early and often

The Republican Debate Made Mildly Interesting!

Republican debate

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Last night’s Republican debate at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton was about as feisty as knitting lessons at the community center. It was as if the candidates, who mostly avoided attacks, were tired from the heat. Many observers handed Romney the victory for his smooth answers on the economy; McCain also did well. But Giuliani and Huckabee, while they didn’t do poorly, didn’t do much to break out of their second-tier positions in Florida. For those who missed it, we sifted the platitudes for the stuff that really matters.

Best Unprovoked Jab at Hillary: “When the polls were six and seven out of ten Americans thinking it was a good idea, Hillary Clinton was in favor of the war. And now when the polls are six out of ten are against, Hillary Clinton is against the war.” —Rudy Giuliani

Biggest Applause Line: “I frankly can’t wait, because the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I just can’t imagine. I can’t imagine the American people can imagine.” —Mitt Romney, possibly picturing Bill with another intern

Best Usage of Folksy Language: “Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.” —Mike Huckabee, on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq

Most Delusional Comment: “We’re going to come from behind and surprise everyone. We have them all lulled into a very false sense of security now.” —Rudy Giuliani, on his Republican rivals

Statement Most Critical of George W. Bush: “Look, the president of the United States signed into law, two years in a row, pork-barrel-laden bills, $35 billion worth of pork, worth of earmarked projects which are outrageous.” —John McCain

Most Blatant Dodge: “We’ll report that on the thirty-first of January, as required by law, and probably not a minute earlier. You’ll just have to wait, Tim.” —Mitt Romney, when asked how much of his own money he’d spent in Florida

Best Pandering to Floridians: “Senator McCain has said that he does not support a national catastrophic fund as a backstop. I do. I believe it’s necessary.” —Rudy Giuliani, on insurance against natural disasters

Best Display of Actual Compassion: “But if you talk to the people at the bottom of the economy, the people who are handling the bags, the people who are serving the food, you get a very different picture.” —Mike Huckabee

Best Issue No One Knew Was an Issue: “A lot of people in Florida sit around in traffic every day, never getting to their kids’ dance recitals or soccer games because they’re stuck in traffic, and we’ve done nothing about it.” —Mike Huckabee

Best Overall Line: “I did hear what Chuck said. I was standing with him, and I didn’t disagree with him at the time, because I was standing next to him. It’s as simple as that. This is a guy who can put this foot on that side of my face, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” —Mike Huckabee, on Chuck Norris describing McCain as too old for the presidency

Most Unexpected Reference: “Sylvester Stallone.” —John McCain, suggesting a showdown between Sly and Chuck Norris

The Most Libertarian Thing Ron Paul Said: The government “shouldn’t stimulate [the economy] by interfering in the market rate of interest. That’s where our basic problem comes from. And when you do that, you get into these problems, and then everybody wants to solve the problem by printing more money and spending more money and asking the Federal Reserve to, you know, lower interest rates.”

Biggest Totally Random Suck-up to an Opponent: “I know this is unusual, but I happen to know Rudy Giuliani. I happen to know he’s an American hero, and I happen to have gone to New York City after 9/11. And I’m proud of the way he led this country and united it following 9/11.” —John McCain

Minutes Before Giuliani Himself Mentioned 9/11: Sixteen. —Dan Amira

The Republican Debate Made Mildly Interesting!