The Republican debate, that is. On the whole, it was a bit of a snoozer. Romney needed to do well talking about the economy, and he did. Giuliani was good, once again, and he is smart to talk like a general election candidate who is running against the Democrats. John McCain had some good moments. Fred Thompson strikes me as a good guy and a good conservative, but I don’t see any special appeal there.
What emerged tonight–maybe it has before, and I just missed it–was an obvious dividing line between the real contenders and the rest of the pack. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether you were listening to Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter or, surprisingly, Mike Huckabee. The second-tier candidates came across, I thought, as dark, negative and sometimes angry. The first-tier candidates were much more optimistic and positive.
I’m not sure there will be much more excitement to these debates until the field is culled, or, perhaps, until we finally have a candidate going up against Hillary.
UPDATE: As Paul noted, Sam Brownback did have a pretty good night, which is why I left him off the list of second-tier candidates who sounded as though they were channeling Lou Dobbs.
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