Quick take: Everyone performed well, but if Romney’s task was to take on and knock down Newt, he didn’t do it. Romney was offered up the opportunity a number of times, and only tried once and it was weak. It was not as cringe-worthy as when Tim Pawlenty failed to confront Romney about “Obamneycare,” but it wasn’t good. Romney had the “gaffe” of the night, offering Perry at $10,000 bet (I kid you not) over what was in Romney’s book about health care.
This was not Newt’s best debate, but he had a few good moments, handling the issue of marital infidelity well, and hitting a home run on standing up for Israel. Perry had his best night by far, was clear headed, and had the line of the night about Newt’s Palestinian comment. Santorum was strong, I just don’t know if it will make a difference. Michelle Bachmann was the most aggressive, coining the term “Newt Romney.” But by attacking them both, she weakened her case against either. Ron Paul was Ron Paul.
What will be the result at the polls? I can’t imagine Romney closes the gap with Newt, but others might move up. The problem is that there’s only so many not-Newt votes to go around. Perry, Santorum and Bachmann all are seeking the same voters.
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