With Rick Perry now out of the race, the four candidates remaining on the stage tonight had a chance to really engage with one another at the last debate before the South Carolina presidential primary.
Newt Gingrich won the night on the first question, when he trained his fire on the media and debate moderator John King for focusing on claims by his ex-wife that Gingrich had requested an "open marriage." He denied the allegations and received multiple standing ovations during the exchange. No other moment from the night was nearly as memorable. The rest of Gingrich's night came in around par, but those first moments may be all he needed to capture the headlines and continue his recent momentum.
Rick Santorum also did well, landing a number of substantive punches on Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts health care program, as well as on Gingrich for his tenure as Speaker of the House. Santorum's campaign has clearly done an effective job on their opposition research. He also gave some of the most detailed answers on policy questions and did his best to create some space between his positions and those of his opponents.
Romney once again had an average performance and stumbled when asked about releasing his federal income tax returns, which he finally committed to releasing in April. After two less-than-stellar debates in a row, it's unclear whether he can hold on to his narrowing lead in South Carolina.
Ron Paul had great difficulty getting time in the debate and the other three candidates generally declined to engage him. At times his responses seemed to ramble.
Taegan D. Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political web sites.
Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You
Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political
management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from
both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public
policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country,
including the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, San Francisco
Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Christian Science
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
PRAISE FOR POLITICAL WIRE
"There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand
politics, but only a few actually do. Political Wire is one of them."
-- Chuck Todd, NBC News political director
"Concise. Relevant. To the point. Political Wire is the first site I check when I’m looking for the latest political nugget. That pretty much says it all."
-- Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report
"Political Wire is one of only four or five sites that I check every
day and sometimes several times a day, for the latest political news
-- Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report
"The big news, delicious tidbits, pearls of wisdom -- nicely packaged, constantly updated... What political junkie could ask for more?"
-- Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
"Political Wire is a great, great site."
-- Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe
"If I were on the proverbial
desert island and had only one web site to access, Political Wire would
-- Dotty Lynch, CBS News political consultant
"Taegan Goddard has a knack for digging out political gems that too
often get passed over by the mainstream press, and for delivering the
latest electoral developments in a sharp, no frills style that makes
his Political Wire an addictive blog habit you don't want to kick."
-- Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post
"Political Wire is one of the absolute must-read sites in the blogosphere."
-- Glenn Reynolds, founder of Instapundit
"I rely on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for straight, fair political news, he gets right to the point. It's an eagerly anticipated part of my news reading."
-- Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.
Send your tips, memos, comments and suggestions to