While others analyze what Thursday's GOP presidential debate does or doesn't tell us about what may or may not happen Saturday when South Carolina Republicans hold their primary, here's the top news from that four-man clash in Charleston:
-- Gingrich Slams Media, Calls Ex-Wife's Allegation False: Almost lost in the attention paid to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's intense denunciation of the news media and CNN's John King for reporting and asking about his ex-wife Marianne's claim that he asked her for an "open marriage," is the fact that Gingrich said "the story is false."
-- Romney Still Says 'Maybe' About Releasing His Tax Returns: Though he's been dogged by questions about how he made his millions, how much he pays in taxes and whether he'll release his income tax returns anytime soon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney allowed the controversy to continue.
He "dodged a question in Thursday night's debate on whether he'd follow his father's example and release 12 years' worth of tax returns," The Hill writes. " 'Maybe,' he said, then laughed awkwardly. Some in the crowd booed and heckled him. Romney then hedged. 'I'll release them. Multiple years, I don't know how many years,' he said. 'I'm not going to apologize for being successful.' "
-- Santorum 'Takes An Ax' To Gingrich: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum "perhaps recognizing a make-or-break moment in the South Carolina Republican primary, set about chopping down each of his opponents issue-by-issue in Thursday's debate," The Washington Post's The Fix blog writes. But he "reserved his strongest attacks for Newt Gingrich, an erstwhile ally and political mentor whom Santorum suggested has to account for his second wife's allegations and whom he accused of being 'grandiose.' "
-- "Ron Paul Faded From View": That's one of the takeaways from Politico, which says the Texas congressman "was frantically waving his arms at moderator King when the debate hall crowd reminded him that the congressman had gotten no time to answer a specific question. ... He had no real standout lines, and repeatedly reminded King that he had experience as a doctor that's relevant to discussions about health care and abortion." Note: According to National Review's The Corner blog, Paul's campaign chairman Jesse Benton says he thought his candidate got treated fairly last night.