Endgame assessment:

I give the debate to Newt (and so does Larry Sabato), who was aggressive without being offensive, and once again scored the line of the night about Romney “pious baloney.”

But, that said, I don’t think much damage was done to Romney.  The upside for Newt is that there was mention at the end of the upcoming 27-minute pro-Newt SuperPAC movie on Bain, lots of free advertising.

This was very strong debate for Perry, leaving one to wonder once again what could have been.

The loser was Santorum.  He did well in the debate, but if his challenge was to become the main challenger to Romney, he didn’t succeed.  Newt, Perry and even Huntsman also had strong performances.

At the fourth break:  Strong showings by Perry (Obama is a socialist, not afraid to say it), Huntsman (finally a presence), to lesser extent News and Santorum.

At the third break:  Winner, no one.  Loser, Newt. I don’t think he was asked a single question, got no air time at all the entire segment.

At the second break:  Winner Perry.  He finally got to answer a question at the end and was very strong that Republicans in Washinton are part of the problem.  Santorum went after Ron Paul pretty consistently: “All the things Republicans like about him he can’t accomplish, and all the things he can accomplish are the things we worry about.” (paraphrase) Santorum took credit for welfare reform but Gregory didn’t come back to Newt.  Newt needs to find a way to take Santorum on on the issue.

At the first break:  Big time win for Newt, and to some extent, Santorum. Newt and Santorum hit Romney very hard on Romney’s electability problem, not being able to articulate conservative message in credible way.  Since David Gregory set up the question, it didn’t seem mean spirited.  Whey didn’t they do this last night?

Line of the morning so far, when Santorum said Romney wimped out (my term) in not running for reelection as Governor, Romney said he never intended to be a long term politician.  Newt hit back that its a bunch of pious baloney, that Romney has been running for office for 20 years..


It start’s at 9 a.m. Eastern.  Yes, that’s no a joke.

I have not even had time to write up my morning after thoughts about last night’s debate.

I’ll do what I did last night, give my assessments at the breaks, instead of trying to catelog what everyone said.  If I can avoid spilling coffee, I’ll try to pull tweets of the morning, assuming anyone actually is watching.