Neither of the front-runners had a particularly good night on Thursday. Mitt Romney had some good moments here and there and was probably at his most entertaining. Rick Perry had a great answer to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Gardasil attack, but lost the plot after teeing up a fine potential shot on Romney as a flip-flopper. Overall he just stumbled too much when a concise answer would do the job. Bachmann didn’t really have a strong night either. Gary Johnson had the line of the night with the one about his neighbor’s dogs creating more jobs than Obama — but if I’m not mistaken, Rush Limbaugh said something like that on his show recently. Santorum was solid but forgettable.
In my opinion, the clear winners on Thursday were former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. Both were interesting, both came armed with great ideas and great one-liners. Cain’s 9-9-9 refrain got a little tired, but part of effective communication is making your ideas stick and his mantra did that. I’ll probably dream in nines tonight.
The headline coming out of the debate may well be Gov. Perry and immigration. It’s a complex issue that he has had to wrestle with as a border state governor, with no help from the federal government and often running against the grain of the party base here and there. Dick Morris tweeted that Perry won’t survive the immigration onslaught he experienced tonight. I don’t agree with that, but I won’t deny that he’ll have some ground to make up.
Read more from Ed Driscoll: “When It Comes to Beating the Corrupt Media, Romney Shows Real Promise“