Tuesday night's GOP debate will ultimately be remembered for the intense back and forth between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. The two sparred over illegal immigration in the debate's most poignant moment setting the stage for an intense campaign season the rest of the way.
But the Romney-Perry spar wasn't the only battle of the night. There was Cain versus the entire field, Romney versus Santorum, and Bachmann versus geography.
Take a look to see who came out unscathed in our GOP Debate winners and losers:
Time will tell whether Romney's intense and heated interaction with Rick Perry over immigration will be a benefit or not, but the former Massachusetts governor fared quite well at Tuesday night's debate in Las Vegas. He flip-flopped a bit over whether he had ever employed an illegal immigrant, but finally answered the criticism that he was a wet blanket and came out fiery. He blasted Perry multiple times, including laughing right in his face, while also attacking Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan in a smart manner. He did receive a lot of heat about his healthcare mandate, including a great shot from Rick Santorum, but held strong and emerged relatively unscathed yet again.
Santorum consistently polls horribly and whines about his lack of speaking time during debates, but he launched the first actual hit at Romney for his Massachusetts healthcare mandate. Santorum wisely brought up that Romney's former state was no longer quite as pleased about the healthcare program and wanted to make changes - news that broke earlier on Tuesday showing how good Santorum is at keeping up with the news.
For the first time since initially joining the Republican race, Rick Perry finally looked alive during a debate. Maybe someone gave him an extra Red Bull before he went on television because Perry came out firing against Cain, Romney, and anyone else that stood in his way on Tuesday. Perry's biggest shot came when he called Romney out for employing illegal immigrants at his home in Massachusetts. The moment got contentious right away, but it was a smart move on Perry's to finally start making some headway against the two other frontrunners. Perry finally has some legitimate buzz to work off of and could gear up for another run at Romney.
There's no question that the big loser at the debate was Herman Cain. Cain got attacked by all directions for his 9-9-9 plan, but his only defense to criticism was for voters to check out the math for themselves at his Web site. Not only was that a weak response to legitimate concerns, but Cain's Web site immediately crashed from too much traffic. Cain got most of the attention during the 9-9-9 debate, but seemed to fade away when the discussion moved to Romneycare and illegal immigration. It's clear that Cain is a likable candidate, but Tuesday night's debate proved he wasn't ready to be a frontrunner just yet.
It seems that Bachmann always ends up in the loser column of debate wrap-ups, but yet again for good reason. Bachmann got confused over the continent whereabouts of Libya - it's in Africa by the way - while also letting Romney off the hook when the vultures were circling on his healthcare program. Bachmann seemed desperate to get some air time - you could frequently hear her yelling Anderson! Anderson! - but she didn't bring up many salient points and ultimately showed that her campaign is on its last legs. She also would end up in the loser column for wardrobe choice for that hideous Michael Jackson lookalike outfit.
Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich
It's hard to fault either one for his performance last night, but it was pretty much par the course for these two. Ron Paul decried government spending and asked for the disbandment of programs, while Gingrich cracked some jokes and asked for everyone to be friends. Both of these candidates bring up very vital points - I almost wish Paul could be allowed to finally get his hands on this country's economy - but as been mentioned many times, neither has much of a shot to win the nomination.
But both are still very entertaining and will likely be in it for the long run.