UPDATE:

LOSERS: Tommy Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul
BETTER THAN EXPECTED: Jim Gilmore
WORSE THAN EXPECTED: Mitt Romney
WINNERS: John McCain and Rudy Giuliani

Here we go!

Mike Huckabee wins the opening statement gig… He wants us to give Hope, Arkansas one more chance….

Thompson, Tommy – the candidate – not the actor. Ha, ha. NOT.

Mitt Romney jumped on the case of fellow Mormon Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) for declaring the war in Iraq is LOST —- Wolf Blitzer went back at Romney for not answering the question – “Knowing what we know now, should we have gone to war in Iraq?”

Romney’s answer wasn’t quite enough…. RUDY answered concisely – yee haw.

McCain is attacking the question based on the failure of sanctions, Saddam Hussein’s reputation for deceit and obfuscation…. good answer but not shiny.

Brownback… is speaking… I am sleepy.

GILMORE… who chaired the Gilmore COmmission – and now heads up NCORP: the interest of the US is creating as much stability in the world as we possibly can. Glad we took out Saddam but we did not anticipate the challenges, and should have.

Death Toll in Iraq….

McCain giving a vignette about meeting with the Matthew Stanley’s Gold Star family earlier today. Solid answer. This war is America’s war – not George Bush’s war, not a political party’s war – but a war for our future. Audience applauded and made Wolfie pause a second.

Tommy Thompson… used the word “redeploy.” Whatever. Go away.

Duncan Hunter: took responsibility for his tenure as Chair of the House Armed Services Cmte – presented credentials but not a real plan. Needs better answers.

Ron Paul is in the WRONG political party.

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Nouri al Maliki & Iraqi Troops

Huckabee started talking about Reagan’s birthday… and the Taliban… “Not the size of the dog fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” – or something to that effect.

Tom Tancredo… is hysterical. NEXT.

Finally, a question about Condi meeting with Iran.

Brownback sounds like a TV voiceover guy. Thinks POTUS is on right track. Well informed about Iran – and recent labor strike.

Hunter – talk to everybody, including our enemies. Figure out how to prevent (including a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.) Holy cow… Hunter just said he would support a tactical nuke strike – if that’s what it took – to prevent them producing their own nuclear warheads.

RUDY was a little more robust. Very strong – if we gotta use nukes, we gotta use ’em. This war is not a bumper sticker – this war is a real war.

Gilmore – on tactical nukes. Iran wants the nuclear capacity – we need to work with our allies, communicate directly with Iran. All options on the table. A little more tempered…

Romney – stand back, what’s going on here? All over the world, people are testing the USA. We aren’t arrogant, we are resolved. We will protect the USA with our Allies. Let’s move Islam into modernity. Look at the totality of the problems rather than as individual theatres of operation.

IMMIGRATION

Tancredo. Testing our willingness to hold our nation together – resisting the Balkanization of the US – we are becoming a bilingual nation and we must stop it — (hysterical)

RUDY – Comprehensive Immigration Reform is typical washington – there are too many compromises. Proposes: ID cards, know every foreigner coming in and what their intent is.

Wolf is teeing up the Romney vs. McCain

Romney- McCain is my friend, he campaigned for me. I won’t make this personal. – The bill – has a problem with the Z visa. Helps out the wrong folks.

McCain= Agrees with Judd gregg. (huh?) Hey – Rudy, you just described my legislation – what’s the prob? Look, this is a national security issue. People came to Jersey, across our Southern Amnesty. To do nothing (to fight this bill) IS SILENT AMNESTY. We need to act my friends. If someone else has a better idea, bring it on. We can make it better. Our job is to make it better.

RUDY responds – bill does not provide info for who has left US – on September 11, it took weeks to figure out who was in or out of the country.

Romney: let’s enforce the law as it exists – start with the 1986 law. Improve this bill by making the Z visa a temporary visa

Brownback: No new paths to citizenship.

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GILMORE ON THOMPSON
Laying out his creds, says Thompson is an unknown quantity. Appears confident, not threatened. Said Rudy McRomney could be a good ticket, just not a good one.

Lightning Strikes while Rudy addresses Catholic leadership – great laugh line when he mentioned that the pings of lightning (which make very audible buzzing noises) are making him nervous – since he went to parochial school. Really great moment. If someone puts it up on YouTube, I’ll post it here.

Huckabee ticked off that he was asked about whether or not he believes in evolution. As an ordained minister, he’s pretty passionate. Laid out the “In the beginning…” line.

Wolf comes back at him – do you believe the world is less than 6000 years. Does not believe we are descended from primates. Conviction was tangible. A little angry.

– Same question for Brownback. Notes that they are at St. Anselm’s – hello! Fully convinced there is a God that made us, but doesn’t think belief in God and Science should be put at odds.

– McCain believes school districts should determine their own curricula. Supported Huckabee.

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THE MORMON QUESTION

I believe in God, the Bible, Jesus Christ as Savior. Strong – then said there are pundits who wnat him to distance himself from his faith – “Not Gonna Happen.” May or may not be sufficient.

Ron Paul is crazy.

GLOBAL WARMING

Rudy – there is global warming, man has contributed to that. We must accomplish energy independence. We need a project similar to putting a man on the moon to address the Global Warming issue.

Are GOPers too close to “Big Oil?” — Romney… wish Big Oil would reinvest that money into refineries and capital equipment. It’s not just the companies – it is the countries who produce the oil –

McCain – support Big Oil reinvestment, we need nuclear power – Navy ships have sailed for 60 yrs on nuclear power. Nuke power is Zero Emissions power —- need alternative fuel, all kinds of ethanol etc.

Ron Paul…. angry about everything.

Gilmore – advance exploration – supports nuclear power and alternative fuels. Attacked Kyoto protocol – drew a small applause. Liked the answer.

GAYS IN THE MILITARY

Ron Paul – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is an okay policy. Made an individual rights argument that was barely relevant.

Huckabee – made sense of Paul’s comment. It is a matter of conduct, and it’s already covered by the code of millitary conduct. But since he’s an idiot – he doesn’t know the name. UCMJ. Uniform Code of Military Justice. NEXT.

Rudy – rely on the judgement of our commanders. During a time of war – you don’t make fundamental changes.

Wolf went after ROMNEY – in 1994, he was against the DOn’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy because he supported Gay Rights. Now he thinks it’s a great policy – he was (conveniently) proven wrong.

McCain – rely on military leadership. They are great people in uniform, the policy is working – let’s not tamper with them.

How would you use George W Bush???

Tommy Thompson: I wouldn’t send him to the United Nations. And then a bunch of crap about sending him on a lecture series to communicate with the youth.

Brownback: I’d like him to do what his father has done, be an ambassador during times of global crisis. Cinton has injected himself into political & policy issues too much.

Tancredo: Karl Rove called me. Tancredo complains – attacks – aas President I would tell him not to darken the doorstep. Really nasty. Crappy answer.

What’s happened to the GOP?

Huckabee: unchecked spending in Washington, blah blah blah – immigration, blah blah blah… he sounds like he’s going to cry. Small applause.

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Should Bush pardon Libby?

Hunter: I would pardon 2 border agents. No

Gilmore no

McCain – read transcript

Rudy – if it fits the criteria then yes. Judge gave Libby an excessive punishment

Gilmore, I am steeped in the law – no

Romney – Fitzgerald acted politically.

Brownback – YES.

Tommy – Not fair punishment, Bill Clinton committed perjury – he lost his law license. Libby got 30 months. YES.

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SECOND HALF – COMING UP NEXT

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Brownback: I think he’s been reading Joe Biden’s website too much.

McCain: Tangible, let’s fix it. Passionate – wonderful….

Ron Paul: Is In the WRONG Debate. He’s an anti-War zealot. He is the GOP’s Dennis Kucinich.

RUDY: Great answer. ISlamists have been after us since the 70s. Believes we are safer today because o fthe service and sacrifice made by people in the US military. We have to get it right – because getting it wrong means catastrophe. Rudy stood to answer – pulled anOprah. GREAT JOB.

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Can a Conservative Agenda square with a Conservation Agenda?

Gilmore – Worked for this while Gov of VA. Energy independence and alternative energey will help us improve the environment. Pro- nuclear power – build a “Clean Society” –

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RUDY – great on health care. Make Health insurance like auto or homeowners insurance. Said the Democrats support socialized medicine.

Hunter: blah blah blah…. we should be able to buy insurance across state lines. Whatever.

Tommy Thompson: Former HHS Secretary. Too angry.

Now everyone is standing up and wandering around. Whatever. It’s starting to get boring. We need a “moment”. Hey – Tommy just got a little applause. Glad someone cares.

Wolfie asking ROMNEY about his stupid healthcare plan in Massachusetts. – We didn’t want to look to Washington cause Washington makes a mess. We didn’t want a government takeover. (except that IT IS. – my opinion) His insurance plan was about personal responsibility – except he never said what it ACTUALLY was.

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Most pressing moral issue, and how would you address it?

Huckabee: Looks like I’m getting all the moral questions tonight, I guess it’s better than getting all the immoral question. – Here we go – Abortion. We must address more than just gestation – we should never allow a child to sleep under a bridge. Need to understand we must be pro-life all phases of life. A little bit on poverty – hmm. He’s our John Edwards. Eww.

RUDY: Our generation must be optimistic. We were at war with Vietnam, now we are friends. More than a generation ago, we were at war with Germany, Italy, and Japan – now we are friends.

RON PAUL: Again, he is crazy.

Brownback: We must stand for a culture of life.

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Question for ROMNEY: Why are you flip-flopping on immigration? The only good news is that Romney finally seems to have a feeling. It’s anger, and indgnance. But hey – whatcha expect from a CGI Doll?

Tom Tancredo is a racist jerk. Won’t advertise in spanish.

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McCain: Muchas Gracias. Woo hoo. Challenges folks to go to the Vietnam War Memorial in DC and look at all the Hispanic surnames engraved on The Wall. Really compelling. Woo hoo.

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Oooops. I almost fell asleep. They are discussing W’s ” mistakes” – screw them. Taking any opportunity to trash the guy is TACKY. Screw ’em.

McCain & Giuliani came out the strongest. Inspirational words – and strong language at the finish.