You can watch the debate live beginning at 12 p.m. EST, or tune in here for my notes and observations.
1:35 p.m. — West closes by linking Klein to the Obama agenda and saying that he will work to, “protect your life, your liberty, and your pursuit of happiness.” Chants of “Go West” in the auditorium.
1:22 p.m. — The debate ends like it began: Does Mr. West have the temperament to be a U.S. Congressman with the strong rhetoric he has used? Klein dodges the question, but says, “The people that are the most effective in Congress … are people that I get along with.”
West says his temperament is one of principles: “I don’t apologize for the things that I’ve said.” He says what he regrets is that the Democratic party has hired a young man to follow him around and tape everything he says, and he regrets that a Democratic mailer released his Social Security number to the public.
1:10 p.m. — West hits the health care reform bill over creating new bureaucracy, and calls the tanning tax racist: “West is not going to a tanning booth.” He says the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and that the fact that companies are asking for waivers is proof the bill is about to unravel.
Klein is for improvements, but defends the law: “Medicare wasn’t born in a day either.”
1:03 p.m. — Klein attacks West for not living in the district and for moving to Florida just seven years ago. West says he can’t apologize for being off serving the country in the military for 22 years. Thunderous applause.
12:58 p.m. — Klein defends earmarks by saying that if Congress wants to change the whole system that’s fine, but that as the system stands, if the earmarks don’t come here, they money will go elsewhere: “I want every single dollar plus more to come back to our local community.”
12:53 p.m. — Klein supports ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” West says that when you join the U.S. military, you give up certain personal freedoms, and says that this debate is a distraction: “We must stay focused on one simple thing: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re losing in Afghanistan.”
12:45 p.m. — On illegal immigration, West endorses the idea of “attrition by enforcement,” and says an e-verify program should be mandatory.
Klein supports some sort of path to citizenship, and his rhetoric is softer: “Everyone in this room can trace their ancestry back to somewhere else.”
12:37 p.m. — West says that he doesn’t want to see a Neville Chamberlain moment on his watch and that the doctrine of mutually assured destruction from the Cold War will not work with a state like Iran. He suggests that at some point, the U.S. will need to take “hard action” as opposed to “soft action” against the Iranian regime.
Both candidates stand behind our relationship with Israel.
12:32 p.m. — The debate is turning into a fight over economic principles. West keeps hitting the idea of a flat tax, says the stimulus failed, and suggests the biggest construction boom caused by his opponent is due to the health care reform bill — more office space suddenly needed for IRS agents.
Klein says it’s folly to believe, “this notion of ‘tax cuts solve every problem.’” He says businesses don’t suddenly hire when given tax cuts, they only hire when demand for their products increases: “That’s what we have to do. We have to create the demand.”
12:15 p.m. — First question hits the same topic. West says he’s not a bogeyman. “I don’t consider myself a scary guy. Maybe my daughters do, when they upset me.”
Klein brings up West’s statements at campaign and tea party rallies: “These aren’t rhetorical flourishes. These are real statements.”
West says his comment about being a “right-wing extremist” was tongue-in-cheek, and that his speech suggesting Americans “fix your bayonet” was fitting with the Revolutionary war theme of the rally.
12:10 p.m. — West, in his opening statement, confronts his opponent’s message — that he’s an extremist — and says that if having conviction makes him an extremist, then he’ll claim that label: “I am extremely devoted to this great country.”
12:04 p.m. — Approximately 700 people have gathered at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL for the debate.