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Romney Mediocre, Santorum Strong, Gingrich Mixed

11:56 AM, Jan 8, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Even with a rather mediocre performance from Romney, there wasn’t anything in this debate that would seem to change the trajectory of the Republican primary. (The general election is another matter. Santorum, pressed by Gregory about his willingness to implement entitlement reform in a way that would affect current beneficiaries and retirees, explained why this was necessary rather than claim that he’d been misunderstood—something Democrats would certainly use extensively were he to emerge as the Republican nominee. Romney went out of his way to make clear that he disagreed with Santorum on that point.)

With two days until the voting here, the central questions remain the same: How soundly will Romney defeat his rivals? Can Rick Santorum build on the momentum of his near-win in Iowa? Can Newt Gingrich reestablish himself as a serious candidate?

The answers, at least right now: Very, probably not, and unlikely.

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