Big Night

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jan 23, 2012 7:03 PM
It's a big night for Mitt Romney -- almost, I would say, either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.

Lots of Republicans will be watching tonight's debate carefully.  If Romney cannot fend off a challenge from a manifestly flawed candidate like Gingrich, then he's toast when he comes up against the President's slick political machine.

Romney doesn't have to out-Gingrich Gingrich tonight.  But he does have to show resilience, the ability to learn (McCain's 2008 campaign manager once described him as a "learning organism" -- we'll see if he's right), the heart to come out fighting, and the capacity to make a case for himself in a way that allows him to connect, at least to some degree.

His success or failure may determine whether South Carolina is a blip or the beginning of a long slide that spells danger for the GOP's chances next November.