Mitt Romney was supposed to be the prime target at tonight's ABC debate, but it didn't quite work out that way, writes Steve Peoples at AP. His rivals took some shots at him but squabbled among each other just as often. Romney, for his part, focused most of his fire at President Obama. ("His policies have made the recovery more tepid.") Romney "never appeared flustered," writes Michael D. Shear at the New York Times, and his display of "perfect calm" was tailor-made for a front-runner. "Shots so not fired," adds Elspeth Reeve at the Atlantic blog. Some notable moments:
- Paul-Santorum: Ron Paul accused Rick Santorum of being a "big-government person" who also was "corrupt" for taking lobbyists' money. Santorum called the corruption charge "ridiculous" and said his record was "pretty darn good."
- Santorum-Romney: Santorum called Romney a manager, not a leader. "Being a president is not a CEO. You've got to lead and inspire," he said. Romney also had to defend his work years ago at Bain Capital and said he helped create 100,000 jobs overall while there. (That's a tricky figure to verify, notes the Times.)
- Santorum-Romney II: Santorum called Romney's economic plan "not particularly bold," reports the Washington Post. He also objected to the term "middle class," saying, “There are no classes in America. We are a country that (doesn’t) allow for titles. ... That’s not the language that I’ll use as president. I’ll use the language of bringing people together.”
- Paul-Gingrich: Newt Gingrich bristled at an accusation from Paul that he took a deferment to avoid war. He said he was married with a child at the time. Paul followed up: "I was married and I had two kids and I went."
- Romney joke: "Contraception? It's working just fine. Leave it alone."
- Perry-Huntsman: Jon Huntsman called for bringing home US troops from Afghanistan and elsewhere, while Rick Perry said he would return them to Iraq as fast as possible.
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