And then there were five...candidates that is and another Republican presidential debate is in the books, what’s the number now, 500?   That may be a bit high but it’s still a lot....and along the way we’ve learned a lot about the candidates, a lot about the media asking the questions and a little something about ourselves.  What did we learn from Monday night’s performance?  That American’s will rise to their feet an applaud the free market potential of hard work and success!  The experts at Politico says there were 8 takeaways from the debate....check out the list and see the article at

1) Mitt Romney is in for a hard week - You could count on one hand the number of poor debates Romney has had out of the myriad debates he has taken part in. Last night was one of them.  

2) Newt Gingrich got his groove back--For one night, anyway. But it’s unlikely — though not impossible — that it will lift him high enough to stop Romney.

3) Gingrich and Rick Santorum can’t resist attacking one another -  Both men need to peel votes from the other, and as of now they’re not showing much ability to do that. Each would benefit by having the other drop out, but neither seems inclined to go there.

4) Romney is still working on a strong answer to Bain questions - Bain is, as the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes noted in a piece this week, Romney’s “calling card” in the race. It is the issue on which he will be defined, because he’s held it up for definition and, therefore, scrutiny.

5) Rick Perry has improved, but far too late - But his note of solidarity with South Carolina about being “at war” with the federal government was a debate hall crowd-pleaser. He sounded smooth, prepped and familiar with the various topics he discussed — the economy, the war, the U.S. military.

6) Ron Paul’s end game is unclear - He described the money spent on a U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as a “waste.” He offended the audience, which booed, as he discussed U.S. policy relating to the Sept. 11 attacks, by now a predictable refrain from the Texas congressman.

7) The debate over negotiating with the Taliban is a preview of what’s to come - This is not a national security election, but the killing of Osama bin Laden, the end of the war in Iraq and the Afghanistan conflict will remain potent backdrops in the general election. What

 8) Super PACs remain a conundrum - Campaign finance is unlikely to be a deciding factor in a general election that will center on the economy. But the Democrats, outmatched heavily in outside group fundraising, may find their best hope is trying to discredit the GOP groups.