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Santorum May Be Winning By Not Losing Santorum May Be Winning By Not Losing

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Santorum May Be Winning By Not Losing

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a Republican presidential debate Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Mesa, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)(Jae C. Hong/AP)

February 22, 2012

With the exception of Rep. Ron Paul, whose genial schtick about personal freedom seems beyond the reach, or maybe the comprehension, of his opponents, none of the Republican candidates in the CNN debate is particularly in their groove. Which may be good for Rick Santorum, who was due to take his turn as the night's piƱata in his first debate as a front-running candidate.

Mitt Romney and CNN moderator John King have tried their best to shatter Santorum's cool, and the former Pennsylvania senator has been roughed up on issues like earmarking and spending. But Romney looks tired, and defensive at times, and he is not giving Santorum the bruising that he gave Newt Gingrich in Florida.

Santorum was helped by the focus, in the opening 45 minutes, on economic and fiscal issues. It allowed him to speak like a reasonable conservative, about debt and Social Security and the evil of the Wall St. bailout, without scaring independent voters with his pronounced views on faith, sex and reproductive freedom.

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