All the candidates — except Mitt Romney — had moments in the South Carolina debate when they showed real passion in presenting their positions, the sort of passion that indicates they believed what they were saying. Romney had another cool, calm, passionless night in which he carefully marketed himself as a presidential product he believes conservative Republican primary voters might buy. This, of course, is a different product from the one Romney sold when he ran for statewide office in Massachusetts — but general-election voters in Massachusetts are a different market than Republican primary voters in places like South Carolina, so presumably it was just good business practice for Romney to change the sales pitch for his product to maximize his market share in a different demographic.
Of course, if Romney wins the nomination, he will find himself in yet another new marketplace in the general election and may need to change his marketing strategy again.
Newt Gingrich won the debate. America faces the prospect of national bankruptcy because of a federal welfare state that was started by FDR with Social Security. Gingrich in this debate laid out an achievable plan for transforming Social Security into a system that liberates Americans from government dependency rather than forcing them deeper into it. It is ironic for other Republicans to argue that the federal government cannot afford to roll back the welfare state. It is at the very core of what the next president must do.