Just got done watching the Repub debate. Santorum did a respectable job as stand-in, but Paul was begging to be slapped down by the 'Stache.
The Paul-bots in the audience were very annoying, and they're swamping the Fox News online poll (so what else is new).
Other than Paul, everyone looked strong enough (hard not to, when you're being compared to The One) and more than acceptable as a replacement for He Who Can Easily Be Named.
But drilling down...
In the absence of the 'Stache, I'd say Gingrich was best, despite his prickliness. He ran away least, demonstrated surest command, and consistently displayed real insight.
When all is said and done, though, Romney'll do. He's flawed for sure, and I don't see voting for him in the primary, but against Obama it'd be a no-brainer.
Santorum, as I said, was the sole subtantial presence on foreign policy. But if I'm gonna bet on a very dark horse, there's gotta be broader congruence and/or real spark, and Santorum's too far right on social issues.
Huntsman, Cain, Bachmann, Pawlenty? Eh.