Charles Gibson moderated the debate by posing questions to the panel of candidates and allowing them to answer the questions and discuss them amongst themselves. It was the first real opportunity that the American public has been able to see them discuss and argue their points without getting the feeling that each candidate was trying to come across with the best sound bite.
Covering topics from foreign policy to domestic, the country was given the chance to see the personalities of each candidate come out as they addressed the issues and each other. There was an obvious animosity between Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, Ron Paul (who was told at one point by Romney, "We're going to miss you tomorrow night") was dismissed by several of the candidates on several of his statements as not being reasonable to accomplish, and Fred Thompson scored several "hits" on other candidates by pointing out their changes in positions during the progression of the campaign, particularly in regards to Iraq and the war on terror. The one candidate who seemed to be most at ease during the course of the evening was John McCain, who got his fair share of barbs in at Romney and gave a very clear position on his ideas regarding national health care.
The results of last night's debate? From this morning's Mason/Dixon poll among New Hampshire voters:
GOP race (400 likely GOP primary voters, conducted Jan.2-4, MOE +/-5%)
A month ago (released December 9), the NH results were:
The results of the latest Zogby poll can be found here.
Fred Thompson has already conceded that he doesn't see his campaign as having much of a chance in the granite state and after tonight's FOXNews debate he will be heading to South Carolina (hat tip to Jay at Stop the ACLU), also taking the opportunity to have his say about the media and the rumor that he would be dropping out of the race after the Iowa caucuses.
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John McCain seems now to be the favored win in New Hampshire for the Republican race. With a significant lead over Romney, it's little wonder he seemed so well at ease and enjoying himself during last night's first New Hampshire debate.
On the Republican side, McCain led the field by 32-24 percent over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. There, it was McCain who got a bounce, not Iowa winner Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who still trails in third place and appeared to get no immediate traction from Iowa.
The new poll is hardly a prediction. If anything, it revealed an electorate in New Hampshire still very much up for grabs.
As is, actually the rest of the country, other than Iowa and Wyoming. The tides have shifted; Hillary Clinton is no longer the inevitable opponent of whomever becomes the front runner for the Republicans. It is very possible that it could and will be Barack Hussein Obama. The remaining Republicans have already, as seen last night, begun to turn on each other in the race for the White House.
Whatever the final results may be, it's sure to be a very interesting ride on the way. May the best candidate win, in order that the American people may be the ultimate winners.
Once and Always, an American Fighting Man