Republican Debate: Newt Won and Romney Bombed with a Bet

Newt thrived and Romney bombed, which could make this debate a game-changer. Mark McKinnon on the $10,000 bet that will haunt Mitt for a long time. Plus, Eleanor Clift, Rich Galen, and more contributors weigh in.

Newt not only survived, but thrived, and showed why he deserves to be the frontrunner and why he’s not likely to lose altitude quickly.

And Mitt Romney, after a series of flawless debate performances, made a huge unforced error proposing a $10,000 bet. Basic errors and bad moments are one thing. But when you make a mistake that reminds people of your greatest vulnerability, it can be a campaign killer.

The Mitt moment reminds me of when John Kerry took the stage in front of a hall of veterans and tried to explain a vote against funding American troops in battle, and said: “I actually voted for it, before I voted against it.”

Michelle Bachmann had a very strong performance and tied together the two frontrunners as Newt Romney: both similarly inconsistent in their conservative orthodoxy.

Newt wins hands down. The whole story line as I wrote earlier was whether Newt would walk off the stage without being bloodied. And he walked off the stage like Mohammed Ali without a scratch. And knocked Romney to the canvas by reminding the audience that Mitt Romney would be a career politician if he hadn’t lost to Ted Kennedy.

And voters will long remember and Mitt will long regret his bet that reminded everyone of a candidate who seems rich, elite, and out of touch.