Primary Debates and Forums

Iowa GOP/FOX News/Washington Examiner Debate
screen grab
Thursday, August 11, 2011 in Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University in Ames,
IA from 9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET. 
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Sponsors:  FOX News and the Washington Examiner in conjunction with the Republican Party of Iowa.

Candidates:  Rep. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Moderator:  Special Report anchor Bret Baier.  Panelists Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday; Byron York chief political correspondent of the Washington Examiner; and Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent of the Washington Examiner.

Audience:  Stephens Auditorium, total capacity of 2,609, was quite full up to the third balcony, but there were some empty seats.

Broadcast:  FOX News Channel, FOX News Radio, live-streamed on

Format:  One-minute responses; 30-second follow ups and rebuttals.  Annoying bell.  30-second closing statements.

Overview:  This debate will likely be remembered for the sharp exchanges between Pawlenty and Bachmann, both eyeing the Straw Poll less than two days away.  Another notable moment came when Baier asked the candidates if they would negotiate on raising taxes, if for example, they were offered a 10 to 1 deal, spending cuts to tax increases. "Who on this stage would walk away from that deal?" Baier asked.  All the candidates raised their hands.  Gingrich had a strong performance; asked by Wallace about resignations of much of his national campaign staff and his Iowa staff back in June, Gingrich responded, "I wish you would put aside the gotcha questions," prompting an energetic response from the audience.  Huntsman did not make much of an impression in his first debate appearance.