Thursday wasn’t only election night here, but also the first Republican primary debate of 2008. Over at Comment Central Daniel Finkelstein has a typically astute post on whether Republicans shouldn’t have an abortion litmus test for their presidential nominees keying off the trouble Rudy Giuliani got in to when asked about whether he supported the repeal of Roe v. Wade. I agree with Danny that the Republicans shouldn’t have one but Giuliani needs to find a better way of expressing his position. Saying it would be OK for it to be repealed, when the guys next to you on stage are using phrases like a “glorious day of human liberty and freedom” just doesn’t cut it.
The other thing the debate revealed is that the Republicans are still determined to be the daddy party on national security. For all the criticisms of Bush’s handling of the war, no-one with the exception of the long-shot candidate Ron Paul questioned the idea that America needs a tough, aggressive foreign policy.
The contenders, though, were keen to stress that Iraq is just one part of the war on terror. Indeed, the most memorable moment of the night to was when McCain went out of his way to emphasise that he would have bin Laden hunted down. He didn’t get the delivery quite right, but the message was clear: McCain won’t let anybody else sound more hawkish on terrorism than he is.