Last night's GOP debate in Iowa was a testy affair, but Mitt Romney managed to stay above the fray and his front-runner status still isn't in doubt—at least until Rick Perry enters the race, pundits say.
- "Neither the candidates nor the moderators did much to draw blood" from Romney, who "sauntered unscathed through his second consecutive debate," writes Alexander Burns at Politico. Romney "stuck to narrow talking points" when asked about his taxation record in Massachusetts and the debt ceiling debate, and his answers weren't challenged, Burns notes.
- Romney "just disappeared for 15-minute stretches at a time, but did himself no harm," while Jon Huntsman was "honorable in his bizarre way, but absurd" and Ron Paul "had plenty of homers, but went way too far on foreign policy," writes Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast. The real winner, he decides, was the absent Rick Perry.
- Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty scored a couple of small hits on Romney, but they were pretty mild compared to the fierce hostilities between the two Minnesotans, writes Adam Sorensen at Time. Romney "made no glaring errors and even managed to inspire a few rounds of applause," he writes.
- Frank James at NPR names another winner: President Obama. "Any Republican attacks on him were quickly obscured by the fog of war that rose from the GOP candidates' attacks on each other," and, in the case of Newt Gingrich, on the media, he writes.
(Read more Mitt Romney