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2016 GOP Debate: Live Blog

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Welcome to our live blog for the first “Republican” presidential debate – scheduled for 9:00 p.m. EDT in Cleveland, Ohio.  Wait, why is the word “Republican” in baby quotes in that last sentence?  Because “Republicans” aren’t really who they say they are.  Donald Trump aside, we don’t see any real difference between the two parties.  In fact were it not for Trump, this debate would be little more than a scripted battle between Tea Party and establishment “Republican” talking points.

All of which you’ve heard before.  And none of which are going to do a damn thing to fix this country. 

Anyway, to cut through those “talking points,” we’re hosting this live blog.  And we want to hear from you!  Participate via any of the methods outlined above … or just post your thoughts in the comments section below.

11:10 p.m. EDT: Our founding editor Will Folks assesses the first GOP debate …

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump held his own against an incredibly hostile panel of Fox News’ moderators, a hostile panel of candidates and a generally unfriendly crowd. To emerge bloodied but unbowed is no small achievement seeing as the deck was stacked completely against him. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush did an amazing job when he was discussing his academic reforms, but was otherwise timid and uninspiring. Definitely not his best performance. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker started slowly but came on strong toward the end. U.S. Senators Ted Cruz? Rand Paul? They were essentially non-factors in this debate – especially Paul, who came off as shrill and whiny. Paul was also way too transparent in his efforts to pick a fight with Trump. Marco Rubio? He was by far the most polished candidate on the stage – but he took no tough questions and while slick with the diction, he didn’t really say much of substance. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had a decent performance – but was ignored for most of the first hour of the debate and never really had the chance to get into a grove. Same with Mike Huckabee, who rivaled Rubio when it came to giving polished answers but just didn’t get much in the way of airtime. Perhaps the best two performances were from New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Ohio governor John Kasich. As a pro-freedom, pro-free market libertarian I didn’t like many of their answers but they were on their toes – and they connected with the audience. They are two of the more liberal “Republicans” in this field – and both of them barely qualified for the debate – but as much as I hate to admit it they made the most of their opportunities on the stage.

11:05 p.m. EDT: So … who won?

<<< DEBATE ENTRIES >>>

11:03 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas misspeaks during his closing argument, says America needs to “start persecuting religious liberty.” Oops. “That’s a major shift,” one of our readers noted.

11:00 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky closes his debate with an appeal to electability: “I’m the only Republican who beats Hillary Clinton in five states won by president Obama.” Surprised? No. This is his schtick.

10:55 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida addresses the scandal at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): “When I’m president of the United States we’re going to have a VA that cares more about the veterans than the bureaucrats working at the VA.” Solid answer.

10:50 p.m. EDT: Candidates mulling during the most recent commercial break … (h/t Jonathan Lubecky)

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10:45 p.m. EDT: New Jersey governor Chris Christie offers an impassioned defense of ongoing taxpayer subsidization of Israel’s war machine. Obviously, we disagree. Still, as much as we are loathe to admit it, Christie is having a pretty solid debate for a candidate who barely made it onto the stage.

10:44 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky outlines his opposition to foreign aid: “We cannot give away money we don’t have – you cannot project power from bankruptcy court.” We agree. Unfortunately, Paul has practically become a neo-conservative on foreign policy since entering the “Republican” primary.

10:43 p.m. EDT: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee: “The military is not a social experiment, its purpose is to kill people and break things.” Agreed.

10:42 p.m. EDT: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker just said America needs to arm Ukraine and put its missile defense systems back in Europe as a deterrent to Vladimir Putin. Ah yes, Cold War II …

10:40 p.m. EDT: Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is asked whether he would have used military force against Syria when it crossed U.S. president Barack Obama‘s “red line” regarding chemical weapons. He declines to answer the question, rambles about the adverse impact of so-called “sequestration,” eventually saying “I would shore up our military first.”

10:39 p.m. EDT: In the first non-hostile question he’s received all night, Donald Trump is asked about U.S. President Barack Obama‘s recently announced nuclear deal with Iran. Trump calls it a “disgrace.”

10:37 p.m. EDT: We’re not the only ones picking up Fox News “Kill the Donald” narrative …

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10:30 p.m. EDT: Awkwardly pointless policy position of the debate: Ohio governor John Kasich says he would love his own daughters even if they were lesbians. And gets applauded for it. Really?

10:28 p.m. EDT: Fox’s Megyn Kelly grills billionaire Donald Trump on abortion – citing previous quotes in which he said he was “very pro-choice.” Trump acknowledges his position has evolved on the issue. Tells a story about his personal experience with a couple who had planned on aborting a child but decided against it. The child “turned into a superstar” Trump said.

10:25 p.m. EDT: Fact-checkers get ready … Fox’s Megyn Kelly accuses Marco Rubio of supporting rape and incest exemptions on abortion. Rubio says he doesn’t. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

10:23 p.m. EDT: Megyn Kelly rips Jeb Bush for his affiliation with the Bloomberg Foundation – an organization which funded Planned Parenthood. Jeb’s response? “I didn’t look at the line-by-line” of the foundation’s budget. He added that Florida defunded Planned Parenthood under his lead. Kelly presses him on the foundation angle, though, asking “But did you know?” Bush’s response? “No – but it doesn’t matter.”

10:19 p.m. EDT: Interesting perspective on Megyn Kelly‘s testy exchange with Donald Trump regarding his “war on women.” This caustic back-and-forth really set the tone for the debate …

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10:15 p.m. EDT: Fox News has officially thrown everything but the kitchen sink at “The Donald.” Seriously: Waiting on Brett Baier to make fun of his hair.

10:10 p.m. EDT: Billionaire Donald Trump is now getting grilled on the four bankruptcies his businesses have endured – including one in 2009 in Atlantic City. Trump’s response? “I had the good sense seven years to leave Atlantic City before it totally cratered.” Trump says he’s done hundreds of deals and only used the bankruptcy laws four times. “I’ve built a net worth of ten billion dollars,” Trump said. “I employ thousands of people.”

10:08 p.m. EDT: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is talking about entitlements. He was wrong on this issue before the latest data came out … now he’s really wrong.

10:04 p.m. EDT: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is asked about his recent GDP boast, specifically “how on earth” he plans on achieving it. His answer? “We need to lift out spirits and have high expectations.” Ummm … our guess is it’s gonna take a little more than that.

10:02 p.m. EDT: How to run against Hillary Clinton‘s contention that Democrats are good for black people? Duh … Democrats aren’t good for black people.

10:00 p.m. EDT: Fox News’ Mike Wallace asks Ohio governor John Kasich how he would run a campaign against Hillary Clinton. His answer? “Economic growth – economic growth is key to everything.” Agreed. So why did he stop embracing the policies that would create it?

9:59 p.m. EDT: One more hour of this? Jeez …

9:54 p.m. EDT: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush: “If states want to opt out of Common Core, that’s fine.”

9:52 p.m. EDT: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush gets questioned by Fox’s Bret Baier on his support for federal Common Core curriculum standards. Not surprisingly, Bush pivots it to his support for “real school choice across the board.” Well-played. As we noted earlier in this thread, Bush’s record is strong on that.

9:48 p.m. EDT: Man, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has clearly been told to go after Donald Trump. Twice now he has interjected between questions to go after Trump.

9:45 p.m. EDT: Asked about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson basically says American needs to take its system underground. The enemy “doesn’t need to know what we’re doing.” Says we don’t need to fight “politically correct wars.” Scary …

Read our views on enhanced interrogation techniques here …

9:44 p.m. EDT: Hey! They asked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson a question. His response? “Thank you, Megyn – I wasn’t sure I was going to get to talk again.” LOL.

9:43 p.m. EDT: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is hit by Megyn Kelly on his flip-flop on the Iraq War – basically told that his new position means thousands of Americans died in vain. His response? “I called every one of (the families) I could find and told them I loved them.” Ummm … okay.

9:41 p.m. EDT: Is retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson still onstage? Since the Fox moderators called him stupid he hasn’t been asked another question …

9:38 p.m. EDT: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky just got into a heated dispute over the domestic spying issue, with Paul closing his remarks by saying he doesn’t trust U.S. president Barack Obama with that information – then bashed Christie for his infamous hug of Obama.

9:37 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Rand Paul on domestic spying: “I wanna collect more records from terrorists, and less records from innocent American citizens.”

9:35 p.m. EDT: Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Mike Wallace literally cannot conceal their hate for Donald Trump. You can see it in their faces. Gotta love that status quo media …

9:32 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is given an opportunity by Fox moderator to bash Trump, he also declines. Pivots to his more “centrist” message on immigration.

9:31 p.m. EDT: Ohio governor John Kasich is given an open invitation by Fox News moderator to bash Donald Trump. He declines, saying Trump has clearly “tapped into a nerve” out there.

9:29 p.m. EDT: So far the national debt has been mentioned precisely one time during the #GOPDebate (by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas). He said it was $18 trillion. It’s actually up to $18.3 trillion. Take a look …

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9:27 p.m. EDT: Said it before, saying it again … Fox News’ marching orders in this debate are transparently clear: “Kill the Donald.”

9:24 p.m. EDT: Frontrunner Donald Trump is asked about illegal immigration. Moderator instructs him to direct his comments to Jeb Bush. Trump refuses to address Bush, adding “if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration.”

9:22 p.m. EDT: The scene inside the Quicken Loans Arena (h/t Jonathan Lubecky) …

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9:19 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Rand Paul is asked about his foreign policy views being inconsistent with the “Republican” party. His response? “ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of humvees – one of the ways we stop them is by not funding them and by not arming them.” Agreed. We’ve been making that point for some time.

9:18 p.m. EDT: Former Arkansas Mike Huckabee argues for the extension of constitutional liberty to unborn children. Says we ought to value unborn life not view fetuses as “parts on a Buick.”

9:16 p.m. EDT: First question to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is on the abortion issue – specifically his status as a “100 percenter” (i.e. no abortions under any circumstances). Walker pivots it nicely, turning attention to the current Planned Parenthood scandal. “I defunded Planned Parenthood four years ago.”

9:14 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: “We’ve got a Republican House and a Republican Senate but we don’t have leaders who honor their commitments.” True that.

9:13 p.m. EDT: Less than fifteen minutes into this debate Fox News’ mission is clear: Kill the Donald.

9:11 p.m. EDT: Fox’s Megyn Kelly attempts to label Donald Trump as a sexist – part of the GOP’s “war on women.” Trump’s response? He’s only sexist when it comes to Rosie O’Donnell – a line that earns him big applause. Kelly responds it went “well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.” Trump’s response to that? “I don’t have time for political correctness.”

9:10 p.m. EDT: Former Florida Jeb Bush is asked if he understands people’s concern with “Dynastic politics.” He says he does.

9:09 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: If I’m the nominee we will be the party of the future.

9:09 p.m. EDT: Multiple sources inside the Quicken Loans arena are telling FITS they can’t hear the candidates.

9:07 p.m. EDT: Way to go Fox News. First question to the only black candidate on the stage: “Are you smart enough to be president?”

9:05 p.m. EDT: And check out Rand Paul attacking Trump “he buys and sells politicians – he’s already hedging his bets.”

9:04 p.m. EDT: Wow. First question out of the gate at the debate is a direct shot at Donald Trump – asking if the candidates will pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee and agree to forego an independent campaign. Trump says he’s not making that commitment. Good for him.

9:03 p.m. EDT: Ohio governor John Kasich gets the biggest round of applause from the home crowd as his name is

9:02 p.m. EDT: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker gives the “hey how you” wink after his name is called …

9:00 p.m. EDT: Could Fox News’ anchors possibly be any more awkward during the introductions of the GOP candidates? Seriously … somebody needs to check Megyn Kelly’s blood alcohol content.

8:59 p.m. EDT: Megyn Kelly: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina “opened up a can.”

8:57 p.m. EDT: Candidates on-stage. Asked if they’re nervous, former Florida governor Jeb Bush nods affirmatively. Points for honesty!

8:56 p.m. EDT: Why can’t this be “Hunger Games?” Just saying …

2014, THE HUNGER GAMES -  MOCKINGJAY

8:53 p.m. EDT: Fox News analyst: “I think the real story here is Donald Trump.” Thank you, Captain Obvious.

<<< PRE-DEBATE ENTRIES >>>

8:49 p.m. EDT: Jesus … Bill O’Reilly has gotten old.

8:45 p.m. EDT: Some great pics from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland (the site of tonight’s debate) courtesy of our friend Jonathan Lubecky

8:40 p.m. EDT: Will the overreach of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be an issue in tonight’s debate? We certainly hope so … especially as the administration of Barack Obama ramps up its efforts to impose stricter emissions limits. U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has called Obama’s proposed limits “unattainable, unachievable and unrealistic.”

8:29 p.m. EDT: Debate watch party in Florence, S.C.

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8:25 p.m. EDT: David Drucker of The Washington Examiner blinks a lot … just saying.

8:20 p.m. EDT: As we get closer to the start of the first “Republican” presidential debate, what are we looking for from the candidates? Simple answers to the following three questions: 1) How much of the people’s money are you going to spend during your term in office? 2) What are you going to spend that money on? and 3) Where are you going to get it from?

You can tell a lot about a candidate by how they answer those three questions …

8:12 p.m. EDT: S.C. governor Nikki Haley is in Cleveland for the debate, though. In fact she spoke at an Ohio GOP gathering – saying “Republicans” need to work on their tone.

Politics is personal, but in order for us to get people to understand where they’re coming from we have to understand we’re they’re coming from … we need to listen more.

8:10 p.m. EDT: That giant sucking sound you’re hearing? South Carolina governor Nikki Haley‘s vice presidential ambitions after former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina emerged as the undisputed winner of the “Republican” undercard debate.

8:06 p.m. EDT: On a night she’s otherwise basking in the glow of a well-received performance in the GOP undercard debate, here’s an impressive “tssss burn” on former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina

8:04 p.m. EDT: Funny …

SIC SEZ: You prefer the taco to the sausage? Or … both?

8:00 p.m. EDT: Did we mention former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina had a good night at the #GOPPreDebate?

7:58 p.m. EDT: The obligatory Megyn Kelly tweet …

7:55 p.m. EDT: Serious question: Is it too early for some of these “Republican” candidates to consider throwing in the towel?

7:50 p.m. EDT: Fox News viewers overwhelmingly believe former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina won the #GOPPreDebate.  In fact it’s not even close …

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7:44 p.m. EDT: Checking “the Google” from the #GOPPreDebate.  Looks like U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham had one big spike (when he talked about the death of his parents), but as internet searches go – the early evening affair was won by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

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(Chart via Washington Post)

7:33 p.m. EDT: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on tonight’s debate: “I’m going to speak from my heart. It’ll be fun!”

7:26 p.m. EDT: An hour-and-a-half before the big debate and we’re already at 119 comments.  And a handful of them are even appropriate and insightful.  To wit …

comment

7:22 p.m. EDT:

SIC SEZ: Hold up … we’re free? When did that happen?

7:14 p.m. EDT: For those of you with the time, here’s the full transcript of the #GOPPreDebate of the “seven lower-performing candidates.” Including that part where former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said he was Ronald Reagan’s child.

Hmmmm … spot the resemblance?

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7:03 p.m. EDT: About that closing statement from former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina everyone has been raving about … turns out she left it on the printer at her hotel.

6:55 p.m. EDT: Just ran a post on the big “Bill Clinton-Donald Trump conspiracy.”  Our takeaway …

Seriously: Anyone who thinks this is a Clinton conspiracy to deny the White House to an establishment GOP candidate (ahem, Jeb Bush) needs a refresher on what “Republicans” in power have done over the last quarter century.

6:43 p.m. EDT: So … how funny would it be if uber-liberal U.S. Speaker John Boehner had to appear on the debate stage tonight in Cleveland.  Think he’d last long?  Which reminds us …

6:33 p.m. EDT: Will the candidates in tonight’s debate discuss the abysmal status of America’s government-run education system?  And the pathetic results it has “achieved?”  Let’s hope so.  And while he’s not our candidate of choice, this is solid goal real estate for proven education reformer Jeb Bush. From our post earlier this year …

He has many faults, but there can be no denying Bush is a school choice champion – a visionary politician who recognized the essential nature of free market reform in improving academic outcomes (and individual lives).

6:28 p.m. EDT: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is getting solid reviews in early-voting South Carolina for her “pre-debate” performance, too.  Former S.C. lieutenant governor  (and Pee Dee radio host) Ken Ard summed up the pre-debate as follows …

Carly Fiorina kicked their asses.

Ha! That’s how a country boy calls it! 6:25 p.m. EDT: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina‘s midriff won the #GOPPreDebate … (kidding, she didn’t wear that).

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CARLY FIORINA

6:23 p.m. EDT: Fox debate analysts are declaring Carly Fiorina the winner of the #GOPPreDebate.

6:22 p.m. EDT: An excerpt from former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina‘s closing statement … continuing her theme of being the GOP candidate best suited to take after Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi, she lies about emails, she is still defending planned parenthood, and is still her party’s frontrunner.  2016 is going to be a fight between conservatism and a Democrat Party that is undermining the very character of this nation. We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets in the ring.  I am not a member of the political class.  I am a conservative I can win this job.  I can do this job.

6:14 p.m. EDT: Some feedback on the comment section …

SIC SEZ: Yeah, it’s kind of “Lord of the Flies” in our comments section … 6:12 p.m. EDT: A suggestion for the debate drinking game …

6:09 p.m. EDT: Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum: “I’m a child of Ronald Reagan.”  Hmmmmmm, does Nancy know about that?  Oh, Santorum also says the GOP needs to elect a candidate who “will get things done in Washington, D.C.”  Really?  What did Santorum “get done” in D.C. other than lead a massive “Republican” explosion of government?

6:04 p.m. EDT: On the issue of illegal immigration, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal says he wants to target “sanctuary cities” via executive order.  That’s actually tame compared to his previous comments on the issue, saying he would criminally charge the mayors of those cities.  We like that!  As our friend Rick Manning predicted, Jindal is a welcome addition to this race … shame he’s not gaining more traction.

5:57 p.m. EDT: BREAKING.  Debate stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio has just threatened to withdraw from tonight’s event if Chris Christie is allowed to participate.

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Yeah … that was a fat joke. Sorry!

5:53 p.m. EDT: Hold up … is U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham getting a bit of a “boost” at tonight’s #GOPPreDebate?  Seems like he’s standing on something …

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Looks like he is! Wow. So that’s where his “invade everybody” Napoleon complex comes from …

5:48 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky previews his GOP debate game plan …

During the debate, Senator Paul will outline his constitutional conservative vision for America, where fiscal responsibility will combine with competition and innovation to usher America into a new age of prosperity. To this end, Sen. Paul will discuss his new ‘Fair and Flat’ tax plan, which will eliminate the cumbersome 70,000-page tax code, and replace it with a 14.5 percent flat rate. Sen. Paul understands that America will return to prosperity when more money is left in the pockets of those who earned it.

5:42 p.m. EDT: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal … “Give Bernie Sanders credit – at least he’s honest enough to call himself a socialist.”  Ha!  That’s true. #GOPPreDebate.

5:40 p.m. EDT: Ohio governor John Kasich is getting ripped in the “pre-debate” for his decision to accept Obamacare subsidies.  Our thoughts on Kasich?

… this website has made clear Kasich’s best days are behind him.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was a real pro-freedom, pro-free market champion … but in recent years he’s become just another status quo Republican hack.  Sort of like his onetime ideological ally, Mark Sanford – who is also keen on discussing his consultations with the Almighty.

5:38 p.m. EDT: Ouch. Here’s former FreedomWorks grassroots gal Whitney Neal laying into “The Donald.”

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5:36 p.m. EDT: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is touting his opposition to Obamacare in the “pre-debate?”  Please … 

5:25 p.m. EDT: Nice quote from former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in the “pre-debate …”

Whatever the issue, whatever the cause, whatever festering problem you hoped would be resolved, the political class has failed you.

5:22 p.m. EDT: Debate drinking game suggestions … “conservative,” “ISIS,” “Obama,” “administration,” “Obamacare,” “repeal,” “Democrats,” “border,” “security,” “economy,” “babies,” “Planned Parenthood,” “Congress,” “growth,” “jobs,” “Mr. Trump,” etc. etc. etc.

5:10 p.m. EDT: Will any of the candidates in tonight’s GOP debate address America’s looming entitlement disaster?  And the fact the government’s “tick tock clock” is off by about a decade?  Doubtful …

5:02 p.m. EDT: Awwww … Rick Perry.  Your “smart glasses” weren’t smart enough to land you in the grown-ups debate.  Wonder why? Hmmmm …

4:54 p.m. EDT: Trump Force One has landed in Cleveland, Ohio (check out our look inside “The Donald’s” private jet HERE).

4:33 p.m. EDT: What should we call the “pre-debate” involving the six candidates who didn’t make the cut for tonight’s main event? Kiddie pool?

kiddie pool

4:19 pm. EDT: Want more proof the U.S. economy should be the No. 1 issue during tonight’s debate?  The Atlanta Federal Reserve has just released its first live estimate of third quarter GDP growth – and it clocked in at an abysmal one percent.

4:12 p.m. EDT: Because this is a “Republican” debate, we figured we ought to check in with an actual, honest-to-God member of the Grand Old Party to see what they were expecting to see.  Here are some thoughts from our intrepid GOP columnist, Taylor Brown.

3:53 p.m. EDT: Our story on the Jeb Bush v. Hillary Clinton Planned Parenthood spat is here …

3:40 p.m. EDT: Think the Planned Parenthood scandal will come up during the debate?  Of course.  Oh, and in case you missed it here was this week’s social media exchange between presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and establishment “Republican” favorite Jeb Bush regarding that issue …

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3:34 p.m. EDT: The expectations game regarding Donald Trump … (@JWills_USC to @TaylahhKane).

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3:30 p.m. EDT: For those of you who care, according to Fox “the five polls included in the average that determined the line-up were conducted by Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.”  And these were the results …

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3:20 p.m. EDT: Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton says she won’t watch the GOP debate.  She says she’ll be raising money.  You know … from people who need chemical weapons.

3:18 p.m. EDT: Gallup’s latest economic confidence data provides more evidence the anemic U.S. economy should be the big topic in tonight’s debate …

3:14 p.m. EDT: Will the anemic U.S. economy be the big topic tonight?  Judging from the latest WSJ/NBC News poll … it should.

3:08 p.m. EDT: Who do you think will win tonight’s debate?  Vote in our poll …

3:04 p.m. EDT: If you want to watch the debate online, you’d better have your cable subscription ready.  If you want to interact with the network during the debate, use their Facebook page.

Courtesy of Fox News, here’s their broadcast schedule …

5 p.m. ET: Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum kick off the Fox News-Facebook Debate Event Night on Fox News Channel with the first Republican presidential primary debate. Join Fox News personalities for a live chat on facebook.com/foxnews.

6 p.m. ET: Watch the Fox News Facebook: Digital Chat as Harris Faulkner, Andrea Tantaros, Kennedy, Jesse Watters, and Tom Shillue discuss the first debate along with Todd Starnes on FoxNews.com and the Fox News Mobile apps.

9-11 p.m. ET: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace moderate the prime-time Republican presidential primary debate. Plus, join the conversation on Facebook with Harris Faulkner, Andrea Tantaros, Kennedy, Jesse Watters and Tom Shillue.

11 p.m. ET: Tune in for a special “Kelly File” show following the debate.

11 p.m. ET: Watch the Fox News Facebook: Digital Chat as Harris Faulkner, Andrea Tantaros, Kennedy, Jesse Watters, and Tom Shillue discuss the Primetime debate along with Todd Starnes on FoxNews.com and the Fox News Mobile apps.

12 a.m. ET: Don’t miss a special debate night “Hannity” show.

2:56 p.m. EDT: Sources tell us GOP frontrunner Donald Trump will not participate in the pre-debate “walk through.”  According to one of our sources, Trump “doesn’t need to know where the damn cameras are.”

Ballsy …

2:52 p.m. EDT: “Testes, testes … 1, 2 … 3?”

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