Mitt Romney showed some signs of life tonight, though his comments about “self-deporting” illegal immigrants were panned by some commentators. Romney assumed too much familiarity with the concept of attrition through enforcement. One does wonder whether his exchanges with Newt Gingrich will serve mainly to bid up both men’s negatives at this point.
Gingrich seemed tired and subdued, with both the lack of audience reaction — and a fight with the moderator — seeming to take the air out of his tires. Gingrich’s parsing of the difference between “lobbyist” and “consultant” will strike most normal people as a distinction without a difference. Romney was especially aggressive on that front.
Rick Santorum generally made good use of his very limited time. It seems to be stealing a base, however, to take credit for winning in a Republican landslide year while absolving yourself of any blame for losing in a Democratic landslide year. Ron Paul made some good arguments about housing, but also had little time to speak. His comments about Cuba will probably not help him in Florida — though his campaign circulated one poll showing Paul with plurality support among Hispanics who plan to vote in the GOP primary — though I’d like to see someone make the case that the embargo has somehow worked.
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