The mortgage mess brings a rambling, unfocused answer from McCain, that manages to work in everything from Wall Street penalties to a town in Norway.
He sees spending cuts as his in with the conservative vote – which it might well be.
Huckabee is still speaking in a language ordinary people understand. He communicates, and his infrastructure project makes sense. Most voters are pretty cynical about the rebates. They welcome them, but don’t think they’ll make a big difference.
Romney’s response was also sensible – infrastructure projects are great, but they’re too long-term. They won’t solve our immediate economic problems.
Related: Watch Romney and McCain debate the economy
–CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
Huckabee’s answer on climate change sounds like a common sense defense of federalism– right or wrong, Californians should be able to make the decision for themselves. And he brings up “unfunded mandates” – major negative buzzwords for GOP primary voters.
The field of Republican presidential hopefuls is down to four. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
An overwhelming number of Republicans agree that climate change is real. This is new – it’s a shift that’s only happened in the past two years, but it’s a new consensus among most GOP voters.
Related: Watch the candidates discuss environmental regulations
– CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider
Romney’s giving a pretty interesting conservative explanation of a health care plan that otherwise makes conservatives nervous. As he explains, it forces people to pay their own way - which they get.
Huckabee speaks in a manner using a language that connects with ordinary voters.
McCain and Romney sound like politicians. His appeal is that he doesn’t.
He won the Iowa caucuses because of his performance in the debates. It was the debates that put him out in front in Iowa – in a debate like this, he could make some gains.
There is a difference between a fee and a tax. A fee is something where a person gets something immediately in return. It’s a valid distinction.
Voters – even Republican voters – don’t mind fees as much as they do taxes. They don’t like them, but they understand them.
(Ronald Reagan once said: “Facts are stupid things” – intending to use the line Romney keeps repeating: “Facts are stubborn things)
Mitt Romney placed second beyond John McCain in Tuesday's GOP primary in Florida.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
This is an invitation for Romney – which he’s politely accepting – to make the case against McCain. This is an answer he’s been preparing for. For the past few days, he’s been citing legislation McCain co-authored with Democrats, and he’s ready to rattle them off.
McCain is trying to turn that potential primary Achilles heel into an advantage – he’s the guy who can get things done. Another well-prepared response: this is a brief he’s already written. And somehow, for him, it always comes back to national security.
Somehow no matter what question you ask, the answer is Iraq.
Related: Watch Ron Paul's post debate interview
It was a very evasive answer from Romney on the question of whether people are better off – and a very strange answer from McCain. In many ways people are better off? That’s hard to see.
This isn’t straight talk from McCain. Two candidates, two evasive answers. At least Huckabee answers the question – and quickly shifts the blame to Congress. This is the straightest answer so far.
Classic economic populism from Huckabee – who’s made that working-class empathy a major theme of his run.