1. Romney can’t answer questions about his tax returns at all.
2. He’s terrible at it and he needs to get better, quickly.
3. John King trying to use Romney’s father as a precedent on the tax-return issue was dumb.
4. Romney referred to “Romneycare” tonight. I think that was a first, and not a good first for him.
5. He also made some sort of reference to coming from the “streets of America.” Romney is a fine man, but if there’s anyone less “street” than Mitt Romney I don’t know who it could be. If he’s street than I’m the shock collar for a vicious Mexican drug gang. [Update/Correction: See here]
6. Newt’s opening answer was very strong and will be replayed a lot. But I thought it was overstated and, as he kept going, it became clear he was trying to squelch the issue rather than express his true rage. When he was all lovey-dovey with John King after the debate, it underscored that it was as much performance as anything else.
7. Ron Paul had some of his best moments of any debate. I really liked his answer on free trade. The problem, of course, is that he’s a theoretical free trader and an operational protectionist.
8. I was less impressed with Santorum tonight than a lot of folks seem to have been. But I still think he did very well, all things considered.
10. Santorum’s best moment came when he threaded the needle on immigration, sounding both tough and compassionate.
11. He also had the most dramatic moment dropping the House-banking-scandal bomb on Newt.
12. It is simply amazing that it took all this time (is this the 17th debate?) for anyone to really deliver a serious and cogent attack on Romneycare.