UPDATE #1: I'm a little distracted by these new polls on the Democratic side. CNN has Obama at 39% in New Hampshire, with Clinton a 29%. USA Today has Obama at 41% and Clinton at 28%. Clinton is crashing! What is going on? My theory: I think people want to fall for Obama and want to be free of Hillary Clinton. Iowa has given them permission to do what they already wanted to do. Okay, now, let's concentrate on these Republicans.
UPDATE #2: "You're going to get rid of death?" Fred Thompson says the funniest thing I've ever heard in a debate (after Huckabee says "We oughta get rid of taxes on dividends, capital gains... and death"). Huckabee has the wit to say "I'd like to get rid of death," and Fred is all "Put 'er there," and the 2 men shake hands. Huckabee adds: "In my previous profession, I got rid of death..." [CORRECTION: That last quote should be "In my previous profession, I dealt with getting rid of death..."]
UPDATE #3: Sorry for the lack of updates. I listened — and looked a little. (I was editing photographs, contemplating how much to clarify the fog that filled the 100+ photographs I took on my little walk today.) I thought all 5 men did well, mostly repeating things I've heard before. I'll just cite 2 things that stood out for me (which I'll supplement later with quotes from the transcript): 1. I liked what Rudy Giuliani said about how he dealt with poverty in New York City. 2. I liked when Mitt Romney objected to Mike Huckabee's anti-corporate rhetoric.
UPDATE #4: After the debate, we get Frank Luntz with his focus group, and these people are very favorable to Romney and highly critical of Huckabee, especially his response to the first question. This is strong enough to make me go back and review that part of the debate. Ah, this was when he was asked to respond to Romney's criticism about his raising taxes in Arkansas. Romney, who's sitting right next to him, takes over cross-examining him about the facts (and bragging about the surpluses he produced in his state): "Did you raise taxes in your state by half a billion dollars?" Answer: "We raised jobs. We built our roads." Romney breaks in: "You know, that's political-speak." Huckabee just changes the subject and asks if Romney opposed the 2002 tax cuts. Romney gives a clear no. Romney repeats the question that he's refused to answer "3 times." Huckabee talks about a court order relating to education and attempts, again, to turn it back on Romney: "Maybe you don't have to obey the court in Massachusetts." Kids are important, education is important, blah blah blah. And Chris Wallace breaks in and move the discussion over to Giuliani. Luntz goes on to ask the focus group if they were affected by what happened in Iowa, and this becomes another occasion to trash Huckabee: You might be able to get votes with religion in Iowa, but that's not the way we do things here. Finally, the group says it thinks Obama will be the Democratic nominee and that Mitt Romney can beat him. Frankly, I agree. I think Obama will be the Democratic nominee, and I don't know if the Republicans can win this go-round. (I think we need the presidency needs to shift sides periodically.) But if I had to bet on one Republican to beat the Democrat, I'd bet on Romney.
UPDATE #5: Here's the video of that Frank Luntz focus group:
UPDATE #6: Here are the two things I said I'd add from the transcript. First, Giuliani on poverty:
I took over a city that had 1.1 million people on welfare. I left behind a city with 670,000 fewer people on welfare. I took over a city that had 10.5 percent unemployment. I left behind a city with less than five percent unemployment and I instituted a work fair [sic] program. As Republicans, we don’t do well, including me, all of us. We do not explain to the poor that our programs, our policies are the ladders out of poverty, that they are being denied, by a lot of the Democratic programs, a good job, a good education, the work ethic. So what I did with welfare immediately upon coming into office is I tied welfare to work for anybody who can work. It was called work fair [sic]. It was very controversial. People were very angry at me. The ACLU, I think, sued me, I don’t remember. They sued me a lot. I can’t remember all the times they sued me.(Can somebody tell Fox it's "workfare," not "work fair"?)
But I stood up and we fought the battle and we ended up with 670,000 fewer people on welfare, hundreds of thousands of people on welfare working, by allowing the basic principles that work in America of work, good education operate in the lives of poor people. And as Republicans, we need to go into the neighborhoods where there’s poverty and explain how our programs work. I would go into the neighborhoods where I was being castigated for work fair and I would say to them, “I’m doing work fair [sic] because I love you more. I care about you more. I care about you more than just being a statistic. I believe that if I can get you a job, I will keep you out of poverty and I will keep you with the dignity to be able to take care of your family.”
Second, Mitt Romney on corporations:
You’re not going to help the wage earner in America by attacking the wage payer in America. It’s an old saying. The truth of the matter is, it really is kind of offensive, I think, when I watch our Democrats, or anybody else, for that matter, attacking corporations that are creating jobs. I’ve spent 30 years in the private sector. I spent my time learning how to build a small business. I built a small business and grew it. I helped go back and turn around a company that was in trouble. I’m proud of the fact that some of the companies we invested in created a lot of jobs. I had some failures, too. I know what it’s like to have to make a tough decision. I’ve seen businesses go under. But I can tell you, I’ve been in the economy, I’ve been there in the real world, and we need a president who knows how the economy works, knows why jobs come and go, understands what the competition from China really means and how to stand up to it. We also need a president who knows how to shrink the federal government, and I know how to take out people that aren’t needed and how to take out programs that aren’t needed, and we need some of that in Washington.