[Addition]The debate having just ended, a few top-of-the-head remarks on/summations of what I was struck by regarding each candidate:
Romney--He looked the most "Presidential". The gov pleased me when he advocated a total scrapping of capital gains and dividend taxation "for middle income earners" (whatever that means).
Giuliani--The 'life' issue should be decided by the courts? His consistent deference to the judiciary can't possibly go over well among Republican voters. He and Thompson were the only two less than enthusiastic about overturning Roe v Wade.
McCain--The neocon line almost from start to finish. He'd pump up the power of the executive even more by granting a line item veto.
Thomspon--Along with Paul, he was the only other of the ten seriously advocating a lessening of US involvement in Iraq. He's on board with the idea of ethnic partitioning, a petroleum dividend, and allowing Iraqis to vote on a withdrawal date for American troops (effectively seeing the US presence drastically reduced within one year). He also took a nice jab at the EEOC.
Paul--Well delivered rhetorical bit on opposition to interventionism. Eisenhower (ending the Korean war), Nixon (ending the Vietnam war), and Bush in 2000 all espoused a humble foreign policy that is scarcely recognizable in the offices of the RNC today. Scoffed at the idea that a feeble state like Iran can cause the US so much angst when we stared down a Soviet Union that had 40,000 nukes in inventory. Also advocated the abolition of the IRS and the federal income tax!
Tancredo--Worked immigration into a few answers, even though he wasn't asked directly about it. Took the view that the security of Israel and of the US are potentially synonymous. Seemed shaky at first, but became more comfortable later on. To his credit, he voiced support for a national consumption tax and, crucially, called for amending the Constitution to remove the Sixteenth Amendment.
Gilmore--Said nothing remarkable. He has absolutely no chance.
Huckabee--Issued platitudes when asked about anthropogenic global warming. He's jockeying with Sam Brownback to become the social conservative's paladin. Made mention of his unequivocal support for a national consumption tax.
Hunter--Presenting himself as a proponent of economic nationalism. He was the only candidate to throw out the idea of China as a threat in the future. He revealed himself to be quite a hawk on Iran. He trumpeted the effectiveness of his San Diego border fence.
Brownback--Knocked my socks off when he voiced support for a border fence. That would be, presumably, of the variety favored previously in the Senate and essentially put on hold. Stayed true to his idea of an obligatory need for the defense of ecumenical human rights through intervention in places of dubious national importance like Sudan.
The two-moderator format seemed silly. I'm not sure why John Harris initially dashed forward onto the stage to ask his "interactive" questions. About midway through, he took a hint from Matthews and stayed put.[End of addition]
The ten '08 Republican Presidential contenders will be pontificating in a 90 minute debate that will be carried online at Politico.com. The debate promises an element of interactivity for online viewers. A number of questions will appear under each candidate, and the most voted upon ones will be asked by moderators Chris Matthews and John Harris. It begins at 8pm eastern time.
Here's urging you to get behind every potential question dealing with immigration that comes up. Force the candidates to say something about it. The sovereignty crowd has clear allies in underdogs Hunter and Tancredo, as well as obvious antagonists in McCain and Brownback. Others--including, most importantly, Romney--have mostly spouted ambiguity thus far. It'd be nice to get some clarification on where they stand.
I'm primarily a single-issue voter. Much as I lament the (profligate!) Iraq miasma, immigration is of paramount importance. To make a dopey analogy, the loss of face, wealth, and promising soldiers in Iraq is like blowing your money at the boats and ticking off your wife in the process. Absorbing millions of culturally-backward third-worlders who become underachieving net liabilities each year is like drinking water from lead pipes. The former's damage is ameliorable; the latter's is permanent.