Fox showed the other cable outlets how to stage a debate last night. I thought the format was excellent. The candidates got adequate time allocated pretty fairly. The moderators were firm but respectful. There was none of the hostile "have you stopped beating your wife" tone from the MSNBC or CNN debates. There were no transparent efforts to provoke quarreling between the candidates. The youtube questions were actually pretty thoughtful and not the idiotic stuff the other nets seem to come up with. There really was not a lot to choose between the candidates. If you had no idea who any of them were or where they stood in the polls, I doubt you would have picked Perry as the frontrunner. Romney is showing the effects of a lot of practice and coaching no doubt. He is warm but firm, a reassuring figure you would trust with your 401k or wife. He is beginning to employ some Reaganesque touches, harkening back to Reagan's famous "there you go again" rejoinder to Jimmy Carter. Herman Cain was clearly a crowd favorite. He is inspirational, even if some of his ideas seem to lack practicality. Ron Paul was Ron Paul, the most genuine person on the stage. I thought Hunstman handled himself very well. He is beginning to get noticed. I would tag him as a solid VP pick if he were from a larger state or one that is in play. Michelle Bachmann was adroit as usual. She handled the vaccine question truthfully by saying she was repeating what a woman had said to her. She again went after Perry on the fact that his former aide was a lobbyist for Merck when he mandated the vaccine. I thought Perry stumbled. He is locked to the state DREAM Act which is unbelievably unpopular among republican primary voters. His defense of it--it's preferable for iilegals to get an education rather than be on welfare--sounded even more lame this time, and Santorum among others called him on it. It's not about getting an education, it's about giving illegals preference over tax paying US citizens. His and Romney's jabs and counter jabs are also getting old. Move on. Perry's best moment was when he answered Bachmann by saying he had been lobbied on the vaccine issue by a young woman dying of cervical cancer. The only problem is she apparently met Perry after he had issued the order. He is increasingly reminding me of a scary mixture of George Bush and Bill Clinton. Newt and Santorum were pretty solid, although i certainly disagree with Santorum's argument that we should keep troops all over the place forever. Did he miss the past ten years? The prize for best line goes to Gary Johnson, who said his neighbor's two dogs had produced more "shovel ready jobs" than Obama. I actually like Johnson a lot. He has a ton of innovative ideas and is not afraid to present them, even if they challenge republican orthodoxy, like cutting 40% of the defense budget. Wouldn't you like to see some combination of him, Ron Paul and Herman Cain running things? I think the fallout from the debate will be a bump for Romney, some loss of momentum for Perry and more fawing mainstream media coverage for Hunstman. I think we can safely say Michelle Bachmann is not on Rick Perry's shortlist of VP possibilities.