Skip to main content

Liveblog: The Dartmouth Debate

Everyone agrees: there's a lot at stake tonight for Gov. Rick Perry. The Bloomberg/Washington Post debate may be his last chance to reverse his dragging momentum after past performances left the impression he lacked the policy chops to take on President Barack Obama. We're liveblogging the action here.

The moderators and Republican candidates are introduced at the Dartmouth Debates in Hanover, NH on October 11, 2011.

Everyone agrees: there's a lot at stake tonight for Gov. Rick Perry. His fourth nationally televised debate gives him a chance to reverse his dragging momentum after past performances left the impression he lacked the policy chops to take on President Barack Obama. If he turns in a poor performance, voters may begin to conclude he isn't ready to be president. 

The Bloomberg/Washington Post forum at Dartmouth College will focus on economics, something that should be in Perry's favor — he's run his campaign based on his record of creating jobs in Texas. But primary voters will be looking for more than the same soundbites he's been repeating on the trail since he first started running, and Perry has yet to offer a detailed jobs plan. He's expected to deliver that in a speech in Pittsburgh on Friday. 

The candidates will be seated for the first time during this debate. That set-up could benefit Perry, who had spine surgery over the summer and has been dogged by rumors that back pain has affected his performances. 

Perry's biggest rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be looking to knock him squarely out of the race. Romney announced a key endorsement from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie this afternoon at a press conference where both came down hard on Perry's association with Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, who called Mormonism a "cult" while introducing the Texas governor at an event on Friday. 

It will also be the first debate since The Washington Post broke news that the Perry family leased a hunting camp that came with a racially offensive name. Since then, questions have arisen about whether Perry has a race problem, despite statements from the governor’s campaign that his family had painted over the rock that bore the offensive name of the camp.

We'll be liveblogging the action from Hanover, New Hampshire and Austin.

Liveblog

by Morgan Smith
We're almost ready to go tonight here in New Hampshire. While we wait, a scene from the Dartmouth College quad, shot by Tribune photographer Bob Daemmerich:

XXTTTXTXTXT


by Morgan Smith
And here's an upbeat Perry arriving at Dartmouth earlier this evening:

XXTTTXTXTXT


by Morgan Smith
Charlie Rose intro-ing the candidates now. They're sitting at the "kind of kitchen table where families have sat and solved their problems for generations."
by Jay Root
Perry says as the governor of the second largest state he has signed six balanced budgets and has worked with "folks on both sides of the aisle." He stresses energy policy, saying: "It's time for another American declaration of independence. It's time for energy independence."
by Morgan Smith
"I was the governor of a state that had a few Democrats," Romney says, speaking of his ability to work across the aisles.
by Morgan Smith
Perry elaborates a little more on his economic plan, though he says he's "not going to lay it all out there for you tonight." It will focus on domestic energy production, he says. Americans need a "president who is willing to stand up and pull back these regulations that are strangling entrepreneurship out there."
by Morgan Smith
Perry's face at Jon Huntsman's joke about Washington gas gets a big laugh in the press room.
by Jay Root
Perry rolls his eyes at Jon Huntsman, after Huntsman makes a joke about DC being "gas capital" of the country.
by Jay Root
Lots of time sharing in this debate, giving more time to candidates other than Perry and Romney. It seems destined to be more scholarly and less contentious than the first three debates.
by Jay Root
Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich jumped in unprompted during debate on bailout. Perry not much of a factor in first half hour of debate.
by Jay Root
Clip is played of Ronald Reagan arguing for tax increases, in exchange for deficit reduction. Perry responds: "I think we're certainly talking about different times." Perry, who obviously has done his homework, noted that Reagan said later in his diaries that he was "still looking around for those reductions." He said Congress needs to pass a balanced budget amendment. He said Americans "never see a cut in spending."
by Morgan Smith
Romney getting focused, pointed questions from moderators during this debate. Is he the new pinata?
by Jay Root
Dueling press releases: Perry campaign puts out release saying that Romney "supported bailing out Wall Street." Romney campaign fires back, two minutes later, with email saying Perry wrote a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to pass TARP, the acronym for the 2008 Wall Street rescue passage.
by Morgan Smith
Perhaps wanting more air time, Perry jumps in. He says that we "need to focus on how we get America working again," observing that "we're sitting on a treasure trove of energy in this country." As he did earlier, he emphasizes that his economic plan would be to pull back regulations to boost domestic energy production.
by Jay Root
Perry takes credit for bringing the maker of the Chi flat iron back to the United States from China.
by Jay Root
Former Bush pollster Matthew Dowd says on Bloomberg that Perry "needs to come out stronger in the second half of this debate."
by Jay Root
Bachmann hitting Perry on state spending
by Jay Root
Perry responds that debt per capita went down, from 6th best in nation, to 2nd best in nation, on his watch. Displaying that he did his homework: notes that he became a Republican at an earlier age than Ronald Reagan did.
by Jay Root
The ganging up on the frontrunner continues, but this time it's Romney, not Perry.
by Morgan Smith
Three questions for Romney so far, one for Perry. Now Paul asks the first one of Cain.
by Jay Root
Romney ignores Perry in direct questioning, throws Bachmann a softball and asks her to talk about her jobs plan.
by Morgan Smith
Perry's question is for Romney. He asks him to respond to a statement from a former Romney chief economic advisor calling the health care passed under his leadership in Massachusetts just like Obamacare.

Romney points out key differences in his plan. Unlike Obamacare, he says it helps the only the uninsured and doesn't raise taxes. Then he works in an attack on Perry — saying that Texas has the highest number of uninsured kids, and that under Perry's leadership that number went up.

"I care about people," Romney says, adding that his approach was right for the people of Massachusetts, but that doesn't mean he would implement it as president.
by Jay Root
Perry, on defensive, says he helped expand access to health care, says tort reform and "Healthy Texas" initiatives have helped lower barriers. He claims that in Texas "we've driven down the cost of insurance by 30 percent." Argued for more flexibility from federal government, says states shouldn't have to say "mother may I" to Uncle Sam.
by Morgan Smith
Tough questions for Perry on oversight of government investments. He's asked to explain the controversy surrounding his Emerging Technology Fund, which the state auditor's office says needs more transparency and has directed millions to Perry donors.

Perry says that the Texas Legislature has total oversight of the fund and that it's created 64,000 jobs. "Those people who have jobs are absolutely happy that we have a program," he says. As for the projects directed to his donors, he emphasized again the role the Legislature plays in reviewing investments. "Everyone of those projects had the Lt. gov., the speaker's office, and the governor's office review them."

He says that his role in creating the Emerging Technology Fund is the "kind of leadership America is longing for."
by Jay Root
Asked about gap between rich and poor, Perry bashes Obama toward end of debate, says president is "biggest deterrent" to getting economy back on track.

Support public-service journalism that gets the context right

Yes, I'll donate today