I missed the last 25 minutes or so last night, which means I missed the planted question from Hillary Clinton's campaign that Duncan Hunter answered...however, it seems that Hunter did not seem to have a problem answering the question from the transcript I read.
A lot of liberal bloviating in the comments over at Vivian J. Paige. I'll save you the trouble of actually reading the comments, because they mostly sound like this..."Arrrgh! Republicans like guns and hate taxes...guns are bad and taxes are good, rawr!" LOL, ok, I'm just having a little fun with my misguided liberal brethren :)
As for my thoughts on the debate.
- Mitt Romney definitely took a step backward last night. He got into it with Rudy right off the bat and took it on the chin from the Fred Thompson YouTube campaign ad. He seemed to be unable to deflect criticism and looked visibly frustrated for the first time in this campaign. His YouTube ad looked like a regular campaign ad, which was a bit "against the point" for making the YouTube-style ad. Mitt fumbled a bit on the "bible" question, even though I think his answer was good, his earlier frustration carried over here.
- Fred Thompson did a great job of just "being Fred" and let his humor and intelligence show in his statements. The YouTube-style ad was great, as he went after Romney and Huckabee with their own words, which caused CNN to change from going to commercial break to continuing the debate, and prompted Fred to quip "I just wanted to give my buddies up here a little extra air time." I liked his response of "I don't have 3 programs I would cut or reform the budget on, I have over 100 programs", which was somewhat drowned out by Anderson Cooper pressing for 3 specific programs Fred would do budget cuts on. Response to Grover Norquist was EXACTLY what was needed to be said...his alliance is to the American people, not to Norquist's organization. Answer to what guns he owns was very funny.
- Rudy did a good job of deflecting criticism in a way that Romney could not. He handled Fred's criticism on the 2nd Amendment in a decent manner, where he basically admitted that New York is different from other places (no kidding). His answer on the "bible" question was excellent. His YouTube ad made me laugh with it's statement that Rudy took on New York's greatest nemesis, King Kong...lol, it was great stuff.
- Mike Huckabee did a pretty good job in this debate, as well, and may overtake Romney in Iowa after last night. However, he did fumble a bit on his response to Thompson's ad (probably the most direct ad of the night). He did display quite a bit of cool in his demeanor, and played to his strengths for most of the night.
- McCain was very measured as he has been, but he was a bit more direct and honest. His response "I never supported amnesty for illegals" drew some serious boos, but he got a LOT of cheers when he went after Ron Paul for his anti-Iraq War stance and compared Paul's stance on foreign policy as similar to American isolationist policies that contributed (in part) to the rise of Hitler and World War II. He seemed to be a bit more in agreement with Thompson on a few points.
- Tom Tancredo...not a bad YouTube ad, other than that, stick a fork in this guy. He's done as presidential candidate.
- Ron Paul didn't have his greatest debate last night, and he really needed it. In fact, his barb-trading with McCain did not help him as their pools of support overlap when it comes to social moderates. He did have his supporters out en masse last night, and it showed with the unusually timed shouts and screams to everything he said.
- Duncan Hunter had a strong performance on his key areas of military and immigration. However, due to his being a 2nd tier candidate, he didn't get the bulk of economic questions...and while he was correct in his response to Grover Norquist, he probably could have phrased his response a little better. He'll win a few more NRA votes due to the pride he took in talking about his guns. Probably would have had a stronger performance with a few more minutes of talk time.