Whoa. Did you see the Luntz focus group of undecided voters: an overwhelming surge to Romney. This was the first well-managed debate and Romney had the best of all of his debate showings.
Oliver Wendall Holmes once famously remarked about FDR that the president had a A “second-class intellect but a first-class temperament.”
Tonight’s debate –by far the best of this long campaign– allowed Mitt Romney to display not only a first class temperament but also a first class intellect.
The folks at NationalReview.com’s The Corner have a long string of on-target comments, to which I will only add a few.
First, Senator McCain still either does not understand the immigration fiasco of last year or his temperament does not allow him to admit his error and take responsibility for them.
Second, the sea-change in John McCain’s attitude from last night to tonight confirms that the public reacted extremely negatively to Saturday night McCain. I don’t think his calmer demeanor tonight can undo the memory of yesterday.
Third, Governor Huckabee had numerous disastrous moments tonight, but none worse than his attempt to dodge the tax hike issue, which he did not successfully do. The Luntz group confirmed this.
Next, Rudy had an excellent night as well, but most of the time and drama was between Romney and McCain.
Finally, Senator Thompson is emerging as the new Dick Cheney –not likely to run a winning campaign for the presidency, but a very compelling potential vice president for the reasons that Cheney helped the ticket in 2000.
UPDATE: The Luntz focus group is the best ten minutes of television Romney has had since the campaign began.
Fred Barnes: “A terrific debate for Mitt Romney.”
Luntz’s peoplemeters measuring moment by moment reactions from debate watchers show that Romney consistently got the best results from both conservatives and mnoderates. “Incredibly high results,” Luntz says on both illegal immigration and the need to change Washington.
“With just two days to go Romney hit a home run tonight,” Luntz concluded.
One secondary benefit of tonight’s debate for Romney is that Republicans thinking forward to the fall debates with Barack Obama know who is the best prepared to handle those contests.