The Republican candidates in last night's CNN-sponsored debate in Las Vegas were significantly more combative than in previous debates. But despite some fierce attacks and tense moments, Mitt Romney appears to have come out on top again, pundits say.
- Romney was put on the defensive, especially by Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, "but found ways to come across as forceful and presidential," writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. "Romney didn’t coast in this debate as he had in the few that had preceded it. But he managed to navigate most of the rough patches with minimal damage done."
- Romney dominated the debate despite predictions that the night would be all about Herman Cain, according to Brian Montopoli at CBS. "Whether schooling Newt Gingrich on his support for the individual health care mandate, hammering Herman Cain for details on his 9-9-9 plan, or going head-to-head with Rick Perry over immigration, Romney may have helped put to rest concerns that he's not willing to take the gloves off," he writes.
- After several lousy debate performances, Rick Perry turned things around and managed to score a few points off Romney, writes Maggie Haberman at Politico. The Texan "made clear how much he likes going for the jugular, a quality that doesn’t always wear well in debates," she notes. "He got booed by the Romney-friendly debate hall crowd a number of times."
- Herman Cain came across as likable, but he "did a very bad job of defending his 9-9-9 plan against an entirely foreseeable all-hands attack," concludes James Fallows at the Atlantic.