At about 10:28pm tonight, as Mitt Romney pivoted from a question on tax loopholes and started in with, “the real issue is vision,” I had recorded this thought in my notes, “He just clinched the nomination.”…

Romney’s performance throughout showed discipline, preparation and also the ability to adapt to circumstances in a way that was superior to that of any other candidate. The only exception was his astonished reaction to George Stephanopoulos’s attempt to get the candidates to join Rick Santorum’s urge to relitigate the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case which, on ridiculously spurious constitutional grounds, overturned that state’s unenforced law (Massachusetts still had a similar one on the books) purporting to ban the sale of contraceptives. Stephanopoulos, who otherwise has made an almost Russert-like transition from partisan operative to fair-minded journalist, seemed to be trying to get the Republican candidates in trouble; the audience’s boos were an indication that many people were onto this (uncharacteristic, for him) partisan gameplaying.

Romney was prepared at the beginning to attack Barack Obama as a job-destroyer, to proclaim that he was not just a manager, as Rick Santorum claimed, but a leader, to come out with a claim (which I had not seen him make earlier) that his work in private equity created, net, 100,000 jobs. Perhaps that will be debunked by others, and you can quibble about whether he deserves credit for job growth in firms he created or helped run after they had been sold to others; but if it can be defended (as I suspect it can) it’s impressive: how many other private citizens have played key roles in creating 100,000 jobs?