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Thoughts on last night's Republican debate

-- The CNN-YouTube format was terrific, with a broad array of strong and pointed questions. Anderson Cooper did a stellar job in moderating and in keeping the candidates on point.

-- Yet anyone watching the first 25 minutes or so would have been led to believe that immigration is the most important issue facing the country. What a crock. Yes, secure borders are important, but it defies reason to think that Al Qaeda hasn't struck in the US again because of the Bush administration. I'd put more credence in Greg Palast's theory that the president's removal of US forces from Saudi Arabia -- something we don't hear much about in the media -- is a bigger factor.

-- Despite the variety of questions, President Bush, conveniently enough for the candidates, went unmentioned, as did global warming -- which, as Bill Maher likes to note, is a greater threat to the US than illegal immigration.

-- The first 25 minutes or so offered some good political theater, with Romney and Giuliani trading what were obviously well-rehearsed lines of attack (Rudy referring to illegals having helped to care for the grounds at Romney's home, Thompson making a veiled reference to Giuliani's Bernie Kerik problem, etc.). On the whole, I thought that Romney came off as too contrived and too calculating, although Giuliani's already considerable issues for GOP voters are getting worse.

-- Thompson said overturning Roe v. Wade should be a top priority. Can you say "pander," Fred?

-- Huckabee was arguably the big winner of the night.

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