CNN Debate Live Blog II

In abrupt turn to substance, ‘Trump asked about Russia in Syria, says he’d get a long with Putin.

Rubio gets same question and goes all Cold War, suggesting Putin replacing U.S. in Middle East. I wonder if they’d enjoy all that power, but maybe that’s just me.

Fiorina reminds everybody she met with Putin (Lucent? HP?), does quick sideswipe of Trump on not knowing names of Mideast players, then filibusters a long detailed list of things she’d do in Middle East.

Cruz asked about Kasich’s shot about irresponsibility of claiming he’d tear up Iran Nuke Deal. Cruz winds up claiming Obama is trying to give away U.S. sovereignty to UN (huh?), then says that’s what Iran Nuke Deal meant.

Kasich follows-up with a reasonable rap on folly of unilateralism and the importance of the unknown. Won’t help him beyond the room.

Paul asked about Walker’s call for cancellation of China state visit, and–of course–cites Reagan’s willingness to talk to enemies.

Walker says Obama folds all the time.

Jeb gets reasonable, talks about how to enhance deterrance re Iran.

Huck disagrees, says it’s about survival of western civilization, rants and raves. Seems to think calling off sanctions is U.S. grant of money to Tehran.

Hewitt comes on, asks Trump about Obama’s “red line” in Syria. Accuses Obama of weakness of character.

Rubio does his “no substitute for victory” bit.

Rand Paul says smartest thing I’ve heard tonight: “sometimes both sides in a civil war are evil, and we shouldn’t intervene.” Won’t help him.

Cruz invests a lot in a Khamanei-Kerry cartoon.

Candidates getting a little out of hand, shouting at Tapper for attention. Kasich wins, then probably loses by defending legitimacy of Iran Nuke Deal, defending multilateralism.

Huck passes up chance to bash Jeb, then does his prefab Kim Davis tribute, claims Christians don’t have as many rights as Muslims. Jeb says he agrees accomodations should be made for Kim Davis.

Kasich asked by Bash about Cruz’s shutdown strategy for Planned Parenthood. Kasich does conventional criticism of government shutdown.

So now Cruz responds, and rants about videos, claiming they show felonies (why don’t you call the cops?); says not shutting down government “surrender.”

Christie gets a little incoherent but seems to want Congress to shut down the government over tax reform or something.

Fiorina jumps in and says she wants to “link” Iran and Planned Parenthood, then addresses them serially. Then cleverly does profile in courage on “making Obama veto this bill,” which stops a bit short of what Cruz is talking about.

Tapper asks Bush about his “don’t need half a billon for women’s health” comment. Bush manages to come up with Reagan policy on Planned Parenthood he would emulate. Trump says he respects women (!), abruptly brings up North Korea.

After extended Trump rap on North Korea, Jeb goes back to Planned Parenthood, Trump interrupts to say “Why did you say it?”

Walker jumps in to endorse nuclear strategy for Planned Parenthood.

Ah! Fiorina asked about Trump “look at that face” comment. This is what the MSM has been waiting for. She notes Trump insisted he heard what Jeb said on women’s health; “I think women very clearly heard what Mr. Trump said.” Well played, and Trump concedes by calling her “a very beautiful woman.”

Yeah, Fiorina’s going to get media love like you’ve never seen.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.