The Gingrich campaign clearly thinks so. I don’t know whether he did or not, but it seemed obvious to me that the room had a lot of Romney supporters in it. Romney boosters claimed on twitter last night that he was just winning and people were applauding his great performance. Ehh, I don’t think so. There were definitely moments when Romney deserved the applause and cheers he got. But he also got applause and cheers for lines that have elicited no such response in the previous 8,000 debates. If Romney did pack the room with ringers, it was smart if also devious. Gingrich exposed a key vulnerability to his debate superpowers: he feeds off the energy from the audience. If Romney and his team figured that out and tampered with his energy source, that’s smart politics. It’s not like the President of the United States never has to speak to audiences that don’t cheer attacks on Saul Alinsky.
By the way, you probably have no idea how many Star Trek and comic book references I could have made with this whole “energy source” thing.