What a pleasant change from the first Republican debate this one was. Yes, it was hosted by the EEEVIL Fox News Channel, but no objective person could accuse the moderators of throwing softballs at any of the candidates. The questions were pitched high and hard and some of ’em landed a significant blow on their targets. I would really like to see the Democrats face the same kind of abuse, but thanks to John Edwards’ tough stand against Fox News, it won’t happen. Speaking of John Edwards, he got a little smack from Mike Huckabee (with much applause): “Congress is spending money like John Edwards at a beauty shop”. HAHA. That will get him a few YouTube clips. Mike Huckabee looked just as strong in this debate as the last one, and I would like to hear more from him, including more on the Fair Tax.
My overall impression of the top three hasn’t changed, but I would rank them differently than last time based on their performance last night. Romney moves down to third. Solid but not spectacular showing. He also had one sound-bite type line where he says that McCain-Kennedy (the immigration bill) would be just as bad as McCain-Feingold. (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the general idea.) He got the predictable “how conservative are you…REALLY”? His answer was a strong one, at least in my opinion. I think it’s a fair position to support 2nd amendment rights and also to support an assault weapons ban. I have no problem with people owning guns, and there’s a good argument to be made for that right. But I don’t see any solid reason why the average citizen should own any kind of assault weapon. That’s a reasonable restriction to have on the 2nd amendment. It also should be ok to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians while still believing that marriage should be only between a man and woman. Neither of these issues should be an either/or proposition. He handled this question better in this debate than the last one. I liked what he had to say about Iraq, and he seemed to understand the broad scope of the GWOT. I’m still not sold on that “personally pro-life” line, but it sounds better to me than how Giuliani explains why he’s pro-choice.
McCain did well, even though I thought that his “drunken sailor” joke fell flat, especially when compared to Huckabee’s John Edwards crack. He didn’t have any memorable moments except for his attempted slap at Romney, after Romney criticized both McCain-Kennedy and McCain-Feingold. In any case, I would put McCain in 2nd place.
Rudy gets the top spot, just because of his awesome smackdown of Ron Paul. The other candidates would have wanted to get this KO on Paul, who blamed the US for 9/11. Rudy got the fat fastball, and did not miss the pitch. He asked Ron Paul to withdraw that statement. Paul was given the opportunity to back off, and he did not. Video here. Even though I have strong reservations about Giuliani as a social conservative, he continues to impress in other areas, and that’s why social conservatives will continue to consider Giuliani as a potential nominee.
In South Carolina, there are several main issues for its residents. The first would probably have to be illegal immigration. For all the candidate meet-and-greets I’ve been to around here, the question is always asked of each candidate: “What would you do about illegal immigration?” The right answer always is that we must secure the borders first before we can talk about any guest worker program or temporary visas or a path to citizenship. Employment verification and fines for non-compliance with federal law should also be part of a serious immigration reform bill. Unfortunately, that’s not what we will get from this Congress.
Another important issue for us is gun rights. Many South Carolinians would probably disagree with Mitt and me on the assault weapons ban, but make no mistake about it, gun owners are serious about protecting 2nd amendment rights and may want more expanded rights than the rest of the country would support. Any candidate wanting to win South Carolina needs to understand this.
We also want a candidate who will have the understanding that we are in fact in a global war against Islamic jihadists, and the will to act decisively against this threat. That’s why even if Giuliani doesn’t agree on all the social issues (abortion, gay marriage, gun control, etc), he could still get a pass from South Carolina conservatives just because of the danger we face from terrorism.
At some point it’s going to be too late for Newt and Fred, so they need to make up their minds before the field leaves them behind.
Tags: ’08 election, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul