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Scoring the Debate

10:06 AM, May 16, 2007 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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It seems that everyone has an opinion on the debate, and the consensus seems to be that Giuliani won, and that Huckabee helped himself as well. THE WEEKLY STANDARD's own Fred Barnes weighed in early, saying: a few emotional moments in the debate, he grabbed the national security issue and didn't let go. It trumped abortion and, for now at least, it's the issue that's likely to come to mind when reporters and commentators and Republican voters think about Giuliani.

Byron York at National Review compliments the performance of both McCain and Giuliani, saying of the latter:

He was solid on terrorism, solid on the war in Iraq, solid on taxes, solid on lots of things. On abortion, he was not exactly solid, but his answers were more coherent than they had been in the first debate

Ed Morrissey scores it a Giuliani win, but tempers that finding by arguing that Ron Paul threw the debate. PowerLine renders a split decision, with John Hinderaker saying that McCain and Giuliani did the best, and Paul Mirengoff finding a lot to dislike in McCain's answers. RedState also splits its vote, with Bluey scoring a Giuliani knockout, while Erick is a Huckabee fan.

Dean Barnett praises Romney, and says that Giuliani excelled as well. Michelle Malkin compliments Giuliani and Romney too, but says that McCain is 'flagging.' Mary Katharine Ham has a funny summary of the highlights, including a loose paraphrasing of the Paul-Giuliani exchange. She names Giuliani and Huckabee the winners.

The American Spectator seems united in the idea that Giuliani won, with Philip Klein making an interesting observation about Huckabee:

One interesting moment in the debate came when Mike Huckabee praised Giuliani for being honest about his pro-choice views, despite their profound disagreement on abortion. This made me wonder whether the former Arkansas governor was auditioning to be Rudy's vice president should Giuliani get the nomination.

At this writing, Glenn Reynolds's poll shows (Fred) Thompson the winner, with Giuliani in a strong second. Kathryn Lopez picks out a nice post-debate clip with Romney, where he rejects the 'Kobayashi Maru' scenario (as he did in the debate).

To me the key is this: the expectation going into the debate was that Mayor Giuliani would have a difficult time defending his recent 'conversion to candor' on abortion, and would be attacked by the other candidates. Not only did he do better on abortion by keeping his comments more general, but he took advantage of an opening to highlight his commitment to fight terrorism. By avoiding the expected abortion misstep and scoring points on terrorism, I think he clearly emerged as the winner.

The campaigns were quick to highlight the moments in the debate that they would like you to remember. Governor Romney highlighted this clip:

Senator McCain's team sent out this one: