Any time you have 9 or so candidates, there is likely not to be a winner (that's one of the reasons we need to start thinning the herd).
I think that by doing merely "okay", Fred Thompson came away a sort of winner. During yesterday morning's blogger conference call, Thompson's campaign manager Bill Lacy said Thompson's goal was not to win, but to establish credibility. He also told us that Thompson was good at preparing for events. Both of these points may have contributed to helping Thompson avoid a major gaff, which would likely have derailed his campaign. Luckily for Thompson, he knew who the Prime Minister of Canada is ...
Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani both did well. But if the goal of a GOP debate is to convince conservatives to support you, I've got to give the edge to Mitt Romney. Without a doubt, the most interesting and heated exchange had to do with the Line Item Veto. Giuliani argued that the Line Item Veto was unconstitutional, but it strikes me that it is unconstitutional merely because the Supreme Court Justices who ruled on it in the 90s said that it was unconstitutional. There have been many times in history when the Supreme Court has reversed itself, and this may ultimately be one of those issues. In this case, as in Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court overruled the will of Congress. Still, I must remind myself that arguing over the Line Item Veto is inside baseball; the kind of stuff talked about only by the chattering classes.
Mike Huckabee continued to go down the road of class warfare, pitting workers against CEO's and hedge-funds. While this may score him some points in Iowa, it also may end up costing him a VP nod.