A bit more fun to watch when the audience is participating. Note to NBC and Brian Williams--take note. Wolf Blitzten usually does a pretty good job moderating these things and doesn't try to make himself the focal point. Usually. No big surprises tonight, although it was clear CNN wanted the sparring not the substance.
Quick take--Romney won. He was focused and determined in his replies and shot down some of Gingrich's main attacks. Santorum kept his head above water with formidable answers to almost every question, although he still suffers from "I, me, my" disease a bit. Part of that is due to something beyond his control--he doesn't look presidential. But he certainly succeeded in ruffling Romney over the health care thing. And that keeps him in play.
The enigma continues to be Paul. He is essentially running against all three opponents and the GOP at large, not Barack Obama. Does he ever bash Obama? And does he ever have to explain exactly what he'd cut with his first year trillion dollar budget decrease? No, the alphabet media appears to have no incentive to grill him in that area, since his main usefulness appears to be acting as the token Democrat on the panel based on his foreign policy. His basic answer to any question includes the gold standard, making friends with rogue nations through trade and ending the Fed, but it's his answers about ending the wars that really trips their trigger and turns on their Bush-bashing woody. They know he can't win and could cut him down to a nub if they so desired.
Anyway, Mitt has some Mo going into Saturday. If he wins Florida in a landslide it may be over. Maybe for the GOP this fall as well. Hard to imagine him withstanding the Obama incoming fire with moderators and commentators helping O at every turn. That's what drew voters to Newt--they figured he'd been through the wars and could take the flak. Nevertheless it's encouraging to see a bolder, brasher, and generally less smarmy version of Debate Mitt rather than the Bob Dole version. A little fire in that belly might finally get him more than 25 percent.