Recap of GOP debate in Boca Raton - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Recap of GOP debate in Boca Raton

Reporter: Al Pefley

All eyes were on Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton as five Republican candidates for the presidential nomination battled it out.

During the debate, it felt less like a battle and more like a discussion on the hard-hitting issues our country faces. Just days after Democrats bickered their way through their latest debate.

The Republicans made a pact to play nice. During the debate, the candidates actually focused on the issues rather than each other.

Rudy Giuliani had the most on the line. He focused his campaign squarely on the Sunshine State accepting major losses in New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina. "This has become a very competitive race. I believe, I am going to have the same fate as the New York Giants had last week, and we are going to come from behind."

The economy became the top issue of the night. With most candidates calling the new Bush economic stimulus plan a good start and each candidate stating, they could do more if elected.

After the debate came the spin room, and everyone who watched had an opinion.

Once the debate was over, the candidates trotted out their supporters to give their view on who did the best.

"I think John [McCain], from a Republican point of view, sealed the deal that he's the most electable conservative in the race," says one supporter.

One South Carolina Senator says no matter how you slice it, McCain came out on top in Thursday night's debate at FAU. "As a Republican, he will get our party back in good standing with the American people."

But Giuliani's people say he scored the most points. "I think he did really great tonight [Thursday night]!"

Florida's Attorney General says Giuliani is the one candidate who would help Floridians who are worried about the rising cost of homeowner's insurance. "He's the only candidate in the race, and he pointed it out Thursday night who supports a federal back stop that will lower insurance rates on home owners and businesses in Florida - the only candidate."

And one candidate, Mike Huckabee, says the debate was a more mild-mannered affair than some predicted. "I thought it was a good debate. It gave us an opportunity to get out a lot of issues. And it wasn't as contentious as I think many of us went into it expecting it to be."

Huckabee says while Obama and Hillary have been nasty to each other, he feels it's better that Republicans try to place nice. He thinks voters are more interested in ideas and not negative talk. "That's what we ought to be looking for in a president - not his ability to lead in the demolition derby."

Maybe the only thing they all agree on is that with the election less than a week away, the debate will definitely have an effect on Tuesday's outcome.

This is the last significant amount of free TV time they'll get in Florida before the election next week.

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