1. I think Newt’s fake indignation at the beginning and standing ovation set-up might didn’t help him. Not his best night. He admitted he’s going to look bad on NIGHTLINE. He used the word ex-wife too disparagingly, and I think he called a show starring her trash. He turned “grandiose” into his personal virtue. Not a bad night either. If that’s the stuff you like, he gave you more of it. The least we can say, though, is the neither Santorum nor Romney is grandiose or has an ex-wife who’s out to get him.
2. Ron Paul was certainly better. He was funny several times, and he gave a sensible answer on why abortion legislation is left to the states under the Constitution.
3. Romney is just hurting himself again and again on this tax thing. I think we’re convinced he’s not going to apologize for being successful. Might have been wounded a little on the prolife front. If so, I can see how someone would think it unfair.
4. Santorum was objectively good but a little self-righteous and short on memorable sound bites. Maybe he got the point out that he’s the one who’s loud and proud on the life issue. He several times–such as on immigration and regulating the internet–obviously had the most sensible position. He held his own or a little better in the exchanges, and he’s getting more well spoken. Overall, though, I’m pretty sure he didn’t help himself much.
5. Verdict: Not likely to have much impact. Not a Romney comeback night. Gingrich mo’ slowed a bit. Hope Pete is right that Santorum surges down the road, because it’s not going to happen in SC.