Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney easily outclassed his rivals in last night's Bloomberg/Washington Post Republican debate.
Romney, riding the wave of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's endorsement, aptly defended himself from his fellow candidates' questions about his business record and Massachusetts healthcare plan. He made no major unforced messaging errors, and his debate performance should only cement his pre-primary standing as the Republican frontrunner.
Romney didn't shy away from his moderate image, either. His comments about investing in education and “human capital” and noting that he's “not worried about rich people. They're doing just fine” strayed from the more conservative comments of his rivals in recent days.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, saddled with recent lackluster debate performances and accusations of racial insensitivity, failed to answer the bell for most of the debate. Perry looked like an observer most of the night, during what The Washington Post called “the most important week of his campaign,” and failed to land any direct punches. Perry was also ridiculed on Twitter for his post-debate comments that the American Revolution occurred in the 16th century.
And while Herman Cain's “9-9-9 Plan” was the night's winner in terms of candidate mentions, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO failed to convince his rivals that he could pass the plan through Congress. Cain's mention of Alan Greenspan, mocked by US Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) as “a disaster,” also failed to win over the debate audience.
In short, Romney had no serious rival in last night's event. He looked like he's been practicing for the frontrunner role for years – he has – and had a far more polished message than his fellow candidates.