Republican Party (United States) presidential debates, 2008

Republican Party (United States) presidential debates, 2008

The 2008 Republican Presidential Debates were political debates before the 2008 Republican Primaries. The first was May 3, 2007, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Other debates have taken place in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. They were generally broadcast by television networks.

The debates can have a substantial effect on the primaries and are important chances for the public to compare the candidates side-by-side.

Candidates in the debates

*Senator John McCain - Arizona

ince Withdrawn candidates

*Former Governor Jim Gilmore - Virginia (withdrew July 14, 2007). [cite news | url= | title=Gilmore drops out of the race | author=Allen, Mike | |date=2007-07-14]
*Former Governor Tommy Thompson - Wisconsin (withdrew August 12, 2007). [cite news | url= | title=Tommy Thompson Leaves Race After Poor Showing in Iowa Poll | author=Cillizza, Chris | work=Washington Post |date=2007-08-13]
*Senator Sam Brownback - Kansas (withdrew October 19, 2007). [cite news | url= | title=Republican Sam Brownback ends White House run | work=Dallas Morning News |date=2007-10-19]
*Representative Tom Tancredo - Colorado (withdrew December 19, 2007). [cite news | url= | title=Tancredo campaign to end tomorrow | work=The Denver Post |date=2007-12-19]
*Representative Duncan Hunter - California (withdrew January 19, 2008). [cite news | url=| title=Rep. Duncan Hunter exits Republican race ||date=2008-01-19]
*Former Senator Fred Thompson - Tennessee (withdrew January 22, 2008). [cite news | url= | title=Thompson abandons White House bid | |date=2007-01-22]
*Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani - New York (withdrew January 30, 2008).
*Former Governor Mitt Romney - Massachusetts (withdrew February 7, 2008). [cite news | url= | title=Romney suspends presidential campaign||date=2008-02-07]
*Former Governor Mike Huckabee - Arkansas (withdrew March 4, 2008).
*Former UN Ambassador Alan Keyes - Maryland (withdrew from Republican Party April 15, 2008).
*Representative Ron Paul - Texas (withdrew June 12,2008).


Key: X denotes attendance at the debate. N denotes candidate was not invited. - denotes candidate not in race. Blank space denotes candidate was invited but did not participate.

The candidate debates

May 3, 2007 - Simi Valley, California

The first Republican debate was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. It was simulcast live for 90 minutes on MSNBC and were gathered from The Politico readers for the candidates. All declared candidates were present, as Fred Thompson had not yet declared. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was present, along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The debate was moderated by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews of "Hardball" and "The Politico"'s John Harris.cite web
title = Republican Candidates Differ in Defining Party
url =
work = New York Times
accessdate = 2007-05-04
] Questions were gathered from "The Politico" readers for the candidates.

The candidates presented differing opinions of President George W. Bush, with McCain and Huckabee criticizing Bush's mismanagement of the Iraq War while Giuliani and Romney praised Bush, Ron Paul said Bush was a poor conservative. The candidates also presented different opinions on contentious issues such as abortion and stem-cell research but were united in calling for further tax cuts. [ [ GOP Debate Focuses on Iraq War, Abortion] , Associated Press, May 3, 2007.] All candidates opposed a pullout from Iraq except for Ron Paul, who spoke and voted against the resolution to authorize war on Iraq in 2002 and has been a vocal critic of the war. [ [ May 3, 2007, Republican Debate Transcript] , New York Times] [ [ May 3, 2007, Republican Debate Video] , YouTube] When asked to indicate if they did not believe in evolution, three candidates (Tancredo, Brownback, and Huckabee) raised their hands, [cite web |url=|title= Republican Candidates Hold First Debate, Differing on Defining Party's Future|accessdate=2007-11-15 |publisher= "The New York Times"|date=2007-05-04] although in the June 5 debate, Brownback and Huckabee elaborated on their position, taking a far more moderate approach.

Pundits Howard Fineman and Joe Scarborough concluded that Romney did the best and maintained his posture by seeming the most energetic in the debate. Eugene Robinson deduced that Romney showed that he has the potential to be a formidable candidate and also answered the most questions in a consistent manner.

At the end of the debate, MSNBC's online votes showed Ron Paul standing out from the other candidates. Ron Paul won "Best one liner," "Who stood out from the pack" "Most convincing debater", and "Who showed the most leadership qualities?" In all four, he had at least 45% of the total vote. [ [ Vote on the California Republican debate] ] Mitt Romney won an online vote taken at "The Drudge Report", with Giuliani and Paul close behind. [ [ Who Won the Reagan Derby?] Accessed May 7, 2007, at]
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ MSNBC Transcript]
* [ New York Times Transcript]
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

May 15, 2007 - Columbia, South Carolina

The second Republican debate was May 15 in Columbia, South Carolina at the Koger Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina. All candidates then declared participated. It was broadcast live for 90 minutes on Fox News Channel, and simulcast on Fox News Radio affiliates, including the station of the debate, WVOC. The event was moderated by Brit Hume, with Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler asking most of the questions. The debate was in three rounds, the first on the War in Iraq, the second on domestic issues, such as abortion, gay rights, spending and tax cuts. For the last, Brit Hume proposed a fictional scenario involving terrorism. The candidates had to predict their actions in that situation. Fox News held text message voting by the audience. Ron Paul received the most (33%) with Mike Huckabee second (18%). [,2933,295969,00.html^ "You Decide: Results of 'Hannity & Colmes' Text Messaging Poll." 6 September 2007.]

During the debate, Ron Paul asserted that American interventionism in the Middle East, from CIA installation of Iranian leaders to the bombing of Iraq in the 1990s, culminating in the on-going Iraq war, led to anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and to terrorists plotting attacks against America. Rudy Giuliani portrayed Paul as implying that America had justified the 9/11 attacks through its actions and interrupted the proceedings to demand a retraction, which Paul refused. Former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, congratulated Ron Paul for his comments, calling them "the truth." [cite news | last =Horton | first =Scott | authorlink =Scott Horton | title =Fmr. Chief of CIA Osama Unit: Why They Attack Us | work |date=2007-05-22 | url = | accessdate =2007-07-22 ] Others portrayed the exchange as a victory for Giuliani. [cite web |url=|title= Lone Star|accessdate= 2007-06-24|author= Brendan Dougherty, Michael|date=2007-06-18|publisher= "The American Conservative"]

The fictional ticking time bomb scenario suggested by the moderator was: "Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they are being questioned. U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack is planned and could come at any time." [ [] Republican Presidential Debate in South Carolina Transcript] John McCain and Ron Paul were the only candidates who said they were opposed to the concept of "enhanced interrogation techniques", [cite news| url=,9171,1622571,00.html | title=How Rudy Won the Second Debate| author=Joe Klein | publisher= Time magazine|date=2007-05-17| accessdate=2007-05-18] a phrase Paul labeled Orwellian newspeak for torture. [cite web|url= |title=Opinion: Between the lines at the GOP debate, I - | |author=An Orange County Register editorial |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Mitt Romney suggested that the U.S. double the size of facilities holding non-citizen enemy combatants held in places like Guantanamo and deny them access to the protections afforded to American citizens, such as the right of having an attorney. Giuliani said interrogators should use "any method they can think of" and did not exclude water-boarding.cite news | title=GOP candidates divided on detainees' treatment | url=,1,6480140.story?coll=la-headlines-politics | author=Peter Wallsten | publisher=Los Angeles Times |date=2007-05-17 | accessdate=2007-05-18] Expressing disbelief at the idea of debating "whether or not waterboarding would be a bad thing to do" Tom Tancredo said "I'm looking for Jack Bauer." [ [ Tancredo Response to a Possible Attack] ]

Mike Huckabee drew the biggest laughter of the night when he accused Congress of spending money "like John Edwards at a beauty shop," a reference to Edwards, who at that time was a 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate, spending $800 of campaign money on two haircuts. [ [ Media heaped praise on Huckabee's "sexual dig" at Edwards] ]
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ New York Times Transcript]
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

June 5, 2007 - Manchester, New Hampshire

WMUR-TV, CNN, and the "New Hampshire Union Leader" hosted Democratic and Republican debates at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate was two hours, without commercials, making it and the CNN Democratic debate the longest debates in the 2008 season so far. All declared candidates participated, which excluded Thompson. Wolf Blitzer of "The Situation Room" and "Late Edition" on CNN moderated the debate.cite web
title = The Note: Futures Calendar
url =
work = ABC News
accessdate = 2007-04-30
] [ [ Union Leader - Primary calendar] , New Hampshire Union Leader, April 12, 2007.] [ [ Union Leader - Tickets available for primary debates] , New Hampshire Union Leader, May 16, 2007.]

According to the online poll, Ron Paul received the most votes in all but two categories: "snappiest dresser," who was Mitt Romney, and "most disappointing performance" who was Rudy Giuliani. [ [ CNN Poll results] accessed June 6, 2007.] The "big three" candidates (Giuliani, McCain, Romney) also received larger shares of air time compared to the "minor candidates." [ Graph of air time at Chris Dodd site, June 18, 2007.] [ Graph of air time at New York Times, June 18, 2007.]

A WBZ-Franklin Pierce College poll showed Romney as the winner of the debate at 22%, followed by Rudy Giuliani at 18% and John McCain at 11%. In that poll, none of the other candidates earnered over 3%. Participants in the debate: Sam Brownback, James S. Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo andTommy Thompson [ [ Romney Leads in Debate Poll] , Seacoast Online, June 9, 2007.]
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ CNN Transcript]
* [ CNN Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]
* [ New York Times Transcript]
* [ Entire Debate Video]

July 12, 2007 - Detroit, Michigan

Attended only by Tom Tancredo. All 9 Republican candidates were invited, only Tancredo attended.

This was held during the NAACP 98th annual convention. It was hosted by Russ Mitchell.
* [ Webcast from NAACP web site (click on Republican Candidates forum)]

August 5, 2007 - Des Moines, Iowa

ABC News conducted a live, 90-minute debate that aired Sunday morning on a special edition of "This Week", moderated by George Stephanopoulos. All Republican candidates were present. Mitt Romney defended his change from a pro-choice to pro-life position on abortion. Ron Paul spoke of pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. The debate concluded with the candidates' revealing their biggest mistakes. Frontrunners Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain were given more time to speak than were lesser-known candidates, as in previous debates.

According to an on-line poll at, Paul won the debate with 63% of votes.cite web | last = | authorlink = ABC News | title = Vote: Who Won the Republican Debate? | publisher = |date=2007-08-05 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-06] Paul's vote total was nearly eight times as many as runner-up Romney. Frank Luntz, a political commentator for Fox News, asserted that Mike Huckabee had won the debate. [cite web | title = Luntz on GOP Debate: Huckabee Comes Out On Top | url = ]
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ New York Times Transcript]
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

eptember 5, 2007 - Durham, New Hampshire

Fox News Channel hosted a Republican debate at The Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, for 90 minutes on Fox News. [cite web|url= |title=Fox News Channel - You Decide 2008 | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] The event was moderated by Brit Hume, with Chris Wallace and Wendell Goler asking most of the questions. According to a public text messaging poll, Ron Paul won with 33%, Mike Huckabee came in second with 18%, followed by Rudy Giuliani and John McCain who received 15% and 14% respectively. ["You Decide: Results of 'Hannity & Colmes' Text Messaging Poll." "". 6 September 2007. [,2933,295969,00.html] ] All candidates who were declared participated.

The Fox News Luntz focus groups watching the debate declared disappointment with the performance by Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, though John McCain was viewed favorably. [cite web|url= |title=Last night's debate - First Read - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] However, some noted the lack of McCain supporters in the audience. [ GOP candidates spar on illegal immigration, family values] on The Union Leader website accessed at October 18, 2007.] The status of Larry Craig was discussed in the debate, with Sam Brownback stating that Craig should go through with his decision to resign.

An exchange between Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee over the war in Iraq was covered extensively by many news agencies. [cite web |url=|title= Huckabee and Paul tussle on Iraq|accessdate=2007-11-15 |date= |publisher= CNN] [cite web |url=|title= Huckabee calls Paul’s debate comments ‘ludicrous’|accessdate=2007-11-15 |publisher= "The Hill"|date=2007-09-06] [cite web |url=|title= Wanted: Ron Paul vs. Mike Huckabee rematch|accessdate=2007-11-15 |publisher= "The Baltimore Sun"|date=2007-09-06]
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

eptember 17, 2007 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The first-ever "Values Voter" Presidential Debate was held for the GOP candidates at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was broadcast live on television on Sky Angel, and live on many Christian radio stations, including the Voice of Christian Youth America (VCY America) network and WKBF-AM, and online on the American Family Association (AFA) Web site. Seven candidates attended-- Brownback, Huckabee, Hunter, Paul, Tancredo, and newly announced candidate Alan Keyes and John H. Cox, a candidate who had then not appeared in any of the other debates. The official Web site reports the immediate straw poll of 340 delegates was won by Huckabee with 219 votes (63%) to Paul 44 (13%), Keyes 22 (7%), Brownback 18 (5%), Fred Thompson 15 (4%), Hunter 4%, Tancredo 2%, Giuliani 1%, McCain 1%, Cox 1%, and Romney 0%. A similar event was planned for the Democratic candidates, but none would confirm their participation.
* [ AFA Video]
* [ Full transcript]

eptember 27, 2007 - Baltimore, Maryland

PBS television hosted a Republican debate in Baltimore, Maryland, at Morgan State University that aired live on PBS and on [cite web|url=,0,5775286.story |title=Topic Galleries - | |date=September 15, 2008 |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=Tavis Smiley . Special Feature . All-American Presidential Forums on PBS Moderated by Tavis Smiley PBS | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] The All-American Presidential Forums are the first in prime time with a panel exclusively of journalists of color. Questions were asked by host Tavis Smiley and panelists Ray Suarez of The NewsHour, Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and NPR's Juan Williams.

The six debaters were Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, and Tom Tancredo. Absent were Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson, who, according to scientific public opinion surveys, [cite web|url= |title=WH2008: Republicans | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] were the leading Republican candidates. Those four were roundly condemned by the hosts and most of the participants. The first few questions concerned how some perceive the Republican Party to be racist. The organizers put empty podiums on the stage in place of the candidates who refused to attend.
* [ PBS Transcript]
* [ PBS Video, Audio and downloadable Podcast]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

October 9, 2007 - Dearborn, Michigan

CNBC, "The Wall Street Journal", and the University of Michigan-Dearborn hosted a Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center. [cite web|url= | | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=CNBC/MSNBC/Wall Street Journal Sponsoring Republican Presidential Debate Oct. 9th Focusing On Economic Issues - CNBC News Releases - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] It was co-moderated by MSNBC's Chris Matthews and CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. The focus of the debate was on the American economy.

Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, participated, along with Fred Thompson in his debate debut. Alan Keyes was not invited. According to online poll, which was taken down after several hours when total number of votes were over 7,500, [cite web|url=*blog*&par=RSS |title=Political Capital with John Harwood - Political Capital with John Harwood - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=My Open Letter To Ron Paul Supporters - Political Capital with John Harwood - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Ron Paul received over 70% of the votes in all three categories. [cite web|url= |title=2008 Republican Debate Polls - Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url=|title=Welcome to! | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=Google Base: CNBC Pulls Online Poll That Shows Ron Paul Handily Winning Pres Debate | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=Round Up of Ron Paul Blogs & News After Debate - Free Market News Network | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] For the question, who won the debate, Paul received 74%, Huckabee came in second with 7.2%, followed by Romney with 5.8%, Thompson with 5.5%, Giuliani with 3.6%, McCain with 1.9% and all others below 1%.

The "highlight" of the debate occurred when Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani debated whether the line-item veto was constitutional or not. Giuliani claimed that it was unconstitutional and challenged former President Bill Clinton on its use, while Romney praised the practice citing that he used it 844 times as Governor of Massachusetts.

Another high point in the debate happened when candidates were asked by Chris Matthews if they need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, if they were president of the United States. [cite web|url= |title=Romney and Lawyers The Trail | |date=(12:02 PM ET) |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=Mitt Romney Goes All Alberto Gonzales on the Constitution | |author=John Nichols Breaking news and analysis on the political, social, economic and cultural activism that mainstream media commonly ignore. |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] While Hunter, Huckabee, McCain, Thompson and Giuliani replied they would not obtain US Congress authorization if there was some imminent threat from Iran, Romney replied "You sit down with your attorneys and (they) tell you what you have to do, ..." Paul, in his reply, strongly advocated for obtaining US Congress authorization, which is mandatory in the US Constitution, [cite web|url= |title=U.S. Constitution | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] and addressed Romney's answer by stating "This idea of going and talking to attorneys totally baffles me. Why don't we just open up the Constitution and read it? You're not allowed to go to war without a declaration of war."

In the end of the debate, Mitt Romney remarked, "This is a lot like 'Law & Order,' senator. It has a huge cast, the series seems to go on forever and Fred Thompson shows up at the end." Romney was making a reference to Fred Thompson's role on Law & Order. Not to be outdone, Thompson replied, "And to think I thought I was going to be the best actor on the stage." [cite web|url= |title=Analysis: Thompson stays on script; Romney, Giuliani draw focus - | |author=Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Writer | October 9, 2007 |date=October 9, 2007 |accessdate=2008-09-15]

Critics of the debate have commented on the uneven amount of time given to "second tier" candidates. [cite web|url= |title=Ron Paul Treated Unfairly at the CNBC Debate - Proof From the Transcript | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]

The debate aired on CNBC and MSNBC.
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ MSNBC Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

October 16, 2007 - Washington, D.C.

The Republican Jewish Coalition debate at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Independence Ballroom featured five candidates: Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Although Mike Huckabee was invited, he did not attend, due to being in California at an event with Newt Gingrich. RJC Communications Director Shari Hillman wrote that "due to the limited time available for the event, the RJC could only include the top six candidates currently in the field." The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that sources close to the RJC leadership said that Paul was excluded due to his "record of consistently voting against assistance to Israel and his criticisms of the pro-Israel lobby". [cite web|url= |title=Breaking News - JTA, Jewish & Israel News | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]
* [ RJC Forum Webcast]

October 21, 2007 - Orlando, Florida

The Republican Party of Florida hosted a two-day event on October 20 and 21 featuring Republican candidates in a debate. Produced with the Fox News Channel, it was moderated by Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Wendell Goler, and Carl Cameron. Many candidates participated. Alan Keyes was not invited.

The event was at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel and Resort in Orlando, Florida. The weekend culminated in the nationally-televised, prime-time debate. [cite web |url = |title = Specials - |accessdate = 2008-06-06]

According to Fox News Viewers text voting after the debate, Ron Paul won with 34%, Huckabee came in second with 27%, Giuliani third with 11%, Romney 10%, Thompson 9%, McCain 5%, Hunter 1% and Tancredo less than 1%. [ GOP Debate: Fox Viewers Say Ron Paul Won ] ] [cite web|url= |title=Ron Paul Wins Another GOP Fox Debate - Hannity Denies It - Free Market News Network | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]

At one point, with the poll showing Ron Paul winning the informal “cell phone” poll, Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity burst out with a definitive statement, “Ron Paul did not win the debate tonight,” even though the poll showed that he was winning by a wide margin. Hannity described the results as "stacking", though the poll permitted only one vote per telephone or computer address.

Paul was the only candidate to be jeered during the debate--both times Paul advocated a non-interventionist foreign policy. [cite web|url= |title=Paul booed twice - First Read - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Alan Colmes, in the post-debate analysis, stated that Paul drew the most spirited reaction of any candidate, both positive and negative.

This Republican debate also revealed that the Republican contenders think America will go bankrupt if spending policies are not changed.

Thompson hit on a theme on which all of the debaters seemed to agree, that out-of-control spending is bankrupting America: "We’re spending the money of our grand kids and kids yet to be born”, Thompson said.

Giuliani accused Fred Thompson of being the “biggest obstacle to tort reform”. Giuliani, touting his record as New York City mayor, said, “I brought down crime 60%”, and called for school choice.

Regarding health care, Ron Paul said that “managed care isn’t working” and that “drug companies lobby for managed care”. Paul said, “We could take care of these poor people if we weren’t trying to maintain an empire overseas”. Ron Paul hit continued to discuss the issue of military non-interventionism, “70% of Americans want war over with and are sick and tired of big government at home and overseas”. They want their “civil liberties and not allow government to spend endlessly and bankrupt us”. Paul also answered questions related to his experience with Medicaid and endorsed allowing civil unions for same-sex couples country-wide, with marriage itself handled solely by religious institutions.

Mike Huckabee defended the “sanctity of human life, it is one of the defining issues of our culture” and on health care promoted “personalization not privatization. We do not have health care system, we have a maze. It’s a health care crisis”.

FOX News Channel and its affiliates moderated and televised the debate.
* [ CFR transcript]
* [ New York Times transcript]
* [ Washington Post video]
* [ Fox News video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

October 25, 2007 - Sioux City, Iowa

AARP and IPTV held their second presidential candidate forum at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux City. Of the candidates invited, only former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and U.S. Senator John McCain attended. [cite web|url =|title = It all comes down to the cash|accessdate = 2007-10-24|last = Martelle|first = Scott|date=2007-09-21|work = Top of the Ticket: Politics, coast to coast, with the L.A. Times|publisher = Los Angeles Times] The forum was webcast live but was not aired on PBS stations across the country as originally planned.

Due to the absence of most candidates, the format was changed to "allow Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mike Huckabee to discuss the issues of health and financial security with Iowa caucus-goers. The format included opening remarks, questions from moderator Dean Borg of IPTV, Sioux City Journal readers and those selected in the audience." [cite web|url =|title = AARP, IPTV 2008 Presidential Candidate Forums in Davenport and Sioux City|accessdate = 2007-10-24|year = 2007|publisher = AARP]

[ AARP video]

November 28, 2007 - St. Petersburg, Florida

This debate is known as the "YouTube" debate. CNN planned it with a simulcast on CNN en Español (in the Spanish language). Internet services YouTube and Google also participated, allowing them to stream the event live and have clips for future use. Video questions had to be submitted by November 25 to YouTube [] . According to Nielsen Media Research, the debate drew a record Cable TV audience for a presidential primary debate, an estimated 4.4 million viewers. [cite web|url= |title=Top TV Ratings Nielsen Media Research | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]

The debate format permitted audience applause and boos -- something that had been uncommon in the debates.

Several candidates cited scheduling conflicts with the original date, September 17, 2007, so it was re-scheduled. The invited candidates are Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson. [cite web|url= |title=YouTube - Broadcast Yourself | |accessdate=2008-09-15] Alan Keyes was not invited. All invited candidates accepted, and all appeared. [cite web|url =|title = CNN/YouTube Republican Debate: Major players onboard… |accessdate = 2007-11-02|last = jilly|first = mcnair|date=2007-08-29|work = Inside Cable|publisher = Inside Cable News]

Thirty-three questions were chosen for the debate, with Anderson Cooper - the moderator - determining which candidates would respond to each question. [cite web|url= |title=As the GOP's CNN/YouTube debate draws near, a few notes from the scene - On Politics - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Giuliani spoke 20 times, for a total of 16:38. Mitt Romney spoke 19 times, for a total of 13 minutes and 18 seconds. Fred Thompson and John McCain each spoke 12 times, for 12:16 & 11:00, respectively. Mike Huckabee spoke 11 times, for a total of 10:00. Paul spoke 9 times, for a total of 7:43. Hunter spoke 7 times, for a total of 5:06, and Tancredo spoke 7 times, for a total of 3:49. [cite web|url= |title=Final speaking times - First Read - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Mike Huckabee was not given a question to answer until minute 26, while Ron Paul's first question was given after the first half hour. [cite web|url= |title=Looking at the clock (1st half) - First Read - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]

CNN's on-line viewer poll shows Ron Paul the winner of the debate with 49% of the vote. Viewers found Rudy Giuliani to have the most disappointing performance, with 27% of the vote. [cite web|url= |title=Election Center 2008 - Election & Politics News from | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]

Forty-four percent of Florida Republicans who said they were undecided surveyed by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research judged that Mike Huckabee won this debate, whereas 18% thought Rudy Giuliani won, 13% felt that Mitt Romney won, and 10% picked John McCain. No other participant was selected as the debate's winner by more than 5% of those surveyed. The poll's margin of error was +/- 6%.cite web|url= |title=Southern Political Report | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] An InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research survey of over 1,035 decided & undecided Iowa Republicans taken during the last 20 minutes of the debate found that 32% thought Huckabee won the debate, while 16% judged that Romney won, 12% felt that Giuliani won, and 10% picked John McCain. In this poll, Fred Thompson was chosen by 7% and Ron Paul was chosen by 6% as the debate's winner. No other participant was selected as the debate's winner by more than 2% of those surveyed.

John McCain and Ron Paul had a notable exchange over the Iraq War and the Vietnam War. McCain stated that troops wanted the US government to "let them win." Ron Paul replied "The real question you have to ask is why do I get the most money from active duty officers and military personnel?" [cite web|url= |title=The Campaign Spot on National Review Online | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] McCain also called Paul an isolationist, saying "We allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of isolationism." Paul replied that McCain was confusing isolationism with non-intervention, "I want to trade with people, talk with people, travel, but I don't want to send troops overseas using force to tell them how to live." [cite web|url= |title=The Swamp: Republicans debate: Whose show was it, after all? | |date=Posted November 28, 2007 6:30 PM |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=GOP Hopefuls Spar Over Immigration, YouTube Debate Turns Testy As Giuliani Accuses Romney Of Owning A "Sanctuary Mansion" - CBS News | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Keith Olbermann and others noted that McCain's critiques of Paul's anti-war stance drew loud booing from the general audience. [ [ CNN Youtube Debate falls short, Ron Paul the elephant in the room ] ] [Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Broadcast: November 28. 2007.]

During breaks, ads created by each campaign were aired. Fred Thompson's ad attacked Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, to which they were allowed to respond. [cite web|url= |title=GOP rivals spar in YouTube debate - The Debates - | |date=Nov. 29, 2007 |accessdate=2008-09-15]

CNN was criticized for not revealing during the debate that Keith Kerr, an openly gay military general who had submitted a question and spoke during the debate, was on a campaign advisory organization supporting Hillary Clinton. CNN cut the question and candidate response in the subsequent airing of the debate. [ [ Gay Question Puts CNN on Defensive - New York Times - November 30, 2007] .] "LA Times" editorial writer Tim Rutten criticized CNN's handling of the debate, calling the network "corrupt" and accusing it of focusing the debate on immigration to benefit Lou Dobbs' ratings.
* [ Part 1] and [ Part 2] of the transcript at CNN.
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

December 9, 2007 - Miami, Florida

"Univision", the nation's largest Spanish-speaking television network, sponsored a Republican debate hosted by the University of Miami on December 9, 2007.

The candidates in attendance were Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Alan Keyes was not invited. Tom Tancredo was invited, but has vowed never to participate in a Spanish-language forum. [cite web |url=|title= GOP's top tier to join Spanish debate|accessdate=2007-11-15 |author= Reinhard, Beth|date=2007-11-09|publisher= "The Miami Herald"] As expected a prominent portion of the debate focused on immigration.
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Transcript]

December 12, 2007 - Johnston, Iowa

The "Des Moines Register" and Iowa Public Television were originally to host a Republican debate in Johnston, Iowa, on January 5, 2008. The Iowa Republican Party, undecided on a date for the caucus, finally settled on January 3, two days before the planned debate. The debate was then moved to December 12, the day before the Des Moines Register hosted a Democratic debate. It aired live on Iowa Public Television, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN3, Fox News Channel, C-SPAN Radio, and Fox News Radio, with a prime time replay on C-SPAN2.

Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson participated in the 90-minute debate.

The moderator, Carolyn Washburn, editor of the "Des Moines Register", was criticized by the media for being overly "strict" in dictating answer time and for barring questions on both Iraq and immigration. ["Special Report with Brit Hume." Broadcast: 2007-12-12.] [cite web|url= |title=Just a Few Debate Leftovers - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog | |author=Kate Phillips |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]
* [ Entire Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]
* [ NY Times Transcript]

January 5, 2008 – Manchester, New Hampshire

ABC, WMUR-TV and Facebook jointly hosted back-to-back Republican and Democratic debates from Saint Anselm College three days before the first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday. According to Nielsen Media Research, this debate drew the largest televised audience of the Republican primaries with an esimated 7.35 million viewers. [ [ ABC Medianet ] ]

The Republican debate included Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Charles Gibson moderated. Candidates were allowed to participate if they meet one of three criteria, "place first through fourth in Iowa, poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major New Hampshire surveys, or poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major national surveys."cite web|url= |title=ABC, Fox News cutting low-polling presidential candidates out of debates - International Herald Tribune | |author= |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Thus, ABC News eliminated Republican Duncan Hunter.

ABC said the rules were quite inclusive, and that none of the candidates objected ahead of time. "In previous debates where the stage was more crowded you had to make sure all of the candidates got equal time," said David Chalian, ABC News political director. "Here you will have more time to go in depth on the issues."
* [ NY Times Transcript]
* [ ABC News Transcript]
* [ Entire Republican Debate Video]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

January 6, 2008 – Milford, New Hampshire

A brunch forum housed by Chris Wallace with presidential candidates, originally to be sponsored by the New Hampshire Republican Party, was planned for broadcast on Fox News.

Candidates Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter were excluded by Fox News, though Paul got 10 percent of the Iowa vote while Giuliani, who was invited, got just 3 percent. Fox News said they had only enough room for so many candidates.

New Hampshire Republican Party chair Fergus Cullen said on December 31, “Limiting the number of candidates who are invited to participate in debates is not consistent with the tradition of the first in the nation primary. The level playing field requires that all candidates be given an equal opportunity to participate–-not just a select few determined by the media prior to any votes being cast.” [cite web|url= |title=Ron Paul 2008: Has Fox News Excluded Ron Paul? pt. 3 | |date=December 31, 2007 |accessdate=2008-09-15] [cite web|url= |title=Nh Republicans: Don’t Limit Debate Participants by whereabouts on Blogster | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]

On January 5, following Fox News' continued refusal to allow a fair debate format, the New Hampshire Republican Party withdrew their sponsorship.cite web|url= |title=NH GOP drops sponsorship of FOX debate - James Pindell - The Primary Source - | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15] Jay Leno invited Ron Paul to be a guest on the January 7 Tonight Show specifically because he felt Paul's exclusion was "unfair." [The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Broadcast: January 7, 2008.]

In a post-debate analysis by Fox News, Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the debate by several analysts. On top of this, Frank Luntz, a pollster with Fox News, indicated that Mitt Romney's performance was well-received by his focus group of both conservatives and moderate conservatives.
* [ Text transcript of the debate from the Council on Foreign Relations]
* [ Video transcript of debate from You Decide 2008]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

January 10, 2008 - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Fox News hosted a debate at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. All candidates except Duncan Hunter and Alan Keyes participated.
* [ CFR Transcript]
* [ Video Transcript from You Decide 2008]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

January 24, 2008 - Boca Raton, Florida

MSNBC hosted a two-hour debate at Florida Atlantic University. [] The organizers include the university, NBC, Leadership Florida, the Florida Press Association and the Florida Public Broadcasting Service Inc. It took place on Thursday, January 24, from 9 to 11 pm EST. A text message poll was taken after the debate asking viewers who they believed had won. The results showed Romney won with 41%, Paul with 40%, Huckabee with 8%, McCain with 7%, and Giuliani with 4%.
* [ Official web site]
* [ Transcript]
* [ Video with Closed Caption]

January 30, 2008 - Simi Valley, California

The "Los Angeles Times", "The Politico", CNN, and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, hosted a Republican debate in Simi Valley, California, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. [cite news|url=|title=Politico announces pivotal GOP debate|date=June 25, 2007|accessdate=2008-02-18|publisher=The Politico] [ [,0,6967477.story?coll=la-mediacenter-releases Reagan Library Partners with CNN, the Los Angeles Times and for Final GOP Presidential Debate, January 30, 2008] on Los Angeles Times accessed at January 6 2008] This was the first debate after Rudy Giuliani withdrew and the last before Super Tuesday. Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain participated.
* [ Video with Closed Caption]
* [ CNN full transcript] and [ video highlights]

February 2, 2008 - New York, New York

MTV and MySpace hosted a two-party debate on February 2, 2008, "Closing Arguments: A Presidential Super Dialogue", broadcast live from the MTV studios. The candidates were two Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and two Republicans, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. Invited but not attending were John McCain and Mitt Romney. [cite web|url= | - Hillary Clinton & Mike Huckabee - MySpace Election 2008 Closing Arguments with United States Presidential Candidates | |date= |accessdate=2008-09-15]


External links

* [ 2008 Republican Presidential Debate Polls]
* [ 2008 Republican Debate Video Archive]

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