The GOP Debate Winner Is ...
But immigration comments could end up hurting Newt Gingrich
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2011 2:06 AM CST
Updated Nov 23, 2011 7:55 AM CST
Republican presidential candidates former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich talk with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at last night's debate.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – Newt Gingrich got more airtime than usual in last night's national security-focused Republican debate, and most pundits agree that his performance was good enough to win over plenty of undecided voters.

  • "Gingrich showed that he has been thinking about these issues for decades," writes Corbett B. Daly at CBS News. Jon Huntsman showed his competence, and Mitt Romney did well despite turning in one of his weakest debate performances so far, while Herman Cain and Rick Perry floundered, he writes.
  • Gingrich showed that he's a skilled debater, but "his refusal to back away from his belief that we shouldn’t throw out all 11 million people here illegally could come back to bite him in a party that is vehemently opposed to anything that looks or sounds like amnesty," notes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post.

  • Gingrich's "snappy comebacks and ferocious defenses of tough security positions" will have impressed many GOP voters, but his argument for immigration reform will make the debate "a double-edged sword" for him, concludes Molly Ball at the Atlantic. His history of moderation on immigration might serve him well in a general election, but it won't do him any favors in the Republican primaries, she writes.
  • Romney "made no real miscues," but he had "no breakout moments at a debate that was about an issue where he is supposed to be far ahead of the field," notes Maggie Haberman at Politico. Michele Bachmann "made her points clearly and succinctly, and seemed like she belonged on the stage," and while Ron Paul performed strongly "within his predictable boundaries: fewer wars, less government intrusion, and less aid to foreign nations," he did nothing to show that he can broaden his support, she writes.