In my humble (somewhat biased) opinion, the 10 Republican candidates fared far better than their Democratic counterparts, but I still didn't come away with any clear idea of who I might vote for in 2008.
THE LIST OF CANDIDATES: (not in order of preference)
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, WI
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, MA
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, NY
Rep. Tom Tancredo, CO
Sen. Sam Brownback, KS
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, AR
Sen. John McCain, AZ
Rep. Duncan Hunter, CA
Former Gov. Jim Gilmore, VA
Rep. Ron Paul, TX
All handled themselves relatively well, though Rep. Ron (I'm really a Libertarian) Paul distanced himself from the pack with his 'anti-Iraq War' rhetoric, which he continues to tout, though not as vociferously as our Democratic pals. In this day and age one of the most important issues, for me at least, is a strong foreign policy and an uncompromising take on the "war on terror", and Paul, an adherent of non-intervention, aced himself out of my vote. Not that he ever had it. Non-intervention is perfectly fine for isolationists, but we're not. We live in a global village, our lives inextricably linked with those of our fellow earthlings, through our dependency on foreign oil and other products, so those who are stronger are forced to become the protectors of the weaker, less able ones. It's a moral imperative, in my mind.
Of all the candidates, the top 3 (Giuliani, McCain and Romney) remain the top 3, with Romney emerging the strongest and McCain the least, during these debates. The others don't have enough 'name and personality' power to ever win the Primary, so I wouldn't even consider them, regardless of their potential worthiness. The Republican candidate needs to be someone who can win, in 2008, which isn't going to be an easy task. It's going to be an uphill battle for various reasons:
1. The Democrats will do anything to win the Presidency. They've already experienced the sweet taste of victory, these past elections, and they're not going to settle for majority.
2. The left's contempt for the Bush legacy (particularly the Iraq War) and its influence on the American people.
3. The 'Star' power of la Clinton and B.O., and their respective, humongous war chests.
Even though both Clinton and O'Bama have their major detractors, either or could still win, and that would be disastrous. And if they can get over their antipathy for each other and eventually join forces, it would be an incredibly powerful partnership, at least as far as potential voter appeal goes. I'm still hoping they cancel each other out, but that might not happen. So, we are left with who would be the most formidable opponent for a Clinton or Obama or Clinton/Obama team, and I still come up blank. For now.
Maybe Fred Thompson will throw in his hat, and that could very well change the dynamics.
Run, Fred, Run.
But it all remains to be seen.