McCain had the line of the night commenting on a proposed Woodstock museum. He said (paraphrased), "I'm sure it was the cultural and pharmaceutical event of a generation, I didn't attend as I was tied up at the time . . .(laughter, applause, standing ovation).
Nice job John. McCain is unquestionably a national hero and this debate was an excellent event for him and perhaps a great opportunity to begin transitioning out of the Presidential race.
Huckabee hit on a solution I've proposed (jokingly) for several years to address the nations ever increasing entitlement programs, traffic congestion, rising health care costs, and high unemployment. He reminded the nation that when Social Security originated, benefits were paid at age 65 and typically stopped about age 67. Our increasing life expectancy has consequences impacting many areas of our economy and it's time to focus on addressing the impact of longevity. Huckabee may be an good choice as V.P. in November.
Romney was average - again. He certainly looks Presidential, but he's so stiff and scripted rather speaking from conviction and passion. The Presidency is much more than a business negotiation. Back to the Board Room Mitt.
Thompson disappoints for second time in a row. I expected a seasoned actor and attorney to excel in televised debates. Thompson has fumbled his answers, frequently looks down when responding rather than at the questioner, and demonstrates no depth of knowledge or command of the issues discussed.
Giuliani remains a solid debater and plays well on TV. He surprised many with solid answers on foreign policy - an area his opponents expect is his weakness. His answers are clear and easily understandable - no nukes in Iran for example.
Asked how to measure success of military efforts Giuliani alluded to the standard of Reagan, "we win, they lose". He also demonstrated a keen understanding of foreign policy and the relationships between nations when he suggested that China and Russia, to preserve their economic interest in Iran, may support the United States efforts to prohibit Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Final ranking of top tier candidates for this debate: McCain, Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney, Thompson.