You know you’ve had a bad debate when your own spokesman can’t spin it as a win.
“It was a push,” replied Newt Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, adding, “Santorum had a good night.”
Not only did Romney put in his best debate performance yet, Gingrich was so slow-footed he lost a round with moderator Wolf Blitzer.
“Are you satisfied right now with the level of transparency as far as [Romney's] personal finances?” Blitzer asked.
It was a perfectly reasonable question given that Gingrich had made such a big deal about Romney’s tax returns in the first place, but Gingrich scolded Blitzer, saying, “This is a nonsense question.”
But Blitzer stuck to his guns pointing out that Gingrich had said just a day earlier that Romney “lives in a world of Swiss Bank and Cayman Islands bank accounts.”
“I didn’t say those words. You did,” Blitzer said.
“I did,” Gingrich said. “And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show, but this is a national debate.”
And there was Romney’s opening.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?” Romney said.
And so it went. Romney quite simply out-debated Gingrich — on immigration, on Freddie Mac, and even on space exploration.
Romney did have a couple of miscues — he admitted he didn’t even know what was in his own Spanish-language radio ad, and he spoke a little too much about the trustee who manages his personal investments — but overall he was the clear winner.