One difference from the previous debate is that they introduce each candidate in more detail. On the screen they show the age, religion, family, and career or each candidate. I'll list the candidate and each of their stats below. For family, I'll abbreviate w=wife, s=sons, d=daughters, sd=step-daughters, and c=children (no gender specified). For career, I'll abbreviate USS=US Senate, USHR=US House or Reps., USDoEo=US Dept. of Education official, fCHASC=former Chairman of House Armed Service Committee
- Sen. John McCain of Arizona: 70; Episcopalian; w/4s/3d; USS '87-now, USHR 2 terms, Navy '59-'81
- Rep. Ron Paul of Texas: 71; Protestant; w/5c; USHR 10 non-consective terms; Libertarian Pres. Nom. '88
- Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of NYC: 62; Catholic; w/1s/1d/1sd; NYC Mayor '93-'01, US Attorney '83-'91
- Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado: 61; Presbyterian; w/2s; USHR '99-now; USDoEo; former state legislator
- Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas: 51; Baptist; w/2s/1d; AR Gov. '97-'07, Baptist Minister
- Former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia: 57; Methodist; w/2s; VA Gov. '98-'01, RNC Chairman '01-'02
- Rep. Duncan Hunter of California: 58; Baptist; w/2s; USHR '81-now, Attorney mid 70's-'81, fCHASC
- Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts: 60; Mormon; w/5s; MA Gov. '03-'07, ran 2002 Olympics, CEO Bain Capital Investments '84-'00
- Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas: 50; Catholic; w/2s/3d; USS '96-now, KS Sect. of Agr. '86-'93
- Former Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin: 65; Catholic; w/3c; WI Gov. '87-'01, US Sect. of HHS '01-'05
I won't go into great detail on each candidate's answers, but I will keep stats of excellent, good, fair, and poor answers like I have with previous debates.
One thing I'm noticing is that there is less pause between questions, that all the candidates seem to be talking faster, and that all candidates seem to be making their points better. Maybe that first debate was a nice practice round, and everyone is more polished this time.
Mike Huckabee just had a line that almost brought the house down with laughter. In refering to outrageous spending by Congress, he said, "We've had a Congress that's spent more than John Edwards at a beauty shop."
Another great thing about this debate is that there is occasionally better follow up to a question. They asked Gilmore a question about a quote of his in which he implied the front-runners were not conservative enough. In his answer, he also got in a hit on Huckabee. Giuliani was given a chance to respond, but he kind of dodged the question. So, the moderator said that he'd give Giuliani another 30 seconds to answer the question he was actually asked.
Ron Paul was asked if he was out of step with his party or if the party was out of step with the world, since he's the only one that opposes the war in Iraq. His answer was very good, but a small part of it almost made it sound like we invited the 9/11 attack. He was able to finish his answer, as well as a 30 second follow up, but when he concluded, Giuliani interjected out of turn, and he seemed pretty angry about Paul's answer, calling the explanation for 9/11 absurd and even asking if the Congressman wished to withdraw the statement.
Paul had 30 more seconds in which he talked about "blowback," a concept in which countries hate and/or attack us for things we do to them first. Giuliani asked for 30 more seconds, and several others, including Romney asked for 30 seconds too. Paul obviously shook things up on this topic. However, the moderators chose to change the topic.
A new question from the internet for McCain was about whether Confederate flags should be flown from South Carolina state buildings. Before the question had even fully been asked, there were audible moans and boos from the South Carolina audience.
I could have sworn this debate was moving faster than the previous Republican and Democrat debates, but oddly, each candidate got less chance to speak. Instead of the regular seven to 13 questions each, this debate had about four to seven questions per candidate. Ron Paul and Tommy Thompson each had only four questions to respond to while McCain had six and Romney had seven.
I tallied the points for each question as usual with 3 points = excellent answer, 2 pts. = good answer, 1 pt. = fair answer, and 0 pts. = poor answer. The averages are as follows:
[2.333] Gov. Mike Huckabee
[2.250] Rep. Ron Paul
[1.800] Sen. Sam Brownback
[1.800] Rep. Duncan Hunter
[1.714] Gov. Mitt Romney
[1.500] Mayor Rudy Giuliani
[1.500] Sen. John McCain
[1.400] Gov. Jim Gilmore
[1.250] Gov. Tommy Thompson
[1.000] Rep. Tom Tancredo
Out of all the questions, I only thought there were six excellent answers: three from Mike Huckabee, two from Ron Paul, and one from Mitt Romney. I felt Gilmore, Giuliani, and Tancredo had one poor answer each.
Below are the totals of each candidate's averages from this debate plus the first one.
[4.458] Gov. Mike Huckabee
[4.030] Rep. Ron Paul
[3.600] Sen. Sam Brownback
[3.483] Gov. Mitt Romney
[3.356] Rep. Duncan Hunter
[3.150] Gov. Tommy Thompson
[3.114] Gov. Jim Gilmore
[3.000] Mayor Rudy Giuliani
[2.929] Sen. John McCain
[1.556] Rep. Tom Tancredo
And, here are the rankings from the two debates and overall...
1st 2nd Overall Candidate
----- ----- --------- -----------
   Huckabee
   Paul
   Brownback
   Romney
   Hunter
   Thompson
   Gilmore
   Giuliani
   McCain
   Tancredo
So, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are still my favorite candidates. Mike Huckabee does excellent in the debates, but his demeanor comes off as "soft" compared to the other candidates, which is beginning to worry me. Ron Paul has some great policies, but his viewpoint on "blowback" and 9/11 responsibility might earn him too much controversy. I'm surprised by how much I like Sam Brownback, and Duncan Hunter isn't bad either. Oddly, I'm not thrilled with Romney overall, but he does perform well in these debates.
My impression of Thompson plummeted since the first debate. Gilmore seems like a decent enough guy, but I don't think he's very presidential. He spouts out his resume too much, and he doesn't seem to be enthused about being in the race. Despite being two of the front-runners, I'm obviously not thrilled with Giuliani nor McCain. I'm also kind of shocked that I like Giuliani's performances in the debates slightly more than McCain despite the fact that I disagree with Giuliani more often. And, Tancredo is just a waste of time. As a favor and a boost to his party, Tancredo ought to just drop out now so that other candidates can have more time each at the next debates.