Debate Winners: Romney, Bachmann, Tea Party
Rick Perry-bashing pays off for rivals
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2011 3:59 AM CDT
Updated Sep 13, 2011 7:58 AM CDT
Republican presidential candidates Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., left, shakes hands with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during Thursday night's debate.   (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

(Newser) – It was "attack Rick Perry night" at last night's GOP debate in Florida-—to the extent that even Jon Huntsman got in on the act—and the Texan's rivals succeeded in landing a few blows. Mitt Romney, who wisely ignored the Tea Party debate audience to focus on people watching on CNN, and Michele Bachmann, who tore into Perry over the HPV vaccination issue, emerged from the debate stronger, decides Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post.

David Catanese at Politico, meanwhile, picks another debate winner: the Tea Party movement. The "rabidly partisan" crowd, which cold-shouldered Huntsman and booed Perry over immigration and Ron Paul over foreign policy, made it clear that any Republican aiming for the White House won't be able to make it without the movement's backing, he writes.