Though Gingrich and Santorum didn't go after Romney, they did both turn in strong performances. Santorum seemed comfortable at the center of the stage, an upgrade in placement due to his strong Iowa finish. (At the last New Hampshire debate he re-introduced himself to the moderator during the first break because he'd gotten so little attention, saying he was not a "potted plant.") Gingrich bashed the media to applause and gave a great answer to a question about Afghanistan, explaining why the larger foreign policy stew is so dangerous. Rick Perry, once known for his dismal debate performances, was on point, repeatedly arguing that his opponents represented Washington and Wall Street insiders. Only a Texas outsider can really fix things, he argued. (Shame this Perry didn't show up four months ago).
Tomorrow, NBC's David Gregory hosts another debate. It's possible that the also-rans held their fire in tonight's ABC debate because they figured it best to make the harshest case at the last debate, where Romney has limited ability to respond. If they hit him tonight, he would have a chance to clean things up the next day. Or at least that's what the Romney witch doctors convinced them to think. We'll see if they can be as successful with the incantations tomorrow.