Rudy Giuliani emerged as the clear winner in the Republican debate for two reasons: He showed strength and determination and made clear that he was the guy who could deal with terrorism. And….he demonstrated, convincingly, that the issue of the day is not abortion but is terrorism. By his answers, and by assuming once again the mantle of savior of the City on 9-11, he looked like a president and talked like we would hope one would. When he said that he was the most experienced candidate on security issues, he was obviously correct. His put down of Ron Paul not only captured the soundbites but it showed him at his outraged, indignant best.
McCain showed that he has “gone native” in Washington, adopting an insider mentality that led him to compromise on immigration and on campaign finance reform. His defense of his opposition to the Bush tax cuts was weak and even he had to acknowledge that the cuts stimulated revenues which closed the deficit.
The big loser was Mitt Romney who was exposed for the flip flopper that he is. When the Fox News reporters walked him through the history of his pro-life to pro-choice conversion in 1994 and his reversal in 2006, he had no real answer. And when McCain noted that these were all “even numbered year” conversions, the crucial blow was struck.
Mike Huckabee showed that he was the class of the conservatives in the field. His answers were excellent and he brought down the house when he likened Democratic spending to John Edwards at a beauty salon. He defeated not only the other right wing wannabees but he also dealt a blow to the maybe candidacies of Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich, showing that there was a real live, true blue conservative already in the race and there was no need to wait for Mr. Right to arrive.
Duncan Hunter deserves honorable mention for his forthright answers.