Duncan Hunter, In my humble opinion. Duncan seems to have shown up to this debate with an aire of confidence, strong leadership, and excellent communication. After one of the last debates I had predicted that he would be the next to drop from the stage... however, he was surely digging his heels in tonight and sending a strong message...
What was the message? It was that 21% of Republicans STILL don't know who their candidate is... so it is still anyone's game!
The rest of the debate was interesting.
Ron Paul was given his "rant" time, and continues to get "boos" from the crowd. The thing that I love best about Paul is his staunch reconstructionist stance! If we had more conservative leaders who were more concerned with the constitution than the front page of the WSJ then we may have a Federal Government that is more in line with the visions of the Founding Fathers!
Sam Brownback made an interesting statement regarding the biggest problem with our future economy... when everyone else is concerned about China and trade deficits, Sam recognizes that the biggest problem is an uneducated workforce, with no work ethics... the cause, the destruction of the home.
Tom Tancredo did what he does best... and that is talk about illegal immigration. He is the strongest in the debates when he comes right out and lets everyone know that regardless of the question you are going to ask, he is going to talk about illegal immigration.
Fred Thompson made his debate debut... and it was about what I expected. The first hour seemed pretty scripted and patchy. He seemed to be trying to recall his talking points from his debate prep. I did not hear anything of substance from the Senator, which is seemingly his forte... speak, but say nothing... I think that he has a lot to prove in the coming debates... otherwise no one (still) is going to know where he stands on the issues.
Romney seemed more polished than usual, but seems to have begun attacking both Rudy AND Hillary. Breaking Reagan's 11th commandment can prove to be a negative to the campaign. Though when you are bashing liberals, it is hard to draw the line for RINOs.
Rudy continues to show that his policies will be a continuation of Bush policies. For anyone who understands that Bush has become a polarizing figure for the Republicans, it is curious to me why a candidate will almost come out and say that they are for the continuation and expansion of Bush policies. Rudy is also coming down harder and harder on Iran, and had some interesting things to say about the region.
John McCain, who enjoyed a bump in the polls following a HUGE win in the last debate will not see such an increase in the numbers this time. I was sad to see that John McCain changed up some of his lines... it was funny to be able to predict his debate answers after 5 debates. One thing that always concerns me about picking a president is picking a healthy president. McCain, being the eldest candidate, had several occasions in which he was unable to hear the questions.
And Mike Huckabee... Mike may have been given the least amount of airtime of all the candidates. Of course this is nothing new, as the spotlight usually rests on the "front-runners", however as of late the lines are beginning to blur for who is ACTUALLY a top tier candidate. In fact a poll was just released that shows Huckabee within 2% points of Romney nationwide amongst Republican voters. Huckabee is third in Iowa behind Romney and Thompson. And yet the early line of who is considered "top tier" is still in place.
Forgive my rant.
Mike Huckabee did another great job in answering the debate questions. As always he was an eloquent speaker, and let his conservative colors fly. He finally got some serious time to discuss the Fair Tax, which no other Republican candidate fully embraces (besides Hunter). I am a huge advocate for the Fair Tax, and I love listening to the candidates who truly understand the importance of REALLY FIXING our tax system.
The Republican Party was founded on radical ideas... and it is only on radical ideas that we are going to survive.
The Fair Tax is the ONLY way to save the American economy for the lower and middle class, and help ensure that the economic ladder is not missing the middle class rungs.
As well, it was great to hear candidates discuss Energy Independence... The best ideas, again, are the most radical. We need fast change, sweeping reform, and a new understanding of energy. Free markets be damned... This is one place where I would agree with a candidate like Bill Richardson (I know, I know)... we need drastic changes... mandatory market shifts to renewable resources. We live in a time where oil is not the only medium, yet oil has become so powerful that it demands that it is the currency of the world... Remember, Silver used to be the US standard before Gold... but alas, a radical change... and we are all the better for it!
In all, the debate did a good job of touching domestic issues. Still no discussion about education, and not the right kind of discussion about health. The audio was poor quality, and the moderation was almost as bad as Wolf Blitzer's...
But it gave us another data point...