One thing that jumps out thus far was Huckabee’s evasiveness on taxes. Utterly pathetic. Romney was on him like a pitbull, asking him if he’d increased taxes. First, the Huckster tried dodging by saying he made government work. Next, he tried playing the ‘he’s going negative card’.

Another thing that’s worth noting was Fred’s explanation about how to reform Social Security. Solid. When Chris Wallace tried interrupting, Fred persisted in explaining his plan. McCain and Romney said they appreciated Fred’s putting a plan together, though Romney thought that he’d tweak it a bit.

National Security

Romney is asked about his statement about not needing an expert on foreign policy. He’s sticking with his leadership line. Now he’s talking about the Clintons endorsing McCain’s immigration plan. He’s particularly avoiding talking about the expertise side of the equation.

McCain– It’s important to know the players. I know Musharraf.

Romney– Intelligence failed us badly. No kidding!!! “I was running a state.” “I’ve made tough calls.”

Wallace to Huckabee– You didn’t know that marshal law had been lifted. You didn’t know anything about the NIE. How do you defend yourself?

Huckabee– I’ve been to lots of countries. Yada, yada, yada.

Wallace– Again, back to the question. There’s been a pattern that you didn’t know what’s been going on.

Huckabee’s response is awful, defensive.

Now Rudy’s turnMy national security qualifications aren’t just from 9/11. I’ve worked on a terrorism task force for the Ford administration. I’ve travelled to 35 countries. “When a Saudi prince gave me a $10 million check, then asked me to argue against US foreign policy. I gave the check back.” Good response.

Fred“It’s interesting that Mitt thinks experience is important for everything except foreign policy.” That’ll leave a mark. Touts his being floor manager on Homeland Security bill. Talked about things he worked on as chair of Sen. Govt. Affairs Committee. Finishes by asking Mitt if Ted Kennedy had attended the bill signing of MittCare into law.

Mitt- “You bet he was.” OUCH!!! Too much enthusiasm. Conservatives are cringing all across America.

McCain wrap-up — I’ve been endorsed by 4 secretaries of state: Kissinger, Eagleburger, Schultz & Haig. Blah, blah, blah.

Mitt had a stronger showing tonight. He was particularly effective in going after Huckabee, exposing Gov. Huckabee as evasive on tax increases. That’s understandable with his tax record. I still think his enthusiastic reply that Teddy was at MittCare signing isn’t a high point.

When Huckabee tried using lines like “I made government work”, you knew that he was defenseless. Pathetic. Wallace just asking the questions about his foreign policy

Fred was solid, though not as robust as last night. Still, his continual laying out his plans show off his gravitas. That’s gotta help in SC. Fred doesn’t suffer from Washingtonspeak. He talks like regular people. It’s just that he knows alot more than most regular people. That’ll play well with voters this year. They want plainspeak, not Washingtonspeak.

I thought McCain was somewhat effective tonight. The only bright spots for him was talking about pushing for the Surge, which was a solid bright spot, and talking about saving money on defense appropriations. Immigration wasn’t the Achilles Heel that it was last night but too many replies were “I’ve been endorsed by”. Another thing that hurts McCain is his constant talking in Washingtonese.

One refreshing bright spot was not having Ron Paul there. We didn’t have to listen to his whiny “We shouldn’t be in Iraq” diatribes.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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