The latest GOP debate has wrapped up, and it's clear Rick Perry had Mitt Romney in his sights. They had a number of nasty exchanges, including one in which Perry resurrected allegations that Romney hired a lawn service that employed illegals:
- Perry: "You stood here and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property. The idea you can talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me."
- Romney: He denied the charges and fired back that Perry favors amnesty and is weak on immigration, which led to a shouting match between the two, notes the New York Times. "This has been a rough couple of debates for Rick," said Romney. "You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking."
- Blaming the contractor: Romney also used this line to explain the lawn controversy: "We went to the company and we said, look, you can't have any illegals working on our property. That's—I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals." Notes Ben Smith at Politico: "Remarkably, none of his opponents seized on that calculation."
- RomneyCare: Rick Santorum went after Romney hard on health care in Massachusetts, saying he has "no credibility" to repeal Obama's plan. (Newt Gingrich also followed with a criticism.) "Santorum is making his bid to be the next Romney challenger. At least someone's talking about RomneyCare." Ed Morrissey, Hot Air.
- Big target: "The attacks by Santorum, in particular, show that the field has come to view Romney as the most formidable frontrunner in the race." Jon Ward, Huffington Post.
- Cain under fire: He took flak from just about everyone over 9-9-9, especially Michele Bachmann and Santorum, notes AP. "We're talking about major increases in taxes," said Santorum. Cain rejected the criticism, saying the "10-million-word mess" that is the current tax code must go.
- Bachmann quote: Obama "put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa." A number of bloggers, including David Weigel at Slate, reminded her that Libya is in Africa.
- Gingrich strong: "All year, Republicans have been waiting for Newt Gingrich to truly dominate a debate. Tonight seems like his night. His line ("I'm a hawk. But I'm a cheap hawk.") spawned genuine laughter from the audience, and his fundamental objection to the deficit-cutting panel seemed to resonate as much as anything said tonight." Patrick O'Connor, Wall Street Journal.
- Ron Paul: "God bless Ron Paul. He actually calls Ronald Reagan on Iran-contra!" Andrew Sullivan, Daily Beast.