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Fred Thompson's Cranky Shtick, Keyes Kookiness Highlight Dull Debate

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Republican waters chummed by days of skirmishes between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, the media hype before this afternoon's Republican debate left viewers with the impression that the two Iowa frontrunners spent all morning shadow-boxing in their campaign offices. But instead of a clash of the contenders, viewers were left with a milquetoast affair, the exceptions being some moments of unrestrained crazy by debate first-timer and 2004 Barack Obama opponent Alan Keyes (listen for the "doctor heal thyself" quip after his speech about hot air-blowing politicians) and several unexpected clashes between the candidates and the debate's monotone-voiced moderator, Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn.

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