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GOP Debate Reactions: Pungent Rhetoric, Tough Hits and Pipe Dreams

11:59 PM, Sep 12, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Phil Klein: "GOP debate winner: 'None of the above'"

If tonight's Republican debate did one thing, it exposed the weaknesses of the entire Republican field. Texas Gov. Rick Perry received the brunt of the attacks tonight, and had an uneven performance overall. No huge gaffes, but he continued to raise questions about his command of details, and faced his toughest criticism yet from the right on immigration and the HPV vaccine.

Michael Barone: "Some observations on the Tea Party/CNN debate"

Also, Perry came up with some nicely pungent rhetoric: “People are tired of spending money we don’t have on programs we don’t want.” Romney’s denunciations of the Obama Democrats’ economic policies were solid but less memorable. And his comment that Perry was “dealt four aces” in Texas sounded tinny.

Ira Stoll:  "Thoughts on the CNN/Tea Party Debate"

Michele Bachmann got some new life. Governor Perry took some tough hits, both on the vaccine issue and on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, but both issues were previously known, if not to the broader electorate then at least to those who have been paying close attention. CNN's Wolf Blitzer did a good job, the best of any of the debates I have seen so far, in getting a substantive debate and letting the candidates ventilate the issues between them. Not one of these candidates, in the end, really bowls me over, and none is perfect, though any one of them would almost certainly be an improvement over the incumbent.

Chris Cillizza: "Florida Republican presidential debate: Winners and losers"

Four debates. Four times Romney has wound up in the winner’s circle. It’s not a coincidence. Romney proved yet again that he is the best debater in this field with another solid performance in which he effectively downplayed his liabilities on health care and accentuated his strengths on jobs and the economy.

William A. Jacobson: "Republican / Tea Party Florida Debate (Added: End Game Probing Analysis)"

I thought it was an intersting debate. Perry clearly was under fire most of the night, but better he deals with these issues now and works out kinks in his answers.  Romney was okay, just okay.  Newt again was the star, Herman Cain close behind.  Bachmann seemed like someone drowning who’s grasping at anything.  Ron Paul was Ron Paul.

Probably a pipe dream, but I think there are openings for this to be more than a two-way race.

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