What happened to Newt last night?

It served as a reminder of the essential trait of the Gingrich campaign: It is entirely dependent on the candidate’s impulse or mood…

Again and again over the course of the two-hour CNN debate, Gingrich either soft-pedaled his attacks against Romney or failed to make them altogether. Asked to explain it afterwards, Gingrich backers offered a collective shrug – it wasn’t the performance they needed heading into Tuesday’s primary.

His somnolent showing left other November-minded Republicans with a mix of shock that the famously hard-charging politician would go soft at such a high-stakes moment and relief that he may not be able to capitalize on his South Carolina win.

“Speaker Gingrich showed everyone tonight that he does not have the discipline to run a presidential campaign,” said unaligned GOP strategist Curt Anderson. “He clearly came into this debate with no plan and no strategy to win it. If he had won this debate tonight, he would have won Florida, and pandemonium would have set in within the Republican Party.”