Rudy Giuliani had the biggest moment in the GOP debate in South Carolina Tuesday night when he broke in to challenge Ron Paul’s statement that America’s involvement in the Middle East was partly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Visibly incensed and in high moral dudgeon, Giuliani called Paul’s comments "absurd" and demanded a retraction.
The crowd loved it. Giuliani shrewdly seized the moment to wrap himself once more in Sept. 11 glory, his strongest suit.
Mitt Romney was smooth and presidential-looking as usual, but he failed to stand out on anything, and John McCain inflicted damage with a comment about Romney’s opportunistic flip-flops on issues: "I haven’t changed my position in even-numbered years or . . . because of the different offices that I may be running for."
McCain repeated the old joke about Congress spending like drunken sailors. But Mike Huckabee topped him with the night’s best laugh line: "We’ve had a Congress that’s spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop."
Sam Brownback mainly stood out when he defended his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. That may give even some pro-lifers pause.
The top three candidates continue to struggle to establish their conservative credentials, trying to explain away past votes and positions. They weren’t very convincing.
The Fox News team, led by Brit Hume, did a fine job of hosting the event, asking sharp, tough questions and follow-ups that forced the candidates to reveal themselves and stake out differences.
Overall, a pretty good debate.
Posted by Randy Scholfield
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