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Showtime in Simi Valley
Some MSM leads, starting with the L.A. Times:
"Sharing a stage for the first time, the 10 Republican presidential hopefuls alternated between tough talk and optimism Thursday night as they wrapped themselves in the conservative mantle of the party's patron saint and their spiritual host, Ronald Reagan.
"Invoking the name of the nation's 40th president nearly 20 times -- and mostly ignoring the current occupant of the White House -- the contestants repeatedly faulted the direction of Washington under GOP rule, and promised change."
Boston Globe: "The 10 declared Republican candidates for president introduced themselves to the nation last night in their first debate of the 2008 campaign season, displaying sharp differences over social issues, immigration, and the pursuit of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as they sought to make a strong first impression with voters.
"Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani struggled to clearly articulate his position on abortion. Arizona Senator John McCain reiterated his support for staying in Iraq but offered sharp criticism of the Bush administration's conduct of the war. And Mitt Romney, in his national coming-out party of sorts, delivered a largely comfortable, confident performance that left his advisers beaming."
NYT: "The 10 Republican presidential candidates each endorsed a muscular approach to foreign policy and national security last night, with several invoking Ronald Reagan as a model for staring down Iran on nuclear weapons and remaining resolute on Iraq until it was more stable.
"On social issues dear to conservative Republicans, who are a dominant force in some early nominating primaries, two candidates -- former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York City and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts -- found themselves treading carefully as they explained their positions on abortion. Mr. Giuliani, who supports abortion rights, appeared to struggle with the issue, joining the other nine in saying he would not oppose overturning the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. But later he endorsed a woman's right to make a decision on whether to have an abortion."
New York Post: "2007 -- Rudy Giuliani portrayed himself as the heir to Ronald Reagan at the first Republican debate last night, talking tough on terrorism - but struggling to present a clear and consistent position on abortion."
Some insta-reactions on the right:
Jonah Goldberg: "I'm sorry but Romney still comes across like a well-cast actor in a movie of the week about a guy running for president."
Rich Lowry: "This might . . . the night when Rudy stopped being solely the hero of 9/11 and started being a presidential candidate like everyone else. It was inevitable at some point."