The three big horses all performed well tonight, but McCain wins by a nose. He handled the immigration onslaught surprisingly well and delivered an honest, heartfelt response to the sister of the slain soldier. His decision to stand set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Rudy had his big moment in the last debate when he confronted Ron Paul over 9/11 and it was the talk at the post-debate water cooler. Tonight McCain got his opportunity to leave a lasting impression and he delivered. This is exactly the kind of moment McCain needed to show voters he’s not as rough and rugged as he is sometimes portrayed. (watch it below)

Mike Huckabee was strong again and won among the second-tier candidates. He’s turning heads, but is he opening wallets? We’ll find out in less than a month when Q2 fundraising numbers are reported.

Tom Tancredo wins among the bottom-tier by saying what so many conservatives (and likely several other candidates on stage) privately think. President Bush ran as a conservative but governed as a liberal. Tancredo also wins the line of the night by turning Karl Rove’s words against him and announcing that Bush wouldn’t ever darken the White House doorway during a Tancredo presidency.

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