Political junkies get your debate fix. Two debates in ten hours in New Hampshire and man did the sparks fly. The first debate was hosted by ABC and was shown on local affiliate stations last night at nine o’clock. The second debate was a special presentation of NBC’s Meet the Press broadcasted this morning.

I though I would take a second to run down each candidate and tell you who were the big winners and losers in these debates.

Mitt Romney had a good showing in the ABC debate but however took a major beating from everyone on the stage in the NBC debate this morning. The previous debate was basically the Mitt Romney show. He really seemed to be calm and collected and didn’t really have to dodge or respond to any real criticism from his fellow candidates. Romney I thought was able to present himself to New Hampshire as a New England Republican and that is all he needed to do.

Romney was even able to take on the panelists that consisted of a rather liberal group. George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer were both obviously acting more like liberal agitators than moderators in a debate. It helped Romney a lot that he was able to go after George Stephanopoulos on contraception and the ridiculous nature of the question. However, this is where the victory stops for Mitt Romney. The NBC debate this morning showed a new attitude from the rest of the field.

It started right out of the gate with major attacks on Mitt Romney. Although he tried to avoid and dodge many of the attacks, it ultimately seemed to drag him down in the debate. The final nail in the Romney coffin for the early debate came towards the end when he was asked what he had done to be a friend to gay rights as he said he would be in an earlier quote. Romney still holds the lead in New Hampshire and a lead in South Carolina so only time will tell if he has been hit enough to surrender some votes to those hot on his trail.

Also a winner in the debates, more in the second than the first, was Rick Santorum. Santorum showed a little bit of reluctance to attack Romney in the first debate but ultimately got a few well times quips in on others and made some exceptional points.

The best way to sum up Santorum’s performance in the first debate is that he helped himself without hurting Romney. Obviously this is a tactical mistake on Santorum’s part. In order to take away from Romney he really needed to hammer Romney on being a fake conservative that is soft on several issues.

The sun rose and we saw a very different Santorum. In the NBC debate he put Romney through the ringer from the beginning. His opening statements showed that Santorum came to NBC ready for war. He open by asking Romney why he didn’t run again for Massachusetts governor if he did so well the first time. He finished the exchange by asking if Romney was also intending on only running for one term as president. I would have to say that in this morning’s debate it was Santorum who took the gold with Newt Gingrich running a very close second.

Newt showed that he came to play this morning as well. Between last night and this morning Gingrich took the perfect mix of shots and facts to really reinforce his position and maybe even sway many of New Hampshire’s undecided voters. He could turn out to a spoiler in New Hampshire for Ron Paul and the third place spot. I though Newt was again the most intelligent person on the panel and I was particularly impressed with how he was able to flip a question back on the obviously liberal moderators of ABC by questioning the persecution of Christian and Catholic organizations going on in New Hampshire. This is what Gingrich has to continue doing if he wants to grow in the polls.

Santorum has become the anti-Romney and if Gingrich wants to win back the evangelical conservatives he has to prove he is the anti-Romney and anti-establishment guy.

Ron Paul was the first in a line of three big losers in the debates. Ron Paul is beginning to show his distasteful side. His new strategy to me is to try and smear everyone else with baseless accusations and over glorifications of himself. I think Santorum hit the nail on the head and spoke for most of America when he said, “They caught you not telling the truth again Ron.”

Ron Paul assaulted Santorum referring to him as corrupt and a Washington insider as well as a Lobbyist. However the worst of it was aimed at Newt Gingrich. I have long been an opponent of his classification of Newt as a “Chicken Hawk” but it got even worse last night. Ron Paul tried to glorify his service as medical staff in the Air Force and went on to pontificate to the panel as to what patriotism is. Newt Gingrich was not eligible for the draft and let’s face it when Ron Paul’s country came calling, he went to medical school, this doesn’t diminish his honorable service in the United States Armed Forces but it does cause mentioning that there is a difference between taking bullets for the flag and going to medical school.

Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman were fairly even I thought but both lost in different ways. Rick Perry lost simply because he has lost his momentum and as a result lost his face time within the debates. The few points Perry did make were good and valid, so perhaps this will translate well in South Carolina.

Jon Huntsman has proved again that there is no reason for him to continue his candidacy. Huntsman is floundering and searching for momentum and it is becoming embarrassingly apparent. Last night he seemed to be very out of touch with what conservative America is looking for and this continued into this morning. Huntsman’s biggest failure is that he is way too soft with respect to China and gay marriage. I foresee that after New Hampshire the field will shrink to five.

All in all I thought these debates were good. Although they were not overly telling of any candidate except maybe forcing Romney to move a little farther left than he wanted to on the homosexual rights issue. With less than forty-eight hours till voting day in New Hampshire all we can do is sit and wait.

For more on the 2012 GOP primaries check out Truth About Bills and The College Conservative.  You  can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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