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Republicans Battle in Florida

The eight Republican candidates for president engaged in a rhetorical free-for-all tonight with frontrunners and long shots alike challenging one another over their conservative credentials and seeming inconsistencies in past public statements.

The most prominent -- and important -- disputes of the CNN/You Tube debate in Florida came between the race's two frontrunners: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. Mitt Romney.

The two clashed early on over the hottest button issue of the Republican primary: immigration. Giuliani insisted that New York City was not a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants during his time as mayor. Romney countered that he and Giuliani simply disagreed on the issue and that Giuliani had done nothing to curtail the number of illegal immigrants as mayor.

"Mitt generally criticizes people in the situation where he has far the worst record," Giuliani responded, adding that Romney had a "sanctuary mansion" of his own -- a reference to the fact that a lawn care company employed by Romney used illegal workers.
Clearly perturbed, Romney chided Giuliani ("You know better than that") and said Giuliani's insinuation was "offensive."

While it was the first exchange between the candidates on the stage, it was far from the last or the sharpest.

*Romney and former Gov. Mike Huckabee battled over the latter's record in Arkansas when it came to offering scholarships to the children of illegal immigrants. "We're not going to punish the child because the parent committed a crime," said Huckabee. Romney parried back; "Are we going to give taxpayer funded benefits to people who are here illegally?" he asked.

* Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) challenged Rep. Ron Paul over the idea of whether American troops should be removed from Iraq immediately. "That kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II," McCain said to a mixture of cheering and booing from the crowd. "We allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude and appeasement." Paul responded that he had more campaign donations from active military men and women than any other Republican candidate.

* Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) used his 30-second pre-prepared video to launch what amounted to the first negative ad of the Republican race -- hitting Huckabee on his past record on taxes and Romney on his past support for abortion. As has happened time and again in this campaign, Thompson, himself, seemed less willing than his own campaign to throw punches. When asked about the video, Thompson said simply: "These are their words." Romney -- as he has done repeatedly in the campaign -- admitted he was wrong on the issue of abortion but said he would not keep apologizing for his past position. Huckabee insisted he cut taxes 90 times as governor. Interestingly, neither decided to attack Thompson in their rebuttals.

The content of the debate, which was provided by videos submitted by average Americans, served as a tour of the issues close to the hearts of the Republican base: immigration, guns, abortion and even the rebel flag. While the nature of the questions allowed the candidates to make red-meat appeals to those voters who will exert the most power over the identity of the party's nominee next year, it could also complicate the eventual standard-bearer's attempt to move toward the center and court moderate voters.

Yet again Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) served as a foil for each of the Republican candidates who fell all over themselves to see who can offer the most pointed criticism of Clinton. Huckabee, the most gifted debater of the bunch, won. Asked about the space program and expanding it to Mars, Huckabee quipped: "Maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars."

Our quick read: Giuliani and Romney largely cancelled one another out; each had strong moments but also stumbled at times. Huckabee was clearly on his game tonight although he disappeared a bit in the second half of the debate when the focus turned from domestic policy to foreign policy. McCain, on the other hand, shone on foreign policy matters -- from his strident defense of the war in Iraq to his personal abhorrence of water boarding -- but struggled to find common ground with the base on immigration.

Although the debate has ended, the spin has only just begun. The Fix will retreat to a sound-proof room (aka my bedroom) to ponder tonight's events, and will be back tomorrow with our take on the winners and losers from tonight's festivities.

In the meantime, feel free to offer your own winners and losers from the debate in the comments section below.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 28, 2007; 10:40 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: CNN/YouTube Republican Debate Preview
Next: ACU President David Keene Endorses Romney


How can any lover of the Constitution support a man who is simply warmed over Bush, who in the debate (along with the other Republicans, except RON PAUL, the only candidate with any credibility) failed to address the real issues of the last 7 years of Republican led destruction of Democracy in America, spying, lying, subterfuge, torture, lying to the American people about the cause of war-these hucksters are an embarrassment to any Democratic nation-VOTE FOR RON PAUL


Posted by: sunaj | December 2, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

How odd that none of these blogs comments on the avoidance of important issues. Ron Paul consistently states the positions he has always held: no amnesty, no birthright citizenship, secure the borders, end the IRS and replace it with NOTHING, no tax or regulation on the internet, no national ID card, abolish the Federal Reserve, back our currency, repeal the Patriot act, bring the troops home now, return education to local control. These topics should be up for discussion. Instead we heard foolish prattle. CNN knows where the power is and it is not with the voters. What a sham of democracy we have. Ron Paul will change that.

Posted by: dorothyfairview | December 1, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

cc the coward is blocking me again. Scared his republcian spin was being aclled for what it is.

new name. sorry.

I hear you skip. i would agree if Huckabee, or the right did not pull religon into the fray. Understand?

If he wants to enforce capital punishment laws, fine. But don't use christianity to justify you rdecision, because their is none. Regardless of what the catholics say. Who has spilled the msot blood in the name of religon? Catholics, so forgive me for backing down.

And skip, this is my writing style. Ask the ohers. Sorry for the tone. mental change cannot come without mental conflict. Sorry for the characterzation, or mis characterzation (you say). you used the calssic gop argeuemtn for trying to pull the Christ into the fray, to ok and justify their facsism. So if you really are not a republcian (though I have my doubts :)), sorry buddy

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Egads, JK. Cool down a tad, yeah?

For clarity, I am a Christian, and am not a Republican, so it would help if you shifted the box you've put me in just a little.

Okay, so you said, "Your mislead. to say a misinster can ok killing people."

Minister or no, agree with the death penalty or no, it's a mistake to call allowing executions 'okaying killing people'. The people who receive the death penalty have been through a lengthy and exhaustive judicial process during which they were found guilty of a heinous crime by a jury of their peers. They were then sentenced in accordance with the law, and after numerous appeals, the sentence stood. By the time a governor becomes involved in the process, his or her decision is whether to let that stand or to commute the sentence. Commuting the sentence is an act of tremendous mercy. Allowing the execution to proceed is upholding the law, as written and executed. That is harding the same as willfully 'killing people'.

That doesn't mean innocent people are never executed. That doesn't mean it's a good, or even a right, system.

But to act as though supporting the death penalty is the equivilant of murder, and governors the equivilant of murderers, is nonsense.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm not casting any stones simon. I am callign false prophes false prophets and why. what would you have me do and say. You tell me since individaul freedom is dead. Submit to authortarians or else. I don't subscribe. I have the same word as PAt RObertson. More so, because I actually practice the teachigns of the Christ unlike him and his movement.

for your attack on me. How do you feel about what George Bush has done in your name? Does he represent all americans? Since he says you are not patriotic, does that make it so? The pot callign the kettle black?

Same with me and christians. The differance is religon has no place in the public sphere. that is the differance. Are you are christian? if not, you have no idea why I would be offened by ministers who says personally killing people is morally justified by his religon. It is not. I wish they would leave it out. It hurts both religon and politics. But I will not bow to them. i call them wha tthey are without fear.

If not me than who? if not here then where? how many more centuries must I allow this to happen? Forever? no thanks. i will play by their ruels and do what I can. Let the chips fall where they may. In the right's opression of people like me, they show their face and true intentions.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Romney did not appear to be genuine. He appeared to lack any depth or substance. A very pretty face, but no strength.

Why Guiliani is the leader truly baffles me.

Huckabee is pretty impressive but also pretty far to the right, and I think, would be sure loser in the general election.

McCain... clearly the best of the bunch.

But I firmly believe he is just too honest to get the nomination.

He calls it like he sees it. And, that just turns off too many right-wingers. McCain does not pander to the party. He appears to be able to make the tough decisions -- that might be unpopular -- and then also be able to talk about them openly.

As a Democrat, I would love to see Romney or Guiliani get the nod. Hillary (or Obama or Edwards) would make mincemeat out of either of them.

McCain would be very formidable in a general election, but like I said, I don't think he'll get past the Republican right wing.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | November 29, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

And before you people say, they are just stories. i say they are worshipped to this day. The she-wolf is the symbol of rome to this day.

Watch the catholic people. The republcain catholics I should say. coming from three major locations. Watch their support on tv and on-line. Who are the facsists? Who are the propogandists. The catholics mexican irish and itailian, as well as some old school father land germans. this is the gop. this their movement. to stop them you must know them.

For all your people's hatred of me, would any of you deny that I know these people. I watch their shows, I listen I read more than all of you abotu this stuff.

Before attacking my broad chracterizations,research on your own. Then attack and blame all the worlds problems on me, a anonymous poor poster

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"What are roman catholics? Are they devil worshipers?"

Would Jesus hate Catholics?

Your rants are a perfect example of why religion in general is so off-putting. Too many people spend their time worrying about what others are doing wrong rather than repairing themselves. Someone quoted the line earlier: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Posted by: bsimon | November 29, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I feel good today. I'm goign to enlighten you peopel since I'm on a roll. The catholics. comes from Rome, right. The founding of Rome.

Teh republic, right. That is what you REPUBLICANS follow, right. you build off of ROme. What is the "christian" Roman church? What is Rome?

Two twins, sons of MArs (the God OF WAR) are left for dead. Theya re nursed to health and mothered by a she wolf, the wolf represents Roem to this day. one twin kills the other, assumes power. rome's first king. He goes are and gathers the wealthy land owners to be the first senators. They are to look over the poor as their own children. The money ios to funnel down ( a republcain principle to this day. to bad the money doesn't trickle down. To bad the rich no longer filter the money down and treat those that work for them as family).

So what is Rome? War, power, greed.

What are roman catholics? Are they devil worshipers?

Any catholics out there to enlighten me?

Before attacking me blindly, read. Actually read and research. When you know what the heck your talking about, then attack and blame everything on liberals

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Of course they were trying to trap Jesus, JK. And he wouldn't go there. Which is why I'm saying Huckabee is on theologically strong ground to say Jesus wouldn't go there."

Your mislead. to say a misinster can ok killing people. If you say that is a christian, you show your knowledge of My religon. Whatever justification you come up with to not follow Jesus OR the ten commandments and still call yourselves christians, is moot. A school child would tell you you aren't christans. If he knew what I know. As is you fasists have the "christain" church locked down. You rgiht wingers do not represent christianity, like the terroists don't represnt most muslims. Like you peopel say, "Why don't moderate muslims stand up agaisnt the terrorists." I say the same thign about right-wing christians. I wish they would stand up and say you peopel do not represent teh chucrch .Even with your propogandsit preachers telling you God wants you all to be rich. Horrible.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"I will say that I think abortion should be rare but safe and that the death penalty should be rare but sure."

Mark, I could not agree more with that.

Posted by: Spectator2 | November 29, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Last point, just to show mark what time it is. In terms or Catholics representing ALL christians. old principle. that time past centuries ago. soem peopel actually follow that Christ. Waht a novil concept.

Christ ians following THE CHrist.

But that catholics turned away from the christ with constintine. Read up. Reaserch if this is a subject you really care about. Most of the laws they follow are not From the christ. They are no the ten commandments (as the right trampels each and every one.) The right follows catholic "christian" teachings. the laws you follow are not christian. They are made by man. Constitine and various "christian" groups that said, waht it is to be christian.

Jeus told us what it means to be chritans. Research .Many pope's bought their papacy. God left the church when it no longer represented him. this sent the catholics down the path and they now serve a differant God. A darker God. i call him the Devil.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Of course they were trying to trap Jesus, JK. And he wouldn't go there. Which is why I'm saying Huckabee is on theologically strong ground to say Jesus wouldn't go there.

I know that context of what I quoted, and I've got a pretty thorough knowledge of the Bible, but your post is too disjointed for me to know quite where to respond. If you want to criticize something specific, do it, and I'll get back to you.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"You can justify just about anything you like based on that book.

They can try simon. What has cahnged is catholics no longer ive by the laws of the new testement. As you say, the follow the old. Why? Think on it. They feel they are God's, on par with God. They pretend to know god's will.

They can TRY to Justify anything simon. that's why people like me exist. We all play are small roles. If someone is there to call them on what they "try to justify" they look like fools. Put on front street. Then they can be shone for what they are and marginalized as fringe or "crazies". These are the rules of the game we play.

The only power they have is the power WE give them simon. If we don't allow it, it does not ahppen. They need peanut gallery clowns like mark's skip to silence truth and parrot right wing propoganda. It's all obvious now. As the result the gop is done. The yoth is not as scared or ingorant as our fathers and grandfathers. The internet is killign the gop. That is why the patriot act. that is why the internet/thought police. Tha tis why they are tryign to shut it down. Truth and enlightenment will kill the gop. You heard it hear first folks.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I was raised as a Pentecostal, as Ihave mentioned. The fundamentalists DO put more stress on the Old Testament, altho a lot of it directly contradicts the new testament. The 10 commandments I was taught say 'thou shalt not kill.' Period.

Jesus' entire message was about love. Love thy neighbor, he who is without sin cast the first stone, take care of the poor, love the social outcast [in those days, prostitutes and lepers, turn the other cheek, etc. -- which is pretty much ignored by most fundies today.

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse


My best guess, as a reformed Catholic (i.e. non-practicing) and temporarily born-again Christian (in my youth, while attending a Christian school), is that Jesus, in the N.T. preaches forgiveness, not revenge. I'm unaware of any explicit directives in the N.T. but personally interpret Jesus's message to mean we shouldn't be so quick to kill others - independant of their actions. Many religious leaders seem to view some Old Testament stuff as more relevant, though I've always figured the N.T. is supposed to override the O.T.

In short: who the hell knows? You can justify just about anything you like based on that book.

Posted by: bsimon | November 29, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Facsists and cowards, mark. now you know why I do what I do. Now go run and tell your master that I am hear and silence me. BEcause YOU can't handle the truth but love you lies and republcain propoganda. Just don't come in here crying when your party is swept from power for good.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"'Give to Caesar what is Caesars"

And know we know you a republican propogandist as this is their arguement to justify their garbage.

What is the context of that statment? Please stop using the words of God to give valididy to your facsism.

I will enlighten you republcain propogandists livign in the dark.

A Man tried to trick Jesus. THEY TRIED TO GET HIM LOCKED UP. They asked Jesus if they should pay taxes to Ceaser. What would happen if he said no? He said the famous quote you site :

'Give to Caesar what is Caesars"

Money. The rest of the quote is:

'Give to Caesar what is Caesars, give God what is God's." But you peopel love to leave that part out.

The meaning, as I take it, is money is nothing but paper, or coin. Give God your soul. Give the government their fake garbage civilties. That is the meaning, as i take it.

Please stop this. You insult real christians with your republcain propoganda. Please stop seriously.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Skip, thanks. Gotta go back to work - but willl look in later if anybody else wants to help clear my befuddlement. I understand what Skip said.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Judge C, going by wikipedia, there were 16 executions during Huckabee's 10.5 years as governor. As there were 7 in Tucker's brief, less-than-two-year stint right before him, it certainly doesn't look like Huckabee was particularly execution-happy, though they certainly happened.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse


Two whole comandments that read:


2. Love your neighbor like you love yourself.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who think I have become batty just recently; I will say that I think abortion should be rare but safe and that the death penalty should be rare but sure.

I was a prosecutor at the dawn of my career and I believe that the death penalty has no lasting social deterrent value whatsoever. However, it has proven useful in talking down kidnappers and hostage takers. I have anecdotal evidence from burglars that they avoid killing homeowners for fear of the death penalty. Kill an abductee or a hostage or during the course of a robbery or burglary and the ante goes up.

I just want to understand the religious arguments, to which I am not a party.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Now yoru asking differant questions. Now your talkign about Catholics. The Catholics choose their own will and own laws long ago. Catholics turned away fromt he christ long ago.

You asked a serious question, yo ugot a serious answer. If you want to change it and talk about the differance between catholics and protestants, or the catholic teachings vs the teachings of jesus, we will be here all day.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

There isn't much of one, persay, Mark.

The argument would be this.

1.) God forgives sin, gives others another chance -- should we really do less?

2.) Yes, executions are in the Bible, but our judicial system is imperfect, innocent are being condemned.

So it becomes a discussion about human frality, the sacredness of human life, the power of God to transform even the worst of sinners, and the Biblical injunction to turn the other cheek.

But, honestly, I think Huckabee's answer, quip or not, was theologically sound. Death penalities are clearly laid out in the old testament. They are not clearly contradicted at another point. Jesus speaks to individuals about our treatment of others and our response. He DIDN'T get into matters of state policy, but refused to answer such questions: 'Give to Caesar what is Caesars' and such. And then Jesus was given the death penalty.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Ruf, I am very serious about my question.

Did not Paul say "The wages of sin are death" [?]

What is going on here? Christians invoked the death penalty worldwide until the mid 19th century.

I understand the modern non-religious based opposition to it. But Joan d'Arc was burned at the stake by a Catholic ecclesiastical court. Jews were killed willy-nilly by the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal.


Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"Ron Paul also loses because left wing voters who support him but have no idea about his domestic policies finally got some public exposure to his belief that women should be punished criminally for abortions."

I don't know what debate you were watching, but Ron Paul specifically said that he does not advocate criminal charges for women who would get (hypothetically) illegal abortions. He said that if anyone were to be held criminally responsible, it would be the abortionist. But he also said that he advocates devolving the issue back to the states, and since he's not running for governor, it's really a moot point what he thinks the criminal charges should be on the state level.

Posted by: foreoki12 | November 29, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

the FairTax is not going anywhere, folks. It's an interesting academic exercise but that's about it.

The proponents of it know how unattractive it is -- that's why they disingenously frame it as carrying a 23 percent tax-inclusive rate. American sales tax rates are tax exclusive. Since the FairTax 23 percent tax inclusive rate is equal to a 30 percent tax exclusive rate, that's how it should be presented.

Oh, but that sounds so much higher and so unattractive. Well, that's because it is unattractive, and not even honest at that. Ask Bruce Bartlett.

Posted by: Spectator2 | November 29, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to add. On top I said God has killed in th past, or asked others to kill. Forgot to add. To presume you know God's will, to speak for God (while preaching the opposite of the teachings) is also blasphemy. That is the problem. to wage wars in his name, to kill in his name, they presume to know his will. They put themselves on the same leval as God.

As said in the debate. Anyone who claims to know the will of God, so much so that you would murder in his name, obviously does not know GOd. As God's wisdom is beyond comprehansion.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I got you Mark. God Has killed in the past, according to the good books, as well as ASKED for others to kill. not in the new, but the old testement. i thought the questions was on point and exposed huickabee's hypocricy. He even admitted as such with his response that" Jesus was smart enough to not run for public office."

He told you right there two things.

1. Jesus would be against taking another humans life.

2. As a politicain he does not have the luxuray of doing "What Jesus would do".

this is one of my main problems with your party mark. The misrepresentation of my religon. On top of that religon should be a personal non-political issue. To watch pat robertson and the CBN turn that station into the republcain propoganda network, attack dem's all day, is disgusting.

God told us their would be false prophets so we woul dnot be lead astray. We have been warned. The flock has been mislead for persoanl or party gain. It's sad to watch. But make no mistake, what that "preacher" said, was blasphemy

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I am out of my depth commenting about religion, so please cut me some slack here - I am making assumptions about various faiths and claim no credibility, but I must do this to ask my question.

I have thought that neither the old nor new testaments nor the koran nor Judaism, Christianity, or Islam forbade capital punishment. I have thought that the Commandment often translated as "Thou shalt not kill" is correctly translated as "you shall not murder."

Why is this a debate among some religious people? Is it because of a perception by some that elevating fetuses to the sanctity of life is inconsistent with capital punishment of convicted criminals?

Please, if you have a theological background or have studied these matters, take a minute and explain to me why Huck was in any way "unchristian" or why one cannot be a consistent Christian who opposes abortion but favors the death penalty.

I actually do not see the inconsistency. Help.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I am out of my depth commenting about religion, so please cut me some slack here - I am making assumptions about various faiths and claim no credibility, but I must do this to ask my question.

I have thought that neither the old nor new testaments nor the koran nor Judaism, Christianity, or Islam forbade capital punishment. I have thought that the Commandment often translated as "Thou shalt not kill" is correctly translated as "you shall not murder."

Why is this a debate among some religious people? Is it because of a perception by some that elevating fetuses to the sanctity of life is inconsistent with capital punishment of convicted criminals?

Please, if you have a theological background or have studied these matters, take a minute and explain to me why Huck was in any way "unchristian" or why one cannot be a consistent Christian who opposes abortion but favors the death penalty.

I actually do not see the inconsistency. Help.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

No one is saying the Democrats "planted" questions, they're accusing CNN of not checking their questioners well enough. But this is missing the point. The questions posed to the Republicans were all good questions and at the time of questioning, none of the candidates seemed irritated or offended by the questions they were asked. So who cares who asks them? The fact is that none of these people had donated to any political candidate and as long as the same rules were used for the questions during the Democratic CNN/YouTube debate then this is a non-issue.

Posted by: thecrisis | November 29, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, Mark... I certainly don't wish it upon us, that's for sure. It will hurt everyone.. I read a financial analyst in the WSJ who said .the light at the end of the tunnel is turning out to be an oncoming train' which wasn't very reassuring.

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse


When are winners and losers coming out.

Posted by: cwoodyjr | November 29, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

drindl has read that -

"[credit sources]peaked at about $3.3 trillion in August, according to data from the Federal Reserve. By mid-November, such credit was down to $3 trillion, a drop of nearly 9 percent."

- and asked how serious this is.

If the trend has been correctly recorded, after revision to the statistics, and continues through, say, January, it will be a
sad Spring in much of our country.

But these are two VERY BIG ifs - and not to
be hoped for. I do not believe any "mid-November" stats could be better than preliminary, even with the raw data production power of the Federal Reserve.

The early news could be bad enough to continue to scare Wall Street, of course.


Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Reading the thread. What debate we're you people watching. i wacthed a debate where 5 men ripped each other to shreds last night. Who is left standing should be the question. Paul looked bad on a couple questions. thompson looked old, and out of touch. He also started attackign everybody. you got rudy and mitt going for the jugular. Mccain getting in on it.

Great debate for the progressives. Looks like whoever is let standing will be the nom. it looks like they are all handing it off to Huckabee. President huckabee? I doubt it. The ex-preacher who has killed people? WTF? Hypocrites. False Prophets. claim to be christians. REally get's my goat. Misrepresenting what a patriot is, AS WELL as what a christian is. Disgracful. The gop is done. Real christians would rip him to peices if he gets the nom.

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Dennis: I never said I was going to vote for MH. I am merely fascinated by MH as a candidate and how he brought this hard truth to just below the surface in a public forum. If death penalty supporters cannot recognize that their position is blatantly un-Christian neither you nor I have a way of making them recognize this hypocrisy.

Hey, we have Bush as a POTUS now and he executed 155 people (I believe) as governor of TX. Talk about having a phony Christian running the country.

What is Huckabee's record in terms of executions, BTW?

Also, it's hard to see how you can (a) criticize the questions and then (b) proclaim Huckabee the winner of the debate. Think about it. A more normal, formal set of questions would never have let Huckabee shine as much as he did.

And thanks, Skip, for the polling data that says that the 'lame' YouTube questions may have substantially changed voter perceptions. Yes, there was some dross in amongst the gold but normally these debates have about as much impact on polling data as the price of tea in China.

I am reminded of the stupid 'Survivor' series and all the other programs ("Kid Nation" is another example) where you have relatively normal people providing low budget entertainment avidly watched by the masses. In this debate, you had 'voters' (I left the word 'normal' out of my description) who are paid NOTHING providing questions that are far more impactful than the high-priced equivalents supplied by people like CC.

Guess what happens next?

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 29, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

That debate was funny. I laughed through it. the GOP is done.

As to clinton planting the question. Seems to be a pattern. i really hope this, after the dem debate plants, finishes her campaign off. Without clinton in the race (moderate sell-out republican in sheeps clothing) it's really going to be on. Change is at hand. do not fear it old people. This is america. We have never lived our lives by the past, as the gop is trying to institutionalize. We look to the future

Posted by: JKrishnamurti | November 29, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Could an economist explain to me how serious this is?

'Credit flowing to American companies is drying up at a pace not seen in decades, threatening the creation of jobs and the expansion of businesses, while intensifying worries that the economy may be headed for recession.

The combined value of two leading sources of credit -- outstanding commercial and industrial bank loans, and short-term loans known as commercial paper -- peaked at about $3.3 trillion in August, according to data from the Federal Reserve. By mid-November, such credit was down to $3 trillion, a drop of nearly 9 percent.

Not once in the years since the Fed began tracking such numbers in 1973 has this artery of finance constricted so rapidly. Smaller declines preceded three recessions going back to 1975; at other times such declines tended to occur in conjunction with an economic downturn.'

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

A flat national sales tax has been proposed by many (although not usually leading politicians) over the years. The mortgage interest deduction is one of the first things people bring up in opposition. While I tend to agree with bsimon that the impact has been overstated, it would still have a very serious and negative impact on a significant number of homeowners. Given the ongoing credit crunch and home sales stagnation, this wouldn't seem to be the time to institute it.

Any tax that taxes consumption instead of income would incentivize savings. Our naitonal savings rate is very poor and on a macro level it is the national savings rate that finances economic expansion. Since we do not have a good savings rate, our growth is financed by debt and foreigners. However, our economy is so consumer driven that the implementation of such a tax would have wrenching effects. Also, something would have to be done to lessen the regressive effect on those at the lowest income levels.

This strikes me as something that might be a wise thing to do if designing a system from scratch. The tremendous potential negative impact of switching to such as sytem now gives me pause. We would definitely go through severe economic turmoil for a few years.

I compare the national sales tax proposal to the Social Security privatization schemes. I would definitely opt for a 401(k) type pension system - we can argue about the implementation details - if designing from scratch. It would definitely provide more retirement income for less investment cost than the current system. However, transitioning from the current system to a 401(k) system would be ruinously expensive at first since we are financing current pensions from current revenues. Developing a method to keep current and fairly near term retirees (and defining what qualifies as near term) on the current system while moving younger workers to the 401(k) system would be difficult and expensive.

Posted by: jimd52 | November 29, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

JudgeCrater: "MH was the clear winner in my view. I particularly liked how he basically admitted that you can't be a Christian and support the death penalty at the same time."

But Preacher Huckabee did say that he supports the death penalty, Judge. And he does trumpet his Christianity. He is thus untrustworthy as both a preacher and as a presidential candidate in my mind.

Even if one is a death penalty supporter (and I am not), how could they accept Huck's glaring contradiction and phony Christian values? Not that I'm looking for a big time Christian to run the country, but he has a divinity degree, has been a preacher, and yet supports the death penalty! I'd ve very suspicious of him.

Posted by: dennismacheel | November 29, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"In failing to validate the presidential preference primaries in Michigan and Florida, the DNC is sending the unintentional message that voters don't count."

Anyone got a poll confirming or refuting the above?

Posted by: bsimon | November 29, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Here's an update for you:

POLL: InsiderAdvantage Post Debate Surveys

InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion released two new statewide surveys (conducted 11/28) of 1,035 registered Republicans in Iowa and 341 undecided Republicans in Florida who said they watched tonight's debate and were willing to call in after the debate to answer questions.

Among Republicans in Iowa, 32% believe former Gov. Mike Huckabee won tonight's Republican debate; former Gov. Mitt Romney gets 16%, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani 12%, Sen. John McCain 10%, former Sen. Fred Thompson 7%, Rep. Ron Paul 6%.

Among Republicans in Florida, 44% believe Huckabee won the debate; Giuliani gets 18%, Romney 13%, McCain 10%, Thompson 5%.
All other candidates receive less than five percent each.


Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse



In failing to validate the presidential preference primaries in Michigan and Florida, the DNC is sending the unintentional message that voters don't count.

They are weakening their position in Michigan and probably signing Florida permanently over to the GOP if they don't get off their duffs and campaing there before the primaries.

Posted by: pach12 | November 29, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

It is clear that Huckabee and McCain came off as the most Presidential in this debate. But I do wish John McCain would stop this nauseating doggerel on Iraq. "Let us win!" sounds like yet another of those stupid, absolutist bumper sticker slogans that the right is so fond of. And this eternal sermonizing about this being comparable to WWII is just plain silly.

Quite honestly, it is very hard for me to grasp the concept that the motely assortment of terrorists at loose in the world today. many of whom have completely different aims, somehow represent this generation's Third Reich. The people selling this notion have a vested interest in promoting a new generational cold war and all of the huge military-industrial profits it implies for them in the future.

I do not believe McCain is a profiteer but I do believe he is one of a group of useful idiots who fall for this line of thinking mainly because of their own histories with war and the military. The easiest people in the world to convince that there is another Hitler out there to be defeated are people with military credentials.

Posted by: jaxas | November 29, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

AndyR writes
"There is one major problem that I have always seen with a flat national sales tax. What do you do about Mortgage interest write offs? My take is that to make it work they would have to be eliminated. The thing is that the ability to write off mortgage interest has basically fueled our economy for the past 50 years or so. There is no way that people could afford the astronimical costs of houses if it weren't for this tax break."

AndyR3, I think you may be over-crediting the mortage break. The larger question is whether that tax credit is providing the incentive its supposed to - which is to help people get into houses. There's a compelling argument that it encourages people to buy more house than they need - is that an appropriate use of tax policy? In other words, I'm not convinced that losing the mortgage write-off is a negative aspect of converting to a flat/fair tax.

Posted by: bsimon | November 29, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

warning... thread deviation...
As a history major of old, I feel the need to stick up for McCain and his WWII comment. While isolationism wasn't the *only* reason for the carnage of WWII it was certainly a reason. The US couldn't be bothered with the League of Extraordinary Gentlement (woops, Leage of Nations), the Spanish Civil War, the Italian invasion of Ethopia, and didn't join the fray until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Meanwhile fascism was on the march in Europe with only Britain free. Had the US joined France and Britain in 39' many lives might have been saved. McCain made a valid point. Now, how that translates to Iraq I couldn't say...

Posted by: seannewengland | November 29, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

'But I am somewhat guilty here of speculating in advance of the facts, as Holmes would have criticized.'

I love Holmes, too. ack! you compare me to GWB! I have let my fingernails get too long is the problem and I don't spell or grammar check with these posts. Writing with finesse is hard when you're ranting.

starthom -- funny post.

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Losers: Romney & stupid You Tube Questions (i.e. What does the Confederate Flag mean to you? Asking Guiliani about rooting for the Red Socks?)

Yeah, I really think I'm with you there. Well, okay. I mean, some of the questions were excellent and substantive. But someone elsewhere said, and I tend to agree, that it felt like liberals were picking the questions they thought conservatives would like. And the result was lame.

Six questions on immigration? Must we really? And the Confederate flag question was, yes, worthless. And I may have been intrigued by the answer on the Bible question, but that was nothing but sensationalism, and shouldn't have been asked. I thought the VP/Cheney question was also premature.

Mostly, though, it was just the same tired old topics. Move on, I say!

I would add, though, that I was tremendously pleased with how little Hillary came up. It was mostly limited to the 30 second ads (of which only Giuliani's was decent) and Huckabee's lame joke.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, like I said, I think that's the biggest FairTax flaw. I imagine that the market would drive prices down SOME, if only because Americans would freeze up at prices that much higher, and when companies have the room to move down and still make larger profits, they'll do it to grab a larger market share. That is, they'll do it to an extent. But not to any 22%.

And, Mark, they're not exempting businesses from paying taxes on retails. If I recall correctly, not only businesses, but even the government, ends up paying the sales tax. But as it's supposed to be a one time tax, I wonder if that means it's only on retail goods, not wholesale goods? I don't know. You're right that there's a section about eliminating corporate taxes, because they all get back to the consumer eventually, so where that line It's a good question. If you find out the answer, let me know.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Huckabee was the winner of this debate. He's simply the best debater in the Republican field. Why? It's likely because he stands on principles and doesn't pander to what polls say is popular/unpopular. He's authentic and human. In my view, McCain & Guiliani are also authentic. They don't lie to sway folks. Tancredo & Hunter are authentic, but a tab out of the norm and without the money to say they are in. Romney & Fred Thompson are both slimy and flip-flobbing politicians. Rudy seems very comfortable talking about the results of his tenure in NYC. His crime fighting record & his budget balancing habits. He is just too far left for me on social issues. I'm not saying he's a liberal & I'll never vote for him. No, Guiliani is not a liberal but is fairly conservative. However, he won't get my vote. I thought McCain vs. Romney on waterboarding was interesting. McCain definately won that argument. Romney also stumbled very badly on the question of does he stand behind his statement that he looks forward to the day where openly gay people can openly serve in the miliary. He stumbled all over that one, and then never answered the question. My guess is he will be checking the polls over before he gives a definitive answer on that one. McCain answered that one very well. Duncan Hunter showed why he is too far to the right for the nation. Tancredo showed why he is too far right on the space exploration question. Huckabee gave the dynamite answer on that one. Deeming space exploration is important to medical, telecommunications & technological advances to this country and will be funded...but admitting he's not sure if a mission to mars would be worth the salt or not but he would review it if he were President. That was a dynamite answer, that reasonable folks can agree with. Now, he really turned a triple into a home run suggessting we send Hillary to mars. Most Democrats I know here in NC likely thought that was funny. Romney hurt himself more than he helped himself. Huckabee & McCain helped themselves immensley. F. Thompson hurt himself by using attacks against Reagan's 11th amendment & not doing anything special credential wise. Guiliani had no harm & no foul.

Winners: Huckabee, McCain & Paul

Middle: Guiliani

Losers: Romney & stupid You Tube Questions (i.e. What does the Confederate Flag mean to you? Asking Guiliani about rooting for the Red Socks?)

Posted by: bryant_flier2006 | November 29, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Romney: I refuse to answer these questions on the grounds they may tend to hurt me politically. But I will check with the experts and get back to you.

Guliani: We should kill more Islamic terrorists.

McCain: Friends, the most important thing we've learned in Iraq is that we won Vietnam.

Hunter: Being American means never saying you're sorry. Even to a dead innocent bystander. Really, it's for your own good.

Tancredo: I may seem repulsive, but when you think about it, everyone up here is saying the same thing I am, just in a more politically correct way.

Thompson: You'd think as an actor I would appreciate the importance of appearance and style.

Paul: Our political system is broken. This country is a train wreck. And I am not the person to fix it.

Huckabee: I'm sorry, are the former Mayor of New York and the former Governor of Massachusetts accusing me of not being conservative enough during my time in office? Because that would pretty funny; I must have misheard them.

Posted by: starthom | November 29, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

drindl, I know that the "r" and the "d" are close on the "qwerty" keyboard so I am not criticizing your spelling, at all.

I really think "magniture" is a great word and should be added to the language.

However, we may want to attribute its coinage to someone famous or infamous - how about George W. Bush?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Agree with the European poster. Cruelty and selfishness underly the republican crusade, candidates like Huckabee and Paul notwithstanding. I find it extremely offensive when multibillionare like Romney has the nerve to stand up in public and deny that there are two Americas.

Posted by: skylark1 | November 29, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

'So they're arguing that prices would drop that 22% and then the 23% addition would be a wash'

Yeah, I'm not buying that either. Too much like wishful thinking. Thing is, a change of that magniture here would terrify the world markets -- very risky. It sounds good, but what if it's not? It would require a tremendous upfront investment too, to change over.

I thought the Hillary-to-the-moon remark was childish, too. Will these guys ever grow up?

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Skip, I am rereading Boortz, now, and remembering that I was dubious about the "embedded tax" argument. As I am rereading it, I see that internally the authors are continually using the phrase "personal consumption tax" and I think they are "bolstering" their argument by exempting businesses from paying the proposed sales tax - even on their retail purchases. If I am correct, this is a serious flaw in the proposal [which I will explain IF I turn out to be correct on the assumption].

But I am somewhat guilty here of speculating in advance of the facts, as Holmes would have criticized.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 29, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

To post on the actual debate, I've been very surprised by all the favorable comments I've seen (other places as well) about the performances of Romney and McCain. I thought Romney overly evasive on any number of questions and fairly fumbling on points. As for McCain, whilst he undoubtedly perked up on the foreign policy questions and clearly dominated Romney on the torture point, I thought his performance overall was fairly lackluster. He seemed to lack energy and frequented strayed off-topic. And what was the point of engaging with Paul on non-intervention? Pick a real argument, McCain. So, yes, I thought McCain disappointing. He had little of the wit and vibrancy he's demonstrated on other occasions.

And I actually thought Rudy and Thompson did far better than I'd anticipated. Mind you, I don't feel Thompson's performance was spectacular, and I don't really know that he won converts, but he was strong on his answers, pretty clear, and came across far more powerfully than in past debates. Rudy got battered on a few things, and his Red Sox answer was lame (but he was in a fairly indefensive place to begin with), but overall I thought he stayed steady. Certainly I don't think he did himself any harm.

Huckabee did well, but he always does in debates. I thought his answer on the Bible question was pretty spectacular. (To sidetrack on that, what was with Romney's answer? Honestly. Be Mormon, Romney. Just go ahead and be Mormon. Stop trying to fake it and irritate both faiths in the meantime.) The death penalty WWJD quip was great, the immigration answer solid, his eliminate gov't departments answer quick (where was Thompson on that one?), and yay for space exploration. All that said, his Hillary to Mars joke was both lame and innappropriate. He didn't sound in at all on foriegn policy or Iraq (wasn't given the chance, but that still shows an unfortunate pigeon-holing on his positions; we need to hear about his foreign policy views in order to make a solid judgement call). So he did well. Even the best performance on stage. But I didn't grin at all of it.

I was disappointed by all the topics which failed to come up: education, energy, environment, health care, any country other than Iraq...

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm read the FairTax book, claudia, so I'm going to jump in on that one. I should say from the start that I am intrigued, but not yet convinced, by the idea. I need to read a few solid critiques to get a better hold on it.

But, basically, there are two underlying assumptions on the idea. One is that the hassle and overhead costs of our tax-code complexity and the IRS are wasteful and unnecessary. The second is that people and companies made decisions based on reducing their tax burden rather than increasing profits/income/productivity, and such a system is incredibly damaging to the economy. Valid points both.

So the idea is that there would be a 23% inclusive (30% exclusive) tax on all goods and services. The tax would only be calculated once, at the point of sale, unlike the European VAT and would never be levied on used goods. The claim (which I'm having trouble buying) is that 22% of the price of a good is already due to the various taxes companies incur. So they're arguing that prices would drop that 22% and then the 23% addition would be a wash. Like I said, I don't think they can bank on that. I think prices would go up.

But there is some balance to that in the fact that you take home all of your income. That, admittedly, would be nice. Then, to make it a progressive tax, everyone gets what they call a 'prebate' which is enough money (on a monthly basis) to cover the taxes on all spending up to the poverty line. So rather than calling some good necessities and not taxing them, they tax everything but say no one pays taxes below the poverty line. Also, there are never any taxes on savings, investments, or education (which is considered an investment).

The claim is that Americans would have new incentives to save and invest their money and would become better stewards of their finances. It would eliminate overhead IRS expenses, simplify the tax code, eliminate loopholes, and insure that even illegal immigrants and foreign visitors are contributing taxes. The new tax system would also be very attractive to companies, and the hope is that offshore money would return to the country and any number of companies seek to headquarter themselves in America.

So that's the gist of it. Let me know if something was unclear, and I'll strive to clarify.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | November 29, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Drindl: I like MH because I'm a political junkie. I think the YouTube contributions are a fascinating wrinkle unique to American politics. What happens when I enter the voting booth is a different matter.

McCain is still toast no matter what he says in the debates. A big chunk of the debate - on immigration - could have been subtitled "Why McCain Won't Be Nominated."

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 29, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I didn't watch much of it, I admit, Judge.. I just find these guys childish and painful. And I agree with the European poster -- our politics must be hilarious and frightening to the rest of the world. These golks, except MH, all seem like bitter old white men trying to outgangsta each other who can be tougher, torture more, punish brown people more, buy more and bigger guns, and control other people's sex lives. Seems to be that American men have kind of a manhood issue. They're a little worriied about it, it seems.

McCain not so much, his waterboarding answer showed a lot of conviction, but that ridiculous assertions about WW2--has he ever read a history book?

Huckabee looks and sounds far more moderate than he is, unfortunately. Good [and compassionate] as some of his positions are, he honestly beleives all abortion and contraception should be banned, no church/state separation, that this is a 'Christian nation' and that all Palestinians should be deported to Saudi Arabia, which is so totally whack I don't even know what to think. Why not just bring the whole state of Israel to North Dakota?

And there was not a single mention of the fact that the governments of ME oil-rich nations are basically buying America. Did anyone here read how Abu Dhabi bought a big chunk of Citigroup at a whopping 11% interest rate? This is a country known mainly for its human rights abuses -- smuggling in foreign men and women and subjecting them to domestic and sexual slavery.

Each of Abu Dhabi's 420,000 citizens is worth $17 million and the majority of the population is slaves and foreign workers. These are the kind of people who will now hold the mortgage on your home. People worry so much about terrorism -- what about the loss of our soverignity?

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"Two new polls in advance of Wednesday's debate in Florida tell different stories of Mike Huckabee's viability outside of Iowa. A CNN statewide survey has Huckabee in fifth place, below all of the other first-tier Republicans. But a different poll administered by InsiderAdvantage shows Huckabee in second place, behind Rudy Giuliani, with 17 percent--five percentage points above Mitt Romney. The former Arkansas governor is looking to prove he is a strong candidate in states other than Iowa, where he is statistically tied with Mitt Romney in recent polls."

Pretty amazing considering that MH wasn't even a statistical blip in slightly less recent FL polling data. Expect an even bigger bounce for him in the post-debate data.

Will this translate to NH? MH hasn't even been a blip there either. Or are the Granite Staters immune to MH's charm/candor?

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 29, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I saw that about Bloch yesterday, JD. He's some Investigator, eh? But the Bush administration went about quite purposefully appointing a fox to guard every henhouse. It was a strategy.

No it's on topic, Andy, part of the debate. Mark, I know, has read a book about the so-called Fair Tax and I'd be curious to know the particulars. Last time a Flat Tax was proposed [Steve Forbes] it was supposed to be an income tax which would be the same for all level of income, with no tax breaks. Once wealthy people realized their tax shelters would vanish and they would actually be paying more, it died.

I am wary of it for a number of reasons -- as you say Andy, there's the mortgage write-off, but not only that EVERYTHING you buy would be more expensive. Milk, gasoline, medical care--and that house. Not only do you not get the write-off but you pay enormous taxes on top of it. It would hurt the people on the low end most of all, because they don't pay much taxes, as a percentage of their income. And it would certainly hurt the economy, because most of us would think twice about buying anything that wasn't necessary.

Probably the only way you could replace the lost income would be to add on extra surtaxes to luxury items like pools, speedboats, diamonds, second homes,furs, etc.

Posted by: drindl | November 29, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

MH was the clear winner in my view. I particularly liked how he basically admitted that you can't be a Christian and support the death penalty at the same time. As others have pointed out, that level of honesty is just a dream for the other candidates sharing the stage. And honesty is appealing, especially when rendered with such a stark contrast.

And now what everyone else seems to have missed: the REAL winner was YOUTUBE. Examine the totality of the debate and you realize that the questions - direct, short, to the point and backed up by Anderson Cooper (although he could have done a better job) - made for a fascinating interplay between the candidates and the voting public. This was a refreshing change from the usual dry, droning recitation of pre-packaged platitudes. Do you think that we would have so many comments this early in the morning if they hadn't been so thought-provoking? Expect more of the same on both sides of the aisle.

I also liked that they chose R questions that were more libertarian in nature. I expected much less from the party of the mindless Bush-worshippers; clearly, the ability to come up with a question, operate a USB camera and successfully record your own video carries with it a level of cognitive ability greater than the R average. The "small town guy with a gun" was hilarious!

Posted by: judgeccrater | November 29, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Ron Paul won the debate because he was the only one who told the truth.

The others all stood there and lied to the American people in one way or another about the occupation (its not a "war"), the economy, and all the other issues. If you want more lies, just like we have had for the last several decades, vote for one of these turkeys.

Posted by: mscheurer | November 29, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

JD and clay,
There is one major problem that I have always seen with a flat national sales tax. What do you do about Mortgage interest write offs? My take is that to make it work they would have to be eliminated. The thing is that the ability to write off mortgage interest has basically fueled our economy for the past 50 years or so. There is no way that people could afford the astronimical costs of houses if it weren't for this tax break. But I will admit I dont like the idea for other reasons, so as a supporter what are your thoughts. Sorry to everyone else for getting off topic.

Posted by: AndyR3 | November 29, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Chris, yes the Republican candidates mentioned Hilliary but you forgot to report that Romney also went after Edwards. Romney attacked Edwards for his two Americas narrative. Of course when he was done attacking him he didn't get any applause.

Oh yeah and one of the undecided voters mentioned John Edwards too. Evidently she preferred Edwards over the Republicans at the debate. It was too funny.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | November 29, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

As for the fair tax, interesting take clay. I've said many times, I wish Apr 15 and first-Tues-in-Nov were so much closer together. Americans have short memories, and holding elections right when we see how much we pay to fund government might convince people that there's no free lunch.

Posted by: JD | November 29, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

OK Claudia, this one's for you

I say crucify him.


Posted by: JD | November 29, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE in the upcoming presidential election was overlooked with CNN getting off it as soon as possible -- the National Retail Sales Tax - the "Fair Tax" -- that only Mike Huckabee openly supports. It is Fair Tax proponents who have made Huckabee number one in Iowa and the millions of Fair Tax supporters (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians) will speak during the primaries. Getting rid of the IRS, taxing the underground economy and relieving truly poor people from ALL Federal taxes (no withholding) are big winners with the American people. The number one issue (ILLEGAL immigration) is a winner for all the Republicans except McCain and likewise national security (only Ron Paul loses with that issue)are sharp contrasts with the defeatist, amnesty Democrats but the number two issue will be the Fair Tax. When will the national media catch on?

Posted by: claywillis | November 29, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I would like to say Romney was the winner. Unfortunately the less qualified and slick talking pastor ex Arkansas governor sound familiar was the winner. I loved what I heard from Duncan Hunter. I still have to say that Romney needs to be the nominee. If you read any candidates real untwisted history/biography Romney is the man for the job. Why lets list the reason.
Economy - decades business making $$$$$ he is going to tear up China he is going to gut Washington like a fat fish. I believe we need that.
Illegal Immigration - Favors legal against Illegal very sane and fair position.
Values - Married 30+ years same woman family big deal mormons surprisingly have a conscience at least the ones I know and a strict code of conduct. Oh yeah and I believe he will protect marriage as it exists.
Work ethic - He is the hardest worker I have seen.
National Defense - The military will see many big improvements if Romney gets in there is so much waste. Romney knows how to single out waste and eliminate it.
Competence - #1 out of all the candidates hands down.

Posted by: camdryg | November 29, 2007 6:29 AM | Report abuse

"The winner of tonight's YouTube debate: the Republican Party. No one candidate won this debate, because each of the major candidates had their weak points (and some of those weak points were significant)--but on the whole, the major contenders all came across as more committed to American security and economic freedom than their Democrat counterparts..."

Posted by: tuckernovel | November 29, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

To steimelkb @ 11:42 PM ...

The questions were selected by CNN and other journalists - hence the failure to address 'real issues of our times'. Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard really calls CNN out on the carpet in this dead-spot-on article ...

And speaking of being dead-spot-on (shameless plug)- Mike Huckabee -as always - delivered flawlessly! I think he would make an excellent POTUS.

Posted by: kevin.decoster | November 29, 2007 5:56 AM | Report abuse

I don't like Huckabee, but it was his night, pure and simple. As for Rudy, and I say this with no pleasure, the air came out of his balloon- it's the beginning of the Rudy flame-out, like Dean: out of nowhere, back to nowhere. Romney moved up to overall favorite, with Huckabee in scoring position. Quite ironic, since as noted above, the purest Republican up there who can beat Clinton is McCain.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | November 29, 2007 5:50 AM | Report abuse

charlesf you've got it exactly right.

The Republicans all look like nasty, angry white men.

Except for sex scandals and allowing for AK-47's to be given out at any street corner, they're like the Knight's Who Say Ni (No...)

No abortions
No gay marriage
No climate warming
No health care for kids
No health care except for the rich
No international treaties
No real foreign policy
No immigrants
No people of color
No fair taxes
No good government

The rest of us should get ont he bandwagon and just say No More Republicans!

Posted by: ethanquern | November 29, 2007 2:21 AM | Report abuse

-Guiliani: Easily the most frightening candidate of the pack. The NY Times wrote a detailed piece today on he & Mrs. Clinton's 2000 U.S. Senate race, which Guiliani later withdrew from. Guiliani is, and I like talking to Republicans, a bad person. If you like him, you're a bad person, too. Sorry. Letting this man run the military would be an absurd mistake. I would rather 4 more years of George W. Bush than Guiliani. That's how bad it is. To really understand what Guiliani's foreign policy might be like, read Pat Buchanan's column on Guiliani's foreign policy advisors: Click on Archives. Basically, it's Israeli foreign policy.
-Romney: Romney could not beat a Democrat. But I respect him for some strange reason. Maybe because I don't believe he is as evil as he claims.
-McCain: I'm not a Republican, but seriously, guys, the general election is getting closer. John McCain is your best shot. And he's not soulless like Guiliani.
-Huckabee: Charming, but his candidacy will stagnate. Republicans think he's too liberal on economic issues. I maintain that low taxes matter more to Republicans than all the social issues they claim to champion. Reaganomics is soulless; Mike Huckabee is not. Ergo, Mike Huckabee must seek Independent candidacy.
-Thompson: I'm still convinced he doesn't really want to be President. He's too unremarkable; but I don't hate him. I simply disagree with him on virtually everything.
-Paul: Must seek Independent candidacy. If Republicans wish to be relevant for the next 8 months, more Republicans must reconcile with this wing of the party. It's less radical than you think. This is Lou Dobbs, Pat Buchanan. Republicans would be wise to atone. This wing could easily splinter into its own third-party movement, and be rather successful.
-Tancredo: See Don Quixote.
-Duncan Hunter: Sucks not to be heard, huh? Now you know how it feels to be a liberal American citizen.

-Winners: My guess is that Guiliani will take this nomination, thus ensuring Republicans' defeat. If Republicans want to have a decent shot: See John McCain.
-Losers: The American people, for sure.
-Thinking Ahead: I have solved that irritable immigration issue for liberals & Democrats. If nativists claim this is a public health issue, all the more reason for American citizens to have mandated-healthcare. (Like Romney's) If everyone has to have it, we'll know who is here legally and illegally. We are all wrong, but both right on these two issues. Let us compromise. See Henry Clay.
P.S. See Mister Mom with Michael Keaton. Great movie.

Eugene Debs 2008

Posted by: legan00 | November 29, 2007 1:40 AM | Report abuse

McCain may care more about principle than popularity, and that would be a good think except that he has unpopular principles. He's on the wrong side of the Iraq war and his dull-witted talk of "defeat" and reciting stale Bush they'll-follow-us-home sounds more like a man going down with the ship than the man to steer it to port.

I didn't see the debates but from all accounts these guys aren't running for President, they're running for clown.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | November 29, 2007 1:17 AM | Report abuse

As a matter of discloser I'm a McCain supporter and a Democrat but here's my take.

Romney: while he may look presidential he comes off as a flip flopper or he just won't answer the question. He also talked to fast at times which only adds to my perception of him being a calculating politician
Giuliani: sounded a bit petty with "mansion" thing and is definitely a RINO. And when will he stop talking about New York, we get it! The guy is to the left of the entire Republican Party, I don't get why Republicans like this guy. I liked his video though, it was funny and entertaining.
Thompson: he looks so sleepy and he didn't really say anything which would convince me that he really wants to be president.
Paul: who is this guy? When asked about the existence of a "conspiracy" he never really seemed to answer the question, then he started using the ominous word "they" when referring to NAFTA, a superhighway, and the rest of the conspiratorial fodder his supporters talk about.
Huckabee: Had the best night, funny and personable, must of have been a heck of a preacher, reminds me a lot of another governor from Arkansas, he's made his presence known.
McCain: Did well, seemed a little tense and not as comfortable as I would have liked, but his passion is palpable and his knowledge on the major issues surpasses most of the other candidates. I loved the smack-down he put on Romney, made Romney look like a kid getting lectured for breaking a window.

Well see who won tomorrow.

Posted by: stjetters | November 29, 2007 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I thought Huckabee did well out of the pro-war group. What I find annoying is the pro-war boys like McCain, Rudy and the others say the surge worked the violence is down we are winning. What they never say is that to keep the winning we will have to keep 140,000 troops there for 10 years so staying in Iraq will break the military with the number of troops presently in the military so they need a draft to continue and they never say how they will pay for it. They spend billions of dollars on the Iraq war and add to the debt and put the burden on the next generation so in effect they want to tax the next generation to pay for their war. That is why I support Ron Paul.

Posted by: info4 | November 29, 2007 12:55 AM | Report abuse

This was my first look at Huckabee and I was impressed with his style and substance until he said he supported the death penalty. How could anyone take seriously a preacher that supports the death penalty? Nearly as bad was Romney dodging the question of whether waterboarding is torture. McCain did a great job of chastising Romney for this and stating that as Americans we don't do such things. But then McCain lost me on his assertions that the troops in Iraq want to finish the job there. I believe it is wrong of him to speak for the troops in this setting and I doubt that his words reflect the overall sentiment of the troops. McCain seemed weak in his delivery (despite having probably the clearest and strongest convictions of anyone) and Thompson's performance was even worse. One wonders if Thompson is really up for this. I have never seen the TV program in which he is cast, but I would think that someone acting in Hollywood could give a decent performance behind a podium. And I can scarcely remember anything he said. Also, his TV ad, which is spent entirely on clips of Huckabee and Romney making past staements that are in contradiction to positions they now hold, was in very bad taste. I thought it was interesting that Tancredo was crisp and to the point in delivering most of his points, seemingly as if he knew he wouldn't get the minutes granted to the leading candidates. Romney appeared smug, slick, and dodgy to me. Giuliani went on too long in assailing Romney on his having utilized illegal workers, and it was a tasteless barb in any case. I am disappointed that neither global warming nor healthcare came up in this debate. None of these candidates impressed me either stylistically or substantively and I think Mrs. Clinton will easily shread -- both on the podium and at the polls -- whomever the GOP sends.

Posted by: dennismacheel | November 29, 2007 12:46 AM | Report abuse

"the content of the debate...served as a tour of the issues close to the hearts of the Republican base: immigration, guns, abortion and even the rebel flag."

C'mon Chris, that's some pretty sloppy language. You don't really believe that the rebel flag ranks as an issue close to the hearts of the Republican base, do you?

Posted by: watters_jeffjr | November 29, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Most Likeable: Huckabee. Yet again, Huckabee does well in a debate by answering questions with wit and warmth.

Most Presidential: McCain. Clearly the superior candidate on matters of foreign affairs. It's also obvious that McCain is the candidate who is the most principled.

Most "Slick": Romney. Is there any major issue on which he has not flip-flopped? Abortion. Gays. Guns. Immigration. He's been on both sides of every issue.

Posted by: bboyle | November 29, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Chris, I couldn't agree more on the Huckster. He's not my candidate, but he's the most talented debater--clearly because he is the most genuine speaker, and also because of his folksy charm and unaggressive demeanor. His answer to Mitt on immigration --"America is not a country where we punish children for the mistakes of their parents"--was great, as were several of his other responses.

Mitt had a weak night--except on his abortion answer. I think he's shamelessly pandering, but saying "I was wrong" is the only thing you can say, if you are running on his position. Giuliani was solid but boring. He also missed a huge opportunity to actually *ask* Black americans for their vote, like Huckster said he had, instead of lecturing.

McCain (my favored candidate) was passionate, forceful, and smart--but his energy level was lower than it could've been at times. Paul was as energetic (and crazy) as ever. Fred -- as usual a dud.

Posted by: PoliticsGuy | November 29, 2007 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Missed the debate, so THANKS TO ALL above for your keen observations and excellent comments.

Posted by: jhbyer | November 29, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney won. Ann Romney looked great . Rudy got booed 3 times at least .Huckabee lost on giving to illegals and not the troops . McCain a hero and a hot head . McCain can not understand an issue and he was booed 2 times .Did you catch Huck saying he could help Rudy ......................................All said and done Mitt Romney is the best .

Posted by: chuckthetruck | November 29, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney won. Ann Romney looked great . Rudy got booed 3 times at least .Huckabee lost on giving to illegals and not the troops . McCain a hero and a hot head . McCain can not understand an issue and he was booed 2 times .Did you catch Huck saying he could help Rudy ......................................All said and done Mitt Romney is the best .

Posted by: chuckthetruck | November 29, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

I think in the long run, the Democrats are the real winners because in these Republican debates, Americans get to see how extreme the Republicans are.

HOW DARE Sen. McCain imply that this Iraq war and World War II are the same. He should know better than that. And if he does know better and still did it, that's even worse. World War II was unfortunately a necessary war and a war fought correctly that left the world a safer place. This war was totally unnecessary, there were no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq was not an imminent threat. Al Qaeda is now more powerful and allowed to further spread because of our invasion in Iraq and the world is not safer--at least I don't feel safer. Do you? We can not govern by fear. F.D.R. words fit so well now. The greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself. The Republicans preach it, let's not listen. We do not need to arm ourselves with guns and weapons, but arm our minds with knowledge. That and a fair division of wealth are the keys to a society we can all be proud to live in. The Republicans offer a society where we will in a climate off fear while the Democrats offer a climate of hope and optimism about people. Which party would rather have presiding over America's future at such an important time?

Posted by: kind671 | November 29, 2007 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, other candidates are jumping in on eliminating the IRS and making abortion a states rights issue-- although Fred Thompson has back that position for years. Although none would state that they agreed with Paul's view on the subject. As for Iraq, Paul gave McCain a lesson in reality. The Shia control the south and the Kurds control the north. The Sunnis have garnered moderate control of central Iraq and its oil with the help of the surge to protect their interest. Once our troops begin to lessen, the violence between the Shias and Sunnis will continue.

And McCain's attempt to conclude that isolationism led to World War II was just sad. The world-wide economic collapse that led to World War II was caused by a great many things-- none of which was America's isolationism.

Good night for Paul and Thompson. Terrible for Romney, McCain and Guiliani-- the later of which bikered over issues that 10 years ago they held the exact same view.

Posted by: brinks | November 29, 2007 12:23 AM | Report abuse

I think it's bad news for the state of American politics that these CNN debates continue to allow/promote open cheers, boos, and heckling from the audience. These debates should be about getting your opinions out in a fair manner through rational discourse, not the equivalent of rhetorical professional wrestling.

Also, does anybody notice how these guys are setting themselves up to be cast as EXTREME right wing? I mean do they really think the Karl Rove pandering and hope for 51% playbook is going to work again this cycle? And even if it would, hasn't the country suffered enough as a result of this brand of politics?

Posted by: Martin4 | November 29, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

My man Ron Paul may not have produced many winning video clips this time around. The last bit about the revolution was good. He appeared rushed. He knew he would receive little time to speak (three and a half minutes to Romney's seven, and four responses to Romney's nine). He knew that he would never get in the last word, and that the questions he got would have loaded premisses. ("You know you are not going to get the Republican nomination.")

But what he may have lacked in style points was offset by degree of difficulty. It was seven to one on the issue of Iraq, and the other candidates are now co-opting the platforms that he has stood for for thirty years.

Oh, and by the way, look at the videos of the Philadelphia rally and tell me there weren't at least 5000 there.

Posted by: jdadson | November 29, 2007 12:13 AM | Report abuse

McCain continues to impress - perhaps because he does not have to defend an inconsistent record or major policy switch. I agree that McCain would be the most difficult for the Dems to defeat.

Posted by: jteel | November 28, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

There were some good questions... Immigration no one really had an answer for except for McCain. Mitt and Rudy seemed childish in their back and forth bantering to start. huck was personable but with out substance on most of the topics.

Over all I name McCain as winner!

Posted by: mhusband | November 28, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

This European's view:

I got up in the middle of the night to watch the debate, being the US politcal junkie that I am...

Huckabee strikes me as the big winner. Sure, he has impressed people in past debates, but this one's probably the first time he's considered a big player. So that will give his good debate performance the traction he might otherwise not get simply because of (as in the past) being regarded as a marginal candidate.

I think his "conservatism with a human face" sets him apart from the rest of the crowd.

Giuliani: His "sanctuary mansion" attack against Romney was pathetic and in my view Romney clearly busted "the mayor's" argument.

Romney: It seems to me that a vast amount of Republican politics is identity politics. Romney may hit all the right buttons issues-wise after recalibrating his stances, but he can't offer the Republican base a candidate they can identify with simply because his authenticity-deficit.

He clearly struggled at times in explaining his shifting views. He's in a tough position there and even his solid rhetorical skills are then of limited use.

McCain: I respect his principled stance on a number of issues, but as a public speaker he never really impressed me. I trust he's more in his element in 1-1 encounters.

Thompson: Didn't see the previous debates involving him. This performance underscores why his campaigning is sinking...

Oh yes, the fringe candidates Tancredo and Hunter would in Europe be considered the equals of Haider or Le Pen...

Btw, is it only me who thinks the issues Republicans seemingly care most about makes them look pretty nasty? I'm saying that as someone who's socially pretty conservative... Immigration, torture, guns, no word of healthcare or climate change (or was I just then dozing?), etc. Doesn't seem promising for the general election...

Though Huckabee really stood out on that count as in the debate about the scholarships for kids of illegal immigrants. Seems to me very much in line with the "pro life and whole life" approach I commend him for.

The question: What would Jesus do? clearly is not alien to the Arkansas governor. And whether you're a believer or not, Jesus's ethics are a great benchmark for humane policies.

Now, that seems so utterly alien to Giuliani... His campaign has in so many ways a nasty streak. But then, my feeling is that the US brand of conservatism (unlike the christian-democrat brand of conservatism in continental Europe) has a pretty nasty streak in general. Just not enough Huckabees, I fear...

Posted by: charlesf | November 28, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

I only saw the first two hours, but Romney seemed completely uncomfortable in his skin. His fumbling feeds into the widely held perception that he's trying to squeeze himself into the package that Republican primary voters want to see. The most humiliating moment of the night was his attempt to jump to Rudy's right on bible interpretation, which he fumbled all over while Huckabee and Giuliani handled it very well. Ron Paul also loses because left wing voters who support him but have no idea about his domestic policies finally got some public exposure to his belief that women should be punished criminally for abortions. Giuliani and Huckabee had some mildly amusing zingers and handled themselves very well, each outmaneuvering Romney and remaining largely unscathed. The field in general wasn't served well in this event, as they were put in uncomfortable positions of discussing penalties for women who have abortions and confronting a retired and highly decorated gay veteran about our foolish "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy among other unflattering and awkward moments the debate forced.

Posted by: steimelkb | November 28, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Rudy came across as petty when trying to attack Romney on illegals . Rudy also missed a chance to defuse the expense account item . He should follow the advice from that snake Lanny Davis ; tell the truth quickly , tell it all , tell tell it yourself .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | November 28, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Rudy was fibbing folks -- when he was asked about late-breaking story questioning the ethics of his charging costs for his security detail for secret rendezvous weekends with his mistress he punted and told a fib.

The costs for the security details were charged to obscure NYC agencies - one that deals with regulating NYC Lofts and the other that aides NYC Elderly.

So not only did he fib -- but he abused his power and took funds from other agencies to hide the fact that the New Yorkers were helping to pay for his extramarital affair and weekends away in The Hamptons.

Sometimes a thug really is a thug.

Posted by: kec132 | November 28, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

I think Huckabee did the best overall, although I was not impressed with any of them to any degree. Mitt and Rudy hurt themselves at the start and never recovered. Mark, I have to disagree with you about McCain, I thought this was his worst performane in the debates held so far, even Tancrado and Hunter looked better, and for me that is saying a lot. Ron Paul was his usual self.

Posted by: lylepink | November 28, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

To me the thing that made McCain stand out -- again -- is his refusal to back away from things he believes are important but unpopular.

He's like the anti-Romney. Romney needs to be more controversial. If he takes an unpopular stand, maybe people will have more faith in his popular ones. Right now he comes across as not only slick, but slimy. "I stand second to none in my commitment to pander on whatever issue is important to my current electorate." He's like Bill Clinton except without the warmth and charm.

Posted by: anon99 | November 28, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I was really expecting Huckabee to receive more attacks from his opponents than he did now that he's polling even with Romney in Iowa. Romney made a point of attacking him on immigration and the education thing, but the attacks were really all between McCain, Giuliani and Romney. Maybe Guiliani and McCain are ignoring him intentionally in hopes that he'll overcome Mitt in Iowa and derail any momentum Romney might have gained had he won; increasing their chances of winning in New Hampshire.

Posted by: andyman_lds12 | November 28, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Ron Paul receives more money from the military than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat.

Dr. Paul gave Giuliani a reading list so he could learn what motivates the terrorists like Bin Lauden. Now I guess he needs to give McCain a reading assignment about the cause of WWII. Cliff Notes: Germany spent itself into bankruptcy with a war and reparations. The resulting monetary collapse allowed an interventionist tyrant to come to power. Could never happen here. Right?

Posted by: jdadson | November 28, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the easiest Republican for the Dem's to beat would be Romney. The hardest - McCain. Huck continues to impress the base. This will cause the front runners to continue to move right. As a Democrat can safely say that this debate drove home the reason I switched parties. Americans do not care how many guns you have or how you interpret books of fiction. The care about health care and how they will survive the twilight years, hoping they do not need to choose between food and medicine. They care about a fractured criminal penal system,they care about a solid education for their children and the safety of the children at school and on the way to and from school. They worry about retirement. All issues the republicans ignore or leave to market forces.

Posted by: dschauer | November 28, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

As much as I wanna say, GREAT JOB RUDY!, I simply can't. In all honesty I think the only one who remained confident in everything he said, and appeared most presidential, was Huckabee. He never waivered once, regardless of whether his words might offend or incite those wretched boos (grow up Florida!) The other fellas all had at least one VERY uncomfortable moment. However, in fairness, Huckabee didn't have as many chances to screw up as the front runners tend to get more time. Thats just a simple fact. But that also doesn't excuse how lousy those frontrunners did tonight, especially the MITT! He really looked foolish at times dodging bullets from every direction. Fred looked a bit confused at times and really not that sharp. John was really good at times, but then also seemed to condescending to his peers. Duncan got shafted in respects to time, and maybe you might say cause no one thinks he'll win, but really folks, he got the shaft (along with that guy on the far left). Ron makes sense sometimes, but I wonder if people will ever get past his total withdrawal from iraq thing. Rudy did alright, but even I agree that we didn't really need the whole "He's the guy that hired those illigals to paint his house" bit. But hey, lets admit, these debates are also meant to be entertaining I guess. In the end, does it mean people will take a more serious look at Huckabee? Well, in my opinion they should. But in reality, they wont. Thus the crux of the whole debate concept.

Posted by: daimonprice | November 28, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mark. McCain continues to impress.

Posted by: aw5634 | November 28, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

McCain, then Huck, then Arthur Branch.

After them, the deluge of not-so-much.

Giuliani has had much better nights.

Romney apparently has no fundament.

Branch exceeded my low expectations.

McCain is the real thing. Makes Romney look sort of invisible. The waterboarding moment was comparable to when Biden looked at all the other Ds on the stage and said
"None of that is even in the Patriot Act."

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 28, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

The eight Republican presidential hopefuls are squaring off in a challenge unlike anything they've faced as they step onto the stage for their party's first CNN/YouTube debate Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Florida. GOP hopefuls traded sharp jabs over immigration, taxes, and other to differentiate themselves.

Who won the CNN Youtube Republican Debate in Florida?


Posted by: PollM | November 28, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

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