Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul all had their moments in last night's GOP debate, but it was Newt Gingrich's night thanks to his fiery first five minutes, pundits say.
- Rick Santorum took the fight to Gingrich and Romney and was the "central mover in the debate," but Newt's condemnation of the media was "his finest hour in the race," writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. He took a potential weak spot and "turned it into a moment of considerable strength." Romney, for the first time, "found a compelling message when it came to questions about his considerable personal wealth," he notes.
- Some of Santorum's attacks on Gingrich's "fealty to conservative social causes were substantively correct" but they probably won't be enough to slow Newt's momentum, decides Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic. Romney's "rambling and unclear" response to tax questions he must have known were coming makes Cohn wonder if Romney's tax returns are "even more damning than speculation has suggested."
- The debate was a "triumph for Gingrich," writes Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast. Romney, however, looked flat next to "Santorum's brutal, relentless attacks, Newt's contempt," and "Paul's jocular indifference," and could now be in serious trouble, he writes.