At Tuesday's GOP presidential debate, I was torn about whom to give the win: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain. Clearly, all eyes were on them. Do I give the win to Romney (which I did ultimately), who didn't do anything to lose his frontrunner position, remaining solid and sticking to his campaign script. Or Cain, for leaving Texas Gov. Rick Perry eating his dust as he took off past him, managing to keep the attention mostly on himself, and for also sticking to his campaign script.
So here are the presented cases for both men as the debate winner:
GOP strategist Mark McKinnon declared Cain the victor because his 9-9-9 plan was the primary focus the entire evening.
When a debate spends about a third of the time debating your plan, you win, McKinnon wrote for The Daily Beast. The guy who is in the spotlight right now, the guy who has launched himself to the top tier of mot polls, the guy who got most of the questions, the guy who spent most of the night talking about his plan or answering questions or attacks on his plan, is the guy who won.
And I'm really inclined to agree.
People should start taking him seriously. If he's not president, he could be vice president. Or bet the under and just start calling him Mr. Secretary, McKinnon continued.
Romney: Smooth as Silk
According to conservative columnist Jedediah Bila, Romney turned in a polished performance.
He has the political skill to walk around questions he doesn't like with ease and to take control of the topic. The skill can't be denied, she wrote in a Newsmax column.
And S.E. Cupp wrote in her New York Daily News column that Romney finally learned how to tie up his cleats.
Romney finally managed to come away with a post-debate headline, stealing the thunder of his ever-fading adversary Perry and eating into the airtime of Cain, the pizza populism underdog who has lately been reigning over straw polls, Cupp wrote. Congratulations, Governor. You finally decided to play ball. It suits you!
The other debate participants, lest there verbal assaults for not mentioning their names - Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann -- served mainly as side notes. None of them committed egregious errors, but neither could they steal the spotlight away from the Romney-Cain side of the table.
GOP consultant Mike Murphy said several candidates had good nights, but left the scorecard unchanged.
Scorecard: Strong Mitt, weak Perry. Good format, but Charlie wobbled. Hunts better, Newt too. But nobody say it. Nothing changes, he tweeted.