Will not be “live blogging” it, but will have some observations.

Feel free to comment.

At the 8:30 break:  Great line by Newt, Obama scares seniors every day.  He made a strong substantive point, which is that why should be have to live in a system where a President can threaten to withhold social security benefits.  It goes to the heart of individual autonomy.  My wife responded, “Newt for V.P.”   I think he’s earning that spot but may also be the comeback kid in this primary season.  He’s dominating the debate in the early part because he refuses to take Wolf Blitzer’s bait and getting into tit-for-tat with other candidates.  Romney just isn’t good attacking; Perry pretty much laughed him off and Romney looked bad.  He should learn from this, make his own case and don’t take the moderator’s bait.  Perry dealt well with the Ponzi scheme issue.  Herman Cain came across well.  All in all, Newt starred, Perry was good, Romney not so much.

At the 8:50 break:  Mostly blah, blah, blah.  Newt excellent again, Herman Cain close behind relating his family and work history.  Perry and Romney less of the emphasis.  Bachman is almost non-existent on stage.  Romney still not good at attacking Perry, just doesn’t come across well.  As I was watching, I kept thinking, why is this just a two person race?  Newt, for all his baggage, is great on stage, and Herman Cain always is a present pleasant surprise.

At the 9:20 break:  Perry on the “almost treasonous” comment, explains that using the Fed for political purposes is wrong and being used by this administration to cover up bad fiscal policy.  Blitzer overstated what Perry had said, claiming Perry wanted Bernanke tried for treason.  Newt nailed it again, when Blitzer brought up oil industry “loopholes,” Newt said I thought you were talking about GE, and every “green credit” is a tax loophole; I favor people who create energy.

Perry was good on the Gardasil issue, saying it was a mistake and would do it differently; that’s how candidates need to deal with mistakes, admit it and stop digging.  Bachmann was horrible (in my view, others probably disagree) on Gardasil, referring to “little girls who have a negative reaction to this drug” don’t “get a mulligan.”  Bachmann suggested Perry did it for campaign donations, Perry said it was Merck and donations had nothing to do with it.

Bachmann exhibited profound lack of understanding of the constitutionality issue as to mandate.  It is a federal e problem, not a state issue (depending upon what a particular state’s constitution says).  She didn’t seem to understand the federal/state distinction, and just kept saying “it’s unconstitutional” even if done by a state.

At 9:45  break:  Perry on immigration pretty much endorsed Dream Act, stood by it.  This could be a problem for him.  Bachmann hit him pretty good on it.  Perry came back and said it’s not like the Dream Act, that it’s a state’s rights issue for people who are pursuing citizenship.  I’m not familiar enough with the Texas law — any commenters have something to add on this?

Huntsmann said that Perry made a treasonous comment by saying can’t secure border.  What?  I guess it was a jab at Perry’s comments about Bernanke.

Newt on national security — civil war in Mexico, underestimated threat in Middle East, and national industrial base to be competitive with China.  Ron Paul — we’re under threat because we occupy so many countries; what would we do if China did to us what we do to others.  Santorum went after Paul, said he has blamed U.S. for 9/11, it’s irresponsible, we were not attacked because of our actions but because of who we are and what we stand for.  Paul quoted bin Laden on bases in Saudi Arabia and over Palestine.  Audience booed loudly.

End Game Probing Analysis:  I thought it was an interesting debate. Perry clearly was under fire most of the night, but better he deals with these issues now and works out kinks in his answers.  Romney was okay, just okay.  Newt again was the star, Herman Cain close behind.  Bachmann seemed like someone drowning who’s grasping at anything.  Ron Paul was Ron Paul.

Probably a pipe dream, but I think there are openings for this to be more than a two-way race.