Republican Debate GOP Debate 2011

CNBC GOP Presidential Debate—The Live Blog

This is the live blog of the CNBC GOP debate in Rochester, Michigan. To read the post in sequence, please start at the bottom.

10:05 PM/ET: Ok folks, thanks for tagging along with us tonight. That ends the live blog portion of our show. If you have time, you can follow up with the debate on CNBC tonight and tomorrow. Thanks again!!

9:58 PM/ET: So the question for the pundits will be who won or lost. There was no clear loser, but if there's a clear winner it may be Herman Cain, for now. In light of the allegations, he seemed to find support among Repubs and that's going to help at least until something else happens. If he does falter, than Mitt Romney seems to have the heart as a second choice of this crowd.

9:55 PM/ET: Wow, these people are not going home. People getting autographs, pictures taken. A real love fest.

9: 52 PM/ET: Ok, a lot of the audience has moved to the stage. Giving their candidates a big hug and hearty handshakes. TV cameras may be off but lights of candidates are still shining as they make their way among friends.

Candidates on stage at the CNBC GOP Debate.
Photo: Rick Osentoski for

9:48 PM/ET: That's it. Turn out the lights, the party's over, as the debate is now over.

9:47 PM/ET: Audience is still with the debate, they haven't lost their enthusiasm one bit I would say. Still applauding at times like they've done all night, like right now on Dodd-Frank bill. In case you don't know, they hate it.

9:46 PM/ET: "China bashing" a bit popular here with the crowd.

9:45 PM/ET: ooh, a bit of a dust up between Huntsman and Romney as they disagree over China policy..or at least seem to disagree. Issue is what to do about China and whether they are hurting US economy etc.

9: 40 PM/ET: That's Herm Cain's plan for just about everything, as he says it can cure just about all that ails the country. Audience likes it, when he does mention it.

9:38 PM/ET: And we're back....

9:36 PM/ET: Break time, last one, we're just about to closing time, but a few more questions before we do.

9:35 PM/ET: Kind of unclear what they are saying about what they would do about the loans, but hey, I'm just a blogger.

9:32 PM/ET: Student loans are topic right now and how colleges are expensive and how many kids are in debt.

Michele Bachmann at the CNBC GOP candidates debate.

9:30 PM/ET: Less than half hour to go in debate. Probably around 15 minutes left, as the debate will end before 10 PM.

9:25 PM/ET: Weird moment, as Michele Bachmann was going on and John Harwood had to cut her off in mid-sentence. A bit awkward as she wanted to continue but stopped.

9:23 PM/ET: Crowd still interested, they haven't lost the faith.

9:15 PM/ET:  What's the plan? You've got to have a plan, as Fred Ward said in "Tremors" (I've used this reference before), well, these guys are coming up with their plans to run the government. Oops, Perry was asked what gov't agencies he would shut down. He was like.. mmm...couldn't think of three agencies at all.

Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry at the CNBC GOP Debate

9:12 PM/ET: Back on live for debate.

9:10 PM/ET: Man just came up and said he thought debate was very good. He's not sure who he would vote for but these are his people, he said.

9:08 PM/ET: Another TV break. Rick Perry remaining on stage at his podium, as Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman talk things over. Crowd milling again, buzz buzz buzz...

Fair to say even if they aren't jumping out of their seats, the audience is hearing what it wants...see 8:45 PM entry.

9:07 PM/ET: Not much came from it—Santorum's 'attack' that is. Romney did get a bit defensive about the role of government in health care, but that was it.

9:05 PM/ET: Ah, Rick Santorum goes after his colleagues, just a bit, saying when it comes to health care, his ideas are better then Romney's and others.

Rick Santorum at the CNBC Republican Presidential debate.

9:00 PM/ET: So, Newt Gingrich says he would challenge Barak Obama to several Lincoln/Douglas style debates that would last up to three hours. Mm..wonder if 'Dancing wth the Stars' woud intefere with that idea.

8:55 PM/ET: Maybe another break needed. Audience quiet but listening to what would replace "Obama Care" as it is negatively referred to.

8:51 PM/ET: So many debaters that some are getting short time in the spotlight. Newt Gingrich seems to be getting more questions than others, followed by Romney, then Perry and Bachmann. Others fairly invisible.

8:48 PM/ET: Break was probably needed, as both audience and debaters seem a bit more energized.

Candidates on stage at the CNBC GOP Debate.
Photo: Rick Osentoski for

8:45 PM/ET: Audience attentive. They're hearing what they want from this group. Taxes bad, Obama bad, stimulus failed, jobs created by private sector not public, markets work, government too heavy a role, Dodd-Frank bill awful.

8: 41 PM/ET: So what happens during 90 second commercial break? Most candidates headed off stage, probably for a quick touch of make up. Not much time for anything else.

8:40 PM/ET: Ok, TV commercial break.

8: 37 PM/ET: It may be me, and I'm sure it is, but it's as if the audience is waiting for something to happen and it hasn't yet. The debaters look somewhat bored themselves. I thought Ron Paul was doing isometrics at one point.

8:35 PM/ET: Taxes..put that right up there with Obama as 'evil' with this crowd and the debaters. Flat tax for all, seems to be the cry from everyone..but Romney, who's saying something about lowering tax rates.

8:31 PM/ET: Debaters are 'answering' questions, without one of them 'attacking' the other or trying to make themselves look better than their opponents. Somewhat tame I would say.

8:30 PM/ET: Business good, Occupy Wall Street bad, with debaters and audience.

8:26 PM/ET: Okay, Cain has more than a few friends here. Audience doesn't give a damn about allegations. Applauded when a question on another topic was asked. It was viva la Cain.

Howard Cain
Bill Clark | Getty Images

8:25 PM/ET: Oh my, the question came. Cain and the sexual allegations. Boos from the audience when it was asked. Not against, him, but the question.

8:22 PM/ET: Just say get rid of Obama and this audience is in your hands. They sit on theirs until someone does mention Obama and then it's an applause machine any sitcom would envy.

8:20 PM/ET: Fed head Ben Bernanke right up there with Obama as being very unpopular. He got mentioned and applause loud for his removal.

8:15 PM/ET:  Crowd is attentive but quiet, unless Obama's name is mentioned. Then loud applause when he's condemned. Debaters standing pretty still (what else they gonna do) waiting to answer questions.

8:12 PM/ET: Ah, question about saving the auto industry, which is key here in Michigan. Romney gets question about how he's "flipped flopped" about the bailout. He now says government bailout was wrong, wanted a private bailout.

8:08 PM/ET: Cain got first question but anyone expecting him to be asked about alleged sexual improprieties—not here, yet. It's the economy that's the focus.

8:05 PM/ET: They are being introduced. Cain, Romney, Gingrich got the biggest applause.

8:00 PM/ET: And they're OFF!! It's Bachmann on the outside as Cain moves along the inner rail and Romney waits in the pack to make his move and Paul brings up the rear!!

Well, horse race or not, they're at it now.

7:59 PM/ET: Ah,they're talking to each other now. Ron Paul with Michelle Bachmann, Cain by himself though. Really, no one talking to him.

7:58 PM/ET: So, candidates on stage kind of looking out at audience, not much else. FIVE MINUTES till start. They just stand there looking out, not much else they can do.

7:56 PM/ET: Ok, crowd on its feet as the candidates walk in, all of them, as soon as Maria B. said "let's meet the candidates."

Republican presidential candidates stand together before a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, California.

Pictures being taken, like this one, you see to the left, if you can see it.

7:55 PM/ET: John Harwood likes to tell stories. He's getting some laughs, here and there.

7:49 PM/ET: CNBC debate moderators Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood talking to audience.

NO CELL PHONES, NO SHOUTING! (good luck with that)

7:45 PM/ET: Oh, oh, more people coming on stage to talk. Candidates are not there. Oh, this guy's saying 'thanks' to Mark Hoffman, president of CNBC for sponsoring the debate (it's true, we did).

We're thrilled to be here, says Hoffman.

7:40 PM/ET: We have what's known as a 'pause' in the night's entertainment. In other words, no one's talking, music is playing and people are milling about. Milling, milling. Now they're talking to each other.

7:38 PM/ET: Here's an idea. Why don't Democrats make up the audience for a GOP debate and GOPer's make up the audience for a Dem debate?? Ok, so it's not a great idea. But would be interesting. How would an audience react? They could even ask quesitons.

Photo: Rick Osentoski for

7:35 PM/ET: The crowd itself is an interesting look. They sure don't like Obama. Mostly middle aged with some younger people thrown in.This survey is strictly unscientific. There's no question where these people stand—or sit at this moment.

7:30 PM/ET: Oakland U official saying thanks for being here, we're happy you came, really like having you here. Now another local person, county official talking. Thank you thank you, thank you. Oh, and thank you for being here.

7:28 PM/ET: "Battle of Freedom, we need to be country of makers, not takers," Another GOP official says. Don't think this crowd will be reading Obama's autobiography anytime soon. "Get Rid of Obama!" is the cry.

Barack Obama
Jewel Samad | Getty Images

7:25 PM/ET: Ok, he's done. "We're gonna win in 2012. Fire Barak Obama," says the next guy.

I'm still planning to do pledge as soon as I stop typing.

7:20 PM/ET: Some GOP official telling the crowd we have the next leader of the free world here. Crowd went WILD. I'm still singing national anthem.

7:15 PM/ET: OK, pledge of allegiance. Flag was over my head and everyone had to look at it. Ouch, I was typing. Wonder if I'll get out of here. Ok, national anthem now. (I'm singing inside, I'm singing, really)

7:12 PM/ET: So you won't see this at home, but the program here is some talking ( a lot of that here) and some other recognitions and thank you's and welcomes, etc. Hasn't started yet.

7:14 PM/ET: Ok, something's about to start. This guy says the program will start in 5 minutes, (that's what happens before TV debate) here in the arena.

7:09 PM/ET: Ah, Mitt Romney at his podium, looking around talking, looking, waving, talking. Maybe he should be in the audience.

Mitt Romney
Nicholas Kamm | Getty Images

7:05: PM/ET: Parents should never complain about their kids not listening to them. This guy's on stage asking everyone to take their seats and do they do it??? A big NO. Some parents.

7:01 PM/ET: Everyone told to take their seats. Ooh...this is getting a bit exciting. Of course, no one listening. Still talking, still standing for the most part.

7:00 PM/ET: No one else up there yet. Maybe they've done this so many times they don't care to do a run through.

ONE HOUR till debate. Did I let you know how much longer? ONE HOUR till debate.

Actually it won't start exactly at 8 pm. There will be introductions hellos, etc. So figure on 8:05 or so.

6:56 PM/ET: And just like that, Rick Perry has left the stage. He's not Elvis so he's still in the building.

6:55 PM/ET: Ok, the run through are taking place. Up on the stage now is Rick Perry. He's talking to a couple of technicians and the stage manager and asking how far he can move from the podium and still be seen. At least I think that's what he asked. Maybe he was practicing yoga. Doubt it.

Rick Perry
Getty Images

6:48 PM/ET: As expected, this is a friendly GOP crowd. I can hear the buzz as I stretch my ear to pick up conversation. Mostly it's 'hi, how are you, we're gonna take the white house.'

6:42 PM/ET: The only guy out of 1,500 people to wear a Stetson sits in front of me. Okay, I'll get along little doggie. Think I'll send him a French beret for Christmas.

6:40 PM/ET: Okay, just about full in here now. The students from Oakland are helping seat people and being so polite as their shoes get stepped on and their sides take an elbow from outstretched hands trying to reach friends.

6:30 PM/ET: Place is really starting to fill up now. A little more rowdy in terms of people talking. Trying to get heard above one another.

Photo: Mark Koba |

6:27 PM/ET:  These people must be sweating bullets back stage. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

6:25 PM/ET:  Some movement on stage. Looks like the run-throughs are about to happen. Then again maybe not. Just some people walking around up there, and probably the staff of debaters.

6:20 PM/ET: Got to wonder if any of the candidates will hit the panic button after tonight's debate. They have to all be feeling the pressure with each appearance.

Steven Puetzer | Getty Images

They have some 13 more scheduled TV debates in the coming weeks. Ouch.. that's a lot of seeing other people that they're trying to keep from getting a job.

6:15 PM/ET: Damn, spoke too soon. The hat's back on.

Milling and more milling from what I can see over the wide brim of a Stetson. No rush to take seats as people seem more than comfortable standing and talking, and talking and standing.  I'd say the place is about half full. Remember, some 1,500 people will be here.

6:10 PM/ET: Hey there pardners, Mr. Texas Cowboy hat took it off. I can see the stage now. Of course, I'm assuming he's from Texas. Maybe he's got a ranch in Montclair, New Jersey.

6:05 PM/ET: Okay, I'm getting some inside information that the candidates should be arriving shortly to do their run-throughs. This is where each of them gets on stage and goes to their individual podium to test the mike, and get an overall feel for the stage.

Republican presidential candidates stand together before a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, California.

It should last about five minutes for each candidate.

6:01 PM/ET: OOPS. Alert, Alert. I have to admit to making a mistake on our coverage. We are NOT live streaming the debate as I had said earlier. Please accept my apologies. So another reason to stay here.

6:00 PM/ET: Oh God, they're playing the whole musical. Now it's "On the Street Where You Live. Hey, I sang that for my high school audition. This is better. Much better.

Maybe Jim Cramer can sing "Why can't a Woman be More Like a Man."

5:58 PM/ET: Thank God no one's listening to Frank. Can't say it's his best song.

5:55 PM/ET: Frank Sinatra singing My Fair Lady tunes? I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face? He did that? Really???

5:50 PM/ET: The crowd is milling about, and there's some music playing over the loud speaker. I think it's Frank Sinatra. But I can't hear over Jim Cramer. Wait, he's gone. Must be some echo in here..

5:45 PM/ET: So we have a little over two hours before the debate actually begins.

CNBC Speaker Corner at Wall Street Protest

Gonna tell you how we have things covered for you. Besides the live bog here, we do have Speaker's corner.

This is where Oakland U. students get to express on camera, what they want to ask the candidates. This will go on before the debate but end once it begins.

Speaker' s Corner was developed by CNBC's Alex Crippen when he covered the Occupy Wall Street protests in NYC a few weeks back.

We like the idea so much, we brought it here. Alex likes it so much, he's making Speaker's Corner available at weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthdays and Thanksgiving dinners.

Of course, we'll be streaming the debate live or you can watch it on CNBC. Check your local listings.

5:40 PM/ET: Ever go to movie theater with plenty of empty seats, and sit in row with no one around and then the one person who does come in sits right in front of you? I kind of feel that way with Mr. Texas cowboy hat here. I think the hat's getting bigger or the stage is shrinking.

5:35 PM/ET:  The image, if you can see it, gives you some perspective of the arena we are in. Of course, this was taken a few hours ago, but just imagine those seats starting to fill up and the buzz of the audience dancing through your ears.

That's if you can block out Jim Cramer. Gees, he can talk. Never misses a beat. Keeps on going ..gotta love him. Now where did I put those ear muffs??

CNBC GOP debate 2011
Photo: Mark Koba |

5:30 PM/ET: So, we have the before mentioned Rick Perry here, along with Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachman, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Of all, Johnson probably is least known.

The former governor of New Mexico hasn't exactly been lighting up the polls, but maybe he'll get a change tonight to liven up the party—GOP that is.

5:25 PM/ET: Correction. I've just been told that some 1,500 people will be in this arena tonight. Hope they don't all have cowboy hats.

5:20 PM/ET: Must be some Texans here for Rick Perry. I've got a guy in a cowboy hat, sitting in the last row in front of me, blocking my view. Should I ask him to take it off? Why's he wearing a hat in here anyway? His head cold?

5:15 PM/ET: So, Oakland University is the home of the Grizzlies. They are a pretty good basketball team, I'm told. We are in the home court arean with an expected audience of nearly a thousand people.

Oakland University

They are slowly making their way in. Who's here? Well, besides the eight candidates, we have their selected supporters, local officials, Oakland students and lots of CNBC people, including yours truly.

It was quiet here an hour ago, but the hurmph, hurmphing is getting louder as more people come in.

And CNBC's Jim Cramer is actually outshouting everyone as he does his show near by where I sit. The man has a pair of lungs.

5:05 PM/ET:  So if you can see the image here, the debate has begun, right? Well, no. It starts at 8 pm est. What you see here is an image of the pre-debate action where some people stood in for the debaters. They were at the podiums and checked out the mikes and other technical equipment.

Mark Koba for

They also answered some questions, as the candidates, just to make it some what authentic.

One of them did say they wanted world peace when asked how they could change things.

Of course, they really look like they're doing "Jeopardy" tryouts.

The final Jeopardy answer is ....

5:00 PM/ET: Hello and welcome to the live blog of the CNBC GOP presidential debate. I'm Mark Koba, your host for the evening and along side me is my co-host, Vanna White. My I say you look lovely Vanna. Vanna? Vanna?

Republican presidential candidates stand together before a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, California.

Ok, there's no Vanna White sitting next to me. In fact, no one is sitting next to me so I'll be taking you myself on this evening's journey through the eight GOP candidates who all want to live in the White House.

Of course, they can't all live there, and it's possible none of them will. However, tonight you'll have the chance to listen and decide for yourself whether they should or not.

So sit back and we'll get this going. I'll be here to give you the inside scoop of what's going on. I won't be relaying every question asked but I'll be letting you what's going on from the audience point of view and who might need to take a bathroom break. Probably me.

We are here in Rochester, Michigan, at Oakland Univeristy, about a half hour's drive north of the Detroit. So, we'll get the ball rolling.