Romney points out that he would pay no taxes under Gingrich's tax plan:
Gingrich offered proof that he didn't lobby: He's hired a lobbying expert. Actually, that proves the opposite. … [T]he reason you bring in an expert on the complicated law isn't to avoid influence-peddling. It's to avoid having to register.
Jonah Goldberg echoes:
[Gingrich's] stuff about not being a lobbyist of any sort is just silly. Why else bring in a lawyer to explain to him how to avoid the label? You could see it on his face that he regretted bringing that up the moment he said it.
Hugh Hewitt piles on:
Newt got hammered. The lobbying/influence peddling line of attacks from Romney cues new and old media for the next three days. What did he do, when did he do it, for whom, and for how much?
Rod Dreher gives Romney the win:
You could have turned this thing off after the first 25 minutes. Romney knifed him early on, and Gingrich never really recovered. But Romney failed to continue the momentum he built up against Gingrich. I think Romney won this thing, but not by much. They all looked second-rate tonight.
Will Wilkinson seconds:
Gingrich tried to play the equable frontrunner but got dinged hard by Romney, who calmly but tenaciously pressed the charge of K Street influence-peddling. I think it will stick. Romney also put the tax question behind him, for now, but I think failed once again to really connect with conservatives. Bottom line: Romney stayed steady, Gingrich got taken down a notch. So Romney wins.
Quin Hillyer thinks this was Gingrich's worst debate since June:
He got hit repeatedly without parrying the hits all that well. On the other hand, nobody really knocked him out, and even an off night for him is still mostly competent — so his "loss" tonight wasn’t a bad one.
Josh Marshall, on the other hand, calls Gingrich the victor:
This one isn’t as easy to read as the last two. I think both Mitt and Newt did pretty well (the other two were non-entities). But if pressed I’d call it for Newt because he has explosive momentum on his side right now. And I don’t think this was enough to change that dynamic.
In response to comments by Paul and Gingrich, Nick Baumann points out that economists overwhelmingly disagree with returning to a gold standard:
Every single one of the economists … embraced the anti-gold standard view, differing only on the degree to which they disagreed with it. Gold standard advocates will point out that many top economists missed things like the housing bubble and the financial crisis, and that establishment support for a view doesn't necessarily mean it's correct. That's true, but context is important, too.
Dave Weigel wishes Ron Paul were asked smarter questions about a possible third party candidacy:
Why does Ron Paul constantly get asked if he'll run third party in 2012 — a hypothetical question he can keep blowing off — and not a historical question. 1) Why did you leave the Republican Party in 1988, and run against its nominee? 2) Why, in 2008, did you endorse three third party candidates, and not John McCain?
Ewen MacAskill analyzes Newt's Cuba answer:
Gingrich's tough, traditional line on Cuba will go down well with older Cubans especially his cheap jibe that Castro will not be going to heaven but hell. But young voters of Cuban descent, according to the polls, do not share the idea of confrontation with Cuba and will be more sympathetic to Paul's line that the US embargo has propped up Castro for four decades and it would be better to have open relations with Cuba, especially trade, a sentiment that would be cheered by many on the left.
Daniel Larison dissects the same answer:
Gingrich wants to overthrow the Cuban government. Of course he does. He wants a "very aggressive" policy towards Cuba. The man is a lunatic.
W. James Antle III considers Romney's "self-deportation" comment:
Mitt Romney showed some signs of life tonight, though his comments about "self-deporting" illegal immigrants were panned by some commentators. Romney assumed too much familiarity with the concept of attrition through enforcement. One does wonder whether his exchanges with Newt Gingrich will serve mainly to bid up both men's negatives at this point.
Clara Jeffrey claims "self-deportation" is a real term:
Anti-immigration adovocates like this for several reasons: It has a free-market/free will gloss to it. It purports to save money on deportation costs. And, most importantly, because it relies on states enforcing immigration via passing draconian laws rather than federal law enforcement/border efforts.
Aaron Goldstein says the silent audience hurt Newt:
The debate audiences at NBC, CBS and ABC behave like they're at a tennis match. The audiences at Fox News and CNN are far more expressive and that works to Newt's advantage. A sedate audience like the one tonight at NBC doesn't play to Newt's strengths. I suspect Newt will fare better at Thursday night's debate which airs on CNN. What will also help him is that the debate is co-sponsored by the Hispanic Leadership Network and Newt is perceived as more sympathetic to Hispanics than Romney.
And Jonathan Chait thought the debate was rather boring:
The quiet room made every line land softly. As a result the participants came off more like a sober think-tank panel than a pack of crazed, fear-mongering gladiators performing before a crowd baying for the blood of President Obama, immigrants, and gay people.