Rudy Wins the Debate

Rudy Giuliani emerged as the clear winner in the Republican debate for two reasons: He showed strength and determination and made clear that he was the guy who could deal with terrorism. And he demonstrated, convincingly, that the issue of the day is not abortion but terrorism. By his answers, and by assuming once again the mantle of Savior of the City on Sept. 11, he looked like a president and talked like we would hope one would. When he said that he was the most experienced candidate on security issues, he was obviously correct. His put-down of Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) not only captured the sound bites but showed him at his outraged, indignant best.

John McCain showed that he has "gone native" in Washington, adopting an insider mentality that led him to compromise on immigration and on campaign finance reform. His defense of his opposition to the Bush tax cuts was weak and even he had to acknowledge that the cuts stimulated revenues that closed the deficit.

The big loser was Mitt Romney, who was exposed for the flip-flopper that he is. When the Fox News reporters walked him through the history of his pro-life to pro-choice conversion in 1994 and his reversal in 2006, he had no real answer. And when McCain noted that these were both "even-numbered year" conversions, the crucial blow was struck.

Mike Huckabee showed that he was the class of the conservatives in the field. His answers were excellent and he brought down the house when he likened Democratic spending to John Edwards at a beauty salon. He not only defeated the other right-wing wannabes but also dealt a blow to the possible candidacies of Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich, showing that there was a true-blue conservative already in the race and hence no need to wait for Mr. Right to arrive.

Duncan Hunter deserves an honorable mention for his forthright answers.