John McCain Was "Big Winner" Of Debate, Straight Talk Express "Has Fresh Plugs And New Tires And Looks To Be Running On Premium Ethanol"

Des Moines Register's David Yepsen: "John McCain was his old self in Thursday night's Republican presidential debate: Feisty, pointed and a straight-talker who wasn't afraid to tell Republican activists things they didn't want to hear. It made him the big winner of the night." (David Yepsen, Op-Ed, "Forceful McCain Talks His Way Straight To Top Of Field," Des Moines Register, 5/4/07)

· Yepsen: "Thursday night's debate indicated McCain's Straight Talk Express' has fresh plugs and new tires and looks to be running on premium ethanol." (David Yepsen, Op-Ed, "Forceful McCain Talks His Way Straight To Top Of Field," Des Moines Register, 5/4/07)

· Yepsen: "McCain seemed to understand the limitations of the format and took advantage of it. His voice was forceful and his mannerisms aggressive. While Romney looked like the executive, McCain acted the part." (David Yepsen, Op-Ed, "Forceful McCain Talks His Way Straight To Top Of Field," Des Moines Register, 5/4/07)

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz: "John McCain must have had an extra bowl of Wheaties. I've watched him in dozens of situations he's usually discursive and conversational and his delivery has never been punchier. He was tough on Iraq, on Iran, said he would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, and kept vowing to veto pork." (Howard Kurtz, "Showtime In Simi Valley," The Washington Post, 5/4/07)

London Times' Tim Reid: "John McCain last night capped a resurgent week for his presidential campaign with a forceful and combative performance in the first televised debate among the 10 Republican contenders. Mr McCain, who according to new polls has bounced back from a lackluster start and now leads his major rivals in the key early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, appeared more sure footed than the current frontrunner, Rudy Giuliani. But Mr McCain is clearly gaining traction and has recaptured much of the straight talk' persona that marked his 2000 primary battle against Mr Bush." (Tim Reid, "McCain Makes Ground In Republican Face-Off," The [London] Times, 5/4/07)

National Journal's Marc Ambinder: "Several conservative bloggers gave McCain the victory. He was, in their eyes, the most credible candidate telling them what they wanted to hear (and even a little of what they didn't)." (National Journal's "On Call" Blog, nationaljournal.com, 5/4/07)

Eye On 08 Blog: "McCain won today. Of the big three, he moved forward." (Eye On 08 Blog, "Final Thoughts," www.eyeon08.com, 5/3/07)

The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes: "McCain was forceful on the imperative of winning in Iraq with a new strategy now in place." (Fred Barnes, "The Big Ten," The Weekly Standard, 5/4/07)

John McCain's Performance Was "Impressive And Strong"

Former Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA): "I certainly think [McCain] turned in a very strong performance. I think there was a lot of energy, a lot of passion. His performance was impressive and strong. He kept on message, established his priorities, continued his courageous stand on lot of these very difficult and controversial issues. I think he did well." (MSNBC's "Post-Debate Analysis," 5/3/07)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): "He served over 20 years in the Navy, over 20 years in the Senate. He is a man of experience. He has battled all of these issues throughout his adult life. He knows in this issue of war and peace, he knows what war is like, and he knows the consequences of failure. That is why he wants to get the job done right in Iraq against these Islamic extremists which is the phrase that he used which I think gets at the core of the battle that we are engaged in. I think he did a good job. John McCain, consistent conservative but with passion." (MSNBC's "Tucker Carlson Live," 5/4/07)

John McCain "Came Out Firing Last Night" With "Great Energy" And "Passion"

Fox News' Gretchen Carlson: "[A] lot of the reviews this morning are saying, hey, McCain came out firing last night. A lot of people saying he had so much energy ..." (Fox News' "Fox And Friends," 5/4/07)

Republican Strategist Joe Watkins: "McCain had great energy last night. If you were a McCain supporter and you had dropped off, well, you would be back after seeing his performance last night, because he was right on point with a whole lot of things. He showed his character and the fact that he is not willing to waver when it comes to his stance with regard to Iraq. And he talked about a whole host of other issues as well. I think he was very, very good last night." (MSNBC's "News Live," 5/4/07)

Fox News' Carl Cameron: "John McCain came out swinging. ...Last night on Iraq specifically, and the War on Terror, he made it a point to be, undeniably, to be the most aggressive, forceful, sort of committed defender of U.S. and national security, and at one point he went so far as to say he would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell." (Fox News' "America's Newsroom," 5/4/07)

The Arizona Republic's Dan Nowicki: "McCain's line about chasing terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell' was probably the most-quoted of the evening." (Dan Nowicki, "McCain Central" Blog, www.azcentral.com, Accessed 5/4/07)

NBC 7News Boston's Andy Hiller: "McCain proved he still has passion ..." (Andy Hiller, "Hiller Instinct: Republicans Rumble," WHDH-TV Website, www1.whdh.com, 5/3/07)

New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin: "John McCain was passionate and vigorous ..." (Michael Goodwin, "Giuliani Is Not-So-Artful Dodger," [New York] Daily News, 5/4/07)

The American Spectator's Philip Klein: "McCain came across as experienced and energetic ..." (American Spectator Blog, www.spectator.org, 5/4/07)

John McCain "Able To Exhibit His Leadership" With "Honest, Direct, Commanding And Forceful" Performance

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ): "[H]e obviously was able to exhibit his leadership, addressing the two key issues of our time: the wasteful Washington spending as well as the necessity of leading in the world on national security matters. In both cases obviously he has the experience and has taken the leadership on those matters, so I thought it was a good way for him to demonstrate to the American people ... exactly why he ought to be elected president." (Fox News' "Fox And Friends," 5/4/07)

Human Events' David Ferguson: "Honest, direct, commanding and forceful. I could tell John McCain was in the race to win." (David Ferguson, "And The Winner Is" Human Events' Right Angle Blog, 5/4/07)

Gordon Stables, Director Of Debates, USC Debate Squad: "Senator McCain was strong both not only in restoring a fiscal credibility theme to the debate but also on security matters." (MSNBC's' "News Live," 5/4/07)

Fox News' Michael Barone: "I think there are several memorable moments. You had John McCain saying he would go to the gates of hell to find our enemies." (Fox News,' "Fox News Live," 5/4/07)

San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Mariucci: "McCain, as he has in countless town hall meetings in Iowa and New Hampshire, positioned himself as a seasoned statesman and strove to deliver some straight talk' to voters about the war in Iraq, energy independence and the need to guard against Islamic extremism while stressing his own political credentials. I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I am the most prepared' to assume the White House, he said." (Carla Mariucci, "GOP Hopefuls Gather Under Reagan Mantle," San Francisco Chronicle, 5/4/07)

The American Spectator's Quin Hillyer: "John McCain did a good job when asked about which Democrat other than Lieberman he would invite into his Cabinet. Rather than go with a politician, McCain talked about going to innovators and business leaders such as ones in Silicon Valley and saying, Now, come serve your country.' He effectively took a political question and raised it above politics, into the realm of patriotism. He has a unique ability to pull that off because it really is genuine from him, straight from his heart." (American Spectator Blog, www.spectator.org, 5/4/07)