Quick Take on the Republican Debate: Winners and Losers

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I spoke to ABC contributor Matt Dowd this morning, just hours after the Republicans finished that heated – and at times personal – debate in Las Vegas.

Rick Perry came out swinging, engaging rival Mitt Romney over illegal immigrants. Dowd didn’t think that Perry took votes away from Romney but Perry stopped him from gaining support, something Dowd called Romney’s “biggest problem.”

“[Romney] seems to have a lid and it seems to go directly to what Rick Perry talked about which is a question of trust,” he said.

Dowd predicted that Newt Gingrich will be the next Republican to rise in the polls. The former Speaker of the House performed well in the debate and pointed out to his fellow Republicans that infighting only helps President Obama.

“It doesn’t help the Republicans to have this kind of fight, especially as personal it got and the exchange and the physical exchanges and Romney trying to keep the rules. That helps Obama,” he told me.

As Dowd said, the feisty debate signaled that “Republicans know this is a nomination worth having. And even President Obama admitted that this is going to be a very close election.”

George Stephanopoulos