 PM John: Romney has a lot of very-well tested talking points on the 2nd Amendment, but he does not look comfortable on this subject, and Huckabee spends the whole time Romney is talking staring him down intently.

9:56 PM Rachel: Rudy's big new issue: the National Catastrophic Fund.
Glynnis: Rudy's big issue is Florida. Do or die next week.
Rachel: Wow they're all going for Romney.
James has joined
9:57 PM Glynnis: Romney gang-up! You can just see McCain organizing that backstage.
Rachel: Indicative that they're feeling the heat from him.
James: and that they hate him
hate him
Rachel: I think they're giving him a lot of airtime - so far he's acquitting himself well.
James: that's true
Glynnis: This could work for or against Romney...he could be the new Hillary: all the boys are ganging up on me!
9:59 PM Rachel: By the way, National Catastrophic Fund? SO Dem-style!
Ooooh, Russert goes for the climate-change jugular!
I'm loving Russert and his shiny blue tie tonight.
James: global warming in a Republican debate
Glynnis: I'll be honest, Russert is getting better and better with every debate.
James: Okay
I have a compliment
10:00 PM for Giuliani
hold the presses
ready everyone?
He pronounced nuclear right
John: Rudy is not looking too bad here tonight, in that he is somewhat forceful, and somewhat articulate. But he is not confident like he was when he was in the lead. He is not happy to be there, not the guy whose team you want to be on. The confidence on this stage is largely with McCain.
10:01 PM Glynnis: Wait a second...Giuliani says the environment should be our new trip to the moon. Isn't that Bono's line?
Lieberman is NOT a democrat!
James: World Problem? Like 181 out of 182 countries signing Kyoto
Rachel: "Joe Lieberman, one of my favorite Democrats..."
James: He's an I.
Rachel: Said in unison by Rachel and Glynnis: "HE'S NOT A DEMOCRAT!"
James: one of my favorite....
never mind
Glynnis: Giuliani is smelling blood in the Florida polls. He's scared.

10:03 PM John: McCain makes the case for action on global warming -- we can meet the challenge. Not backing down.
So, commercial time -- general impressions so far?
Glynnis: After the fireworks of Monday's Dem debate this seems pretty tame.
10:05 PM James: it's odd for me, because they are living in an alternative world, where Saddam had WMDs, and AQ was in Iraq, and so forth, and Reagan economics were smart, and giving 70 billion to corporations is a consumer stimulus. It's just odd
Rachel has left
10:06 PM John: True, Rudy brags about how much the Club for Growth likes his economic stimulus plan, as if they hadn't opposed every successful economic policy and supported every failed one of the last 20 years.
(They're not that old, but that's their take anyway.)
James : Exactly John, just odd
6 4 6
10:07 PM Glynnis: BriWi, calling Giuiani out! "What has happened to your campaign?"
John: Rudy has a nice joking riff about coming from behind here like the New York Giants just did.
Everybody guffaws pleasantly.
James: No, Rudy it's because people are discovering what a true jerk you are
10:08 PM I know Roberta McCain :)
I grew up next door to her.
John: You're no Roberta McCain!!
Oh, sorry.

James : hah
Rachel: hello?
10:09 PM James: Hi Rachel
Glynnis: John McCain's mother says: the GOP is going to have to hold its nose and vote for him.
John: hey.
Glynnis: McCain plays the terrorism card: I will make you safe.
John : McCain answers forcefully, with a steely-eyed glare. Looks great on him.
10:10 PM Glynnis: But then, for those undecided, pro-Gore, anti-Hillary voters, he is also Green.
Russert wants to know how Romney will run against Billary.
10:11 PM John: He answers strongly here, citing policies he supported before Republicans liked them, and closes by declaring himself a proud conservative who would nonetheless put his country above his party every time.
Rachel: Russert asks Romney how he'll deal with Hillary and Bill as a team running for president...Barack Obama's talking points?
Glynnis: Romney says the idea of Bill back in the White House with nothing to do is frightening. Snap!
Russert encourages him to continue: "What do you mean?"
James : Trillion plus dollars over ten years for health care for every American
the same cost as 3 years in Iraq.
10:12 PM Rachel: Romney is just HAULING OFF on Hillary Clinton here.
"I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message."
James : Hah
that's funny Rachel
Glynnis: Russert: how much are you REALLY spending of your own money?
You know the answer
Rachel: Wow. Good comeback for Romney - it's a touchy subject - and he's handling it well.
James: And you know what's great? Romney said when he first ran, he wouldn't put his own money in, remember that?
Rachel: Noting that he's RAISED the most money, more than any other candidate - it's a damn good recovery.
"I don't owe anyone anything."
James: Except the Mormon Church
10:14 PM they raised more than he put in
Glynnis: Oh yeah, well how about Bloomberg, Corzine and Forbes.
Rachel : That's a GOOD spin.
Glynnis: And, by the way, I don't owe no one, nothing!
Romney: I'm giving it my all, bank account included!
10:15 PM Rachel : Trying to buy Florida? Romney: "I'm concerned about the America my kids will inherit, and their kids will inherit...we need someone who knows what America's like, not just Washington's like."
Oh, Romney - coming so close to separation of church and state. SO CLOSE.
And yet. That "Faith in America" speech.
John: Romney closes strongly verbally - "I'm in this race because I want to make a difference for America" - but his face wears the silliest expression - mouth completely flat, eyebrows raised, head bobbing - I don't even know how to describe it. Deer in headlights cum chagrin? So un-presidential. Who is this dork?
James: Romney doesn't realize the concept of church is the basis is the religious right
Rachel: Hey wait, that IS a sep of Church and State argument!
Romney! Mi padre!
10:16 PM James: Huckabee is chomping at the bit
Glynnis: Romney is strong on the defensive.
10:17 PM John: Romney talks a lot and looks great. the only place he is routinely strong is in the transcript.
James : What's with Ron Pauls mike?
John: I think it's his voice.
10:18 PM Glynnis: Romney is really not interested in spinning anything.
10:19 PM Rachel: Huckabee has not been much of a factor here.
John: A bottle? A dreidel?
James: Hah
John: He is back to the Fair Tax again.
Rachel: Oh Huckabee...that joke falls a bit flat.
Glynnis: Huckabee wants to take it back to Romneys sons and money.
James: Did you see that look on Romney?
Rachel: "Safeguard your son's inheritance! Make me president and they inherit a great country -- and all your money!"
John: Missed it - was that his wincing smile?
10:20 PM Glynnis: Huckabee's jokes walk a fine line sometimes. They work better in smaller rooms...also, Chuck Norris!
Rachel : Came off as a crass attempt to get a laugh, rather than his usual charming incidental laugh lines that wrap into his point so deftly.
James: I thought for a second Huckabee was going to go back the church vs state thing
10:22 PM John: Here Romney goes again: he is explaining how raising taxes brings economic ruination. Holding aside the bad economics a moment, as he describes these terible consequences for working families, he is still wearing his usual glib little smile on his face.
James: he does look bad
I hope :)
10:23 PM Glynnis: But then Romney says, he doesn't want to use scare tactics.
James: great questions from audience
James: Hola Rudy

10:26 PM Rachel: Uh, oh - Chuck Norris dissing old people....not a good idea in Florida!
10:27 PM Huckabee gets a good line off this one - he's not going to contradict Chuck Norris because Chuck Norris was standing beside him. Har.

10:28 PM Rachel: BRIWI!
Rachel: That editorial! (FYI everyone - the NYT endorsed McCain and Hillary for tomorrow's paper.)
10:29 PM James: Imagine, the Times finds a pair
John: This is a softball for Rudy, a great opportunity to beat up on the New York Times. He suddenly looks happy and confident bragging about his battles with the Times -- his best moment yet.
10:30 PM James: Romney's record as Governor?
10:31 PM Romney was PRO CHOICE as Governor
John: BriWi now reads a similar attack on Romney and asks for his response.
James: Pro STEM CELL
raised taxes $500 million
and left a 1.6 billion deficit
10:32 PM John: Romney is much less comfortable here. He sticks with the smile, is first taken aback, then pleads through a litany of his conservatives accomplishments.
James: McCain gets the easy question
But none of them are true! (re: Romney)
10:33 PM Glynnis: McCain tries to make a Biden-esque answer about his temper. But there is only one Biden.
Rachel: McCain knows that Giuliani's out....praise for Giuliani? Please. This is him taking a hit at Romney.
That was the SAFEST endorsement ever.
John: Exactly, damned with lack of praise.
10:34 PM Glynnis: Huckabee lives for the faith questions. He is so good at talking about his religion without seeming imposing.
John: Huckabee makes the case for classical liberalism here - don't hate me because I'm faithful!
10:35 PM Glynnis: Huckabee says: If you want a President who doesn't believe in God pick someone else.
Ron Paul: get a dictionary...I'm the most Republican person on this stage!
10:36 PM John: And, cut! Final thoughts?
James: Guiliani, dead
Romney, yucky
10:37 PM Rachel: BriWi wants the audience to wait juuuuust a little bit longer for that sweet release. Oh, you tease.
James: McCain, knows he's going to win
Glynnis: I would like to release(!) my pent up emotions.
James: Paul, smart
Rachel: Guiliani, so dead. Romney came off well.
Remember, they are trying to appeal to REPUBLICANS.
Not you, James.
Glynnis: I think Romney came off well in this, to be honest. I think. If you're a Republican, what't the alternative to McCain?
James: Huckabee, good at end
10:38 PM wow
slapped by Rachel on the group chat
Rachel: Ha. Well, it's over now, pet.
John: Romney had some nice stretches where he looked serious, managed to wipe the stupid smile off his face. Then he reverted to form, looking dippy and weak.
Rachel: Afterparty! Debate stage is functional equivalent of hotel lobby.
10:39 PM Cindy McCain and Anne Romney...they will have to make up for today's sad loss of Elizabeth Kucinich.
James: sad, no EK :(
Glynnis: However, I think that a McCain/Huckabee ticket is real option. Huckabee could win back a lot of the Religious Right that McCain has lost.
Rachel: That's what I said earlier. HuckaVeep. That's some ticket.
Rachel: Chuck Todd says this was the FIRST time Romney's looked comfortable in his own skin. I agree. This was Romney's best night.
10:40 PM John: Now now, Romney had a very good night once. Months ago.
James: They'll kill Romney about lying on his Mass record,
they'll pull those and counter them with other speeches
10:41 PM Chris Matthews
bringing up Hillary and Bill AGAIN
10:43 PM "Send in the Clints" sings Rachel
10:44 PM Glynnis: Yep, we are back to Hillary being the catch-word.
Oh yeah, and Bill.
10:48 PM John: I assume not that many Democrats are watching this, but how telling... I believe they are sincere when they say they are champing/chomping at the bit to run against Hillary.
Glynnis: I think they are chomping to run against Billary. For sure.
10:50 PM Would be interesting to see how the GOP might deal with an Obama nomination.
Rachel: Yep, they are hoping not .
Okay kids, it seems we're done. Otherwise we're just liveblogging every crazy thing to come out of Chris Matthews' mouth, and who knows where that will lead.
Goodnight, everybody! Thanks for readin'! Join us in the comments below...we read 'em and you should too. See you there!

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than the means."
John Adams, 2nd President of the United States