Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich Winners in GOP Debate

Gingrich was in command. Romney escaped harm. And Bachmann stuck to her guns. Mark McKinnon on the good, the bad, and the sweaty.

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Three winners at Thursday night’s GOP debate in Ames, Iowa: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann.

Gingrich looked in total command. He was authoritative and forceful, and he took on the media and President Obama. He appeared the real adult on the stage; the father figure or wise uncle.

Romney put in another calm, steady performance. He’s the apparent front runner and nothing tonight changed the equation.

The fireworks tonight came from confrontations between Tim Pawlenty and Bachmann. The fundamental argument was between results and principle. Bachmann won the audience on being a fighter for principle.

Tonight’s losers: Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. Pawlenty had everything riding on tonight leading into the Ames poll Saturday. He needed a stand-out performance and didn’t get it. Huntsman looked bad (sweaty), sounded bad (nervous), and didn’t have much to say beyond his record as governor of Utah.