I just tuned in late to the debate to see Duncan Hunter blathering about pardoning Compean and Rampos.  He then turns around and says something sensible about appealing to Reagan Democrats.  Giuliani keeps talking and talking (and talking) about how important Scooter Libby’s case is.  Romney grandstands.  Brownback commits to pardoning Libby, as does Tancredo. 

A strong question on Iraq from the audience.  Hunter gives a boilerplate answer.  Did Hunter just compare Iraq to intervening in El Salvador?  Brownback reiterates his ”three-state, one country” plan.  McCain’s going to give us some “straight talk” about mismanagement, and then proceeds to endorse the current plan.

A question on the Iraqi government from the audience.  Paul argues for withdrawal as the incentive for the Iraqis to put their government together.  Giuliani preaches nation-building and wants the media to report good news.  Yawn.  Gilmore blithers and blathers in response to a question about conservation.  Tancredo invokes Teddy Roosevelt.   

Huckabee gets a chance to express his thoroughgoing pro-life view.  “It should never be acceptable to us that people are treated as expendable.”  I don’t think I’ll be supporting Huckabee, but this was probably the best statement of his understanding of respect for life.  Did Giuliani just mention God?  What?  We should “explain” our ideals to people?  Where did that come from?  He mentioned God again.  Paul declares the greatest moral issue is the adoption of pre-emptive war–he makes a solid case.  The audience responds favourably to Paul.  Brownback is “pro-life and whole life.”  He takes an indirect shot at Giuliani.  Brownback talks about Darfur.  Ugh.  He dodges the Giuliani-as-nominee question fairly effectively.

Romney handles an immigration question fairly well.  He gets in a quick shot at McCain.  Tancredo won’t advertise in Spanish.  “Bilingual countries don’t work.”  He has a point.  McCain makes a rather lame comeback against Romney: “Muchas gracias, Governor.“  McCain tries to make this into an anti-Hispanic question.  Maybe it convinces someone, but it seems overwrought. 

McCain runs away from the last six years on spending (as usual).  McCain promises to veto all pork barrel spending.  Giuliani talks about accountability.  Romney: “It’s going from small-bore to large-bore.”  Romney would have to be the largest bore of all.  Brownback randomly talks about his anti-cancer project.  Tommy Thompson talks about “winding down the war in Iraq.”  Tancredo hits Bush for governing as a liberal.  Paul takes on Bush’s foreign policy.  Gilmore makes a decent point on immigration. 

“Cutting ties with the past” is the main attribute of being an American?  I understand what Tancredo is talking about (he’s referring to immigrants becoming Americans), but I think he muddled his immigration moratorium point with this remark.  Giuliani invokes Lincoln.  Ugh.  “It [legal immigration] makes us better.”  This seems debatable. 

Gilmore gives us a spiel on what it means to be an American.  A lot of proposition nation nonsense.  So someone who “believes in freedom” is automatically an American?  Hunter beats up on Rudy McRomney.  “We need to move away from the Kennedy wing of the Republican Party.”  Hunter has the quote of the night from the part I have heard.