With the Florida primary looming on Tuesday and Newt Gingrich surging, Mitt Romney needed a decisive win against the former speaker in last night's debate—and he got it, the media largely agrees.
- Romney was well researched and relentless in his attacks on Gingrich. But the biggest surprise? Romney managed to get more applause from the audience, typically a Gingrich specialty, reports the New York Times.
- "For the second time this week, Newt showed that his debate skills are massively overrated, particularly his ability to attack an opponent with clear vulnerabilities," writes Jonathan Bernstein in the Washington Post. And Romney's counter-attacks on immigration, Freddie Mac, and pandering to local interests were "pretty devastating."
- "It was an off night for the former Speaker, whose talents as a demagogue were underutilized," said Harold Meyerson at the Washington Post.
- Neither Romney nor Gingrich lobbed any "rhetorical hand grenades" in the debate, although Romney was "on the offensive more persistently and effectively," writes Politico. And the biggest attacks Romney faced came from Rick Santorum, not Gingrich.
- Santorum may have been "dogged" and done well, "but so what?" asks Will Wilkinson at the Economist. "Romney won the debate and the nomination."