That is the question for the party at this moment. Giuliani is not known as a conservative on the social issues, certainly, but he does bring fund-raising clout to the McCain campaign when it needs it. He does bring some popularity and, importantly, organization in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, some of the north-eastern states that vote on Super Tuesday.
And again, it also creates the sense that a rival gets out and endorses John McCain. A big governor who has been on the sideline endorses John McCain. That is the dynamic Mitt Romney is fighting against right now, with only a few days, less than a week, until the Super Tuesday voting. So, you have a challenge.
The dynamic in the Republican party right now is can John McCain consolidate and build quickly and have a big Tuesday night on Super Tuesday that would essentially, not by a delegate count, put the nomination away, but certainly by momentum and the track of the race put the race away? Or can Governor Romney make the case, look again, this is not the man you want leading the Republican party. That was the source of the crackling, palpable, especially when one was talking -- watching on television, McCain is talking and Romney is glaring over at him, wanting to jump in. When Romney was talking, McCain looking over and shaking his head.
They understand, those two, that that is the dynamic of the race. But again, I would not underestimate the potential impact of Governor Huckabee because of where the Super Tuesday calendar takes us, several state where he could have an impact, and could, essentially, be in Governor Romney's way as he tries to say, I'm the conservative alternative.
COOPER: What surprised you most tonight?
KING: That the fact that they were re-litigating, with such tension and such emotion, the whole Iraq debate. COOPER: You thought maybe they would let it go.
KING: I thought perhaps Senator McCain would let it go and try to say, I'm the front-runner in this race; I'm going to be big, if you will, and focus on what I would do. But he was very clearly, not only eager but willing, prepared and wanting to go back down that road, saying that he believes what Governor Romney said in April of 2007 was a signal that he wanted the president to negotiate a timeline to get out of Iraq.
You heard the governor over and over again vehemently deny that. Many believe what Governor Romney is trying to do is say, John McCain says he's the candidate of straight talk. He is lying about my record. That is not straight talk. That is the fear in the McCain campaign. If Governor Romney can say a man of straight talk is a calculated, dirty politician, perhaps he can score points.
But you're having a debate on John McCain's turf if you're talking about Iraq. So unless Governor Romney can turn this into credibility of John McCain, not just about Iraq, most Republicans believe, even people close to Romney believe, McCain in the end, whether it's true or not, will win the debate.
COOPER: We've got a lot more to talk about with John King, who will be standing by, as well as Bill Bennett and the best political team on television. So stay right where you are.
When we come back, we'll break down more of what was said on this stage tonight, looking beyond the head lines and beyond the spin. Joining us for that, of course, is David Gergen, Amy Holmes as well, all part of the best political team on television. From the Reagan Presidential Library, you're watching a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Also at the 11:00 hour, we will have a look back at the life and legacy and career of President Ronald Reagan, a special edition at 11:00 p.m. But our coverage continues for the next hour and 15 minutes. We'll take a quick break.
COOPER: -- endorsements from -- we now learn from Governor Schwarzenegger, but also earlier today from Rudy Giuliani. Joining me now, once again, CNN's John King, CNN contributor and conservative scholar, Bill Bennett, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.
Quick takes from each of you on the night, Bill?
BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I love conservative scholar, thank you very much. I don't think it changes much, palpable as the tension between Romney and McCain. That exchange was quite interesting. I think Huckabee performed well. He didn't get a lot of time. This thing goes on and we'll see this fight continuing over the next few days. I think, not to promote tomorrow night, but to promote tomorrow night, that's going to be the match up. That's going to be the thriller in a Manila.
COOPER: The first time we've seen these two toe to toe, one on one.
BENNETT: You sat them next to each other and you could see them glowering back and forth. I understand both positions, by the way. I noticed that Mitt Romney's cited me. I did think McCain made a cheap shot on that interpretation. But it's also true John McCain said that at that time, that was the time for all good men to come to the aid and stand up for the surge. Mitt Romney didn't. Well, he said, I was a governor. But he was a governor getting ready to run for president. It's a complicated thing.
COOPER: Gloria Borger?