4:36 pm: The show doesn't start til 5 pm but I am chomping at the bit to see Donald Trump talk about how high his poll numbers are in Heaven today. You heard about all the crap he flung at the pope, right? Granted, the pope started it.
4:45 pm: CNN's idea of "breaking news" cracks me up. They just started a segment by saying "Breaking news: The CNN Town Hall is going to begin in 20 minutes." In other words: "Breaking news: It's almost 5 pm."
4:56 pm: Oh Lord. CNN's running footage of someone talking about the Lord and Kasich hugging him.
5:07 pm: I missed what they're talking about, but CNN correspondent Dana Bash just said, "There was a really big blow inside team Bush," which of course I immediately took out of context.
5:08 pm: I'm being told that the "big blow" was South Carolina governor Nikki Haley endorsed Rubio and not Bush.
5:16 pm: Breaking news: this Town Hall is 15 minutes late.
5:30 pm: NBC's Chuck Todd trolling CNN:
Good news for political viewers, when we tell you something starts at 9p, we mean it. We don't try to fool viewers w/fake times. See u soon
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) February 19, 2016
5:39 pm: Again with the word "incredible." This commercial is boasting "incredible bladder protection." Don't you want credible bladder protection?
5:41 pm: "Hey good evening everyone!" Anderson Cooper says, 41 minutes after this fucking thing was supposed to start. Just to drag out the tedium, they're starting with John Kasich.
5:44 pm: GOD! For the third time they're showing a clip of this guy talking with Kasich about the Lord. Kasich very kindly tells Anderson Cooper "there are a lot of people out there who are lonely, and they're looking for someone to tell about their issues." This guy is such a nice person, he doesn't have a chance.
5:56 pm: I think Kasich just said he wants to increase military spending by $100 billion, but I'm so bored and preoccupied I wouldn't take my word for it. $100 billion? Seems... like a lot.
6:07 pm: A guy in a wheelchair asks Kasich what he's going to replace Obamacare with, because Obamacare has been a "godsend" to him. Kasich has whipped up an elaborate non-answer involving rates and percentages that has clearly lost the audience, including me.
6:15 pm: Audience member asks if there are any Republican primary competitors Kasich likes enough to consider for a cabinet position. He says that he and Chris Christie are buddies and the two of them like to get dinner with their wives together. For a second time, Kasich flatters an audience member by pretending to be interested in adding them to his administration.
6:26 pm: Asked what kind of music he likes, Kasich answers Fall Out Boy and Linkin Park.
6:27 pm: He talks about the deaths of his parents, his finding Jesus, and adds: "Life is so rocky, it's so fragile. We have to build our lives, and homes, on solid ground, not on sand."
6:33 pm: Hey, it's Jeb! Bush. He connotes excitement. Anderson Cooper begins by complimenting his boots. Which is a pretty gay first thing to say, Anderson.
6:35 pm: Asked about the pope's comments on Trump, Bush takes Trump's side, saying it's "not appropriate" to question someone's faith.
6:42 pm: After describing himself as "a hard-charging, striving person," Bush is now talking about "accepting Jesus as my savior" in response to a question from an evangelical pastor. In passing, he mentions losing an election as a Republican in 1994—now that's an accomplishment.
6:47 pm: Bush just called Scalia an "incredible giant" and a "lover of liberty."
6:54 pm: Bush is talking about how much more potent marijuana is today, in response to a question from the tightest tight-wad in the audience about how he's seen people start smoking weed and now they really, really like it. "Brain damage!" Bush just said. A few moments later he said "informed by my faith." Those are four words that make my brain shut down.
7:08 pm: What does Bush like to do for fun? He likes to "do Sunday fun day" with family, and "make guacamole." He also says he likes reading.
7:11 pm: Bush says, "In my experience, listening allows you to learn, and then you can lead." That's better than being "a big blowhard."
7:16 pm: Two hours and sixteen minutes into this, Donald Trump finally comes out. The show can begin. He begins with facetious praise for the pope. "He's a wonderful guy." Said through a grimace.
7:18 pm: Anderson Cooper says, "You've been in fights with a lot of people, but with the pope!? Does that give you pause?" Trump talks about how he just won the New Hampshire primary, and how the pope doesn't have to worry about immigration, and then he pivots nonsensically to heroin and how many people in New Hampshire are addicted to it. Oh, here we go: The heroin comes from Mexico, Trump says.
7:21 pm: Now Trump is talking about how tall Rubio is, and how the Cruz mailer featuring Rubio and Obama photoshopped together implied that Rubio was shorter than he is. Trump describes Rubio as "not too big, but not so small." God, he's such a talented troll it's scary.
7:22 pm: Trump: "My numbers are fantastic."
7:24 pm: Trump just said, "Our country is going to hell." (Is Hell capitalized? I can never remember.)
7:34 pm: Trump's health care position? "I don't want people dying on the streets." So where does he want them dying? In elevator shafts? He's going to repeal Obamacare "one hundred percent." Also, "Obamacare is dead." (But did it die in the street?)
7:39 pm: There's an audience member who's distraught that Trump said that "Bush lied" about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. He keeps saying he's going to give Trump a chance now to take that back. "You're saying the Republican president lied?" Where has this man been? Why is he so upset? Is there someone in South Carolina who can deliver this man a clue? He's in a orange tie.
7:43 pm: Anderson doubles down on the question, asking Trump if he will refrain from saying again that Bush lied. Trump goes soft and vague, says, "I don't know, I can't decide, I'd have to look at some documents." (?!)
7:48 pm: Record scratch:
7:49 pm: Oh my god, now Anderson is asking about that story I just linked to—the one with Donald Trump telling Howard Stern in 2002 that he was in favor of invading Iraq. Trump tells Cooper: "By the time the war started, I was against it." Ooooohhhh kaaaaaaaay.
7:57 pm: Now Trump is talking about how great his sister is. And how he's never asked her what her abortion opinions are. And how she's not into publicity, and how Trump actually doesn't like publicity. "Oh come on, I have to call you on that," Cooper says. Hey Anderson, can you go back and ask him a few follow-up questions on the Iraq thing?
8:03 pm: Trump is talking about how he said "No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes" to all his kids over and over, including Ivanka when she was 4 years old. That's his secret to life. And if he wasn't such a good businessman who worked so hard, maybe his previous marriages would have worked out. He sounded rather politician-y tonight.