Analysis and reaction to last night's GOP presidential debate

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After a very weak performance at last weekend’s debate, Mitt Romney was back on his game tonight and emerged as the clear winner. His answers were strong, especially when discussing leadership and job, but weaker on social issues. Interestingly, Romney seems like he’s already pivoted to a general election message.

Of course, it helped that Newt Gingrich was under attack from nearly everyone. He had many strong moments but struggled mightily to explain his ties to Freddie Mac and argue he’s never been a lobbyist. Neither were convincing. However, Gingrich is very adept at throwing out red meat to the base and received some of the loudest cheers from the audience.

Ron Paul was again strong when discussing domestic affairs, but his foreign policy views couldn’t be more out of step with the average Republican voter. It’s hard to see how Paul doesn’t lose support as Republicans learn more about his foreign policy positions. However, his relentless attacks on Gingrich may still change the shape of the race.

Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann see their best hope is chipping away at Gingrich. Both did very well.

Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman are hoping for a miracle. They’re both much better in these debates than when they started, but their messages are still not resonating.

Jonathan Bernstein:

 

Nothing tonight likely slowed Gingrich

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.