Tonight’s Republican presidential debate quickly devolved into yet another showdown between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as the two Republican frontrunners duked it out over Social Security, healthcare, and immigration.
Romney clearly out-performed his main rival, delivering sharp elbow jabs, while brushing off Perry’s attacks as incoherent and contradictory. Perry made a strong showing in the first hour, but that performance was overshadowed by his inarticulate mumbling in the second half — topped off by the bizarre suggestion that his ideal VP pick would be a Herman Cain-Newt Gingrich hybrid.
The frontrunners were joined by seven other candidates, who fought amongst themselves for the remaining air in the room. The breakout performance of the night was Rick Santorum, who has played a marginal role in previous debates but now seems to have edged out Michele Bachmann as the social conservative favourite. Bachmann, on the other hand, confirmed that she has become completely irrelevant in the 2012 race. At one point, she basically begged the Fox News moderators to let her answer a question.
Elsewhere on stage, Jon Huntsman gave strong, yet unmemorable performance, avoiding the bitterness and weird jokes he stooped to during the last debate. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul were also relatively quiet versions of themselves. Herman Cain was clearly the fan favourite, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s presence was mostly just confusing.
Check out our full debate coverage below.
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