Debate setup- First of all, Chris Matthews should never, NEVER be able to moderate a debate. He is horrible, and it is not even a conservative-liberal thing. You don't cut the candidates off, and nobody is interested in You, Chris. You host a show watched by dozens of not hundreds of people. These people are campaigning as the Leader of the Free World. Even the lesser candidates are far more important than you will ever be.
And, for the record, Democrats are pansies. Did you notice the debate bookended by moonbat Keith Obermann? Did you see any of the candidates pitch a hissy fit over that? Obermann couldn't even carry Brit Hume's lapel microphone. How are we supposed to trust Democrats to stand up to Islamofacism when they can't even face down Fox News paired with the Congressional Black Caucus?
And finally, 10 candidates is way too many. They need to find a way to cut it to at least 6 or 7 by the next debate, with eventual further winnowing thereafter.
Now to the scorecard.
Rudy Giuliani- The only bigger loser last night was Dirk Nowitzki. Honestly, if you are Rudy your goal for the less than nine minutes that you are going to going to be speaking is to show yourself to be articulate and in command and stay off the YouTube blooper reel. Guess what?
His initial comments on Roe v. Wade could only have been worse if he had used profanity to express his thoughts. When asked if it would be a good day if Roe v. Wade was abolished, his initial answer was "That would be OK." How does that make anyone happy? He did try to clarify himself, but the damage was already done. That one sentence will probably be the one thing that most of America sees of the debate.
He seemed somewhat disjointed for other questions as well, although I think that the Sunni v. Shiite was just childish and unfair. Rudy will need to step up and show better, or Fred Thompson's eventual entry will doom him.
Mitt Romney- Accomplished everything that he had to do to stay afloat and perhaps gain on the leaders. He turned in the performance that John Edwards should have in the Democratic debates. For those who saw Romney for the first time, they had to be impressed. He was engaging, articulate, appropriately passionate, and handled challenges about his flip-flopping well. He also was appropriately dismissive of Matthews at certain points which earned big points in my household. For those Republicans looking for a "communicator," Romney fir the bill tonight.
John McCain- Perhaps inappropriately angry at times, he definitely did not suffer from momentary bouts of apparent disinterest that plagued Giuliani. There are Republicans that are looking for a little righteous anger, and McCain fit that bill, channeling Zell Miller circa 2004. This approach could wind up working well for McCain, as long as he does not allow it to become his entire stump. He needs to find some positive to go with his message as well. Overall, he didn't hurt himself with those who are still truly undecided.
Tommy Thompson- Tommy is done. Not as big of disaster as Giuliani, because not a lot was expected, but did absolutely nothing to justify his presence on that stage. The sad part is that at one time he was a Republican rock star, and now he acts like he is older than McCain.
Duncan Hunter- Did well enough that he should get another invite. As always he was knowledgeable, poised, and, if he could raise money, able to compete.
Jim Gilmore- Again, he earned the right to hang around for another debate with his performance. I knew little of his platforms and individual ideas before, but I liked what I saw. I would put his performance above Hunter and even Brownback's.
Sam Brownback- A solid Social Conservative with good morals, and domestic ideas. I saw nothing from him to convince me that he would have any type of handle on foreign affairs or diplomacy. He risks becoming as one note as Tancredo, if he doesn't get to issues other than his strong pro-life resume. He makes a very good senator from Kansas, but I cannot see him as president. I would like to keep him around for a while as his voice is important.
Tom Tancredo- I love ya Tom, but I need to vote you off as well. I'm not sure that your presence was helping the issues that you are trying to put forward. I liked the Compeon and Ramos mention, but it was hurried and not as strong as it could be. I can't help but think that border hawk money could be spent better elsewhere than a Tancredo presidential campaign.
Mike Huckabee- Of the second tier challengers, I believe that Huckabee did the most for himself. He was likable, articulate, and passionate where appropriate. I had a hard time believing him when he expounded on tax cuts, knowing his past record, but with enough work, he could probably convince me. If the field were not so crowded, he could possibly be a strong candidate for the VP slot.
Ron Paul- Guy belongs in a museum. Honestly, there were probably people right outside with the tranquilizer guns, as it is not often you get to bag a true "Big L" libertarian. It also brought me satisfaction that our "loonie" wasn't actually all that crazy like that Gravel fossil the Democrats showed up with. As I have mentioned before, Libertarians are good entertainment, but they will never win due to the fact that they have a "stick in the eye" for every possible voter. It is valiant in principle, but hopeless in reality. Keep him for another debate, then let him go.
Overall, I thought the debate was more substantial, and overall better than the Democratic demabte despite the lousy moderator and overwhelming numbers.