At last night’s GOP debate, most of the candidates had some bright spots. I’ll highlight a few. (The extracts are taken from a rough transcript.)

Mitt Romney was asked about immigration: “If someone comes here and gets a PhD in physics, that is the person I would like to staple a green card to their diploma rather than say go home. . . . We are a nation of immigrants. We love legal immigration. For legal immigration to work, we have to secure the border and we also have to crack down on employers that hire people who are here illegally. I like legal immigration. I’d have the number of visas we give to people that come here legally determined by the needs of our employment community. We have to secure our border and crack down on those who bring and hire here illegally.”

Newt Gingrich took a question on accepting a 10-to-1 ratio of cuts to taxes and delivered this riff: “I think this super-committee is about as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with in my lifetime. . . . The idea that 523 senators and congressman are going to sit around for four months while 12 people are going to sit in some room and come up with a trillion dollars or force us to choose between gutting our military and accepting a tax increase is irrational. They are going to walk in and say we can shoot you in the head or cut off your right leg, which do you prefer? . . . Go back to regular legislative business. Assign every subcommittee the task of findings savings in the open through regular legislative order and get rid of this secret phony business.”

Tim Pawlenty on foreign policy: “[Obama] and Hillary Clinton suggested Assad is a reformer. He’s not a reformer; He’s a killer. [Obama] sticks his thumb in the eye of our best friends in the world. Israel, he repeatedly sticks his thumb in Israel’s eye. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. They are one of our best friends in the world.”

Rick Santorum on the debt ceiling: “Congressman Paul and Congresswoman Bachmann . . . couldn’t lead the Congress to do something responsible in making sure we didn’t have the fiasco. . . . To suggest we never need to raise the debt ceiling. Again showmanship, not leadership. We are borrowing 42 cents of every dollar. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, defense and interest on the debt is 60 percent. That means cut everything else and something of those. That’s showmanship, not leadership.”

Herman Cain on his comments on a super-duper border fence: “America has got to learn to take a joke.”

Bachmann gave an out-of-the-park answer on her marriage, and she was the only candidate to specifically ask for votes: “Here in Ames, Iowa, all of us can send a message to D.C. about what we think about Barack Obama and his presidency. I want to do that as president of the United States. I’m inviting everyone to come to the straw poll and send a message to Washington that they can’t miss.”

Bachmann’s views may be problematic but she is arguably the best natural politician in the field.