On a scale of contentiousness, Sunday’s GOP debate on Fox News was certainly more toward the civility end than the night before. This time, the candidates spent less time criticizing Mitt Romney and more time defending their own records on taxes and spending.
In fact, the biggest sore point wasn’t even mentioned at the debate itself. The New Hampshire Republican Party withdrew its sponsorship of the debate after Fox News decided to exclude Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter . Paul is currently polling higher than Fred Thompson in some polls and outpaced Rudy Giuliani in the Iowa caucuses. Hunter has stayed in single-digits in any poll.
John McCain and Romney have the most to gain or lose from the nation’s first primary vote on Tuesday. Nevertheless, Mike Huckabee and Thompson maintained their alliance with McCain against Romney, albeit more gently. Nonetheless, the first response from viewer polls and Beltway pundits was that Romney was the top performer.