No Big Winners, Several Stumbles

by Quin Hillyer

I’m not sure anybody won this debate. I think Romney was, for the first time in any of these debates, made to look vulnerable. I think some of the hits stuck to him, and rocked him on his heels. I thought Gingrich looked and sounded like “Mean Newt,” without offering much of a positive vision. Perry was pretty solid, but he increasingly seems irrelevant. Paul and Huntsman were Paul and Huntsman, which doesn’t do anything to change the race. And on substance, I thought Santorum was very, very solid throughout, especially on his answers on homosexuality and on the importance of family issues — but he fell back into his habit of looking and sounding grim, not at all buoyant — even though his family message can and should sound buoyant rather than like lecturing. I think Romney is lucky this debate was early Sunday morning, because otherwise he might drop. Nobody else gained much, and Gingrich also might have lost a little.