Eight contenders -for the Republican Party nomination for President- gathered at the University of New Hampshire last night.
The number of candidates involved and time constraints reduced the effectiveness of the debate somewhat. However questions on Iran Iraq family values and tax cuts were quite effective in eliciting concrete responses from candidates.
Giuliani appeared to lose ground last night. He over emphasised his achievements in New York whilst ignoring the country at large. He is deeply distrusted by many conservatives. He favours abortion which is anathema to most Republican Party voters. He once supported ultra-liberal Democratic candidate George McGovern for President.
Romney and Giuliani faced tough questions on illegal immigration. Romney was questioned as to why he didn't do more to stop ``sanctuary'' cities of Massachusetts such as Cambridge, Orleans and Somerville. Romney said governors are not responsible for mayors who fail to follow the law.
Giuliani's approach to immigration in New York was roundly criticised.
Giuliani defended his record in New York city, arguing that he made fighting crime a higher priority.
Mike Huckabee performed strongly on an anti abortion platform. He is unlikely to win the nomination as he lacks sufficient funds. Nevertheless he would make a powerful Vice Presidential candidate.
Sen. Sam Brownback spoke strongly on family values.
Tom Tancredo of Colorado took a very strong anti illegal immigrant line. He fouled up somewhat on a question relating to the torture of terrorist prisoners.
Duncan Hunter of California spoke forcibly on the Iraq war and was quite knowledgeable. However he is highly unlikely to win the party nomination.
Ron Paul took a strong anti war line. His clash with Mike Huckabee -on the war issue- was one of the highlights of the night. He most certainly will not win the nomination.
John McCain probably won the debate. His military experience came to the fore in questions on Iran and Iraq. He scored strongly on the tax cuts issue arguing forcibly for severe curbs on wasteful expenditure as a means of funding a reduced tax burden. This is music to the ears of fiscal conservatives.
Last night Fred Thompson chose to announce his White House bid on an entertainment program, NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He bypassed the New Hampshire debate. He is a strong conservative candidate who could unite the GOP.