Santorum Wins Iowa and Shines at GOP Debate, Attacks Newt Gingrich: "These Are Not Cogent Thoughts."

With only four candidates remaining for the final South Carolina debate, the men had even more time for the quips, jabs, and drama we have come to expect. Here are the highlights:

- Don't let the pundits distract you with Gingrich's 'show-stopping' answer to King's first question about Marianne Gingrich's interview. Gingrich's dramatic stand on principle (despicable is rather a strong word) distracted us from the real relevance of the interview and the questions that it dredged up.

- Breaking news: Mitt Romney defends capitalism. I particularly enjoy when the phrase 'I believe in capitalism' is used. We economists are always being accused of treating the doctrine of the invisible hand as a religion, and it doesn't help our case to frame capitalism as something that can be 'believed in'.

- When it came to criticizing corporations, Ron Paul chimed in to remind us that corporations run the media as well, particularly relevant for the SOPA question.

- Gingrich gave what has been perhaps the best Republican rejoinder to 'Obamacare' - he will fix the economy so then your kids can get a job and won't need to be on your insurance until age 26.

- But then he claimed to have helped develop supply-side economics, which even for him is a stretch. "Grandiose" is exactly the word for him. But as Romney pointed out, he has read Ronald Reagan's diary, and Gingrich was only mentioned ONCE - the number of times George Romney was mentioned. What a disappointment that must have been for poor Newt.

- For reasons that escape me, Romney continues to assert that he will wait until April to release his tax returns. Gingrich released them during the debate. Santorum, who was on a roll tonight, told them he'll get his returns off his computer when next he goes home.

- Gingrich tried to suggest that Congress created the rules that helped Romney succeed in business, but as Romney pointed out, he did not spend his business career thinking, "Oh thank heavens Washington is there for me."

- But the BEST moments of the night belonged to Santorum, who clearly got a confidence boost from Thursday's revised Iowa results. Quote of the night, to Gingrich: "These are not cogent thoughts." And what the pundits should be talking about is how he got REAL with Gingrich about his record as speaker - too many ideas, poorly implemented, ending in a coup.

- At the end they got into it about abortion for a few minutes, but there was nothing out of the ordinary, though I did find it interesting that even in South Carolina, the major hot-button social issues are still only getting marginal treatment. 

All in all, a more enjoyable two hours than expected. If only, when pressed about the comments made by his ex-wife, Gingrich had asked, "Which one?"

Photo Credit: marcn