It has been interesting to read the rehash of what went down about an hour and a half south of me last night during the Republican Presidential Debate in Columbia, SC.

Most of the national right-leaning bloggers are giving the debate to Rudy based, basically, on his “response” to the increasingly nutty-looking Ron Paul’s assertion about America’s role in the 9/11 attacks.

It wasn’t so much a “response” as it was, well I’ll let Jim Geraghty explain:

I’ve never seen a candidate put his foot up another candidate’s tushie the way he did to Ron Paul tonight.

Or how about Stephen Green’s “drunkblogging” assessment:

Rudy won tonight, if for no other reason than the well-deserved b*tch-slapping he administered to Ron Paul.

While I understand many believe US foreign policy played a significant role in the motivations of the 9/11 terrorists, the vast majority of those holding that belief lie outside the Republican party. Most (if not all) GOP voters are not looking for what they consider a “blame-America” candidate.

As some others are joking this morning, Paul should be charged with a campaign-finance violation because the contribution he gave to Rudy’s campaign last night far exceeds the limit.

But while the national bloggers are giving Rudy round 2, The Palmetto Scoop was there and saw things differently:

McCain looked strong, and was by far the best of the frontrunners.
Giuliani was crushed on abortion and immigration. This may have been the final nail in his SC coffin.
Huckabee shined. He looked like he may very well be ready to join the top-tier.
Hunter was almost entirely forgotten by Hume
Brownback could be a candidatean but he was a bit too folksy.
Thompson was stiff and looked like a grumpy old man.
Romney was okay, but he needed to do more if he wants to break out of single digits in SC polls.
Gilmore shouldn’t be up there. Period.
Tancredo reminded us of why he’s a “single-issue candidate.”
Paul was annoying and sounded like a Democrat. He killed what little credibility he has by saying he would kill DHS.

If it was not for the Giuliani laying it to Paul, Mike Huckabee would have had to most memorable line of the night:

…we have a Congress that spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop.

This is probably an impossibility, but the one thing that would make future debates better is to narrow down the field. Clearly, Paul, Gilmore and Thompson don’t belong, to some extent neither do Hunter and Tancredo (maybe even Brownback).

Why not make this really interesting for viewers and add a Survivor/American Idol element where one person is voted off after each debate? I’d watch it, if for nothing else to see the scowl on Paul’s face when Brit Hume says, “The tribe has spoken.”