GOP Debate FOX News New Hampshire

Eight GOP presidential candidate were in New Hampshire Wednesday night for a FOX News hosted debate. Candidate participating were: Rudy, Mittney, John McCain, Sam Brownback, Huck, Tank Tancredo, Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter.

It was a good debate, moderated by adults from FOX News: Brit Hume, Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler. Wendell had on a ghastly tie. It looked like a Christmas wrapping paper pattern.

The biggest drawback was the absence of Fred! Thompson, although I wasn't very keen about the cutting away to go to the diner and interviewing and soliciting questions from the diners watching the debate. In a ninety minute debate and eight candidates, time is too valuable. If the debate sponsors want "questions from the public" they should solicit them before hand and have the moderators ask them.

As much as I'm not a Ron Paul fan, he probably gets ignored more than he deserves in these debates. He didn't get a question for thirty minutes after the initial introductory question.

I have started noticing a trend in the GOP debates. Some candidates are sure to get questions on certain issues. Especially the non-front runners. The front runners get enough questions they are likely to be asked a variety.

For instance, it's certain Paul is always going to get a question about Iraq or 9-11 or foreign policy. But, quick, what is Paul's position on abortion? Or earmarks? We think we know what his position would be, but if they asked Paul about earmarks, they could also ask him why he requested 400 million dollars in pork. Tancredo is always going to get a question about illegal immigration, but what is his position on Social Security.

I realize some of the candidates are asked those questions because it's going to cause a reaction with the audience. And those certain issues are their signature issues - one trick ponies, if you will. But if the purpose of the debates is to inform the voter, there needs to be some variation in the questions those second tier candidates are asked.

Possibly the most exciting part of the debate was Paul and Huck spending several minutes debating about the Iraq war. Totally unstructured and spontaneous.

A quick run down on my impressions of each candidate.

Mittney - wasn't as smooth as he has been. Thought he sort of rambled around on Iraq and illegal immigration. It seems he's trying too hard not to get himself pinned down on something he says if things change in the future.

Rudy - overall, pretty good. Continues to hit on what he has done and how it is going to translate into what he'll do as President.

McCain - he was as good in this debate as he has been in any. Looked alert and lively. Forceful on Iraq and WOT. As Larry Kudlow calls him on that issue, Mr. Backbone. No one is stronger on the war than McCain. Asked why he wouldn't sign a no new taxes pledge - and he explained it. And I think he's right. One thing about John McCain, he's going to stick by what he believes.

Huck - very good. Very polished. Never struggles for his answers. Was great in the Paul showdown. Maybe he realized the boost Rudy got a few debates back when he challenged Paul on 9-11. Not good enough to push him into front runner status.

Tank - He knows what he believes on immigration and fighting terrorists and doesn't back down from it. Sometimes it sounds like his passion for the subjects causes him to struggle for the right way to present them. Didn't hurt himself.

Brownback - Solid again on family. But other than that, why is he there? Totally unmemorable.

Hunter - I think of all the second tier candidates, Duncan makes the best use of the limited time he gets in these debates. Continued to hammer on the fence when the illegal immigration issue comes up. Needs to come up with some new material other than that scraggly piece of fence they show on TV and if they get over my fence, we sign them up for the Olympics. It was good the first few times but it's a bit stale now.

Paul - just what you'd expect from Paul. I don't know if anyone else caught it, but he invoked international law in one of his answers about the Iraq War. As in, it's against international law. Hmm, wonder how that squares with Ron Paul's Constitution.

If I had to kick one candidate off the debate stage, it would be Sam Brownback. Yeah, even before Ron Paul. Sam is good on abortion, family and values. But there are other candidates that can fill that slot and they have other appealing qualities. Sam brings nothing to the table. Plus, I'm still bent at him for his weather vane voting on the illegal immigrant amnesty bill.

One thing that has been in the news lately that was not asked about, the mortgage loan problem. I would have like to have seen that question just to hear all of them contrast so much with the democratics who want to save the people from their bad decisions.

McCain and Rudy have refused to sign a no new taxes pledge, all the other candidates have. McCain answered the question quite well, saying he has a record that speaks for itself stronger than any pledge does. Rudy answered that the President makes one pledge when he's sworn into office - to protect and defend the Constitution. He added that once you sign one pledge, then there are more pledges that other groups want you to sign, and he's not going there.

I thought they both had very good reasons for not signing the pledge. I'm surely not going to dock either of them any points for that position. If a candidate is willing to sign a no new taxes pledge, that's good. I'd much rather they have a record that supported that pledge.

Wonder how many democratics would sign a no new taxes pledge?