Not going to “live blog” but will have some observations.

END GAME:

Perry the winner not because he was so much better than the others, but because he was so much better than he was previously.  He may have revitalized his campaign tonight.  Cain was damaged, but not fatally.  Romney was okay, held his ground.  Newt and Santorum both good, stood out.  Bachmann pretty good also.  Ron Paul an outlier.

Tweet of the Night from Moe Lane about Romney’s suggestion that Chinese should be responsible for international humanitarian aid:

Blow by blow action:

At the first break:

Cain was hammered pretty good on 9-9-9, and all he did was refer to an analysis on his website, rather than explaining it in a way that addressed the concerns.

Perry was much more comfortable, forceful, can only wonder where he would be today if he was this way in the first three debates.

Santorum hit Romney on no trust to repeal Obamacare.  For first time Romney was on defensive, but recovered pretty well despite Santorum trying to cut him off repeatedly.  Never responded to issue of former advisers helping craft Obamacare.  Newt referenced Boston Herald article about small businessman being hounded for state mandate tax, “there’s a heck of a lot of big government behind Romneycare….”  Romney was weak in response, but did tag Newt with previously having supported a mandate.  Romney then responded by relying on state versus federal distinction.

Winner of the 1st Round:  Rick Perry.

At the second break:

Whoa, Perry says Romney hired illegals in home for a year.  Romney says wrong.  Perry tried to cut him off.  Turns out were illegals working for a lawn company Romney hired, and told company not to do it.  If that is the best Perry had, it fell flat.  I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

On immigration Perry was better than in prior debates, focusing on Texas’ unique problems with long border.  Romney kept focusing on E-verify and tuition breaks that draw people.  Romney hit Perry on immigration, but Perry went back to the lawn care company, and the audience booed Perry.

Newt gave a good speech in response to a question about the Latino community.  The answer is “we want an America that’s working again.”  Ron Paul said we need to get away from ‘group mentality.”  Cain said the answer is growing the economy, evaded question of whether 14th Amendment made everyone born here a citizen.  Perry evaded the question as well, and focused on energy policy.  Cooper askied if Perry supports “repealing the 14th Amendment” to Perry said no, but Cooper misstated the issue.

On Latino issue, Santorum focused on faith and family.  “Family and faith in America being crushed.”

About real estate and foreclosures, Santorum says Perry supported Tarp bailouts, Perry denies.  I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.  Romney comes out in favor of letting markets work, turns again to getting the economy going.  Cain said was for Tarp initially, but not how Obama administration handled it, “I own up to it.”

On Occupy Wall Street issue, Cain stands by prior comments, direct frustrations at White House not Wall Street.  Paul says go to Federal Reserve as culprit of bubble, demagogued issue of bailouts of banks, and talks about why no one in jail.  Cain responds that “What do protesters want from bankers on Wall Street, to come downstairs and write them a check?”

Romney says focus on last three years, Obama failed on every issue, made it harder for economy to rebound.

Winner of Round 2:  Draw.

At the third break:

On issue of religion, Santorum said its a matter of values, not specific religion.  Perry asked about issue of reputiating the preacher who said Mormonism a religious cult, Perry talked around it.  Romney said he’s heard worse about Mormonism, and troubled by statements about choosing candidate based on religion.

On negotiation with hostage takers, Cain tried walking back his statement about releasing Gitmo detainees for American soldiers captured.  On foreign aid, Perry puts funding UN on the table.  Ron Paul says would cut all foreign aid to anyone.  Romney said let the Chinese do foreign humanitarian aid.  Bachmann says don’t cut aid to Israel, crowd cheers (mostly), Obama first President to put daylight between U.S. and Israel; hit Cain hard on negotiating with terrorists.  Ron Paul brings up Iranians arms for hostages, Newt says Reagan admitted it was a mistake.

Winner of Round 3:  Newt on points.  Didn’t say much, but what he said was a grade above.

At the end:

Question, who can win, polls say Romney best positioned.  Santorum says I’m only one to win swing state, hit Perry for running as Democrat and Romney as liberal/moderate.  Romney says that need someone who didn’t spend life in politics.  Perry says if want to know how someone acts in future, look how acted in past, then hits Romney record; need bright contrast with Obama.  Romney says 40% of Texas jobs to illegals, Perry denies.  Newt says would be strongest on substance, challenges Obama to 7 three hour debates.

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Before the start:

To get things started, reader Charles sent me a link to this op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Ninety percent of success is showing up,” Woody Allen once observed. This helps explain why Herman Cain is soaring and Rick Perry has gone as flat as the Texas plains.

Turn on a TV, and there is the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO. From Fox and Friends to Face the Nation to The Tonight Show, the one-time chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve advances his message — virtually everywhere but the Weather Channel….

Amid these media cyclones, where was Perry? He evidently vanished into the federal Candidate Protection Program. Rather than offer his side of these breaking stories, Perry largely faded into the sagebrush. Between the two latest GOP debates, Perry did two CNBC interviews and zero network spots.