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Arizona Republican Debate

February 23, 2012 by staff 

Arizona Republican Debate, Through the first four contests in the GOP presidential race, there were more than 20 debates. For the next 14 contests (at least), there will be only one debate.

That debate was held Wednesday night in Arizona, and its impact on the GOP presidential race will become clear in the days ahead.

Here’s our snapshot of the debate, presented as usual in the form of winners and losers:

WINNERS

* Ron Paul: Who knew the Texas congressman was such an attack dog? While we’ve seen flashes of it in previous debates, he really went after Rick Santorum on Wednesday and got himself plenty of camera time in the process.

The takeaway if you were seeing Paul for the first time: ‘I’m not a politician like these guys. I’m principled.’ He used Santorum as a counter-balance in that effort, and it worked.

* Mitt Romney: It wasn’t his strongest performance, but he did what he had to do for the here-and-now — knock Santorum down a few pegs.

Romney’s performance isn’t likely to re-inspire confidence in his frontrunner status, which is probably more his long-term concern. But he bought himself time to work on that, at the very least, by stunting Santorum’s momentum.

* Debates: This might have been the last debate of the 2012 GOP presidential race, but even if it was, it’s been a very good year for debates generally.

The Republican race has turned several times thanks to the results of these debates, and despite some questions about the enthusiasm for the GOP canddiates, there was unprecedented enthusiasm for the debates, which drew record TV audiences.

There may be a call for fewer debates four years from now, but if anything, 2012 makes a strong case for more debates.

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