Who won tonight’s debate?
According to the twitterverse (or at least, the pundit segment), it was Tim Pawlenty. According to the focus group assembled by pollster Frank Luntz for Fox, it was Herman Cain. (The Luntz group gave Rick Santorum second place.)
Ultimately, all five candidates who participated seemed to gain from the debate. Santorum, who’s often pigeonholed as a social conservative, got a chance to talk about fiscal matters and foreign policy. Pawlenty, who’s often compared to Romney, was able to get in a subtle dig at Romneycare (after taking the high road by refusing to lambast Romney since he was absent) and pointing out that he realizes he was wrong to promote cap-and-trade – another dig at Romney, who hasn’t issued any apologies for Romneycare. Paul succeeded in making the libertarian perspective once again a part of the GOP debate. Johnson got a chance at gaining some attention at the national level, and Cain, who has won straw polls at events he has attended, got a chance to show a national group the charm and attitude that has attracted smaller clusters of Tea Partiers.
For more details on tonight’s debate, check out Kyle Peterson’s reports on the Corner from South Carolina.