Thursday night’s CNN Republican debate was dangerous. It was possible to lose, but hard to win. Nobody collapsed but no one triumphed.

Mitt Romney seemed better prepared than ever. He clearly had a few rehearsed responses, but they mostly worked. Despite a rough week, he has kept his cool; he would make a credible president.

Newt Gingrich is good, but voters could be thinking he might be too big to be president. I’ve said before that he should grow his hair, wear a robe and sandals and walk the planet dispensing wisdom. When he talked about his plans for an American colony on the moon, it did not conjure up a picture of JFK and the Apollo program. Instead, I had a vivid memory of Doc Brown from the Micheal J. Fox movie, “Back to the Future,” who invented the flux capacitor that was eventually developed into Mr. Fusion, presumably by the private sector. Doc Brown should not be President. Newt should rein it in a little bit.

Romney is not great, but he is steady. He does not have Newt’s highs or Newt’s stratospheric visions. It is fair to ask what Newt’s day-to-day governing habits would be if he were president. Again, it seems Newt has a plan for the year 2200, but what we need is a plan to make a divided Washington work next winter. And it is urgent that we do so.

Thursday night’s debate didn’t settle anything. All it did was put the two-man race for the GOP nomination into stark relief. Newt is big and Romney is solid. For Republicans whose priority is to beat Obama, Romney is emerging as the safer choice, but the nomination fight probably won’t be decided in Florida.

More PostOpinions on the Florida debate

Meyerson: Romney’s night to shine

Rubin: Gingrich wipes out

Bernstein: Even an audience couldn’t save Gingrich

Eskew: The real winner — Obama