Last night’s Republican CNN/YouTube debate opened with fireworks: Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney heatedly debating whether Romney was responsible for hiring illegal immigrants to work on his house (and if so, would he recommend them to friends and neighbors). But like an actual fireworks display, it soon grew repetitive and numbing. For those of you who flipped to Kid Nation, here’s a rundown of the evening’s highlights.
Unprovoked jabs at Clinton
The Giuliani ad that ended with the zinger about Hillary’s planted audience member.
Mitt Romney coming out of nowhere to say that, “It's time for us to recognize we're going to have to take a new course in this country, not follow Hillary Clinton off to the left.”
Mike Huckabee offering to send Hillary Clinton to Mars.
Question: Is waterboarding torture? Mitt Romney: “I do not believe that as a presidential candidate it is wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating people.”
Question: In 1994, you said you looked forward to the day when gays could serve openly in the army, do you still? Mitt Romney: “I look forward to hearing from the military exactly what they believe is the right way to have the right kind of cohesion and support in our troops, and I'll listen to what they have to say.”
Question: “What would Jesus say about the death penalty?” Mike Huckabee: “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office.”
Amount of time before Giuliani mentioned 9/11
A remarkable one hour, fourteen minutes.
Usage of down-home, folksy terms
Mike Huckabee: “It's like my old pastor used to tell me: When they're kicking you in the rear, it's just proving you're still out front.”
Fred Thompson: None, amazingly.
“We never proposed amnesty.” —John McCain on immigration reform
“Government can impose reasonable regulations.” —Rudy Giuliani on gun control
“And I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II.” —John McCain, responding to Ron Paul’s desire to bring the troops home
Nearly everything Ron Paul said about Iraq, demonstrating the disagreement among Republicans about the war, and the main benefit of Paul being in the race.
Pandering to the Evangelical base
“That presumes Roe versus Wade is overturned, which I think should be our number one focus right now.” —Fred Thompson, presuming that, after gay marriage, school prayer, and flag burning, we’ll get to the other stuff
Actual signs of compassion
Mike Huckabee defending education for illegal immigrants.
John McCain’s spirited opposition to torture.
Rudy Giuliani espousing the goodness of the vast majority of Muslims and Arabs and the “great religion” of Islam.
Issue nobody knew was an issue
The North America Union conspiracy, as symbolized by a possible North American superhighway. (Thank you, Ron Paul.)
Attempts to make other Republicans seem liberal
Romney hounding Giuliani on running a “sanctuary city” as mayor of New York.
Thompson’s ad featuring video of a pro-choice Romney and a pro-tax Huckabee.
Thompson accusing Giuliani of doing a photo op with members of the Clinton cabinet.
Best overall lines
“All I've heard is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo.” —A perfectly balanced Tom Tancredo.
“I am a little surprised the mayor says, you know, everybody's responsible for everybody that they hire, but we'll have to address that a little bit further later.” —Fred Thompson, possibly referring to Bernard Kerik.
“We're struggling to figure out how to spend the money.” —Ron Paul on his campaign fund-raising.