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Bradley in DC
11-29-2007, 10:27 AM
http://hotlineblog.nationaljournal.com/

Rankings ... With More Analysis to Come in the Morn

1. Huckabee
2. Giuliani
3. Romney
4. McCain
4. Paul
5. Thompson ...

Huck gave clear, thoughtful answers to questions about the death penalty, the Bible and immigration. He also had the funniest line of the night, per the WWJD? death penalty inquiry. "Jesus Was Too Smart to Ever Run for Public Office, Anderson." Huckabee also looked more statesmanlike than his frontrunner counterparts, who sniped about sanctuary cities, illegal workers and more.

Giuliani got off easy when asked to respond to Politico's report of his security detail's use of public dollars to facilitate affair with Judith Nathan. But he did stick it to Romney on the opening immigration q, pointing out that Romney did indeed employ illegal workers at his "mansion." Romney denied it, saying a person can't ask every individual who works on his property for their citizenship papers, but Rudy's campaign quickly blitzed reporters the Boston Globe article revealing that Romney hired a company that used illegal workers to tend his 2 1/2 acre grounds. Expect to see this denial and the Globe story in an ad ...

Romney, meanwhile, appeared on defense most of the night, on that opening immigration q, and on his shifting positions on abortion and gays in the military. He gave hazy answers to the latter two questions that smacked of HRC's initial debate answer to the driver's license q. He seemed to lose his skirmish with McCain over the waterboarding issue as well, declining to say if he'd back the controversial method of interrogation. Romney's most (only?) authentic moment came during the question of what the Confederate flag means to him. "That's not a flag that I recognize or that I would not hold up in my room. ... This country can go beyond that kind of stuff," he said.

More tomorrow ...

(JENNIFER SKALKA)