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A Debate in Name Only

JOHNSTON, Iowa - In a debate that barely lived up to the definition of that word, the nine Republican candidates found far more common ground than disagreement during the 90-minute event.

The gathering was heavily anticipated as today's debate marked the final chance for all of the candidates to close the sale with voters before the state's Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. But, it largely failed to live up to those expectations - bound by a rigid format that allowed almost no back and forth between the candidates.

As a result, the debate devolved into a series of stump speeches by the candidates with almost no differentiation between the frontrunners and also-rans like former Ambassador Alan Keyes.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) - the newly minted frontrunner in Iowa - used the opportunity to cast himself as a broad thinker read to unite the country behind his unique brand of leadership.

"We are right now a very polarized country and that polarized country has led to a paralyzed government," said Huckabee. "We are a great resilient nation that has to stick together."

None of his main rivals challenged Huckabee on issues of spending and illegal immigration - the two hot button issues driving debate both in Iowa and nationally.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) who is hitting Huckabee on his alleged weakness on illegal immigration on the Iowa airwaves, couldn't seem to find opportunities to draw that contrast in the debate.

The lone exchange between the two men came when Romney sought to correct Huckabee's assertion on who had the best record on education of all the candidates on stage. "I don't believe you had the finest record of any governor on the stage," said Romney, noting - for the second time in the debate - that test scores had drastically improved during his time as governor of Massachusetts.

But, aside from that small conflict, the debate was almost entirely devoid of any conflict between the two Iowa frontrunners and it seems very unlikely that any minds were changed by what they saw today. (The truth is that not many Iowans likely saw the debate, which ran on Iowa Public Television live at 1 pm central time. It will be broadcast tonight at 7 pm central time.)

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain - both of whom have struggled to rally support in Iowa - played it safe during the debate, choosing to hit their standard talking points rather than propose any large-scale new proposals or directly engage their opponents.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) - usually a morose presence at these debates - was surprisingly lively, providing some of the only interesting exchanges during the proceedings.

At one point, he quipped that he wanted to be as rich as Romney so he wouldn't have to worry about taxes and then, after Romney tried to push back, Thompson delivered this sharp-edged one-liner: "You're getting to be a pretty good actor."

Sadly, that was likely the moment of a debate that largely failed to provide any significant insight into the differences between the candidates.

Check this space tomorrow morning for our winners and losers from today's proceedings. And, don't forget tomorrow at 1 pm we do this all over again with the Democrats.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 12, 2007; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Republican Debate: Winners and Losers


I'm not interested in candidates "mixing it up with each other." All that does is give the media something to talk about on the 6 o'clock news or to write about the next day. He said blah blah blah about him. Watch this exchange between candidate A and candidate B. It's pointless. I only want to hear each candidate's position on the issues and I will make up my own mind as to which best fits my way of thinking. That to me makes much more sense then trying to pit candidates against each other.

Posted by: mazd273 | December 13, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The Best Candidate:

Ron Paul did great. Being the only one actually grounded in reality, he made objections to ending the war and discussed common sense policies to lift up our economic state.

The Most Presidential:

Romney. Even with his plan calling for a continuation of war, Romney had the best responses (outside of Paul). He had the best social and domestic policy advice to offer, from education to trade.

The BEST Defensive Answer:
Giuliani! He gave a great response to the "transparency of his government", in response to Judith Nathan story.

When asked: "Mayor Giuliani, your administration in New York has been accused of handling your security expenses in a way that obscured the public disclosure".

He promptly responded: "The reality is that all that information was available and known to people, known six years ago. And I would make sure that government was transparent. My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did. So, I would be extremely... I would be extremely open. I'm used to it. I'm used to being analyzed. I haven't had a perfect life. I wish I had. And I do the best that I can to learn from my mistakes. But as far as open, transparent government, I think I've had both an open, transparent government and an open, transparent life".

That is good stuff!

The "T" Total- Worst:

Thompson. I am telling you now... this Tennessee native is Bush reincarnate. He wants to disregard the recent intelligence reports and is strong in his convictions of a continuation of war.

When asked: "Senator Thompson, you've expressed doubts that the recent report on Iran's nuclear capabilities is accurate. As president, how would you decide when to disagree with available intelligence and then what would you do?"

Thompson replied: "Now, that's probably the most important question that's been asked today. We have a real problem with our intelligence community. It, along with certain parts of our military, where neglected for a long, long time in this country and we're paying the price for it now. The fact is that nobody has any real confidence in the results that they're getting. And the result you're talking about was directly contradicted by their strong beliefs just two years ago. So you've got to rebuild from the bottom up. I think that, in the mean time, we have to rely on other people. The British are helpful to us; the Israelis sometimes are helpful to us. In many respects, they have advancements that we don't have in terms of our intelligence capabilities. But the president cannot let a... piece of paper by a bureaucrat determine -- solely determine what his actions must be."

WHAT! This guy is Crazy! Hence the Worst person report. He talks about our collective government intelligence agencies' report as if it were the weekly standard. And this rhetoric of how it is inaccurate is beyond me. He must not have received the memo: Iraq did not maintain weapons of mass destruction (remember we did not find any of those), now intelligence reports suggest that Iran quit their program in 2005 due to international pressure and this guy acts like Bush! He just wants to pursue his own (I want to kill an Iraqi) agenda... because you know- it gets him in his crawl! Also implications from this statement, that we should not rely on our intelligence services and somehow rely on British and Israeli intelligence... did he say that?

In addition to this comment, Thompson also REFUSED the moderators request to RAISE HIS HAND on a question relating to global warming and if it posed a threat to our national and economic security. I guess it was to much work to raise his hand- hence the laziness factor. He also gave an outlandish response to what he would do in his first year in office, if elected.

Thompson: "Well, it wouldn't take me a year. I'd go before the American people and tell them the truth, and try to establish my credibility, and tell them that we haven't come to terms yet with the nature of the threat that we're facing or what we're going to have to do to defend ourselves over the years....and then I'd bring in members of Congress and say, look. I just got a mandate. We can work and cooperate together, or I'll go over your head to the American people".

Again he didn't get the memo. We don't want more fear mongering and the American people don't support the war! Only 25% support the war and think we should get the hell out of there. So he wants to spend his first term trying to convince the American people that our intelligence reports are wrong, trying to scare us into staying in Iraq, and preemptively striking Iran. hmmmmmm... yeah he sure won.


In respect to the last Republican debate of the year, it was awful. The moderator was way to critical in enforcing the strictest, most limited responses I have seen thus far. The moderator was boring- unemotional- and resembled "ugly betty without the braces". I know it is a low blow, but come on... am I wrong? The forum should have more open and actually allowed the candidates to debate. I also do not know what was up with Alan Keyes being up there? However; this was the last debate and as much as I like the controversial Keyes, I have to say it took away from the rest of the candidates, who have been working for the past year for this moment.

Another substance that the debate lacked was the non- attack on Huckabee. With his national momentum in the polls, including a now- front runner in Iowa, it would have been good to see more attacks on his positions. He also has been taking nasty strikes at Romney's Mormon religion and this could have been a great time to "rip the scab" off his pious attitude. Don't get me wrong, I was impressed with his U-Tube debate performance and liked the what would Jesus do response ("he is to smart to run for public office"), it was cute... yet his holier than now attitude is starting to wear thin with my patience. Sorry. I used to think he was a good candidate, but his responses are always answered with this wide eyed- humility and nauseating niceness, it annoys me.

Overall; in substance the Republicans are out of touch wit the American people. They all (with the exception of Paul) want a continuation of war, even though we have disproved the "weapons of mass destruction" that never where found and the new National Intelligence reports that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. We are in a civil war and it should be so incandescently clear we do not want a continuation, a continuation that is costing us trillions of dollars- given our economic state. The Republicans solution to fiscal conservatism? Cut off entitlement programs to the poor, our poor, because somehow the welfare of a foreign nation exceeds in priority when compared to the welfare of our own people.

Mind you all the candidates lack personality and have the excitement factor of a rock. These are also the candidates [all] who hold Reagan up on some moral pedestal of presidential politics and who do not believe [most] in evolution. Additionally; they also believe in Santa Claus, that man rode on the backs of dinosaurs, and the earth is only 3,000 years old, so what can we really expect?

Posted by: Kristenmcullen | December 13, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"Judge, do you percieve an anti-Huckabee agenda at Fox?"

Mike: Naah, not really. Huckabee is the new kid, the phenom and they've turned over a few rocks and are making news out of what they find. Romney is relatively old news and they can no longer hyperventilate over anything surrounding him. This is standard journalistic technique so I don't see bias; I don't think Fox knows what to think about Huckabee.

Having said all that, I still think they 'owe' Guiliani a highly sensationalized treatment of his past. This is true of all the media outlets. Not sure why they are holding back; respect? If Huckabee was discovered to have exactly the same past it would be on the news 24/7 right now.

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 13, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Burr's note: So ended the trial of Junius, and he was accordingly burned at the stake. But it so happens that there is also preserved in Bamberg a letter, in quivering hand, secretly written by him to his daughter while in the midst of his trial (July 24, 1628):

Many hundred thousand good-nights, dearly beloved daughter Veronica. Innocent have I come into prison, innocent have I been tortured, innocent must I die. For whoever comes into the witch prison must become a witch or be tortured until he invents something out of his head and--God pity him--bethinks him of something.

Posted by: drindl | December 13, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"According to Faux "We Hate Huckabee" News Romney won the debate. "

Judge, do you percieve an anti-Huckabee agenda at Fox?

I'm a regular watcher (surprise, surprise) -- and I sort of think they don't like Romney. Although, they seem to be warming up to him.

IMO, Fox is the Rudy network.

Also, I don't want all politicians to say the same thing - unless that thing is the right thing. In the political marketplace of ideas, eventually some ideas will come out winners. I would hope either side will embrace those winners.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | December 13, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"Apparently originality trumps truth for judge."

So you'd rather all candidates said exactly the same things? That's an interesting perspective.

Obama has been saying this for months if not years. Huckabee's late arrival to that particular party is suspect because Obama has been drawing R voters. Huckabee might be looking at the same pool of voters and saying "hmmm, how can I get those votes back?"

Hey, I like Huckabee except for his stances on women, abortion, the environment, and a few other things. At least he seems like a moral, upstanding guy especially relative to Say Anything Rudy.

According to Faux "We Hate Huckabee" News Romney won the debate. Seems to be the CW for the press corps today all around.

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 13, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Two under-reported Senate polls from Colorado and from Idaho have good news for both parties, as Udall barely leads in CO but Democrats are more competitive than expected in ID. Check it out:

Posted by: campaigndiaries | December 13, 2007 2:04 AM | Report abuse

I agree Romney did well.

Too bad this wasn't a more-watched debate.

Huckster's going to shoot Romney down, then not go all the way.

Then we'll be left with Rudy, the one man Clinton can beat.

If scandals are a wash, why not vote for Hillary?

Posted by: USMC_Mike | December 13, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

I didn't know in order to make a relevant point, one had to make an original point.

I thought we were trying to make the best points, from both sides, during this process.

Apparently originality trumps truth for judge.

Props to Obama for saying something truthful. Shame on anyone who agrees.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | December 13, 2007 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Haven't all the debates been in "name only?" Give me a break. We will NOT have real debates until it's narrowed down to two people. Why else would Alan Keyes who hasn't been in any other debate have been allowed to participate today? Give me a break. Today was a joke. The moderator & the candidates must think Iowans are stupid. If I were an Iowan, I'd be offended.

Posted by: femalenick | December 12, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Romney won the debate. His positive, detailed and optimistic approach to answering questions (instead of dodging them like the Democrats do because they are afraid to death of their extreme left wing) made him look and sound presidential. So much so that Luntz's focus groups overwhelmingly selected him as the winner of the debate. Before the debate most of the members of the focus group self identified themselves as supporters of other candidates. Romney won over almost all of them. An impressive performance.

Posted by: madjayhawk | December 12, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

"It's no secret that the GOP has disdain for women and minorities. "

Please back this up with some facts. That is a crock.

Karl Rove is not part of this election.

And the Republicans would not have to brand Senator Clinton as a liberal, Yankee, or woman because she is, obviously, all of these isn't she? So your statement is ridiculous.

And the question is why did Senator Clinton stand by her man? Most intelligent women with just a few values and a small amount of self esteem would have had his clothes piled in the front yard within 15 minutes of learning that he was getting BJs from a 22 year old employee. She is not a victim. She is an enabler.

It is extremely sad that so many people want to make lame excuses for these two ethically challenged individuals that have no respect for themselves, their families, the office of the Presidency, or the American People.

Calling American voters rednecks, retards, fundies, or billionaires (who are George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet supporting by the way? And go look at a list of the largest and wealthiest contributors to both parties. You will be shocked to see who is the party of the rich.) will not help you win over converts. You will need some converts because there are not enough Democrats out there to elect a President on their own.

Posted by: madjayhawk | December 12, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

correction: Tom Foley==Mark Foley

Posted by: con_crusher | December 12, 2007 10:57 PM | Report abuse

response: (dmooney | December 12, 2007 10:36 PM)

No offense, but get a life. The Monica thing is over. Plus, the whole situation is a plus for Hillary, since she stood by her man or whatever. Understand?

That said, I have to agree about Obama's admission about weed and stuff. He should be applauded for coming correct about it, eh hem, unlike a certain George "duhbya" Bush and Clinton (Bill). Unless you're old as the hills or a fundie, it wouldn't be a major issue for most Dems. It's not equivalent to the scandals involving Ted Haggard, Tom Foley, and, and Larry Craig on the GOP side.

It's no secret that the GOP has disdain for women and minorities. If Hillary gets the nomination, expect to the GOP fabricate some sort of Swift-Boat style ads. In the very least, Karl Rover and co. will try to brand her as a liberal Yankee--and a female one at that. Unfortunately for RepubTards, there aren't enough rednecks, fundies and billionaires in America for them to win national elections fair and square.

Posted by: con_crusher | December 12, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee won the debate the format gave the FRONT RUNNER the advantage, Obama will probably win tomorrow if the format is the same. 08 is gonna be "the keep hope alive election" the man from hope vs the audacity of hope it'll be good for the country to get away from the politics of cynicism and polarization. I come from Massachusetts don't believe Romney he raised taxes and fees by 950 million dollars in his four years. Mass. was one of the only states to lose population in the country and jobs in the four years Romney was Gov.! Romney decimated the Republican party in Mass. they lost half of the seats they had in the Mass Senate and House and the GOP nominee for Gov. Romneys Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey got hammered in 06. Romney was bad for Mass and will be bad for the country.

Posted by: gfsurrette | December 12, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed by Hillary's operative in NH raising the issue of Obama's teenaged drug use. I guess last week's kindergarten essay smear did not stick, so the Clintons are moving a little further down the Obama time line. This comes after other Clinton operatives tried to promote the Muslim smear last week against Obama.

Didn't Bill Clinton admit his own drug use, while denying that he inhaled? That's not unlike his recent discovery that he was against the war that his wife voted to start all along. Has anyone asked Hillary about her drug or sexual practices back in college? I guess its all fair game according to Mr.Shaheen.

Do these Hillary backers think there isn't plenty of ammunition to go after the Clintons if Hillary gets the nomination. I still keep waiting for someone to ask Bill Richardson in one of these debates why he thought he was asked to interview Monica Lewinsky for that UN job, and why he offered her a job before the Thong-gate scandal hit the fan.

Posted by: dmooney | December 12, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

It was a great debate. Raging controvery! Heated exchanges! But then I woke up! Great dream, but the real debate put me to sleep pronto.

FOX predictably said Richie Rich Romney won. CNN thought Huckabee came out on top. I'd say the fact Huckabee did not get blasted as the frontrunner makes it a win for him.

Alan Keyes is one of those guys who may have a good point, but you don't listen to for the way in which he says it.

Posted by: TrueHawk | December 12, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

The moderator sounded like a liberal Democrat with an agenda. Almost no questions were asked which are of real importance to Republicans, questions brought up by the author of "Will Republican Party Self-destruct With Huckabee?" ( ).

Even if she is not a liberal Democrat, Fred Thompson showed everyone how to deal with a liberal Democrat. Don't play their game.

Posted by: ChristianProphet | December 12, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I asked this a couple of weeks ago and some of you responded. Do we have a better handle on who is advising each candidate on foreign policy and who they would likely choose for State, Defense, HLS, and National Security Advisor than we had before?

We knew that RG had Podhoretz, that Mitt had the Blackwater guy, and Obama had help from Richard Clarke. I have heard a rumor that BHO has also consulted with Powell; perhaps I read it here.

Someone who posts here should know the "brain trust" of each candidate.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 12, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Not a debate that pundits would love, but it was a good show for actual voters. They need to hear about more than nuking Iran or gays in the military. Right?

Posted by: parkerfl | December 12, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I find all this chest thumping from the Republicans about how each one thinks he is the best candidate to oppose Hillary amusing. I am becoming more and more convinced that the Democrats will come to their senses and nominate someone else. It appears more than likely that she will lose Iowa, NH and SC.

Personally, I would love that someone else to be Biden - the only responsible adult on foreign policy of all the candidates of either party. However, it is probably going to be Obama.

Posted by: jimd52 | December 12, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I signed off at 2:41. What a bunch of crap! Limit litigation, 1 for Insurance Companies. Bring god back to schools? Which god? Unions are a big part of the problems with schools. I am the all time free trade guy? Nafta has been good for America. That was enough to convince me, anbody but this bunch of radical right wingers!

Posted by: musselmanm321 | December 12, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Is it me, or does Mitt remind anyone else of Dan Quayle, that caught in the headlights look. Was he disarmed by Huckabee's personal apology this morning, a call that took a certain amount of courage to make? It appears that the other candidates don't care for Mr. Romney. Then again, wouldn't they all like to pander and suit their positions to whomever their campaigning before? They've all taken some difficult positions while Romney doesn't have to--he doesn't seem to have a real core of convictions. I'd rather see any of the others as our nominee but this chameleon.

Posted by: northlite | December 12, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Alan Keyes is running for President? Since when? Why doesn't this has-been go out and get a job already? He's just one more dwarf on the Repub side this year....

Posted by: Osafp | December 12, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I watched the debate while waiting for the medicine injected before my PET scan. Ron Paul was the only one that made any sense whatsoever. Someone else is going to have to come along if the Repubs have any hope of beating Hillary in 08, which is wishful thinking on their part.

Posted by: lylepink | December 12, 2007 8:11 PM | Report abuse

for all the republain complaining about taxes. And how we are a free nation because we rebeled against taxes. the gop is liars and they leave out an important aspect, like always.

It was not about taxes, high or low. It was about taxation without representation. They have representation now. So their arguement is another straw man. Bogus talking points.

Fascists. Plain and simple.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 12, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I wanted my job market get shipped over seas"

I watched, that is

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 12, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"New poll results. The A is reporting that "choice" AND "gay rights" has dropped to under 13% nationally as an most important issue. Iraq is at 15% as is national security. Ditto for "gun rights" and "gun control" both at 15%. The economy is the #1 issue for 59% of voters.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 12, 2007 06:28 PM

What do you mean? The republcains tell us they are all doing just fine. He he he.

Are they lying or are the republcains taking care of their own only? Like the attorney scandel?

Maybe a bit of both. I know I make less than I did before bush. Not sure abou tanyone else. I wanted my job market get shipped over seas. The jobs my parents had in a solid middle class no longer exits.

The economy is top heavy. Trickle down economics only works if the money trickles down. At one time employers paid their employee's. keep them happy and they produce, stick around. Now it's pay as low as you can. If americans won't work for the scaps you throw them train an illegal. Or ship the americans job overseas where they do the work for pennies.

Sad day in america. When are americans going to have pride in their country again. Think of others rather than just themselves? Thsi is why I am a democratic socialist. I don;t think the top portion of the country will give up their wealth willingly. Is it their wealth? Were would the business owner be without their workers? Would they have a product? Could they get it out? Could they sell it ,
support it?

i say the owners are just holding on to their workers money. Hording it. It's not the owners money to give. That is what the gop will never understand. They can only think about themselves. Not their workers or country.

For our econmic system to work the money must trickle down. If they don't want to do it willingly they will, and should, be forced to.

Again, without the employee's what is a corporation? It is a shell. A label. Nothing more. People make the business, like they make up the nation. If the gop will not acknowledge this they must be forced to. This is my opinion. I speak for no party and no one but myself. Before the discrediters and peanut gallery start

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 12, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

oops. That A should have been AP

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 12, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

New poll results. The A is reporting that "choice" AND "gay rights" has dropped to under 13% nationally as an most important issue. Iraq is at 15% as is national security. Ditto for "gun rights" and "gun control" both at 15%. The economy is the #1 issue for 59% of voters.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 12, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse


The wife and I are still scratching our heads why Keyes was even invited. If this is some "token candidate" BS from the DMR, it was a bad ploy.

This debate was boring and insufferable, and it's entirely due to the moderator who was acting more like a "schoolmarm" than a moderator. She wouldn't the candidates mix it up because of time constraints. Whatever. Geez, let these guys take whacks at one another.

Romney did fine. Fred had the best laugh -- "I am not doing a show of hands," Rudy and McCain did play it safe, but Frank Luntz's focus group thought that Rudy did well when he talked about things other than NYC. Tancredo and Hunter didn't help themselves at all, and neither did Huckabee. (Granted, the Huckster's problems arose from the NYT piece this morning, which wasn't addressed in the debate.) And the best thing Ron Paul offered was his video where he acknowledged the Internet is an important tool. (Other than that, almost every time he opened his yap, the "Voters Voices" graph dropped lower than Congressional approval ratings.)

Mesa, AZ

Posted by: SamizdatPrime | December 12, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"the words "George Bush" came out at only one time, and they had the letters "HW" in between. shows the sad state of affairs that our current government is

Posted by: rgrossman | December 12, 2007 05:42 PM

Right. And they claim to be "running away from the presidnet."

I have a question for gop'ers here. You say "George bush is not on the ballot". But other than immagration, what issues are they running away from? It seems to me they are in lock step. Otherwise they would do something, anything, to stop him and his criminality. Are they doing that? Or are they obstructing justice. What are the repbuclains doing other than blocking legislation?

check out the cartoon on the right wing site.

sums it up nicely I think

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 12, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

the words "George Bush" came out at only one time, and they had the letters "HW" in between. shows the sad state of affairs that our current government is

Posted by: rgrossman | December 12, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

JD, I neglected to add that McCain is a also a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | December 12, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi confused again:

In the face of stiff opposition from powerful fellow Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has abandoned a proposal she supported less than 24 hours ago to eliminate lawmakers' earmarks from the omnibus spending package.

Pelosi told the Democratic chairmen of the House Appropriations subcommittees, the so-called appropriations cardinals, that earmarks would stay in the omnibus and that Democratic leaders would accede to cut spending to levels demanded by President Bush in order to save 11 spending bills from a veto, said sources familiar with a meeting that took place in Pelosi's office early Wednesday morning.

By leaving earmarks largely untouched and agreeing to Bush's budget ceiling, Democrats have capitulated in their spending battle with Republicans.

Dems - the party of "We give up, we don't win "

A Democratic aide also said Tuesday that Pelosi supported the proposal to eliminate earmarks.

Pelosi, however, ran into stiff opposition from her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who served as the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee before becoming Senate Democratic leader.

The Nevada senator declined to endorse Obey's proposal when asked about it at a press conference Tuesday.

Reid said he would be happy to hear what Obey had to say but also defended his right as a lawmaker to earmark funds for his home state.

Well, you don;t expect him to get elected on his personality, his leadership or anything else. all he has is bribes for the voters paid for by the taxpayers. Yup, that's your harry ried, the spineless dust speck.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 12, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Billy Shaheen, the co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign in New Hampshire, raised the issue of Sen. Barack Obama's past admissions of drug use in discussing the relative electability of the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination today.

If you are a clinton, you must avoid the issues and go ugly early. It is in your nature.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 12, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Kucinich booted from Iowa debate

Dem free speech

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 12, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

State Rep. Bob Latta (R) held off a challenge in Ohio's 5th district, defeating Democrat Robin Weirauch 57-43 with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Republicans pointed to Weirauch's support from the national party and liberal interest groups, including EMILY's List, and hailed the victory as a sign that their massive 2006 losses will not be repeated in the coming elections.

"This campaign became a cause célèbre for national Democrats and liberal activists nationwide, but in the end, Bob's anti-illegal immigration, anti-tax hike message won the day," said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.).

Get the word out Dems - it means you will lose more.

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 12, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

This is what passes for 'leadership' if you are a Lib:

Congress has been brought to a grinding halt by hardening Democratic and Republican stances on taxes and spending just days before lawmakers begin leaving Washington for Christmas and New Year's.

The two sides are, in some cases, refusing even to speak to each other about the massive omnibus and an Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) bill.

Frustration boiled over in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Bush "is impossible -- and has been for seven years -- to deal with."

Reid sought to portray senior White House adviser Ed Gillespie as an incarnation of Karl Rove and a mastermind of intransigence.

It's always someone else for Reid, never takes his role as "Leader of the Senate" as holding any responsibility for anything. what a waste of a cheap suit.

so it is now official Dem policy that tax reductions are against the rules. guess which party if rightly famous as tax and spenders?

Posted by: kingofzouk | December 12, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Was anyone else amused when Romney assumed Tancredo's "governor" who was "leading the pack" meant him?"

Saw that, Skip. Pretty hilarious and became even more so when the conflict right went over Romney's pretty little head.

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 12, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Did the Des Moines Register Republican Debate in Iowa live up to your expectations?


Posted by: jeffboste | December 12, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: HokiePaul | December 12, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I think that's fair, judge.

It would have gotten more interesting if Huckabee had been given a chance to respond to Tancredo's parting shot (explain yourself on immigration), but they were out of time.

Was anyone else amused when Romney assumed Tancredo's "governor" who was "leading the pack" meant him?

I don't fully blame Romney, but I'm still tickled by it.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | December 12, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse


WINNER = Romney - looked and acted presidential - knew his facts, got a chance to tout his economic experience

2nd Thompson - at least he fought back against anti debate format

Loser - Huckabee - Frank Luntz focus group thought he sucked, like a second tier candidate - he got lucky he was not asked why he has run a bigoted campaign.

What the heck was Keyes doing at this debate.

Rudy - sort of not really a factor...

Posted by: weinbob | December 12, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Seems to be general agreement that today's debate drew no blood (except when Keyes repeatedly shot himself in the foot) and helped Huckabee simply by virtue of the fact that it didn't hurt him.

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 12, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee came off as arrogant when he steadfastly proclaimed that his record on education was better than anyone else's on the stage. Mitt Romney, whose record on education surpasses that of Huckabee's, called him on it. Dear Fred T. is still bemoaning not having made enough money in his career(s)-his eternal conflict has been between, in his scale, politics (no money) and actor (some money)-and he is somewhat covetous of Mitt's comfortable economic success.Fred was lively,though.C'mon everyone, Mitt Romney is a winner in everything he pursues, is devoid of scandal,is vibrant and capable of beating the scandal ridden, o-l-d and corrupt, lecherous Clinton machine, to bring us into a new era of America winning again.How are you going to feel if Hillary is elected because you backed a weaker candidate? Get behind Mitt the winner.

Posted by: usa1citizen | December 12, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Certainly it was a dull debate, as debates go. It would be informative for viewers who had never heard the candidates speak on issues, but it's unlikely you'll find many of those in Iowa (and even fewer who take the time to watch an afternoon debate). So, all in all, it was a wash. No one said anything shocking nor particularly damaging.

I would happily have yanked Keyes and Tancredo off the stage. Goodness. Hunter I can cope with, by virtue of the fact that he paid some heed to the rules. Really, though, these should be six-man debates.

But like I said, a wash. No one stuck to their time, no one got hit particularly hard on the issues, the moderator didn't crack down on people like she should have, and, like Cillizza said, no back and forth.

And, shockingly, no immigration.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | December 12, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

mikeb-we may disagree on a few things but that was probably the best point we can all agree on.

now im sure someone is going to come thru with a totally partisan comment about hillary or democrats and ruin the thread.

Posted by: jaymills1124 | December 12, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Who won the Des Moines Register Republican Debate in Iowa?


Posted by: jeffboste | December 12, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or does this statement remind everyone of what Obama has been saying all along? "Hey Mike, Barack called and asked for his talking point back. Also, don't go near the 'Red State America' versus 'Blue State America' or Barack says he'll go postal on your a$$.""

Right. But how has been dividing us for political gain and who has been fighting for this country the last 7 years? The republcains and their propogandists have been dividing us. The left had to fight back or allow fascism. Now that the left is gaining ground, they are the ones dividing us. Ridiculous.

Here is the flow chart.

From the republican leadership to the propogandists. From the propogandists to their cult followers. So the division is not only the leaders. It filters down to every single republcian that paticipates in the propogandist hate. Who on the left does this? When and Why?

If you olberman you show your face. I garuntee you WHEN a democrat wins in 08 he stays the same. That is the differance. The right refuses to hold tehir own to account. The left holds everyone to the same standard. This is why the gop is done. Zero accountability. They gutted the surplus. They sabotaged gettign the real terrorists. They turned the battle agaisnt liberals and the americans people.

Divide and conquer. this is what is destroyign the gop. How to fix this? I have an idea. It's why I'm here. It's what I've been saying since the day I came on this blog.

REmove those that would divide us for personal or political gain. That used to be called treason. Start at teh top. Remove Fox, Rush, Malkin, Drudge, Savage, Beck, coulter, hannity. Remove them and we can start to come back together as a nation. Refuse to do that, and you are waging war agaisnt america. I have no pity if the right will not compromise.

That is how we come together. The fairness doctrine or remove the lying propogandists for profit lying to th elderly daily.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 12, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

judgeccrater - More to the point, Huckabe actually believes this! Polarization has cost us dearly. Rational thought, patriotism, the good of the country have all gone by the wayside becasue of polarization. Both parties practice this, the unlamented late Republican Congress most recently (Bush and his people are hold up in the Whitehouse like it's the Alamo all over again.). And, it isn't just Obama that talks (and walks the talk) about unity. There is McCain, Thompson, Biden, Richardson, and Kucinich, too. All decent and honorable people. How on earth did we come to the state where the likes of Romney, Clinton, Guliani, and Keyes could waste our time.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 12, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

In Soviet Union debate, Politburo write questions and answers. In U.S. presidential debate, MSM writes questions fully knowing what the answers are going to be.

If the WaPo or anyone else would like real debates, push this proposal:

It's not too late to put something like that together, and it doesn't have to be a big production at all: the videos could be uploaded to a sharing site, and a transcript could be provided. About the only issue would be finding willing participants and then scheduling them.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | December 12, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

i SAW THE BEGINNING AT LUNCH. They look terrified. :)

Very scared to show their face and say what they will do. i thought the moderator statement was telling.

"We're not going to talk about Iraq or Illegal immagration."

What else does the gop have? HAHAHAHAA

The gop is done for a generation. You believe me know zouk?

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | December 12, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"We are right now a very polarized country and that polarized country has led to a paralyzed government," said Huckabee. "We are a great resilient nation that has to stick together."

Is it just me or does this statement remind everyone of what Obama has been saying all along? "Hey Mike, Barack called and asked for his talking point back. Also, don't go near the 'Red State America' versus 'Blue State America' or Barack says he'll go postal on your a$$."

Posted by: judgeccrater | December 12, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

according to MSNBC Alan Keyes often "hijacked" the debate. Now there's some useful activity for undecided voters.

Posted by: Spectator2 | December 12, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

proudtobeGOP - You're too close to it! Thompson sounded intelligent and engaged, sort of a more liberal version of McCain, both decent, honorable men.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | December 12, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

mark- It wasn't totally bereft, but your colon probably had more substance than that debate. (sorry, that was bad)

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | December 12, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

was this even a debate? i watched a little of it while finishing up some paperwork and thought watching paint dry would have been more interesting.

im pretty sure someone asked this in another thread but who let alan keyes out of his padded cell?

CC says-Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) - usually a morose presence at these debates - was surprisingly lively, providing some of the only interesting exchanges during the proceedings.

oh sure now fred thompson starts to show life. im pretty sure he's gonna hit his stride in i dunno, spring maybe?

hey ill save you some bandwith and do winners and losers for you.

Winners- the entire gop field for not basically remembering the 11th conservative commandment. dont speak ill of fellow repubs.

losers-the rest of us for having to sit thru that snorefest. nothing new really.

winner-my new drinking game, every time the words liberal,hillary,democrat,islamofascism,or surge is spoken,take a drink.

Posted by: jaymills1124 | December 12, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

how'd Ron Paul do? i've only read one update on the debate and it sounded like Fred Thompson and Mitt railed against FedGov spending, one of them even used one of Ron Paul's signature terms "nanny state" in reference to our leviathan FedGov. Funny how Ron's success influences everyone else to become a "fiscal conservative", too bad it's too late for them and their conversions are just cheap knock-offs of the original.

Posted by: millionea7 | December 12, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I have been sleeping off my quintennial colonoscopy and missed more than this debate.
Was it so bereft of substance that I should skip it later?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 12, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I caught part of this online, but missed the end. Anyone know where I can find a transcript of this event? Thanks.

btw, I loved how the candidates refused to answer one of those silly "raise your hands" questions. The moderator looked like a fool as she kept pushing against a united front.

Put "raise your hand questions" in the losers category -- and lets hope the Democrats do the same and refuse to allow the moderators to waste our time with these petty games.

Posted by: HokiePaul | December 12, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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