After coasting on Saturday, the frontrunner was the prime target at NBC’s New Hampshire debate on Sunday, the final showdown before the state’s primary. Michael Tomasky, Kirsten Powers, and more columnists weigh in. Plus, must-see clips from Sunday morning, analysis of Saturday's performance, and the best moments from that debate.
Huntsman Finally Shines
by John Avlon
Jon Huntsman had his best debate right on time–two days before New Hampshire votes.
And Mitt Romney had his worst debate Sunday morning, finally coming under sustained and substantive fire from his competitors as well as the debate moderator, Meet the Press host David Gregory.
Mitt Faces Firing Squad
by Lloyd Grove
It turns out that Mitt Romney is human after all.
During Sunday morning’s final Republican presidential debate before the New Hampshire primary, his rivals—especially Newt Gingrich—effectively knocked him down from the trapeze and pulled him into the sawdust with the rest of the circus acts. After getting an initial pummeling from Newt over his claim that he is above politics—“Let’s stop the pious baloney” was the line of the debate—Mitt had a fine layer of perspiration (not sweat) on his face and he looked to be bleeding internally.
Santorum's 'Family' Sham
by Lois Romano
Rick Santorum seems to be tanking in the Granite state—and perhaps it’s because folks can’t understand exactly what he believes.
During Sunday’s NBC/Facebook debate he took a silly swipe at Hillary Clinton’s smart 1996 book It Takes a Village, in which she discusses the impact that families, communities, institutions—and yes, even government programs—can have in shaping a child.
Santorum Aces the Gay Question
By Michael Tomasky
General observation: lots of heat, especially between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Gingrich may have landed a blow on the career-politician charge, but Romney is so far ahead right now that it seems difficult to imagine his support collapsing in two days. On other arrows fired his way, I thought he deflected them pretty effectively.
As the guy who called Santorum’s rise, I still find him interesting and am very curious about whether he’ll get 10 percent of the vote on Tuesday or 25, because either or anything in between seems possible. He had a good moment, I thought, with his answer to the question about how he’d react if one of his sons were to announce that he’s gay.
'Bad Newt' Is Back
by Kirsten Powers
The man that Peggy Noonan recently called “an angry little attack muffin” came out swinging against Mitt Romney in Sunday morning’s Meet the Press debate, after last night leaving the frontrunner essentially unscathed.
Gingrich fell far short of his promise to offer a “happy and positive” contrast to his rival with his snide comment that Mitt should “drop the pious baloney,” after Romney commented on why he didn’t run for reelection as governor of Massachusetts.