The Iowa Republican debate used a really intriguing audience meter that allowed you to guage the audience reaction in real time during the debate. I'm not at all convinced this is a "good" idea, but it sure was interesting.
The large debate fields are nice in terms of bringing in voices that might normally be stifled, but they really diminish the ability of the candidates to rise above sound bytes. That said, polls are fickle and it would be very questionable to deny any candidate with any viability the right to speak.
Alan Keyes sort of clawed his way into a few questions, accusing the moderator of ignoring him which she did appear to do at first. Keyes audience meter pretty much hit the floor when he first spoke but rose later during a passionate plea for more religion in education.
My take overall was that this debate will consolidate Romney and Huckabee as front runners in Iowa. Giuliani is becoming something of a wild card in the race as the national leader who appears to be in decline. His performace was steady but didn't seem to rise to the level of Huckabee, who is probably the most appealing public speaker in the Republican bunch.
Giuliani: "Give the death penalty to the death tax"
Huckabee: Health Care reform: "kill the snake"
Romney: "We don't have to run a deficit" "Let the programs that don't work go", he's in favor of the "no child left behind" program. Higher pay for teachers.
McCain: No good conservative can support extensive subsidies. "Climate Change is real".
Tancredo: "Follow the constitution of this country" "Today we do far too many things.." "Nafta's been a disaster for many places...."
Thompson: We need to tell [rich] people we can't afford their medicare. ".... focus on preserving the tax cuts of 01 and 03". Nafta has helped USA as much as it has helped Mexico.
Hunter: "Nafta is a bad business deal"