Overall, a good debate tonight on Fox News, and a pretty strong performance by all but Huckabee. We haven’t seen that much diving for cover since the movie Dodgeball. Hopefully this will damage his vote total Tuesday and beyond.
Mitt Romney was solid and confident in tonight’s debate, probably the best performance he’s had in all the debates. A focus group that Frank Luntz did for Fox showed a really strong positive reaction to Romney (RealClearPolitics has a couple of clips). We’ll find out Tuesday night if this translates into actual votes. His strong showing should help him, but the election is only two days away, so it may have come too late. And, he really needs to keep it at a high level going forward.
Fred Thompson, as usual, was low key but solid and in command of substance and detail. It’s most likely too late for him to catch on and win the nomination, but on pure substance he’s a very strong candidate.
Rudy Giuliani also gave some strong answers; his answer about it being more compassionate to get people off welfare dependency was quite good, but he seemed to be sort of out of the mix, stuck both literally and metaphorically down away from the front-runners at the other end of the table. He seemed somehow very far away from his favored status of just a few months ago.
It helped the debate greatly that Ron Paul wasn’t there. He has no shot at winning the Republican nomination, and his often wacky foreign policy pronouncements would have been a much better fit at the Democratic debate, or maybe at one of the lefty nutroots blogs.
McCain may have won the night simply by not losing. He didn’t show the somewhat self-righteous bad temper that made an appearance on ABC last night, which made his performance much better. But he did get bogged down some in trying to explain his past support for amnesty and opposition to tax cuts. So not terrible, not great, but maybe, maybe enough to hold off Romney on Tuesday.
Michelle Malkin has a liveblog blow-by-blow.
Hugh Hewitt, unsurprisingly but not unreasonably, has some positive reaction to Romney’s performance. Good point about the ability to debate Obama in the fall. Senator Obama didn’t say much we agree with last night, but he does say it very well. Unfortunately, well-delivered left-wing boilerplate holds some sway with those who don’t pay close attention.
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