Mike Littwin and Josh Penry live blog the GOP debate

Josh Penry


Thanks for sharing your digital stage Mike and The Colorado Independent. At its best, politics is a hearty argument between friends.

Mike Littwin


Josh, thanks for doing this. It was great fun. Let’s do it again.


Rubio is the clear winner — he won the debate, and, more than that, he clobbered Jeb! I thought Cruz would step up. He did. He’s still unlikeable, but he can debate. Christie finally figured out how to make a mark. Trump was so-so. Carson put me to sleep. Jeb! was the big loser.


Josh Penry


Dateline Boulder: Marco Rubio’s bull run is going to get more bullish. Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina had very good nights too.

Mike Littwin


Josh is right. This debate about the economy has not been about the economy.

Josh Penry


Welcome back to the MSNBC debate, I’m Keith Olberman, and I’m Rachel Maddow…


Rand Paul sighting.


I like fantasy football.

Mike Littwin


Christie: We’re $17 trillion in debt, and we’re talking about practice. Practice.

Josh Penry


Screw it – let’s have the next debate in TMZ’s cubicle row. Would be more credible.


This debate about the economy hasn’t been a debate about the economy.

Mike Littwin




Shock: It took nearly 90 minutes before anyone said it was time to destroy the IRS. I lost the pool by 60 minutes.


From the fact checkers, apparently Donald Trump did say that Rubio was “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal” senator. So there’s that.

Josh Penry


John Harwood having an uber-crappy day.

Mike Littwin




It’s early, still, but Jeb! is the biggest loser. Fiorina would be stronger if she were more in the mix. Paul is a nonentity. Kasich started strong, but then disappeared. Carson is a disaster, but he’ll probably come out on top in the post-debate tolls. Rubio is clearly the winner so far.

Josh Penry


Rubio-Carly-Christie-Carson-Jeb. Mike, your scoreboard?

Mike Littwin


Why Ben Carson is winning (so far): Crowd rushes to his defense on an issue about which no one in the crowd knows anything.

Josh Penry


Next debate should be moderated by Bartels, Littwin, and Adam Schrager.

Mike Littwin


From the great Elizabeth Drew: “Is Jeb! about to say that his brother kept the economy safe?”

Josh Penry


It isn’t the reporters’ questions, it’s their sanctimony.


Poll time: which among ye’ “progressives” want to see Hillary debate Carly?  There is no comparison.

Mike Littwin


Jeb’s warm kiss line is going to be the moment he gets in the post-debate reviews. Thinking that may not be the way to turn his campaign around.

Josh Penry


Marco counter punches with ease. Every time these Jack Wagons pick at him about “maturity,” they help him with real voters.

Mike Littwin


OK, Jeb! put it out there. Which Democrat wants a warm kiss from the Jebster?


Have you noticed that no one is engaging with Fiorina? Btw, what’s the score?

Josh Penry


Jeb is much sharper tonight. Attacking doesn’t suit him well. Optimism does.

Mike Littwin


This just in: Ben Carson sighting. Question: Why did they let Trump off so easy on his Atlantic City bankruptcies?


Is it me, or is this is a pretty terrible debate? (Wait, am I agreeing with Ted Cruz? Maybe.) It’s cable TV. All yelling and no explaining. It’s hard to tell what anyone’s policy on anything is.

Josh Penry


Think Megyn Kelly’s enjoying this cluster of a question and answer?

Mike Littwin



Cruz slams CNBC questions and Dems (Bolsheviks vs. Mensheviks.) And for Tom Bevan: Cruz doesn’t have to fake his anger.

Josh Penry


I don’t even know what Medveshik is. But it is not a compliment.

Mike Littwin


Tom Bevan: “Jeb did say he was not good at faking anger. It showed in that attack on Marco.”


Rubio v. Bush. Not sure who won the exchange, but Jeb! did rip the French. That’s a winner in that room. (Rubio, by the way, got a big hand for ripping media, even though that particular medium had endorsed him.)

Josh Penry


Marco. Freaking. Rubio. Yeah, we’re Ready for Hillary alright.

Mike Littwin


Josh, I heard about fracking. Love Ohio. Thinking of moving to Toledo.




Trump v. Kasich. Both win? At least they’re playing.

Josh Penry


Say what you want about Trump, the Cat can talk some trash.


You hear that Littiwin?  Fracking. You’re welcome!

Mike Littwin


Kasich has high energy. Still waiting for Jeb!

Josh Penry


Every Time John Hargrove gets run over, Megyn Kelly is smiles.

Mike Littwin


Cruz, asked for a weakness, basically admits that he’s kind of a jerk.

Josh Penry


It really is an impressive field. I’m looking at 5 or 6 candidates who can beat Hillary.

Mike Littwin


Rubio’s weakness: He’s optimistic.


Kashich asked for his weaknesses — rips half the Republicans on the stage. Will someone notice him, please?


And so it begins. Eventually. No handshake between Bush and Rubio. Am I wrong to enjoy that?

Josh Penry 6:15

Greg Brophy has better seats than Frank McNulty. Good choice Reince.


Trump isn’t going to have to gaze very far when he starts talking trash.


For all the before-the-fact teeth gnashing about protests, the Occupy Crowd was underwhelming today. Everyone came expecting a bit of a circus. Not at all.

Mike Littwin 6:10

For those who thought the debate was supposed to begin at 6 p.m., you weren’t alone. Those GOPers know how to rev up a crowd.

Josh Penry:


Either good staff work, or Chancellor Distefano didn’t pay the Xcel bill.

6:05 p.m.

There is zero chance that our would-be presidents will be caught on tape sweating profusely (again).  It is a meat locker in the house.

Mike Littwin: 


Is this the night Jeb gets back his exclamation point?

Will the poll-slipping Donald beg Iowans to vote for him, this time on a national TV broadcast from Colorado?

Will Marco Rubio resign from the Senate? (The Sun-Sentinel of South Florida has said the perennially absent senator is ripping off Floridians by keeping a job he concedes he no longer wants.)

Will Ben Carson finally take some hits tonight? And if he gets a particularly pointed question, will he tell the moderator that he thinks he wants the guy in the next podium?

Will Carly Fiorina re-emerge from her undisclosed location to take over another debate and then disappear again?

So many questions (mostly on the economy), so little time (two hours, if you don’t count the kids’ table debate, which we don’t).

Here’s what to look for.

This is a big night for Jeb, whose campaign seems to be in some disarray, if you count laying off staffers and reorganizing your campaign and going to — as the Donald said — “mommy and daddy” for support, and whining that you have many “cooler” things you could be doing than deigning to run for president, which has been a lot nastier than he was counting on.

For Jeb, it’s time to show some fire, some fight, some…thing. He has all the money, all the history, everything but a narrative and a candidate who can string together actual sentences. He seems to have the Bush inarticulation gene without the corresponding gift for trickeration.

Look for him to try to punch Trump in the mouth — or at least try to get a word in edgewise – and to try to pin Rubio as the Republican Obama.

Can he pull this off? Not if you look at recent history. And if he can’t, it’s hard to see how he eventually gets the nomination. Still, I don’t buy that this night is do or die for him, but that’s how it’ll play on TV.

My guess: Stuff happens.

The Donald is running second in Iowa. He is second in one national poll. Does running second mean he’s a loser? That’s the Trump narrative, which results in this Trumpism in a speech to an Iowa crowd: “What the hell are you people doing to me?”

So, it’s time to turn on super-low-energy Ben! and see if Carson responds. (Look for on-stage battles between Trump and Carson and Trump and Bush and Trump and Paul and Bush and Rubio and maybe Rubio and Cruz, with the others looking to find ways to join the fight.)

My guess: Trump will be Trump. Carson, not being Carson, will have to defend himself.

Carson is in the lead. No, it doesn’t make any sense. And no one really thinks he’ll be there for long. It could be that the Donald is finally starting to slip, but I think he’s still in good shape. Carson is a fall-time fling who doesn’t know much about the issues or seems to care that much about them. It will be interesting to see him get in the weeds on, say, tax policy with Cruz and Bush and Rubio and the gang.

But the hot ticket these days is Cruz, who, the smart guys say, is set up to inherit a lot of Trump votes when/if Trump implodes/goes away. He’s got organization. He’s got a plan. He’s a little too much process, and he’s the least likable major candidate since Nixon, but there’s a great chance to be angry tonight at Congress on the budget deal, and I’d look for him to lead the way — he’s already calling it surrender; will he bring out a surrender monkey? — although Rubio shouldn’t be far behind and Paul has already promised to filibuster.

My guess: We might actually see Cruz as the champion debater he used to be in his college days.

Chris Christie is looking for the Donald to slip so he can be the leading loudmouth in the room. (Fortunately for him, they don’t have silent cars in Boulder.) Fiorina will probably do well, but the question is whether she can make it matter. Mike Huckabee? Come on. Kasich? Is he the new Pawlenty?

For Jeb the night is huge. For Carson, it’s a chance to show he should be taken seriously. For Cruz and Rubio, it’s about positioning. For everyone else, it’s a two-hour shot at the front-runners.

My guess: It will be more fun than the Democratic debate. And way more fun than the Benghazi hearings. But maybe not as much fun as Royals-Mets Part Deux.

Photo credit: Christian Haugen, Creative Commons, Flickr

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  1. Too bad you can’t combine the q&A from the debate with the live play-by-play format from the world series – it’d be a heck of a mash-up and maybe even easier to understand what they’re saying in the debate!

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