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Opinion: GOP debate: It’s Romney’s night, not Perry’s

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Winner on points: Mitt Romney. Came equipped with slick, well-honed attack lines to use on Rick Perry, and landed them all -- on Social Security, immigration and ‘electability.’ His defense of ‘Romneycare’ is so well practiced that it’s beginning to sound almost plausible.

Loser: Rick Perry. The Texas governor started strong but ran out of gas at the halfway mark. Got a ‘3 a.m. phone call’ question about a crisis in Pakistan and floundered as he tried to think of something coherent to say. Battered from all sides on in-state tuition for illegal immigrant kids, his response was that if you don’t want to give the kids a break, you don’t have a heart. Wrong audience for that one!

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Most effective wing-man: Rick Santorum. Romney didn’t need much help on the immigration issue, but Santorum gave him some anyway.

Missing in action: Michele Bachmann. Last time, she made hay with the HPV issue. This time, she couldn’t find a foothold.

Post-debate winner: Romney. Fox News awarded him a nice long interview to repeat his attacks on Perry, and Fox’s focus group said they thought the former Massachusetts governor did the best job.

Issues you didn’t hear mentioned: The global economic crisis, the swooning financial markets, the record-high poverty rate and the decline of median family income, energy and the environment. But take heart: We still have at least a dozen debates to go!

RELATED:

GOP debate, round one: Biggest winner, loser and missed opportunity

GOP debate, round two: The night’s winner, loser, survivor and comeback

GOP debate, round three: Live coverage

--Doyle McManus


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