The Gist? Strategic win for Romney

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There wasn’t quite as much pyrotechnics as one might have expected or as folks in the press probably would have liked. But on balance I’d say this was a strategic victory for Mitt Romney, even if it doesn’t show up immediately in the polls. Mitt didn’t do anything that amazing himself. But Perry doubled down, maybe tripled down on his frontal attack on Social Security and science in general. Romney moved in, in essence, to egg him on in that process. And the Romney press office let loose a fusillade of attacks in emails to the press.

Again, this stuff doesn’t hurt with base Republicans necessarily, certainly not the folks who show up at debates. But these are real problems in a general election. And the Romney campaign will us these quotes to make the case against Perry on the grounds of electability.

So tonight, Perry played pretty well. But I think in the big picture, it was a better debate for Mitt Romney.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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