It really was that bad. It was a train wreck, only missing a YouTube moment to seal his fate. He can't afford another debate problem which is why he and Romney had both bailed out on the pre-Super Tuesday match.
Santorum was clearly nervous, stumbling for words, rambling, offered tortured rationalizing ... it was embarrassing. He wasn't prepared for the obvious and this was only his first taste of the spotlight.
With good reason Santorum and Romney cut and run from the debate ahead of Super Tuesday. The stakes are high and both men lack confidence. They are playing defense.
Despite an awful performance, Santorum is likely to save himself with a win in Michigan. Both Romney and Santorum are trying to suck the oxygen out of Newt's campaign ahead of Super Tuesday. Maybe it'll work--if it does, it's to the detriment of us all.
Outside social issues, Rick's hardly conservative. Was he conservative introducing and voting for over a half-billion to Amtrak's $900 million budget? Was he conservative voting to confirm Sotomayor for the 2nd Circuit knowing she'd be a likely Dem pick for the Supreme Court and was, in fact, Obama's first choice? Is his "home schooling" in Virginia by siphoning off $72,000 from a PA local school district a conservative thing to do? These are things that helped sink him in PA and don't begin to touch the problems of his record.
His performance didn’t remind me of Perry’s, but exactly of Romney’s in South Carolina. Remember Romney sputtering over his tax returns, an obvious question he should have been prepared for, and the audience booing him? The exact same dynamic existed with Rick in last night’s debate, although he probably had even less good answers than Romney did in South Carolina. After that, Romney fell, what, 20 points in the polls? There is no floor to how fall Santorum could fall, since his wins were still highly unique circumstances, first spending 6 months knocking on every door in Iowa and then winning in little-contested states. His wins were not based on fundamentally strong support. Newt has a big opportunity to surge now if he can find a way to keep communicating with the voters.