Iraq Kicks It Off
The debate starts on the one major topic that almost every one of the Republicans agree on -- the war in Iraq.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) faced the question first and rebutted its very premise, calling it a "non sequitur" because it is impossible to know then what we know now about Iraq. Romney did acknowledge that the Bush administration was "underprepared" after toppling Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was more forceful on the question. "It was absolutely the right thing to do," said Giuliani. He pivoted to assert that the "Democrats were in denial" by trying to separate Iraq from the broader global war on terror.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) walked through his support for the war but, like Romney, said that the problems were primarily centered on "the management of the conflict." McCain admitted he had not read the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (and neither did Sen. Sam Brownback). McCain also invoked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) name for the first time in the debate, saying she was making a fundamental misjudgment by calling Iraq "George Bush's war." Applause followed.
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