Arizona Debate Reax

Will Wilkinson thought America lost:

The race has come down to Santorum and Romney, and they both failed to distinguish themselves tonight. Both repeatedly offered convoluted answers in the attempt to establish trivial points. As everyone's noted, Romney's success at hall-packing made him look like a winner even though he's losing to Rick Freaking Santorum. … I am ashamed of and afraid for my country.

Taegan Goddard picks a victor:

The real winner tonight was President Obama. After 20 debates, his potential rivals have done wonders for his re-election chances.

Jed Lewison tears into Mitt:

Mitt Romney may have packed the audience tonight, but I still think he's coming off as an arrogant dick. But I guess I'm biased. Santorum has been double teamed by Romney and Paul, and hasn't always handled it well, but he has remained more composed, I think, than Romney. And he really schooled Romney over the Specter bullshit. That attack might have worked coming from Michele Bachmann … but not Mitt Romney.

Dave Weigel scores the Specter exchange:

The late career success of Pat Toomey disguises the fact that he really might have lost a general election in 2004, when John Kerry was carrying Pennsylvania. Still, Santorum is right — the Specter mistake, as many hackles as it raises in the talk radio listener, says little to nothing about Santorum's own health care politics. Compare Specter's spending record to Santorum's, and you're going somewhere.

Ramesh Ponnuru believes that Santorum had a bad night:

He has spent way too long explaining himself on Arlen Specter and earmarks. No matter how good his answer is–and I’m inclined to agree with him about earmarks–time spent on these topics hurts him.

Peter Lawler agrees:

My impression is Santorum’s momentum was ebbing a bit over the last couple of days anyway. This debate will probably contribute a bit to his fade. Nothing happened, I think, to increase enthusiasm for Romney, I suspect, and so the race is still on.

Josh Marshall unpacks Romney's auto bailout answer:

[Romney] opposes the auto bailout. But now he only opposes the money given before the bankruptcy phase. And what happened when they put the companies through a managed bankruptcy was what Mitt wanted all the time. So they actually figured out what to do from Mitt. Only that wasn’t good either because it was a sell out to the unions. In a Rube Goldberg kind of way it sort of makes sense. But having tried to pander in every possible way at the time and doing the same thing now, the whole thing just comes out as an incomprehensible jumble.

Joe Weisenthal points to a chart that contradicts Romney's auto bailout spin:

In November 2008, Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed making this point, that if Detroit got bailed out, then the industry would be doomed. This chart from Menzie Chinn puts that into perspective.

Andrew Sprung tires of Gingrich, Romney and Santorum's bloodlust:

When the discussion turns to foreign policy, there is nothing these three won't say to inspire the fear and hatred they think will push themselves past their rivals for the nomination and ultimately tear down Obama. Nothing.

Rod Dreher sighs:

So, Mitt says that if we vote for him, we’ll go to war with Iran before we allow it to have nuclear weapons. Santorum agrees. … For me, this election is shaping up to having to decide between protecting religious freedom, and going to war.