Watching the Republican debate last night I came away with an even clearer sense that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate if the party has any sense.

He remained cool, calm and collected while Michelle Bachman and Tim Pawlenty entered into a Minnesota slug fest that would have suited their former governor and ex-wrestler Jesse Venture better.

Romney has clearly decided that it is the economy stupid and that he will not be drawn into personal battles with the other contenders.

He is telegenic, smart, looks the part and has hardly a hair out of place in contrast to several others who seem to flail away with Gingrich the worst in that regard.

His attack on the media was a predictable as it was lame. A once powerful icon of the Republican Party is going down to ignominius defeat before our eyes.

As for Michele Bachmann I already have the sense she is yesterday's gal. The crazed looking cover in Newsweek, those attacks on her migraines and her husbands dotty 'treatment' plans for Gays has harmed her in the eyes of ordinary Americans.

The one misisng presence of course was Rick Perry and he will be Romney's greatest rival it is now obvious.

Sarah Palin is heading into Iowa this weekend as well of course but she is increasingly like the Barnum and Bailey exhibit, fascinating to look at but very little to say really.

As for the others they are really a nondescript lot, out of their depth at this level. Jon Hunstsman might be good but he seems far too mild-mannered for the red meat eaters in the GOP these days. Herman Cain rants about everything and should go back to making pizza.

Rick Santorum looks like a choir boy that lost his way to church and wandered into the debate. Ron Paul is a nice man but utterly off the wall withh his talk of a gold standard and no US Army.

My takeaway? it is Romney's to lose and only Perry can stop him.