Fred Thompson doesn't appear to be presidential material. He lacked fluency and had no message for the future.
Rudy Giuliani was off form tonight. He talked too much about his New York record and was too confrontational with Mitt Romney. In an extraordinary row with Romney on immigration at the start of the debate (one-sixth of the debate was taken up by immigration issues) he accused the former Massachusetts' Governor of not taking care over his home affairs in terms of employing illegal immigrants. Giuliani is in no position to talk about bad hires or home front issues! The Mayor has been my choice until now but he caused me to doubt tonight for the first time. Watch the Romney-Giuliani clash.
John McCain impressed. He talked compassionately about immigration*. He criticised Congressional pork and, holding his pen in the air, he promised to veto unnecessary spending. He was at his very best on foreign affairs, however. The author of the surge strategy, the Arizona Senator said that al-Qaeda would have been celebrating victory in Iraq now if the Democrats had had their way. This heroic victim of torture during the Vietnam war also won the moral high ground by opposing waterboarding.
Mitt Romney opposed McCain on waterboarding. Watch the Romney-McCain clash here. Romney took the conservative position on every issue. Immigration. Taxes. Guns. Iraq. Marriage. Abortion. Gays in the military. Does he really believe these positions or was he just positioning? On the last two issues he says he has changed his view from liberal to conservative standpoints. The CNN host Anderson Cooper noted his words from some years ago when he said that he looked forward to the day when gays served openly in the US military. He repeatedly refused to say if he still looked forward to that day.
Mike Huckabee (ahead in Iowa according to a new Rasmussen poll) was the funniest of the candidates but, even if he wins Iowa, I don't think he'll go further. His two best lines...
- Asked if Jesus would vote for the death penalty he joked that He was too smart to seek public office...
- And, better still, asked if he'd fund a Mission to Mars he said that it had its attractions if Hillary Clinton was the Mission's first passenger.
Ron Paul said that he wouldn't mount a third party candidacy.