From Manchester, N.H.:
Brody File Analysis on tonight’s debate in New Hampshire:
Some observations: Clearly, this was a debate about who is going to be the “Anti-Romney” candidate. Meanwhile, Romney smiles the whole way through like a Cheshire cat. The gloves didn’t come off tonight but expect a different outcome in South Carolina next week when Romney won’t be on his home turf.
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In the spin room after the debate, Romney surrogate and big hockey fan Tim Pawlenty told me that Mitt Romney is like the Wayne Gretzky of this presidential field. And you know what? After tonight’s debate it’s hard to argue with that. None of the candidates really laid a glove on the frontrunner and would it have mattered anyhow? He looks so calm, cool and collected out there. No wonder the Obama White House is worried. This guy is a machine with facts and prose. It was another winning night.
I think he did extremely well tonight because he didn’t get angry at the attacks by Ron Paul and was able to articulate a strong defense of his conservatism. He had a great moment when talking about the dangers of radical Islam, which evangelicals will love. But his even better moment came when he explained that Mitt Romney’s use of the words “Middle Class” was inappropriate because as president he wouldn’t invoke class warfare. It was a beautiful stroke to weave that line into an overall message about his blue collar working roots. And then he transitioned into an eloquent explanation about why he could beat Obama and be an excellent commander-in-chief. He did himself proud tonight.
I was surprised he didn’t go after Romney tonight. But then again this is Romney’s home turf in New Hampshire. Expect Gingrich to level him in South Carolina next week. His line about how there is more anti-Christian bigotry out there than anything else was a direct play to the South Carolina audience. It was an evangelical ca-ching!
He seemed to be more aggressive than any other debate this cycle. He clearly sees Santorum as a threat but it’s hard to make the case against Santorum that he’s NOT a conservative considering that Santorum has been wearing a capital “C” on his chest for years and has a reputation as a die-hard conservative. Now, as Santorum correctly pointed out, nobody will really be as conservative as the libertarian Paul but I’m not sure Paul gets much traction by going after Santorum’s conservative credentials.
He handled himself well and his best moment came early when he painted the squabbling Ron Paul and Rick Santorum as Washington insiders and himself as the ultimate outsider. He invoked the Tea Party, which was also a good moment for him. However, isn’t it time to head to Greenville, S.C., and camp there for 11 days?
I’m not sure what to say other than maybe Huntsman should go campaign in Iowa.