I thought Romney was the clear winner, most of all in demeanor and general impact. I’ve been critical of Mitt’s television communication skills in the past, but last night he was Presidential and effective. A viewer who knew nothing about the status of the race would have assumed, I think, that Romney was the front-runner and perhaps the candidate with the most stature. Headlines suggest that the other candidates were ganging up on Romney. I think that is overblown; it happened on only a couple of occasions. On those occasions, I thought Romney came across as the candidate who is trying to rise above pettiness and focus on policy. McCain’s anger toward Romney backfired, I thought. On a number of issues–health care and energy, and even national defense–Romney showed impressive command.
On balance, I came away impressed, once again, by the strength of the Republican field. If anyone gained measurably from the event, I think it was Romney.