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.