With polls showing Romney the clear GOP frontrunner, and the only republican beating President Obama, his seven opponents shared the same strategy: stop Romney before he becomes inevitable.
The topic of the debate was the economy, but that was just one of the points of attack on Romney:
"I don't subscribe to the Don Trump school or Mitt Romney school of international trade," Jon Huntsman said.
"Mitt, I don’t want to go to a trade war, I want to beat China, I want to go to war with China and make America the most attractive place to do business,” Rick Santorum said.
“Mitt's had 6 years to be working on a plan, I've been in this for about 8 weeks,” Gov. Rick Perry said.
Romney was also challenged by Herman Cain, who's number two in the GOP polls:
Cain: “Can you name all 59 points in your 160 page plan?” Romney: “Herman, I’ve had the experience in my life of taking on some tough problems. And I must admit, simple answers are always very helpful, but oftentimes inadequate.”
But Romney kept his focus on President Obama:
“Three years ago, we selected a person who never had any leadership experience, never worked in the private sector, never had the opportunity to actually bring people together, and he hasn’t been able to do so,” Romney said.
And Cain showed why he's been growing in the polls, responding to a question suggesting his economic plan just won't work:
"The problem with that analysis is that it is incorrect," Cain said.
Mitt Romney had a giant target on his back, but none of his opponents hit it.
That made Romney the winner. He was convincing and sounded in charge.
Which makes everyone else the losers; they all missed another chance to take Romney down.
And the biggest loser may have been Rick Perry. The former frontrunner seemed lost in the crowd, and was not a major factor.
Debates are not votes…but they can lead GOP voters to the candidate who's best prepared and positioned to take on President Obama.
And right now that's looking more and more like Mitt Romney.
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