Moments in Mesa

First of all, there was nothing on Satan, nothing on "phony theology" and almost nothing on contraception -- all of which was probably good for Rick Santorum.

But in the 20th and maybe final GOP debate, in Mesa, Ariz., last night, there were some memorable moments, not all of them favorable to the former PA Senator.

He was, for example, roundly booed for his Washington-insider explanation of how he voted against his principles on issues such as spending more for public education and earmarks and supporting Planned Parenthood despite his staunch opposition to birth-control and abortion.

"I have to admit, I voted for that," he said, referring to the big-spending No Child Left Behind program. "It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake."

The crowd booed.

"You know, politics is a team sport, folks," he then said. "And sometimes you've got to rally together and do something."

Ron Paul has been running ads calling Rick a "fake" conservative and when asked why, Paul said, "because he's a fake." Paul noted Santorum supported No Child and now wants to repeal it, adding that pols who do one thing when in office and say other things when running for office lose "credibility."

Santorum did manage a palpable hit on Mitt, however, pointing out that Romney's claims of balancing the budget in MA as governor are hollow since MA law mandates balanced budgets.

“Don’t go around bragging about something you have to do,” Santorum said. “Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years. Does that make him qualified to be president of the United States? I don’t think so."

And Rick again went after Romney for creating a health-care system in MA that was the basis for Obamacare. But Mitt came back blaming Rick for endorsing Arlen Specter's primary reelection bid in 2004 against now-Sen. Pat Toomey and said Specter's "yes" vote later passed Obamacare.

"So don't look at me; take a look in the mirror," Mitt said.

Rick then claimed, as he has before, that he had a deal with Specter: endorsement in exchange for Specter supporting conservative, pro-life Supreme Court nominees. Not sure this helps Rick shake his "Washington-insider" problem. Plus, Specter has always denied such a deal.

Here's what Specter said in 2010 after Rick publicly made the deal claim:

“I never made any promise to Sen. Santorum about this. I would never make a promise on a vote like this under any circumstances. I’m sorry his support for me has caused him trouble in his efforts for the Republican nomination for president. He’s had six years to make this charge and he hadn’t said anything about it."

Finally, the fun moment in Mesa was each candidate describing themselves in one word. Paul said "consistent;" Mitt said "resolute;" Newt said "cheerful;" and Rick said "courage."

Made me and maybe other older viewers think of former CBS News anchor Dan Rather who for one week in 1986 signed off each newscast with one word: "courage." He stopped after some ridicule and parody.

Maybe Rick should have said "Grrrr."