I don’t think anyone left the debate more likable than they were when they went in, with the possible exception of Newt.
I thought Perry had his best performance so far, but it was awfully shaky at times and he struck me as unlikable at times. If this had been his first debate, he might still be the frontrunner, albeit with a lot of chatter about how he needs to get better.
Romney still won the debate but I think he finally got bloodied on RomneyCare in a way he hadn’t in the past. He also looked angry and flustered for the first time ever. It might humanize him for some people. Or it might make him look weak.
Cain wilted under the pressure, but didn’t fold. He needs to learn how to talk about 9-9-9 in a granular way without asserting ignorance, laziness or dishonesty on the part of its critics. He remains a mess on foreign policy.
Santorum was the winner on points in almost all of his exchanges but he simply cannot stop sounding whiney, angry or aggrieved. It’s a shame. He makes a good case that he’s a serious full-spectrum conservative. But his tone is so unpresidential you want him to stop talking even when he’s winning.
Bachmann’s simply a diminished candidate who thinks saying Obama is a one-term president is an argument for her.
All in all, an exhausting debate, that left nearly everyone diminished.