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Liveblog: CNN/Heritage Foundation Debate

Tonight's GOP debate presents Gov. Rick Perry with an opportunity to breathe new life into a campaign that could use some. But given that his debate performances are a key reason his campaign is in the ditch, the forum also presents significant risks.

The Dartmouth College press room at the Republican presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2011.

Yet another nationally televised debate looms for the Republican presidential candidates, and The Texas Tribune is here to liveblog it. 

The two-hour CNN/Heritage Foundation debate, which will emphasize national security, foreign policy, and — what else is new? — the economy, will be aired live from the historic DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the National Mall. The moderator? CNN political anchor Wolf Blitzer. 

The debate presents an opportunity for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to breathe new life into a campaign that could certainly use some. In most early primary states, Perry is polling in single digits. But given that Perry's debate performances are a major reason his campaign is in the ditch, tonight's forum could also present significant risks. 

The debate comes at a key moment for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who in recent weeks has surged up in the polls and is giving former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — stuck at roughly a quarter of the vote — a run for his money.

 

Liveblog

by Emily Ramshaw
We're about to begin at the CNN/Heritage Foundation debate. Stay tuned!
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry just gave Blitzer a gun with his finger — eliciting tons of laughter in the press room.
by Emily Ramshaw
Tonight, Perry's standing between Romney and Ron Paul.
by Jay Root
Ron Paul criticizes "needless and unnecessary wars" in his opening remarks.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says nothing about national security in his intro — gives shout-outs to First Lady Anita Perry, and candidly looks into the camera and asks viewers for their support.
by Jay Root
Edwin Meese asks first question: is Patriot Act appropriate?
by Jay Root
Newt Gingrich says government should use "every tool you can possibly use" in fight against terror. Says he would not change the Patriot Act. Would "look at strengthening it." Ron Paul early founders warned against sacrificing liberty for security. "You never have to give up liberty for security," he says.
by Jay Root
Michele Bachmann says Barack Obama has "outsourced" interrogation to the ACLU
by Emily Ramshaw
The next question is about TSA pat-downs — but Romney doesn't seem ready to go there.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry's up next on TSA pat-downs. He says he would privatize the TSA and airport security as president. He mentions a program in Denver where they're privatizing airport security. Then he turns deftly to the Patriot Act, saying it needs to be strengthened if that's what it requires. And he says the U.S. is failing in its ability to collect intelligence around the world. "This administration in particular has been an absolute failure when it comes to expending the dollars, supporting the CIA and the military intelligence around the world," Perry said. It was a clean answer; no fumbles here.
by Jay Root
Herman Cain, all but ignored, argues for "targeted identification" of people boarding airplanes. Then he calls Wolf Blitzer "Blitz."
by Emily Ramshaw
The best moment thus-far is Cain calling Wolf Blitzer "Blitz" by mistake.
by Emily Ramshaw
Next question is about an expanded drone campaign in Pakistan, and if it would be sufficient to defeat Al Qaeda.
by Emily Ramshaw
Huntsman says it must be done. "We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan."
by Emily Ramshaw
Bachmann asked whether, as Perry says, Pakistan should no longer get aid.
by Emily Ramshaw
Bachmann doesn't give a specific answer: "A nation that lies, that does everything possibly that you could imagine wrong. At the same time they do share intelligence data with us regarding Al Qaeda." At this point she would continue aid.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry: "They've showed us time after time they can't be trusted. Until Pakistan clearly shows they've got America's best interest at heart, I wouldn't give them a penny."
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry: "To write a check to countries that are clearly not representing American interests is nonsensical." Bachmann turns around and calls Perry "highly naive."
by Emily Ramshaw
Bachmann says that's a ridiculous proposition — otherwise, the country could become an even bigger nuclear threat.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry: "Absolutely we need to be engaged in that part of the world... I just said we need to quit writing blank checks to these countries." He pitches a trade zone in that part of the world, as opposed to writing checks. Bachmann says it's not just "blank checks" being written, it's intelligence being traded.
by Jay Root
Bachmann said a loose nuke could end up exploding in Washington or New York. "We have to maintain an American presence," she said. Good line from Bachmann: Pakistan is "too nuclear to fail."
by Jay Root
Herman Cain says Israel would need a "credible plan" in order for him to support and possibly help attack Iran if Israel attacked the country to stop its progress toward getting nuclear weapons.
by Jay Root
Israelis can "take care of themselves," Ron Paul says.
by Emily Ramshaw
Gingrich wants to create a surplus of energy here at home, so that it could replace Iranian oil. "We need a strategy... of being honest about radical Islam, and designing a strategy to defeat it."
by Jay Root
Perry says he would impose sanctions on the Iranian central bank. "That will shut down that economy," Perry said. Perry also called for a no-fly zone over Syria. Perry says US should use "every sanction that we have" to stop Iran from getting nukes.
by Emily Ramshaw
Bachmann says Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. "This isn't just an idle threat; this is a reality."
by Emily Ramshaw
Next question from Paul Wolfowitz, former World Bank president, on if the US can afford to spend billions to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa.
by Emily Ramshaw
Santorum says it's important to promote U.S. values - that it comes to the aid of those in trouble around the world. "We have saved money, saved military deployments by wisely spending that money."
by Emily Ramshaw
Cain says it depends upon priorities. "Has that aid been successful?" It may be worthwhile to continue, he says, it may not - he needs to see results.
by Emily Ramshaw
Ron Paul calls aid like this "worthless." "You take money from poor people in the U.S. and give it to rich people in poor countries," he says. "It seems like nobody cares about the budget."
by Emily Ramshaw
Romney's trying to shift the conversation to spending on "Obamacare."
by Emily Ramshaw
Paul gives an emotional plea about the budget: "It's a road to disaster, we better wake up."
by Emily Ramshaw
Romney: "If I'm president, my first foreign trip will be to Israel to show the world we care about that country and that region."
by Emily Ramshaw
The next question is about cuts to the defense budget. Gingrich says the U.S. can move quickly when it's serious about something. That it wouldn't take as long as everyone thinks to get energy independent.
by Emily Ramshaw
Huntsman says the country's debt is a national security problem. "People have lost trust in their institutions of power in America." "We cannot have an intellectually honest conversation about where we go with debt spending with sacred cows." He says the defense department needs to be on that table.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry is asked about the supercommittee failing. He's asked if he would compromise with Democrats to avoid Washington gridlock. "I don't think anybody is particularly surprised that the supercommittee failed. It was a super failure."
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says if Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "is an honorable main he should resign in protest" over the budget crisis.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry's talking about his flat tax, cutting spending, a 20 percent corporate tax, as his solution to the budget woes.
by Jay Root
Gingrich says his Social Security reform ideas are inspired by Chile and Galveston, Texas
by Emily Ramshaw
Paul says he doesn't completely agree with Perry. "If you give easy road to citizenship you're going to have more illegals..."
by Emily Ramshaw
Paul: "I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure." Paul says you can at least let sick people have marijuana because it's helpful. "The federal government is going in there and overriding state laws.... Why don't we handle drugs the way we handle alcohol?"
by Emily Ramshaw
Paul says the U.S. is spending so much money on the drug war, "but the kids can still get drugs."
by Jay Root
Perry says he thinks it's "time for a 21st century Monroe Doctrine." Governor says that Middle Eastern terrorists are operating in Mexico. Says secure southern border is "paramount to the entire Western hemisphere." Perry promises that if he's elected president, "within 12 months of the inaugural that border will be shut down and it will be secure."
by Emily Ramshaw
Cain says terrorists have come to this country "by way of Mexico." He says 40 percent of Mexicans believe their country is a "failed state."
by Emily Ramshaw
For a question on the U.S. becoming more welcoming for highly skilled immigrants, Santorum says he believes legal immigration is a boon.
by Emily Ramshaw
CNN shows a split-screen of Perry looking pensively at Santorum.
by Emily Ramshaw
Bachmann: "If we can utilize these workers (the highly skilled ones)... then we need to offer these visas. But I don't agree we should make 11 million workers who are here illegally legal."
by Emily Ramshaw
Romney asked if illegal immigrants who have roots should be allowed to stay in this country. "Amnesty is a magnet," Romney says. "That's going to only encourage more people to come here illegally."
by Emily Ramshaw
Romney: "We welcome legal immigration. This is a party that loves legal immigration. But we have to stop illegal immigration... It is bringing in people who in some cases can be terrorists." Others, he say, can be burdens.
by Emily Ramshaw
Romney, Gingrich having a spirited debate about illegal immigration — but largely absent from the conversation is Perry, and this is supposed to be HIS issue.
by Emily Ramshaw
Gingrich says the "party of the family" can't adopt an immigration policy that destroys families that have been here a quarter century. "Let's be humane in enforcing the law without granting citizenship." Now Perry's asked.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says, "here we go again, Mitt." Perry says the country has to stop the magnets of people coming in here. "The real issue is securing that border, and this conversation is not going to end until the border is secure."
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry says families should be kept together. But he says this is all an "intellectual exercise" until the border is secure. This is his standby answer.
by Jay Root
Bachmann and Gingrich clashed a bit over illegal immigration, but they were mainly talking past each other and so far the candidates have been playing nice with each other. In terms of delivery, Gingrich is wearing the frontrunner label well. Very confident and eloquent.
by Jay Root
Perry defends his no-fly zone proposal for Syria as a key component of the strategy to contain Iran. "Syria is a partner with Iran in exporting terrorism all across that part of the world and around the globe," Perry said. "I think a no fly zone is an option, one of a multitude of options that we should be using."
by Jay Root
Perry seems to back off a tad about his no-fly zone proposal, says it's "one of the options."

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