First, let me say that this was by far the worst debate yet. The questions were not only skewed to the left, not only almost entirely neglected foreign policy, but they were so broad as to allow the candidates to fall back on talking points. Also, there was no room for back and forth between the candidates. Absolutely awful.
With that said, Fred Thompson was the only candidate who stood out. He was funny, charming, and peppy. Here was a guy who wasn’t afraid to speak hard truths, and who displayed knowledge of the policy issues–especially on entitlements. But the moment of the debate, the moment that will be talked about should he defy expectations and go on to win the nomination, was when he refused to raise his hand at the behest of the moderator. This demonstrated conviction, showed he was able to stand up for his principles, that he was a man who valued substance, a leader rather than a follower, and somebody who is running a different kind of campaign. In short, today Thompson was everything that conservatives had hoped they’d be getting when he announced his candidacy.
Huckabee was off today, and he is starting to get all of the scrutiny that comes with being a frontrunner. With Thompson promising to spend virtually all of his time in Iowa between now and the caucuses, Thompson stands to be the major beneficiary of any Huckabee fall. This is a wild presidential race, and Fred is not dead yet.
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