Debate video report: Congressman Ron Paul

Next up in the series of Republican Presidential debate video reports Lance Dutson and I filed is an interview with Ron Paul, who is so far capturing much attention online and at events such as Wednesday’s debate, yet has not translated that enthusiasm into poll numbers. Lance talked to Congressman Paul about that, among other things:

Next up: The spin room

While the debate wraps up, we’re getting ready to head over to the spin room to shoot some photos and video. If you have questions you’d like us to ask the candidates and/or their flacks in the spin room, text message your question to me at 207-299-8508.

My pick for Winners of the debate:
John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. While neither said anything revelatory, they both sounded confident, bold, and presidential while repeating their own talking points. The biggest losers tonight, in my opinion, are Paul and Romney, who both stuck to their own tired positions but seemed to both bend in on themselves like shadows as they either ranted (Paul) or stammered (Romney) their way through. Romney may have enough energy to make it through the next eight months, but he certainly doesn’t have the dynamism. If he borrowed some of Paul’s, he could stand a chance against Thompson or Giuliani, but right now, if McCain’s organization is running on fumes, it looks like it’s the Mayor versus the actor for the long haul.

New topic: Taxes

* “Not a record we should be proud of” is McCain’s comment on the massive bloat of government under Republican leadership over the past few years.

* Brownback chimes in with a snoozer answer on how taxes are too high.

* Asked about his decision to not sign a pledge that he won’t raise taxes as President, Giuliani rightly notes that as President, he’ll take “one pledge” and not respond to every single request to sign a pledge. Now, for the second time tonight, he spouting a range of statistics about his term as Mayor of New York.

* Romney, or “Fifi” as Wallace says he was called as Governor, gets a cheer with a promise to “kill the death tax”…suspiciously echoing a sign I saw outside of the debate. He then takes a shot at Edwards’ hair cut, looking far too proud of himself and earning a half-hearted laugh from the crowd.

* With just about 10 minutes left, Huckabee is falling somewhat flat with his push for a “fair tax”. Is that like a flat tax with a new, hip name?

* Uh oh, here we go with Paul’s answer. He’s clapping as Wallace rails off a list of things he wants to eliminate, including the CIA. Paul is a walking compendium of crowd-friendly sound bites, but what he’s saying is little more than bumper-sticker level analysis.

Back from the first break…

…and the next issue is security. Talk about a hedge: Romney says the surge is “apparently” working.

UPDATE: Wow…McCain takes a direct shot at Romney, repeating “the surge is working”, and “it’s not whether it’s apparently working or not…it’s whether we will set a date for withdrawl, which means surrender.” More: “I want our troops home with honor”, and with that McCain gets the biggest applause of the night from the debate audience.

Just one question later, Paul elicits a large cheer for his typically charged answer that we should withdraw from Iraq. Paul and Chris Wallace then get into it after Paul’s response that we should withdraw from Iraq. Wallace is clearly irked, asking Paul if “we should take our marching orders from Al Qaeda?”

UPDATE: Finally, Wendell brings Duncan Hunter into the conversation monopolized by Paul. But where’s Tancredo? Is he still on stage?

UPDATE:Wallace finally brings Tacredo into the mix, and he makes a great point in response to Paul’s earlier comment that we were attacked in part because of our bases in Saudi Arabia.

UPDATE: Now back to Cameron at Young’s Restaraunt, and a question for Governor Romney: “How can we bring an endgame to Iraq and make sure it’s still a victory for us?” In response, Romney stammers when backtracking on his earlier comments that his son serves his country by campaigning on his behalf, then echoes Tancredo’s comments about the war being with radical Islam, not with Iraq exclusively.

Another question from the audience

More from Young’s Restaurant: A woman from Durham states that there should not be an amendment banning gay marriage. Brownback disagrees, eliciting more cheers but some boos from the debate hall. And now we’re off to the first commercial break.

Cameron is on site at local restaraunt

FoxNews’ Carl Cameron is live at a local restaurant here in Durham. The first question- we’re still on the topic of amnesty 20 minutes in- is from a man who is complaining that a fence is not enough to keep illegal immigrants out.

Giuliani answers by stating that we need a “tamper-proof” ID card for all immigrants. McCain says that the dictionary defines amnesty as “forgiveness”, while the amnesty bill was anything but. Now, Romney has jumped in, saying that we should put an end to sanctuary cities “like New York”.

And that does it for amnesty. Next up: “family values”.