The GOP debate in a New York minute

The Fox News website offered a fascinating way to watch the debate -- with real-time reaction from a focus group superimposed on the video feed. Afterward, pollster Frank Luntz discussed the debate with his 29 watchers, and the broad consensus was that John McCain rose far above their expectations while Rudy Giuliani disappointed. The comments regarding McCain featured words such as "clear" and "concise" and played up the concept of leadership. One man noted how often the other candidates on stage seemed to quote McCain approvingly. (One tribute from Mike Huckabee probably cemented this impression. Giuliani also helped by saying he'd probably be backing McCain if he weren't running.) As for Giuliani, one woman appeared to speak for the focus group when she said it bothered her how often Giuliani brought up New York, no matter the question. This is interesting: Up to now, Giuliani has mostly benefited from his record as mayor of New York; here, instead, was a note of caution from New Hampshire voters -- something to the effect of: Hey, New York isn't the whole country!

Another view: Jim Geraghty gives the gold medal to Rudy. He also has the transcript of Fred Thompson's appearance with Jay Leno, in which he said he ... really is running for president. Both Geraghty and Drew Cline think Romney had a rough night. This may have been because he faced some of the toughest questioning he's gotten.

UPDATE: Here is the Monitor's coverage of the UNH debate. And here is a video clip of the debate's best exchange, in which Huckabee and Ron Paul both forcefully articulated their cases for, respectively, finding an honorable way out of Iraq and getting out as quickly as possible. Our story summarizes:

Huckabee said his stance on Iraq is driven by a simple lesson he learned shopping with his mother as a boy: If you break something, you have to buy it.
"Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it," Huckabee said. "It's our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away."
Paul said that responsibility for war policy did not belong to Americans, but rather a small group of neoconservatives who "hijacked our foreign policy." He said Huckabee's position was about saving face.
"We've dug a hole for ourselves, and we've dug a hole for our party," Paul said. "We're losing elections, and we're going down next year if we don't change it, and it has all to do with foreign policy and we have to wake up to this fact."
"Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor, and that is more important than the Republican Party," Huckabee said to sustained applause.