After the debate, one of Frank Luntz’s panelists lost his train of thought when trying to give an answer. Luntz immediately responded by saying, “Ladies & gentlemen, Gov. Rick Perry.” Laughter ensued. That encapsulated the whole debate.

…and this is a first. Not only does the Republican audience applaud death, but they even boo soldiers who happen to be gay. It gives new meaning to ugly Americans.

Many of the Luntz panelists also changed their minds on Perry, the majority moving to Mitt Romney. He even received adjectives like “Reaganesque” & “elegant” this time around. Having run this gauntlet before, Mitt Romney is relaxed, even unflappable, just keeping his stride steady and it’s working.

That’s partially because Perry continues to stumble. In one segment, Perry tried to deliver a clever rejoinder to attack Romney on flip flops but he couldn’t even follow his own train of thought. It was painful to watch, especially when Romney started in making Perry look like an amateur. As for Perry’s answer on Pakistan and the Haqqani network, I have no idea what he was trying to say and neither did he.

But nothing came close to Perry’s “illegal immigration” problem in the GOP primary. Luntz’s panel was livid about one comment he made, when Perry said anyone who doesn’t think his solution for immigrant children and college tuition isn’t correct doesn’t have a heart. I don’t see how Perry survives this subject by next year. The incoming is just brutal.

Rick Santorum had his best moment when he cornered Perry on the immigration issue, saying it’s not about allowing children of immigrants to go to college, it’s about “subsidizing” them. Perry had no retort.

Gary Johnson had the best line of the night, but it was borrowed from Rush Limbaugh today (h/t Michael Calderone via Twitter, as I didn’t listen to Rush):

RUSH: My dogs have created more shovel-ready work than Obama has (chuckling) just this week alone. The new puppy. Honest to God. More shovel-ready work for me this week than Obama has created all two and a half years.

I didn’t know Herman Cain had survived stage 4 colon and liver cancer. That’s the mother of all fights. The man’s got grit, no doubt about it.

Jon Huntsman, who has gained in New Hampshire recently, had a good night.

Newt made his pitch for Iowa, announcing he’s got a new contract on American he’ll announce next week.

As for Michele Bachmann, I wouldn’t normally make a comment on her fashion, but on our widescreen HD TV her neon orange suit was not only distracting, but blinding. She did fine, but if she was helped it is because of Gov. Perry’s poor performance.

Ron Paul is Ron Paul, which just isn’t good enough.

Mitt Romney remains the frontrunner through all the flavors of the month entries, with Gov. Rick Perry simply not able to perform on his feet in any debate, managing to actually fade with each one.

If you can’t unpack your own talking points you’re not going to best someone like Mitt Romney who’s been through the presidential gauntlet and has learned his lessons. He just keeps hitting Barack Obama, while making it all look so effortless.