GOP Debate Stays Cordial

New front-runner Huckabee remains quiet, positive
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2007 4:45 PM CST
Republican presidential hopeful former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney talks with fellow presidential hopeful, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee following the Des Moines Register Republican Presidential Debate,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Republican presidential hopefuls held their final debate before Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses today in Des Moines, focusing on taxes and using only a few sharp words. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, suddenly the front-runner in state polls, remained largely in the background, MSNBC reports, avoiding controversy and urging candidates “to quit fighting amongst ourselves.”

Huckabee’s support of a “fair tax”—a 23% sales tax that would end the IRS—had been seen as outside the mainstream, but all played it safe on the issue; Rudy Giuliani even suggested the program “would be a good idea.” A couple of sparks flew as former TV star Fred Thompson told Mitt Romney he was “getting to be a pretty good actor” himself.