A few choice pickings from last night's guns-blazin' firefight in the desert:
(1) The 999 pile-on:
Cain's stock answer tonight was to implore viewers not to believe what other people (including "accountants"!) are saying about his plan, and to do the math themselves. Ramesh Ponnuru does exactly that, and reaches a conclusion Cain probably won't like. The former Pizza CEO also caught some heat for his answer to a hypothetical question about negotiating with Al Qaeda. Cain made a terrible blunder in the original interview, but has since disavowed his answer, saying he "misspoke." Video of the retraction is HERE.
(2) The long-awaited Romneycare pile-on (Santorum's grilling was the most effective of any of the candidates):
Note how Romney concedes that he "didn't get the job done" on bringing healthcare costs down in Massachusetts, but in the same breath says he knows how to do it at the national level. Santorum incredulously responds, "but you didn't do it." He sure didn't. Nuance.
(3) Romney and Perry just hammer each other on immigration. Perry was a little rude butting in as often as he did, and Romney responded a little peevishly:
For some background on the years-old Romney controversy, here's a CNN report from the 2008 cycle:
Quick take: As the front-runners, Romney and Cain sustained the majority of incoming fire tonight. Both survived, but Cain took a beating on 999, and Romney -- for the first time in eight debates -- looked rattled and frazzled at times. Perry had more energy than he's displayed in recent performances, and he exceeded expectations...but those expectations were mighty low.
UPDATE - If you missed the debate, the full event can be viewed HERE.