Perhaps the rule against audience applause sapped him, but Newt Gingrich didn't do what he needed to do tonight to keep Romney on the ropes. Instead, Romney came after him and raised enough questions to guarantee that Gingrich's "consulting" work will continue to be an ongoing issue in the debates (his lame response to Freddie Mac questions he must have known were coming were reminiscent of Romney's stumbling over tax questions last week). Romney's performance, though hardly stratospheric, has at least to some degree allayed concerns that he lacks the heart or capacity to get in an aggressive adversary's face in person. And one thing also became clear: Like President Obama, Newt Gingrich doesn't handle criticism well. It gets under his skin.
After the first half hour, the debate was pretty boring, actually. The local journalists seemed to trying to impress the networks with their ability to blend seamlessly into the lefty culture there, pursuing elite media preoccupations like Terri Schiavo.
Perhaps someday Democrat candidates will follow the course of Republicans, by allowing "objective" network journalists (who obviously disagree with them) to question them -- yeah, right. As if there are any.