Hows THAT for "fire in the belly"?
For the record, Human Events has officially endorsed Fred Thompson this morning.
My favorite answer of the night from any of the candidates was after Brit Hume asked about our reaction to the Iranian boats threatening our military, Huckabee gave a good answer and then the question went to Fred Thompson about whether our commanders made the right call.
Full transcript from last nights debate can be found here.
Yes, I think so. I think I agree with the governor on that. You can't take the judgment like that out of the hands of the officers on the ground there. I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing.
Iran was clearly testing us. They took British hostages under similar circumstances and it proceeded obviously much past what happened to us, but they're testing our resolve. They know that they're dealing with a nation that's not going to put up with that sort of thing. But it's some insight as to the way that they're thinking.
I think the Revolutionary Guard now has taken over from the regular military force with regard to those speedboats and so forth, so they're going to get a little more frisky. But they need to understand that if they cross the line, they're going to be destroyed.
I am still chuckling here.
Over at Hot Air, god love em, they got the video of fred's virgin remarks... oh yeah!
Listen to those applause after he says that....heh, hell, I was clapping too.
Hot Air also has the video of Thompson taking Huckabee to the woodshed, as they call it, so go see that one too.
The New York Times describes Thompson and sums up his position very well by highlighting one exchange:
But it was Mr. Thompson’s performance, in which he shook off the laid-back style that has defined his candidacy, that provided some of the liveliest moments of the debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C..
“This is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and its future,” said Mr. Thompson, who has staked his run on a strong showing in South Carolina. The primary there is Jan. 19.
“On the one hand,” he said, “you have the Reagan revolution, you have the Reagan coalition of limited government and strong national security. And the other hand, you have the direction that Governor Huckabee would take us in. He would be a Christian leader, but he would also bring about liberal economic policies, liberal foreign policies.”
Mr. Thompson then lit into Mr. Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher and Arkansas governor who won the Iowa caucus, for wanting to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, for supporting what he called “taxpayer-funded programs for illegals” and for wanting to sign a law restricting smoking.
“That’s not the model of the Reagan coalition, that’s the model of the Democratic Party,” he said.
Mr. Huckabee, for his part, responded with trademark humor. “The Air Force has a saying that says if you’re not catching flak, you’re not over the target,” he said. “I’m catching the flak; I must be over the target.”
Ron Paul, of course, made it clear he hadn't paid attention to anyone elses answer, then went of on his own tangent where even the moderator had to try to bring him back to reality.
The exchange between Hume and Paul:
HUME: Congressman Paul, what if this happens again?
PAUL: I would certainly urge a lot more caution than I'm hearing here tonight. It reminds me of what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin. We went to war there, then, later on, found out there was a lot of false information.
So here we have -- let's put it in perspective. We have five small speedboats attacking the U.S. Navy with a Destroyer? They could take care of those speedboats in about five seconds. And here we're ready to start World War III over this?
And now, guess what, today, the Navy commander of the Fifth Fleet was on ABC and announced that, you know, that voice might not have come from those vessels. So what does that mean? Was there a rush to judgment on this, ready to go to war?
And you know there are people in this administration and in Washington, D.C., that are looking for the chance. They were so disappointed with the national estimate on intelligence. And they were disappointed that there's no attempt to build weapons in Iran since 2003.
PAUL: So what -- I just don't see this rush to judgment.
HUME: Well, wait a minute. All of these people I've asked this question to so far have said they supported the decision to be passive. What are you responding to?
PAUL: I'm very sorry, I can't hear a word you said.
You'll have to speak up.
HUME: Every one of these -- of your fellow candidates have said they supported the commander's decision to respond passively. I just wonder what you're reacting to.
PAUL: Well, I didn't hear that. Of course we want caution. But I'm worrying about the policy of why we're looking for a justification. Now there are no weapons, actually people are looking around for an excuse to bomb Iran.
I mean, we're already, with our CIA, being involved in trying to overthrow that government, and we don't need another war. And this incident should not be thrown out of proportion to the point where we're getting ready to attack Iran over this.
Never actually answered the question, just went on his own little fantasyland tangent... typical Ron Paul!!!!
Romney, to give him credit, came out with a line after that which deserved the applause he received:
HUME: Governor Romney, if it happens again?
ROMNEY: I think Congressman Paul should not be reading as many of Ahmadinejad's press releases. But let's...
I think Iran represents a very serious threat. I do not believe this action was taken by rogue elements within the Iranian forces. I believe it was calculated.
And I believe it was designed to test our defenses. I believe it was also designed to rattle a sword to the Arab neighbors to see that they could go after the Straits of Hormuz. I believe, as well, that it was a diversionary tactic for them to consider other actions in other places.
And so I believe it was a very serious act. And the Iranians continue to take acts like this, it points out that we have in Iran a very troubled nation.
And we're going to have to have a comprehensive strategy with our friends and with some others who we need to pull into our circle of friendship to put extraordinary pressure on Iran.
And I've been speaking since January about tightening dramatically the economic sanctions, the diplomatic sanctions, directly communicating to the Iranian people. And I believe -- by the way, I can see you want to get the rest of the answer to that -- of course, this commander did exactly the right thing. The captains did the right thing. HUME: If it happens again?
ROMNEY: And in the same circumstances, I will put my trust in the hands of these captains and their taking the right course.
Of course they should take whatever action is necessary to protect their ships and protect their personnel, but this is part of a much broader effort to get Iran to finally pull into a more reasonable status. And that is something which is going to take a more comprehensive strategy than simply thinking about how we'd respond to gunboats like this.
That line about Ahmadinejad's press releases was spot on.
They moved on to the Iraq war and I have to say, McCain called out the Democrats spectacularly and especially Hillary Clinton on her idiotic "willing suspension of disbelief" comment to General Petraeus, who has been vindicated by events on the ground as soundly as she has been proven wrong.
GOLER: Senator McCain, you and Joe Lieberman today published an op-ed declaring the surge of troops in Iraq has worked, though you warned against bringing home more troops this year than we sent to Iraq last year.
Can Republicans win in November with Democrats arguing that there has been no real reduction of troops in a war that is now longer than World War II, a war that you, yourself, say a Republican administration mismanaged for the first three years?
MCCAIN: Can the Democrats win an election when they continue to deny the facts on the ground that we are succeeding? Can the Democrats deny that casualties have come down, that the provinces like Anbar are peaceful, that Baghdad, on New Year's Eve, thousands of people poured out in the streets to celebrate the new year?
Can Senator Clinton retract her statement to General Petraeus when she said she would have to suspend disbelief in order to believe that the surge was working? In fact, you would have to suspend disbelief that it's not working. And I say every time that I'm at a town hall meeting, al Qaeda's on the run, but they're not defeated.
Today is a historic day, my friends. Today is the day that the president of the United States announced the change in strategy, the so-called surge.
I supported that, I argued for it. I'm the only one on this stage that did. And I condemn the Rumsfeld strategy before that.
And I'm telling you, it's succeeding. And these young people are going to come home. But it's not going to be decided by any politician in Washington.
It's going to be decided by the man that should have been "TIME" magazine man of the year, General David Petraeus. That's who should decide when American troops come home.
MCCAIN: And I am convinced that if we continue this successful path, Americans will be able to come home. But the most important thing, there will be a reduction in casualties. And we can win, and then these young people will come home and they will come home with honor.
Good for McCain!
The came the hot button topic in South Carolina, illegal immigration and you can read all the candidates answers yourself, but Fred Thompson's answer, in my mind, topped them all, so I am highlighting it here.
GOLER: Senator Thompson, the governor says the 12 million people would be looked at individually.. How would you find them? And could you do it faster than he would, sir?
THOMPSON: You can't look at them individually. We need to be a nation of high fences and wide gates, and we get to decide when to open the gate and when to close it.
I believe with all my heart that if we enforce the border, if we crack down on employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants, and required them to use the modern technology that we have now so that they can, in effect, push a button on the front end and find out whether or not someone is legal, and if we put an end to sanctuary cities, where local governments are, in effect, telling their people they can't cooperate with federal authorities with regard to illegal immigrants, and we would do that by telling the sanctuary cities, "If you continue that, we cut off discretionary federal funding to those sanctuary cities," if we did those things, we would have enforcement by attrition.
We would reverse the process that we're going in now. It's not just 12 million people. We have to be concerned about another 12 million people.
I disagree with my friend, John McCain, on the bill that they proposed last year. I disagree with my friend, Governor Huckabee, when he supported in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, when he fought the legislature when they tried to impose verification requirements before a person could vote so you could determine they were an American citizen.
I think that we have got to enforce the border, crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigration, and stop sanctuary cities and policies that encourage people to continue across the border while we claim to be trying to enforce the border.
GOLER: Thank you, Senator. (APPLAUSE)
Read the whole transcript, as I said above, most of the candidates did well for themselves, but I believe Thompson came out the winner, not only for his answers in the debate, but his style, his "come out swinging" method and the fact that he showed the people of South Carolina that he does, indeed, have that "fire in the belly", when he wants to show it.
Other reactions to the debate last night:
Hot Air with "Debate Highlights: Fred takes Huck to the woodshed; Update: Fred on “virgins”; Update: Stalking horse?"
Confederate Yankee gives the Fred the win also, and has this to say about Paul's performance:
As for Ron Paul... it was hard for both the moderating team and the candidates to hide their mix of pity and disgust. I almost expected to see a note with his home address pinned to his jacket.
In the beginning I said that we have no need to compromise on a candidate just because we don’t want a liberal in the White House. There is nothing to apologize for true conservatism. Fred Thompson got the RED blood of conservatives across the country pumping again last night.
One of the best debates for the GOP to date, serious questions, serious answers, more than just soundbites jammed into a few short seconds, the moderators did their jobs and asked their questions, then allowed response time from candidate to candidate and when Paul wandered they bought it back on topic.
Jay at Stop the ACLU has a roundup of reactions also.