While I think Fred did okay, I would say he only did okay, and that’s not enough. He did not have the sort of performance he needs. He seemed uninterested, almost annoyed, at the whole thing, and while he had a few good quips, he missed opportunities to highlight some of the differences he has with the others and reestablish himself as the one truly consistent conservative in the race.
I think Romney’s performance was both quite strong, but I think he also showed some of his more serious vulnerabilities. At his best, he was persuasive and presidential. At other times, however — such as when he was piled on — he got a bit defensive and off-balance in a way that made him seem less sincere.
Huckabee gave a decent performance. Most notable to me was the fact that he stressed a completely different set of themes than he did in Iowa. This was no accident, to be sure, but it’s hard to square tonight’s Huck of limited government and the 10th Amendment with the Huck who wants a national smoking ban and greater government involvement in picking winners and losers in the marketplace.