The Republican debate live blog
9:15 p.m. Final thoughts: Huckabee gained the most from tonight. McCain regained (or at least solidified) some moderate street cred on non-Iraq issues. Giuliani held serve. Paul was, as always, unapologetically himself. Romney and Thompson struggled at times and could have had a much better night. And we're going to hear a lot about immigration from the GOP in the coming year.
9:10 p.m. It's descended to sports talk and bashing of the New York Yankees. Not that I mind those things, of course, but they mean it's as fine a time as any to shut 'er down for the night.
9:06 p.m. Fred Thompson has answered several questions tonight. He cracked a couple of jokes and delivered passable answers, but nothing was particularly memorable. The late entry and lack of on-stage fire are very much reminiscent of Wesley Clark's too-late, unsuccessful 2004 presidential run.
9:02 p.m. Romney manages to twist a question about the Confederate flag into a slam of Democrats in general and John Edwards in particular. Truly a linguistic work of art.
9 p.m. Huckabee goes partisan with a joke about sending Hillary Clinton to Mars. Two minutes later, it's back to bipartisanship with talk of outreach to black and Hispanic voters.
8:52 p.m. Chuck Norris is there. And watching. And waiting.
8:50 p.m. Let's hear some evidence that gay troops "destroy unit cohesion," or whatever the hell the excuse for upholding "don't ask, don't tell" is these days. Facts. Not assumptions or anecdotes, but facts. Booting good soldiers from the military in wartime for no other reason than that they're gay is beyond absurd.
8:40 p.m. MVP of the night: creepy cartoon Dick Cheney.
8:37 p.m. McCain vs. Paul, round two. This time, the crowd turns against Paul as he draws a parallel between Vietnam and Iraq. It's still the Republican debate, after all.
8:32 p.m. McCain closes the exchange with the definitive summation on waterboarding: "Life isn't 24 and Jack Bauer. Life is interrogation techniques that are humane and effective."
8:30 p.m. McCain seems disgusted, as he should be, that anyone would think that waterboarding isn't torture. Romney isn't helping himself at all by continuing to dance around the issue.
8:25 p.m. Giuliani complains that none of the Democratic candidates "have used the word 'Islamic terrorism.'" Because if you don't use that exact phrase, you aren't serious about national security, or something. Also, it's two words, Rudy.
8:23 p.m. Two questions from Alabama so far. Represent!
8:18 p.m. Another crowd-pleasing response from Huckabee, this time on whether the Bible is literally true. (Yes, it was one of the questions, and yes, they lobbed it up to the field's resident Baptist preacher.) This guy is winning the debate pretty handily, and his easygoing style would make him dangerous in a general election.
8:16 p.m. Huckabee, after dancing around the question of whether Jesus would endorse the death penalty: "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." Not bad as evasions go.
8:05 p.m. Hunter is glad to tell you about his gun. Very glad.
8:04 p.m. More than halfway through the debate, we've had three questions on gun control and zero questions on the Iraq war. Yep.
7:53 p.m. Huckabee is coming across as the most personable, down-home, aw-shucks GOP contender on stage, and his massive weight loss makes for a humanizing backstory. If he rides his Iowa momentum to bigger and better things, Democrats could have a bigger fight on their hands than they expect.
7:44 p.m. Grover Norquist? They billed this as a debate that allows everyday people to harness the democratizing power of the Internet to ask questions of powerful politicians and then picked a question from Grover Norquist?!?! Way to go, CNN.
7:42 p.m. McCain triggers Godwin's law, raising the specter of Hitler in a discussion of Iraq. The crowd seems split between McCain and Paul on the war. Interesting.
7:40 p.m. Loud cheers for Ron Paul's cry to "bring the troops home!" Louder cheers for Huckabee's cry to "get rid of the Internal Revenue Service!" Loudest cheers for Huckabee's call to scrap the income tax and replace it with a national sales tax. Telling.
7:34 p.m. The 2007 version of John McCain is loose, cracking jokes, talking up fiscal conservatism, and appealing to bipartisan sentiments, just like the 2000 version. Too bad he's tied himself to the wildly unpopular Bush stance on the Iraq war.
7:30 p.m. Mike Huckabee with the crowd-pleasing line of the night thus far: "We're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did." Now he's going after Romney. Meanwhile, a half-hour into the debate, it's still all immigration, all the time.
7:25 p.m. Duncan Hunter won't just build a border fence. He'll build a double border fence, and he'll do it in six months. He'll also get upwards of 1 percent of the primary vote.
7:23 p.m. Tom Tancredo: "All I've heard is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo!" Yep, that's about right.
7:20 p.m. So, um, just who does Fred Thompson regret hiring?
7:15 p.m. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have taken the gloves off already. It's getting very personal, and it's not helping that they're standing right next to each other. Anderson Cooper keeps trying, but he just can't peel them away from each other.
7:12 p.m. The first question is on immigration. Of course it is. It's the Republican debate, isn't it?
7:10 p.m. All the posing and hand-shaking and cutesy intro packages are finally out of the way. Actual substantive debate -- or some facsimile thereof -- may begin.
7 p.m. The crowd is enthused that more people submitted YouTube questions for the Republican debate than for the Democratic debate a few months ago. I'm not quite sure why, though. As hyped as the last debate was, and as near in time as the primaries are, it'd be a bad sign if there weren't more questions.