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The Insiders
Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 01/09/2012

Romney’s okay, Santorum wears and Huntsman works

We have entered the Waring blender phase of the New Hampshire primary where it is getting difficult to perceive the final result in the frantic spin of debates, last minute polls and candidate performances.

Stepping back from the vortex, a few conclusions:

1.Mitt Romney did okay in the debates. Saturday night was a non-event, dedicated in disproportionate measure to social issues, which matter less in New Hampshire than many other Republican primary states. Sunday morning, Romney faced the anticipated firing squad, and handled it reasonably well, although he did not seem to embrace it as an opportunity — rather, as a test to survive, which he did. (His one minor weirdness: he’s proud that he made Ted Kennedy take out a mortgage to finance his reelection in 1994? Truly strange.)

2. Rick Santorum is having a bad second act. Comparing gay marriage to polygamy is strange and worthy of the boos he received, and his long peroration on Romney not running for a second term in Massachusetts in Sunday’s debate was a waste of air. Santorum is not traveling or wearing well; if you give him a year, he might be able to get 20 percent of the vote like he did in Iowa, but 7 days doesn’t do it for him.

3. Jon Huntsman may yet have his moment — at least in New Hampshire. He seems to be New Hampshire’s version of Santorum in Iowa. His style and ideology, as well as his year of work, will likely have him finishing second — all at the expense of Romney, who, under this scenario, will likely get no more than 30 percent of the vote.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 01/09/2012

 
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