Newt Gingrich was as tough as nails, and deserved extra praise for not taking Juan Williams’s race-baiting. “No, I don’t see that.” Every person who believes in a color-blind society, especially tonight, ought to thank Newt for that. He then went on to show (again) he will be able to challenge President Barack Obama on nearly every fact and anecdote that could come up should they ever debate. The standing ovation he received was more than well deserved. To paraphrase a little: When he is right, he is great. The ongoing problem is when he is wrong. But tonight he was right — about a lot, and said it better than anyone.
If he could run his campaign and non-debate moments the way he runs himself during the debates, he would deserve the nomination. But, too often, he does not.
Rick Perry had his first very good night in a very long time. It’s a bit too late in my view, however. I think at this point the party very much deserves a Romney-Santorum or Romney-Gingrich race, two distinct visions of the Republican party. It would be good for the ultimate candidate and it would be good for the Republican party. This race is not over and it should not be over — not after two states have voted. The stakes are huge, and that nagging feeling in the broad electorate that we should be able to do better is out there for a reason. We’re getting better, but we’re not there yet. Let the fight go on, but let it be just a little narrower.