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GOP debate: It's Romney's night, not Perry's


Winner on points: Mitt Romney. Came equipped with slick, well-honed attack lines to use on Rick Perry, and landed them all -- on Social Security, immigration and "electability." His defense of "Romneycare" is so well practiced that it's beginning to sound almost plausible.

Loser:  Rick Perry. The Texas governor started strong but ran out of gas at the halfway mark. Got a "3 a.m. phone call" question about a crisis in Pakistan and floundered as he tried to think of something coherent to say. Battered from all sides on in-state tuition for illegal immigrant kids, his response was that if you don't want to give the kids a break, you don't have a heart. Wrong audience for that one!

Most effective wing-man: Rick Santorum. Romney didn't need much help on the immigration issue, but Santorum gave him some anyway.

Missing in action: Michele Bachmann. Last time, she made hay with the HPV issue. This time, she couldn't find a foothold.

Post-debate winner: Romney. Fox News awarded him a nice long interview to repeat his attacks on Perry, and Fox's focus group said they thought the former Massachusetts governor did the best job.

Issues you didn't hear mentioned: The global economic crisis, the swooning financial markets, the record-high poverty rate and the decline of median family income, energy and the environment.  But take heart: We still have at least a dozen debates to go!


GOP debate, round one: Biggest winner, loser and missed opportunity

GOP debate, round two: The night's winner, loser, survivor and comeback

GOP debate, round three: Live coverage

--Doyle McManus 

Photo: The Republican presidential candidates gather before the Sept. 22 debate in Orlando, Fla. Credit: John Raoux / Associated Press


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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