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Republican presidential debate: Who won?

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Well, everyone had their moments, and often with stuff like this it isn’t apparent until weeks later what is resonating in voter minds. But the early read is that Mr. Romney did well for himself. Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post said Romney started slowly, but by the end was sounding “reasonable, and, dare we say it, presidential.” Erick Erickson at the conservative blog, RedState, said Romney made no major mistakes and was “the strongest of anybody on stage”.

Romney planted some obviously planned zingers on Governor Perry, such as the fact that job growth in Texas was greater when George W. Bush was governor than it has been under Perry. But as Mr. Erickson, pointed out, Romney has been running for president since 2007 – he ought to be good at debates by now.

What about Perry? At the beginning he sounded strong, sidestepping questions as to the quality of Texas jobs and the low percentage of Texas residents with health care to emphasize the state’s strong job growth and overall economic health.

But he got tangled in an exchange on Social Security that could haunt him if he becomes the nominee. Romney defended the idea of the program, while Perry called it a “monstrous lie” in regards to its promises to younger participants, and repeated his insistence that it is a “Ponzi scheme.”

Think those clips will show up in attack ads? We do. Perry seems to be wagering that there is a groundswell of voter dissatisfaction with Social Security that’s heretofore been untapped. Or he just is focusing on appealing to the GOP primary electorate first. Or something.

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