They open with a question about Fred Thompson.

Mike Huckabee makes a reference to "no show George".

John McCain mentions that the debate might be up past Thompson’s bed time. He also also says that people in New Hampshire want face time.

Rudy Giuliani: "He’s done a pretty good a job playing my part on Law and Order." This is a nomination that you have to earn though. "Three leading Democratic candidates who have not run a state, a city, or a business."

Illegal immigration.

Mitt Romney is asked why he didn’t do anything about sanctuary cities and the illegals on his front lawn. Romney says that governors are not responsible for mayors who are breaking the law. Then he pushes back on Rudy and NYC. Also tries to differentiate with Rudy on "amnesty."

They ask Rudy about a quote about NYC "wanting people like" illegal immigrants who work. Rudy points out that the other part of the executive order required that the police do things about law breaking illegal immigrants . "I didn’t have the luxury of rhetoric." Rudy pointed out that that year 758 people were deported that year.

Wallace asks if McCain if Romney is playing politics with immigration. "We failed because the American people have lost confidence in us. Iraq, … Katrina, etc." "Governor Romney, less than a year ago, had exactly the same position I do now."

Huckabee. They ask him about last year’s racism quote. "First of all, because I have listened to some of them." "I agree, we ought to have sealed borders."  Wow. He again steals Newt’s package tracking analogy.

Hunter. Commits to finishing the fence in 6 months.

After interviewing a cop — curiously from Massachusetts –, the proverbial man on the street, they wing back and ask Rudy and McCain why the bill wasn’t amnesty. Rudy dodges the question. McCain takes it full on.

They lot Romney in. He talks about sanctuary cities and businesses.

Family Values

They ask Sam Brownback about Larry Craig. He pushes back and says that it is important "that the party stand for family values." Brownback did his thing.

Hunter. "When Democrats have problems like this, they make them chairmen of a committee."

They ask Romney about his two-step approach to abortion. "Almost all of us would like to see an America that didn’t have abortion." He reverts to a Bush-style "the states aren’t ready." Wasn’t the question whether Romney thought abortion was murder? "For some people abortion is murder?" What about you Gov. Romney??

Huckabee. Talks about the Human Life Amendment. If he is in the top-tier, he and McCain alone support that. I still think that is extraordinary.


They ask Rudy about gun control. Rudy talks about reducing crime.

They cut to the diner and a woman says that there shouldn’t be an amendment on gay marriage. The debate audience seems clearly divided.

Brownback says we need an amendment. Then he gives the standard Stanley Kurtz line.

They ask McCain about his recent line about Giuliani.

He gives Rudy a very positive compliment, and then contrasts national security and managing a city and the security there. Then he talks about his position on Iraq and why he was right. McCain contrasts his record on national security. He talks about his military record. "I didn’t manage it. I lead it."

Rudy responds and re-iterates his admiration for McCain. Then he invokes his record as governing. He quotes George Will about his record as "running the most successful conservative government in the last 50 years."

They ask Romney about his Iraq position. "Even Hillary Clinton is willing to commit troops" longer than Romney. Romney doesn’t really say anything but the positive side. He reiterates his position, but doesn’t back away. Romney says "if the surge is working."

They ask McCain to follow up. McCain points out that "the surge is working," and "it’s working governor, it’s working." Ed Morrissey caught the contrast. And Andy McCarthy likes it too.

Then they ask Ron Paul…. Yawn. Fox pushes back and says "so we should take orders from al Qaeda."

Brownback continues his distance. He takes the position that the political solution isn’t happening. Then he re-iterates his federation/Biden strategy. Fortunately, Fox pushes back about the divisive problems: Turkey v. Kurds and Iran’s role. Brownback points out that we have these problems. After all hasn’t Turkey invaded?

They ask Huckabee. He says we have to continue to the surge under the "fix what you break". Huckabee did well on this.

Fox starts a fight between Paul and Huckabee. Huckabee is totally winning from this. This is amazing.

Duncan Hunter continues his audition for SecDef.

Now they ask Tancredo. They point out that he opposed the surge.

Fox cuts to the diner again. And the people in the diner hammer Romney. Romney apologizes and says that we need a global strategy. Romney clarifies his position and no one applauds.

Now they cut to wiretapping, etc.

Romney says that he would wiretap in the US only with a visa. "Our focus has to be preventing an attack."

Now they ask Tancredo about waterboarding.  Like Romney, he ducks the premise of the question and  talks about the responsibility to keep people safe.

Now they ask McCain about torture, et al. McCain invokes a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Vessey, on this subject to give his answer.

Now they ask Giuliani about Gitmo. "We can’t close Guantanamo because no one will take the people there." Huh? McCain’s position is to deal with them in the legal system. Giuliani has a great line on Iraq. "How do you win if the debate is about how to retreat?" Great and important point.

They ask Hunter if we hold people indefinitely. They say "absolutely."


They ask about the tax pledge. McCain says that he stands on his record. Is that the right answer? He then starts talking about corruption and pork, where he is on better ground. Chris Wallace comes back with the logical problem about the votes.

They follow up with Brownback who gives a pedestrian answer.

Rudy gives a weird answer about multiple pledges.  "Only one pledge to the Constitution of the United States." Weird.

Now they beat up on Romney. They talk about Romney raising fees, etc. They give the particular fees. Nice! I am sympathetic to Romney’s position that the tax on interest, dividends, and capital gains should be zero. But isn’t he going to be vulnerable to attacks based on his wealth on this?

Now Fox asks Huckabee about the FairTax and the fact that the numbers don’t work. The closing line about winners and losers and "most of us end up being losers in the end" is great.

The guy at the diner asks about Rudy and family values. "Lead by example." OUCH!

How does he answer this? This is not a fair question. But I think that he screwed it up.

Iran hypothetical

Tancredo makes a very important point about there being a great deal of dissent inside Iran. This is the right answer. Their crazy president is getting boxed in with appointments by people opposed to him.

Duncan Hunter, again speaking to his strength, handles this well. There really isn’t another answer that will fit in.

Huckabee ducks the hypothetical and gives principles. This is the right answer.

Romney gave a nothing answer.

McCain just lays out principles. Not much different than Hunter, Huckabee, or Brownback, except that he doesn’t condemn the hypothetical. Like Brownback he reiterates how severe this threat is.

1 Comment » What happened to Romney in September? · October 4, 2007 at 11:29 AM

[…] What happened in the fall, translated as Labor Day? Mitt Romney had a miserable, miserable performance at the September 5th debate, that I was present for. About the only person say that Romney did well was Jason Bonham, one of the founders of… […]

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