It’s time, people. Debate season is upon us, and tonight, we get double the pleasure of watching seventeen Republican candidates face off in two debates.

This post will cover the first debate; these participants didn’t poll in the top ten of all GOP candidates, but many are saying that this slate could provide a more substantive discussion than the prime time group.

Here’s who you should expect to see onstage for the first debate:

  • Rick Perry
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Rick Santorum
  • Bobby Jindal
  • Carly Fiorina
  • George Pataki
  • Jim Gilmore

To watch the debate online, click here. (You’ll need a cable authentication to stream live from Fox.)

You can follow the discussion on Twitter here:


Alright…let’s do this! Let the live blog begin in 3…2…

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Already, one former candidate has said what we’re all (probably) thinking. Good to see a little lighthearted humor as we take the plunge.

Twitter is already abuzz with commentary on the lackluster response from the crowd:

Perry came out nervous but finished strong in his opening statement. As Governor of Texas, he already has a lead on candidates because he can truly speak truth to power about what it takes to build and lead a winning economy.

Carly Fiorina also did well in her opening, and emphasized the abilities she brings to the table as a Washington outsider. We’ve written previously about whether or not she’s running for VP, but even if she is, she still makes a good point about what a business guru can do for government.

Jindal and Santorum both fielded some “underdog”-themed questions:

This first group of questions has been absolutely brutal—but necessary. These people are in the lower tier, and I think it’s effective to let them make their 30 second case for their candidacy:

That being said, there’s something to be said for not humiliating an entire panel of candidates right out of the gate.

The moderators are asking the candidates how they feel about Donald Trump. Both Perry and Fiorina were not amused.

Alright—“How far are you willing to go” to root out Islamic extremism at home?

Fiorina takes the question and turns it into an answer about cybersecurity, Russia, and China. BIAS ALERT: that was a fantastic answer.

Santorum now getting a chance to stretch his legs on immigration. Love him or dislike him, he does a good job weaving stories and anecdotes into his policy justifications.

Perry has defaulted to a laundry list on how to secure the border and control the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. Answer itself could have been smoother, but the fact that he has bullet points on this to begin with shows that he’s been down this road before.

Still, Perry is fielding some all-too-familiar criticism:

UPDATE ON THE BIZARRELY EMPTY ARENA:

Santorum pitching a flat tax + jobs plan that will reform our welfare system—checking a lot of boxes tonight.

Things are getting heated–candidates clearly fighting for time in the spotlight. This is like an hour-long lightning round.

And we’re back to the Middle East and Islamic extremism.

Perry comes out swinging against allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

…he also may have just tapped Carly Fiorina for Secretary of State!

Fiorina is coming out strong on Iran—and she’s going for more than just bullet points. She wants the spotlight.

Biggest controversy bomb of the debate? Maybe:

Wondering how things are going on the ground? The answer may surprise you:

Pataki has officially caused a Twitter meltdown with this:

Lindsey Graham dropped a soundbite re. the #WarOnWomen that’s going to end up in a million Facebook graphics:

It’s the truth. Of course, the original question was about Planned Parenthood—but why not kill two birds with one stone?! He answered the Planned Parenthood question was solid—he didn’t dodge it at all.

Quick sidebar: I firmly believe that the purpose of debates and forums is to let the people make up their own mind, but I can’t emphasize enough how much good feedback Carly Fiorina is receiving on Twitter right now. Graham and Jindal are also getting good reviews, but at least as far as my timeline is concerned, it’s not even close.

Do you agree? Here’s her closing argument: