'I Led. He Lagged'

Mitt Romney may have pulled off the funniest line Tuesday by comparing the G.O.P.'s sixth debate to an interminable Law & Order episode with a large cast where Fred Thompson "shows up at the end."

Watch it: LINK

But the exchange that mattered most at Tuesday's Dust-Up in Dearborn came when Rudy Giuliani effectively defended his position on the line-item veto.

"I don't think it's a bad idea to have a Republican presidential candidate who has actually beat Bill Clinton at something," said Giuliani.

The line-item veto exchange allowed Giuliani to once again use the Clintons as a foil while positioning himself as the "strict constructionist" on the Constitution.

The former New York mayor was also savvy in not ceding any ground to Romney on the broader issue of who is better on taxes and spending.

Romney, by contrast, conceded that both he and Giuliani are "in favor of keeping spending down and keeping taxes down" while arguing that the only real difference between the two men is that he never would have gone to the Supreme Court to get the line-item veto overturned.

But when pressed on whether the version of the line-item veto which was overturned in the 1990s was unconstitutional, Romney seemed to acknowledge that the one which had passed Congress was not "properly structured."

This provided an opening for Giuliani.

"The line item veto is unconstitutional," said Giuliani. "You don't get to believe about it; the Supreme Court has ruled on it. So you can bang your head up against the stone wall all you want. I am in favor of a line item veto, except you have to do it legally."

Giuliani also used the debate to claim credit for Clinton's decision not to propose a $5,000 "baby bond."

Clinton floated the idea, which was never a formal proposal, on Sept. 28. She confirmed in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that she was not going to formally propose the idea, which has been promoted by various think tanks. LINK and LINK

Romney may have also unwittingly given Democrats ammunition by refusing to say whether he thought congressional authorization was necessary for an Iraq war which began in the absence of an imminent threat.

For more debate recap, ABC's Rick Klein live blogged it: LINK

As for Wednesday, both Giuliani and Thompson have no public events while Romney is in Michigan.

The next major speech comes Thursday when John McCain unveils his health-care proposal.

On Tuesday, Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson withdrew their names from Michigan's Jan. 15 primary ballot, depriving Michigan Democrats of a chance to stage an attention-grabbing beauty contest. (Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd announced that they will remain on the ballot though both Democrats have pledged not to campaign in the state because its Jan. 15 contest violates DNC rules).


Final note: Per ABC's Sunlen Miller, a campaign van carrying Obama's wife collided with a motorcycle on a two-lane country road in central Iowa on Tuesday, sending the motorcyclist to the hospital. No one in Michelle Obama's Chevrolet Uplander was hurt, despite the fact that the van was totaled.


See below for Wednesday details:

MITT ROMNEY --11:30 am ET: Meets with Michigan voters, Jimi's Restaurant, Royal Oak, MI --11:45 am ET: Tours downtown Royal Oak, Royal Oak, MI --5:30 pm ET: Holds media availability, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, CO --5:45 pm ET: Holds a town hall forum, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, CO --1:30 pm ET: Visits Wilson St. School, Manchester, NH --3:00 pm ET: Attends Seacoast Federated Republican Women Social, Hampton, NH --4:45 pm ET: Attends Portsmouth Romney for President Headquarters Opening, Portsmouth, NH

ANN ROMNEY: --12:15 pm ET: Meets with area voters, Manchester, NH

JOHN MCCAIN --4:15 pm ET: Holds a Medical Center Roundtable, Grinnell, IA --5:35 pm ET: Holds media availability, Grinnell, IA --7:30 pm ET: Speaks at Johnson County Republican Party Fundraiser, Coralville, IA

HILLARY CLINTON --10:30 am ET: Discusses innovation at GT Solar Inc, Merrimack, NH --1:00 pm ET: Hosts innovation event at the Derry Opera House, Derry, NH --5:30 pm ET: Attends fundraiser, Boston, MA --7:00 pm ET: Attends the Club 44 "Making History" event, Boston, MA

BARACK OBAMA --5:00 pm ET: Attends a fundraiser at Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD

BILL RICHARDSON --8:45 am ET: Holds a job interview event at Mom's place, Monroe County, IA --10:30 am ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Ottumwa, IA --1:15 pm ET: Meets with Hispanic leaders, Ottumwa, IA --2:45 pm ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Fairfield, IA --4:30 pm ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Mount Pleasant, IA --6:30 pm ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Burlington, IA

DENNIS KUCINICH --8:00 pm ET: Attends a reception at Plumber's hall, Albuquerque, NM --4:00 pm ET: Attends reception at Kachina Lodge, Taos, NM --9:00 pm ET: Holds a speaking engagement, Las Vegas, NM

ELIZABETH KUCINICH: --11:45 am ET:Holds a press conference at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Albuquerque, NM

PRESIDENT BUSH --3:20 pm ET: Makes remarks at a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in the Rose Garden, Washington, D.C.