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October 18, 2011

Reaction to the GOP Debate

The fifth Republican presidential debate since Labor Day -- and by far the most entertaining -- had the same winner as the previous four. Mitt Romney is the only person on the stage who understands -- or can at least speak clearly on -- the full breadth of issues that face the president. Romney took heavy fire from nearly everyone, but his rivals usually did more harm to themselves.

The biggest story of the debate was the puncturing of the Herman Cain bubble. In the opening minutes, Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan came under attack from nearly everyone. Cain didn't back down but he proved it's much too hard to defend. He was nearly absent the rest of the debate.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry knew he had probably just one more chance to prove his candidacy but he swung wildly at Romney and missed. He only proved that he's entirely out of his league. He barely makes sense when talking about public policy.

Newt Gingrich is playing a game of survival. He may well fill the vacuum when Cain finally fades as the leading Romney-alternative.

Finally, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann probably should have probably done what Jon Huntsman did -- skip the debate. While they certainly serve a purpose in taking shots at the frontrunners, it's clear they have no chance to move into that tier.

One more thing: Because there were so many heated exchanges that will be replayed over the next 48 hours, the perception of who did well could change significantly for those who didn't tune in tonight.


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