InsiderAdvantage head and pollster Matt Towery tells Newsmax that GOP front-runner Rick Santorum “seemed nervous” and appeared to be the “loser of the night” at Wednesday’s debate.
Santorum was essentially double teamed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. “He was boxed in between Ron Paul who was endlessly attacking and mocking him, and then Mitt Romney who was endlessly attacking him,” Towery said in an exclusive interview.
Consequently Santorum appeared to stammer and stumble through the first half of the debate, according to Towery, who said that the candidate appeared to regain his composure in the second half of the contest.
Towery attributed Santorum’s uneasiness in part to a less-than supportive crowd, which appeared to be made up of a large contingent of Romney supporters and mainstream Republicans.
“I think that really affected Santorum. I don’t think he really knew how to take the reactions,” observed Towery, a former debate champion. “He tried to be very candid on some issues and explained how he voted.”
But Towery, the first debate coach of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said that Santorum’s strategy appeared to backfire at times.
“You can’t try to teach people the sausage-making ugliness of the legislative process in a presidential debate. He tried to do that and it failed,” Towery said.
“Santorum was the loser of the night.”
He added that both Gingrich and Romney put in strong performances.
“In my judgment Romney and Gingrich were the two winners in the debate,” Towery said. “Romney had another strong performance and, to give him credit, he remains the aggressor while staying very much on message.”
Gingrich, on the other hand, came across as the most statesmanlike of the four candidates while Santorum and Romney took jabs at one another.
“No doubt about it. He played off of the bickering between Santorum and Romney,” Towery said about Gingrich. “Whether or not this can save Gingrich or not I don’t know because he’s being pounded with commercials in these states.”
Even so, Gingrich’s performance may translate into a boost in campaign contributions.
“It could really fill his coffers in the next few days because I suspect Santorum is going to have a drop in Arizona,” Towery said, adding that Romney’s performance may help him overcome Santorum in his home state of Michigan.
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