I watched the entire debate on a JetBlue cross-country flight, missing only one answer where Romney said something about eduction that made the Luntz focus group needles hit the ceiling of approval. (The captain was updating us on landing time.)
I was also able to hear Fred, Morton, Brit and Nina chew on the results, but it was the collective reaction of the Frank Luntz focus group on the Fox News Channel that was most riveting.
Watch it for yourself. Romney swept nearly the entire room. If that group reflects the GOP primary electorate, Romney helped himself immensely today.
Coupled with Mike Huckabee’s casual descent into religious slander covered below, I think this was a very good day for Team Romney, and a very bad day fro Huck and the MSM. Allowing Alan Keyes to smash the china, while refusing to ask about headlines like waterboarding, the CIA tapes, the NIE and of course Huckabee’s insinuation about the LDS Church was comically unprofessional. The inability of MSM to figure out how to run a debate underscores the profession’s complete collapse of credibilityt among more than half the population, and with it, the declining audiences and revenues that ccelerates the cycle.
But the voters who watched it came away with a very high opinion of Romney. Coupled withe the endorsement of National Review and last week’s speech on faith in America, Romney has had hisst week of the campaign. His meet The Press date this Sunday is another highn profile, high stakes event, and could be a decisive moment for Republicans looking for the candidate who can win in November.
UPDATE: Team Romney is sending around this compilation of reactions:
Fox News’ Frank Luntz: “When we do these debates, usually there is some sort of a split in how people react in terms of winners or losers. We do not have a loser this time, but clearly, Mitt Romney was the winner.” (Fox News’ “Live,” 12/12/07)
Luntz: “When Mitt Romney talked about education, it was an absolute home run. Romney’s communication of education talked about his background and it was very effective in his presentation.” (FOX News’ Post-Debate Coverage, 12/12/07)
Luntz: “[Romney] united both elements of the Republican Party. And not only was his language effective, but they thought that the job that he did was very well-communicated.” (FOX News’ Post-Debate Coverage, 12/12/07)
Luntz: “It was a very good day for Mitt Romney-very effective.” (FOX News’ Post-Debate Coverage, 12/12/07)
National Review‘s Kathryn Jean Lopez: “Mitt won-sounded presidential, competent, made a case for himself, and was optimistic but realistic about the threats we face. He’s hit his stride.” (Kathryn Jean Lopez, “Romney, the Manager,” National Review‘s The Corner, http://corner.nationalreview.com/, Posted 12/12/07)
Lopez: “…he seems to be focusing on his managerial skills in a big way this debate. Strikes me as a smart idea.” (Kathryn Jean Lopez, “Romney, the Manager,” National Review‘s The Corner, http://corner.nationalreview.com/, Posted 12/12/07)
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder: “Mitt Romney had a hell of a good afternoon.” (Marc Ambinder, “First Take: The Final Republican Debate,” The Atlantic, http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com, Posted 12/12/07)[# More #]
Ambinder: [Romney] seemed more sinewy than usual, less programmed, quite (dare we say) presidential, and even-tempered.” (Marc Ambinder, “First Take: The Final Republican Debate,” The Atlantic, http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com, Posted 12/12/07)
National Review‘s Rich Lowry: “Romney wins in a romp. Positive and substantive.” (Rich Lowry, “Luntz Focus Group,” National Review‘s “The Corner,” http://corner.nationalreview.com/=, Posted 12/12/07)
Lowry: “Romney nails his answer to the tax question.” (Rich Lowry, “Middle Income Families,” National Review‘s “The Corner,” http://corner.nationalreview.com/=, Posted 12/12/07)
Lowry: “I think Romney’s tax answer was so good with its emphasis on ‘middle class families’ is that so far the only candidate to try to address the anxieties of the middle class is Huckabee. Romney needs to get on that territory, but provide better policy answers than Huckabee. Which is exactly what he did.” (Rich Lowry, “Off The Charts,” National Review‘s “The Corner,” http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/=, Posted 12/12/07)
Lowry: “Another plug for ‘middle class families’ from Mitt. It’s important for him to keep hitting on it.” (Rich Lowry, “Another Plug For ‘Middle Class Families’,” National Review‘s “The Corner,” http://corner.nationalreview.com/=, Posted 12/12/07)
Commentary‘s John Podhoretz: “Romney says it’s incredibly important that the next president should be a conservative. We need to follow Ronald Reagan’s model: social conservatives, economic conservatives and foreign policy conservatives. I want to draw on those strengths. Very strong answer.” (John Podhoretz, “LIVE: Blogging the Republican Debate Part Two,” Commentary’s “Contentions” www.commentarymagazine.com/, Posted 12/12/07)
Podhoretz: “Quick call on the debate: Romney is very good.” (John Podhoretz, “LIVE: Blogging the Republican Debate Part Two,” Commentary’s “Contentions” www.commentarymagazine.com/, Posted 12/12/07)
The Weekly Standard’s Richelieu: “Romney on his game.” (Richelieu, “Richelieu: The Iowa Debate,” The Weekly Standard’s “Campaign Standard,” www.weeklystandard.com/, Posted 12/12/07)
National Review‘s Jim Geraghty: “The issues-education, the budget-played to [Gov. Romney’s] strengths.” (Jim Geraghty, “Iowa PBS and the Des Moines Register: Making CNN Look Good,” National Review‘s “The Campaign Spot,” http://campaignspot.nationalreview.com/, Posted 12/12/07)