End game analysis:  Hard to assess.  Both Newt and Romney had tough segments, Newt’s earlier in the night, Romney towards end.  Newt had most highlight moments.  Perry fine, but not a real presence, not asked many questions.  Santorum very good.  Bachmann tough, but she doesn’t get her facts right, makes outlandish statements about others, but it does damage because the fact check comes later; it’s why I don’t like her.   The big loser may be Ron Paul because the focus on Iran revealed him to be, as Bachmann put it, dangerous.

Hard to know who benefits most.  Will be curious to see Luntz focus group.  Newt I think redeemed himself somewhat, people will remember him going after Obama on pipeline.  Romney did well because he was steady, which is the image he wants to portray.  Perry did well, but I’m not sure who he picks up votes from.  I think this may help Bachmann the most, for all the wrong reasons.

More, I think Newt was helped by using the word “zany” himself.  It’s hard to see how the strategy of crazy being pursued by Romney works after this debate, or how Paul’s relentless demonization of Newt doesn’t result in a backlash.

I’ll have Tweets of night soon.

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Fast and Furious.  Perry says if her were President and AG didn’t know, as Holder claims, he would have him resign.

Immigration, Romney takes hard line, Newt repeats position, nothing new.

Wallace hits Romney on flip flops.  Says changed position on abortion.  Says never changed on gay rights, not for gay marriage.  On guns says always supported 2d amendment.  Wallace points out letter from 1994 on gay rights, assault weapons ban, 2002 support of tough gun control laws of Mass and signed assault weapons ban.  This segment almost as tough for Romney as earlier segment for Newt.

Santorum hit Romney hard on history of gay marriage, could have stopped gay marriage in Mass.  He personally as Gov issued gay marriage licenses.  Romney denies, but whether he’s right or wrong, the damage done as far as voters listening know.

Bachmann went after Newt on abortion.  Newt says 98.5% pro life voting record, only issue was welfare reform bill.  Says Bachmann gets facts wrong.  Bachmann comes back again (on Twitter circulating links to Newt’s 98.6% rating, so Bachmann wrong, but damage done.)

At third break – Winners Bachmann and Santorum for hitting Ron Paul very hard on Iran; Newt on pipeline; others okay.  Romney doing well at macro level, not that any particular answer was unusually good.

On Iran nukes, Paul says no evidence.  Says it’s another Iraq.  Even if had solid intelligence, still says just promoting Iran desire to have nukes.

Santorum hits it out of park on MADD with Iran, they want martyrdom, not equivalent of Soviet Union which wanted to live.  They hate us because of who we are, what we believe in.

Romney has good line about drone, this is a president who says “pretty please.”  Bachmann says Ron Paul policy is most dangerous she’s ever heard.

Ron Paul says Kennedy talked Soviets out of putting nukes in Cuba.  Uh, wasn’t there a military blockade.

Newt says doesn’t want to appear “zany,” mockingly, on pipleline issue because feels so strongly about it.  It’s irrational — gives real zingers.  Bachmann good too, said put left wing door knockers ahead of American people.

At the second break – No clear winner.  Newt had a very tough 15 minutes as Wallace and Cavuto served up a series of questions on his toughest points, Freddie consulting and Ryan Plan.  Newt did as well as he could, but it reminded me of the water torture in the last debate over fidelity.  Bachmann went after him as did Ron Paul, but not Romney.  Fortunately for Newt, the segment ended on the judiciary, and he let his historian shine and got huge crowd applause.

Chris Wallace asks about Newt’s comments about Bain — out of context, was in response to Romney’s comments.  Romney passes opp to attack Newt on it, probably a good choice would have made him look bad.

Wallace then brings up Freddie Mac.  Newt handles it well, points out Frank and Dodd were in position of power and exploited that power.  Newt points out that if read whole article Wallace mentioned, he also said need more regulation (that’s a point I made earlier).

Wallace then turned to Paul, who said it ends in fascism.  Weird.

Turns to Bachmann and asks for proof that he peddled influence.  Newt says what Bachmann said about him was not true.  Never lobbied.  Never tried to slow down reform.  Sponsored reform while speaker.  Bachmann says Politicact said everything she said was true.  (Politifact just tweeted that they never said that.)  Need to shut down Fannie and Freddie.  Newt has never once changed view based on payment.

Then Cavuto goes after Newt on Ryan-Wyden Plan.  As to “right wing social engineering” quote, points out that it was in context of convincing the people before passage.

Finally turn to Ron Paul earmarks.  Let him slide on this, his explanation is fluff but Cavuto never followed up nor did other candidates.

Perry says need to turn Congress into part time legislature and make them get real jobs.  Passes on chance to attack Newt and attacks Washington in general.

Meghan Kelly goes after Newt on judicial proposal, Newt says courts out of control, gets applause.  “We do not have a judicial dictatorship.”  Wow, Newt gives history lesson to Kelly about what Jefferson and others did.

Then Ron Paul says “all of them are good, all of them are bad” in response to q about favorite Justices.

At first break:  Advantage Newt, he was most forceful and went after Obama big time.  Here’s what Andrea Tantaros tweeted:

Newt wins first round of questioning. It explains why he surged. GOP wants someone who can KO Obama. Others don’t demonstrate that.

Newt on why electable – refers to Ronald Reagan supposedly not being electable.  Then Newt rattled off all his achievements — home run answer.  On discipline, talks about his history, doesn’t take bait and doesn’t attack Romney.

Romney – why make case more effectively than Newt? Doesn’t go after Newt, says can get America working.

Bachmann said something about being “a real person for 50 years.”  Huntsmann said something about refusing to show up at a Trump debate.

Perry asked about debating skills – says beginning to like debates, and going after Obama.  Says wants to be Tim Tebow of Iowa caucuses.

Newt hits “Saul Alinksy” radical who can’t lead and always running for re-election.

Pre-game analysis:  Newt is on the hot seat.  Expect everyone, except Huntsman, to go at him.  Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann will be the most aggressive, and Romney only will dirty his hands if Paul and Bachmann can’t do the job.  I expect Perry primarily to go after Romney, because if Perry can come close to beating Romney in Iowa it will be a tremendous boost to his campaign.  Newt will have to parlay this to his advantage, come across as the statesman, point out the millions of dollars of attack ads without appearing whiney, and attack the others with knowledge, not name calling.

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The debate starts at 9 p.m. Eastern.  I’ll provide commentary as we go, probably at the breaks as I have done for several other debates.

Before we get started, please Tweet to Defeat National Review.

I can’t tell you how disgusted I am that the publications which presents itself as the home of conservatism has reduced itself to running a cover depicting a leading Republican candidate as a cartoon martian character, and is devoting almost an entire issue to taking down the main challenger to its preferred candidate.

It’s an embarrassment to everyone who believes that a trustworthy conservative media is important.