Did Rick Santorum Blow the Arizona Debate?

Romney, Gingrich, and Paul hit Santorum hard on his record in the Senate.

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Wednesday's CNN debate in Mesa, Ariz., was the first in which former Sen. Rick Santorum enjoyed top-tier polling numbers and media attention going into a debate. He didn't get to stand at a center stage podium next to former Gov. Mitt Romney—a privilege claimed by past "Non-Romney" front-runners including Gov. Rick Perry, Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—as the four remaining candidates Santorum, Romney, Gingrch and Rep. Ron Paul sat together at a table. Santorum did however receive the airtime his recent surge guaranteed, and the heat that came with it.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum.]

The other candidates hit Santorum on earmarks, the expansion of government, No Child Left Behind, Title X (a government program to provide families with reproductive health services) and other aspects of his record in the Senate. Even Paul deviated from his libertarian message to call Santorum "a fake." Santorum struggled to defend himself or punch back, suggesting that he may not be able to handle the spotlight of the GOP race, let alone the general election.

Wednesday's debate is the last Republican debate before next week's primaries in Michigan and Arizona, and perhaps even of the entire primary unless another debate is scheduled. But Santorum may not even make if that far if he cannot pull a win in Michigan, where the race between he and Romney is neck-and-neck. As Ford O'Connell points out,  

If Santorum loses in both Arizona and Michigan, his momentum could be slowed to the point he may not be able to scrape together the resources needed to compete on Super Tuesday (March 6) and beyond. "

What do you think? Did Rick Santorum blow the Arizona debate? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Should Congress Pass Obama's Plan to Lower Corporate Taxes?