Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet special: Reagan wins GOP debate. Giuliani, McCain, Romney keep grip on frontrunner status.


SIMI VALLEY, CALIF. -- The Iraq war dominated much of the first GOP presidential debate Thursday, with front-runners Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney battling for the legacy of Ronald Reagan at the library where he is buried.

On the contentious issue of abortion -- where many simply want to know where a candidate stands -- the debate perhaps created a problem for Giuliani while Romney got a chance to explain why he switched sides.

The former New York mayor, who stands out in the 10-man race because he calls himself "pro-choice," appeared to waffle when candidates were asked if they favored the repeal of the landmark Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing women the right to abortion.

All 10 said yes, including Giuliani. "It would be OK to repeal," he said. He added, "I think the court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it."

Romney supported abortion rights during his successful campaign to become Massachusetts governor; he is campaigning for president calling himself "pro-life." At the debate, he explained, "It's a 'brave new world' mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us and I changed my mind."

Reagan's name was constantly invoked throughout the 90-minute session, coming a week after Democrats debated in Orangeburg, S.C.

The debate showed some fissures among the Republican 2008 hopefuls: They were divided on the need for national identification cards and whether Congress was right to inject itself in the Terry Schiavo right-to-die case.

McCain presented the strongest defense of the Iraq war, though calling it "terribly mismanaged."

McCain, going after Democratic leaders who are pressing for legislation forcing timelines on President Bush for withdrawing troops, presented the darkest warning of what would happen if the United States withdrew soldiers.

"There will be chaos; there will be genocide and they will follow us home," he said.

A moment of humor came when it was asked if it would be good if Bill Clinton were back living in the White House.

Said Romney, "You have got to be kidding."


Ms Sweet, was Giuliani really living with two women at the same time? If so, where is the moral outrage by the conservative right? Where is the cry for family values from a presidential leader?

I thought the funniest part of the debate was when some of the candidates raised their hands saying they did not believe in Evolution. However, it does seem as though the Republicans have a better sense of the situation in the Middle East and Iraq. The Dems need to step it up and be realistic.

"Reagan wins GOP debate. Giuliani, McCain, Romney keep grip on frontrunner status."

You must be kidding? Did we watch the same debate. Dr.Ron Paul made the rest look foolish!

This time the "frontrunners" are going to lose, the people will make sure this time.............just watch!


Romney looked the most presidential with the most "Reagan-like" appeal. He is the great "articulator" - he got the "right" message and can deliver it - very articulate. He's got my vote.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 4, 2007 9:01 AM.

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