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New Focus At New Hampshire Debate: If the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference—well, Mitt Romney really, really opposite-of-loved Rick Perry last night. For weeks, the two men have been very-publicly tangling over Social Security, health care and who’s better at adhering to conservative principles. At last night’s Republican presidential debate, however, Romney hardly paid Perry any mind, instead focusing on defending the healthcare plan he enacted as governor of Massachusetts and the 2008 bank bailouts.

The Wall Street rescue package “was designed to keep not just a collapse of individual banking institutions, but to keep the entire currency of the country worth something,” said Romney.

Everyone is declaring Romney the ‘winner’ of last night’s debate (whether it’s because Romney did so well or because the other hopefuls have been doing so poorly is more contested). “Another sterling debate performance from Romney, who once again looked far more presidential than anyone else onstage,” writes CBS’ Brian Montopoli. “Romney emerges unscathed. Again,” notes Politico. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who declined to run for the nomination last week, officially endorsed Romney Tuesday afternoon.

With Christie and Sarah Palin out of the running, what voters saw last night in terms of GOP 2012 presidential candidates—Perry, Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum—is more or less what they get. While none of the non-Romney candidates did particularly poorly last night, the consensus seems to be that none of them stood out, either, with the exception of former Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain (Rick Perry appeared toned down and received little attention). Cain—who won a Florida Republican straw poll late last month—touted his 9-9-9 flat tax plan, which would entirely throw out the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax and a 9 percent federal sales tax. Cain defended the plan vigorously (“After this debate, it’s fair to say this plan would be his answer to questions about trout fishing,” John Dickerson at Slate writes), despite his opponents’ contentions that the plan is simplistic or unrealistic.

I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was a price of a pizza when I first heard about it,” Huntsman joked.

Bachmann, a tax lawyer by profession, told Cain, “when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil’s in the details.”

Historic Gay Rights Leader Dies: Frank Kameny, a leading figure in America’s gay rights movement, died yesterday. The Washington Post notes:

Mr. Kameny, a Harvard PhD whose homosexuality led to his discharge from a federal government job more than half a century ago, lived to see his years of determined advocacy rewarded by the success of many of his campaigns and by his ultimate welcome from a political establishment that had rejected him.

Kameny was 86. His cause of death is still unknown.

Wednesday Quick Hits: 

(Photo: New York Post)

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