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November 29, 2007 07:56 PM UTC

Republican Presidential Debate

  • by: Colorado Pols

Last night was the CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential debate, which turned out to be perhaps the most entertaining debate in the race thus far. As The New York Times reports:

The debate in St. Petersburg, Fla., showcased some of the fierce battles that recently have raged on the trail between Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, as Romney accused Giuliani of making New York City a “sanctuary city” when he was the mayor and Giuliani turning the tables on him, saying Romney had employed illegal immigrants at his home, adding, “I would say he had a sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city.”

The debate also reflected a new reality in the Republican race: For the first time, several candidates used the debate to take shots at Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who has come from behind to surge in several polls of Iowa caucusgoers in recent weeks.

The questions for the debate, which was sponsored by CNN and YouTube, came in the form of home videos submitted by viewers. And while the animated snowman who was made famous in the Democratic YouTube debate this year returned only for a brief cameo on Wednesday night, there were plenty of frosty exchanges between the candidates.

For the first half hour, the candidates clashed on a single issue, immigration, which has aroused strong passions for months on the campaign trail. The subject drew passionate responses from the candidates on the debate stage as well, as they not only scored political points off each other but also managed to illuminate some of their differences on related subjects such as education, health care and public safety.

There wasn’t a clear winner in the debate, though you could make a strong argument for Huckabee. There was a clear loser, however. Mitt Romney was waffling and stammering all over the place. Colorado’s Tom Tancredo was generally ignored and receive the least airtime of all of the candidates.

Who do you think won the debate? Vote below.

Who Won the CNN/YouTube Republican Debate?

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42 thoughts on “Republican Presidential Debate

  1. I watched…I enjoyed..I was entertained.

    Huck def had a good night and seems like a genuinely sincere person.  While I’d be on the first plane to Canada if he were to be elected, he came across as the pastorly nice guy he wants to portray.

    And, for the first time, McCain came across as “Presidential.”  His little back-and-forth with Romney made Mitt look even more like a used car salesman and McCain look like the “leader of the free world,” as he still calls it occasionally.

    Finally, The Tank actually had a strong 30 seconds at one point.  No, I’m not kidding.  While he was stammering through one of his chances to speak (about Jesus or something), he redeemed himself when he joined McCain in knocking Ron Paul.  He was down right coherent!

    1. I think McCain made the strongest presentations overall, although his position on illegal immigration continues to hurt him.

      Rudy was a disappointment, especially his stone wall on’s report on his security detail’s expense accounting. The dispute is over how the city did its accounting. It doesn’t allege Rudy did anything wrong other than cheat on his wife.

      Romney is a smart rich kid who will say anything to get his way. It’s obvious he’s been a suck up since he was a baby. Personalities don’t change. He’s the Bill Richardson of the GOP primary campaign, and that’s as low as you can get.

      Tancredo is the big winner of this campaign. His illegal immigration campaign has succeeded in dominating the conversations in both primaries. He can retire with honor. Duncan gets a small hat tip but is basically a non factor.

      Huckabee is glib and fun to watch but would be a disaster as president. There is no there there. I don’t trust him. He doesn’t believe in evolution. Enough said.

      I”m back to not feeling good about any of these candidates, but they look better than any of the Dems. Typical for this stage of a presidential campaign.

      1. Have to agree with you there about Romney.  I have had the same sense about him (i.e. ethically bankrupt power-hungry suck-up) for a long time – I am going to enjoy watching him implode.

        Huckabee does have some sort of aura of sincerity though, and apparently I am not the only one who thinks the guy is very charismatic and down to earth.  Good for him even if I don’t agree with 99 % of what he says.

        1. Not so clean or competent. Politicians are politicians, some good and some not, regardless of the party.

          Look at Ritter. He hardly looks competent these days.

          1. I know SAFER means it’s ok to get stoned now, but you shouldn’t toke & post. Ritter hardly competent? Whow besides the rabid Repub base thinks he’s doing even a mediocre job? He comes across really good.

            Now how he actually handles healthcare and education this year and next – that’s where the rubber meets the road. And if he comes up with something that really works, his negatives will go up some.

            But right now he’s looking real good…

  2. Or was the “literal Bible” question a bit much?  I know it was a YouTube format debate, but CNN had considerable control over the questions I’m guessing.

    How many of our past Presidents would have looked at the moderator as though he’d grown horns at a question like that?

      1. CNN has transcripts up here.

        In summary, Giuliani got the question first; Huckabee interrupted before Rudy got started and asked if Rudy needed some help in answering…  (got laughs and applause)

        Rudy answered that it’s an interpretive work (one Kos poster described as “the Catholic answer”), lots of allegory.

        Mitt got it next, stumbled for a second and answered “yes, but not in the way you might read it…”.

        Huckabee got the third and last shot at it and gave a solid mainstream Protestant answer – some parts allegorical, some parts literal, but believe every word of it, yes.

  3. .

    if Republican plants were asking Hilary and Obamalama

    loaded questions in a Democratic debate ?  

    I thought CNN showed bad form in letting 3 obvious (and vettable) Democratic partisans

    take over the GOP debate.  

    a phony General asking about gays in the military ?

    Come on!


      1. .

        can I cop to being an old guy with a poor memory ?

        Chris Cilliza’s FIX on has the details.

        I’ll go look,

        but I’m not promising to find it.

        I loved the Bible question!

        I loved watching Rudy wriggle.

        This question has been hashed over right here in the last week,

        and a couple professed agnostics are teaching this fundamentalist a thing or two.  

        The moonbat/ mars question was a pander to the Florida hosts,

        and the Tankster hit a home run.  

        1. is actually a log cabin republican and all has he done was allowed his name to be used on Clinton’s steering committee as she does support the rights of gays and lesbians and repealing “Don’t tell” legislation.

          But it was a debate OPEN to the public by virtue of you tube.  And since when in a democracy is one’s free speech limited on the basis of their political affiliation anyway.  That’s downright fascist.

          1. So if all someone does is lend their name, that doesn’t count as anything?  So then what is an endorsement I wonder…

            Also, the debate was for Republican primary voters-that was the whole premise of the debate.  So if registered Democrats are going to change their party affliation to vote in the Republican primary, then by all means; ask away.  It’s an intra-party affair to help determine our nominee.  You wouldn’t be pissed if some Republican crashed the Dems debate?

          2. .

            he was never a General until he retired and got the star at his retirement ceremony.

            He is explicitly not authorized to call himself a General outside the context of the California military auxiliary.  

            He is technically a Colonel.  

    1. It would be damn entertaining…

      But aside from Brig Gen Kerr, who are these “plants?”  I agree that having him in the audience was BS, but the question was worth asking.

      And for those unaware, Kerr has endorsed HRC and been on CNN in the past talking about gays in the military.  I believe he also testified before congress at some point…


      1. .

        “I love that there is so much hype about the ‘Hillary plant.’

        “Of course, it is never mentioned that an Edwards supporter (the China-toys questioner) and an Obama supporter (forget which question) also asked questions.”

        still looking.


    2. was it a good question. I don’t care if Vladimir Putin asked it, what I care about is did we get some really legit questions.

      And you know it’s a good question when everyone is complaining about who asked it. If the question was “why do Dems suck” no one on the Repub side would complain about the questioner.

      1. Come on, did you even watch the debate?  You know how many questions there were about the Iraq war, energy costs, the housing market, or even health care?  Zero.  If you think that just because someone is complaining about the question means it was a good question?  That’s overly simplistic at best, and a lame attempt to spin for Democrats crashing the Republican debate.

        The questions were laughable.  How in the hell does someone’s view on the confederate flag relate to the presidency, other than trying to make Republicans look bad?  Where were the questions on energy issues, or the war, or the economy?  

        Yes, the fact that Dems snuck in and asked questions gets under my skin, but it’s not the questioner’s fault.  It’s the fact that CNN put together a piss-poor debate.

        And that fact somehow means that they did a good job because people are upset?

        1. Most of the questions were on medium level issues and they totally ignored some most of the major issues. Again, I don’t care who asks the questions – the key issue, as you also said, is the quality of the questions.

  4. The sheen is off Mitt.

    Rudy is about to implode on ethics questions.

    Fred just woke up from a nap.

    Ron is an admitted fringer.

    Tank is a racist nut.

    Duncan can’t get any air because Tank owns immigration, which is to bad because Duncan isn’t a racist.

    McCain is an honorable warrior who can’t get any support from a party who says it support the troops, but really thinks vets are just chumps.

    Man I hope Huck isn’t the nominee he will be hard to beat.  Especially if Hillary is the nominee, the contrasts are too strong.

  5. While I missed the first half of the debate, I saw enough to get an idea where it was going…

    I was bummed because it seemed like Mitt was really struggling last night.  He didn’t handle the question of water-boarding too well, and he was obviously flustered by the Bible question (that guy really seemed like a prick though).

    Huckabee’s performance was pretty freaking good.  I loved his answers regarding WWJD in regards to the death penalty, and his suggestion on who should be the first person sent to Mars.

    Giuliani was back and forth…I think his accusation of “sanction mansion” was ridiculous, but he did a good job answering questions about using 9/11 and stayed on message.

    I liked Tank’s answer regarding the NASA question-someone needed to through that out there and he was right.

    I wasn’t impressed with John McCain.  He tried to insert himself, but he didn’t seem to make too much of an impact with his answers.  Even after getting on Romney’s case he was left alone.  That’s not “front-runner” treatment.

    Thompson was just happy to be there.

    And I don’t remember anything big that Hunter said.  But he was there…

    Ron Paul was…Ron Paul

    I think Huck made it out on top, Giulianni second, and Mitt third.

    1. without interference.  

      Posters here would have been outraged if Republicans were framing the questions for the  Democrat’s debate, and rightly so.  

      FYI, David, arguing that there’s no harm in CNN turning a GOP debate into a Democratic-spun event:

      after the primary campaign,

      there’s another round called the General election.  

      That’s when anybody ought to be able to ask questions.  

      It’s one of those goose-gander situations.  

        1. FOX isn’t even marginally fair and balanced; their executives don’t pretend to be once away from creating the corporate slogan, and Democrats for the most part no longer pretend that it is just so they can get the airtime.

          Hume would have been just as bad as you feel Cooper was.

      1. In the Democratic YouTube debate, we had a question about too many taxes, a question about protecting someone’s right to an (apparently illegally purchased) gun – his “baby” – and a question by an apparently pro-theocratic person about “In God We Trust”.  It ended with a Colorado Springs Republican asking what each of the candidates disliked about the other.

        With the open primary and caucus systems we have around the country, I think this kind of crossover is inevitable, but I do agree – Democrats should be election the Democratic nominee and Republicans should be electing the Republican nominee.  We can get into cross-party debates after the primaries – if only we can get someone to enforce party membership requirements at the Federal level.

        1. In a You-tube debate, it’s not Anderson Cooper’s fault if the debate questions sucked-I don’t think he’s the one that picked which questions would air.  Whoever the director was that put the thing together, that’s where the problem lies.  I actually feel bad for Cooper.  He was the face for CNN that night, and CNN is the one that dropped the ball, but he seems like he’s getting the heat

          1. Some people seem to be complaining that “Democratic” questions seeped in to the debate, but that that would never happen to Democrats because of the Liberal Media.  That’s the BS…

            Both sides received equally sucky questions at the YouTube debates.  Let’s everyone call off the bias alert, okay?

            1. I think the questions were aimed at topics that aren’t important to R voters in a primary.  There’s not a lot of variation on everyone’s stand on illegal immigration, yet we had 35 minutes of it.  

              “Don’t ask don’t tell” (a Clinton policy) has no discussion in Republican circles, other than Dems bringing it up when good gay soldiers are asked to leave because they’ve outed themselves.

              It was a big setup, and the Dems have to know that payback is going to be a bitch – someone will do the same stupid crap to them in a debate in the near future.  Hiding from Fox won’t help them now – they will be asked questions in a Dem primary debate that Republicans want to hit them with, and it will be inappropriate then, too.

              CNN should have just let the R’s have their freaking primary.

              1. The CNN/YouTube Democratic debate had equally bad questions; if you’re waiting for revenge at a future debate, you’re late.

                And I already pretty much agreed with you on the last part, too – D and R debates should be for D and R voters, and that D and R primaries should be run by the parties, for the party members…


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