Romney is bearing the brunt of just about every attack tonight. His only breather was when he and Giuliani got to tag-team Ron Paul on foreign policy.
The reason this keeps happening, a friend points out, is that Romney is the most unsympathetic person onstage. He can’t play the victim because he doesn’t appear to have feelings. His two emotions appear to be plastic joy and sour frustration. That’s why Huckabee can toss off a withering aside—and Romney can look visibly irked—without paying any political penalty.
The format also seems to hurt him more than others. The other candidates are eager to pounce on him—he is jockeying for first in New Hampshire polls, after all—and Gibson isn’t really intervening. A long spat with McCain over whether McCain’s immigration plan constitutes amnesty ends up reflecting worse on Romney, if only because he’s getting slammed from both sides. That’s when McCain deals the second zinger of the night: “You canspend your fortune on your attack ads, but it won’t be true.”