Public sees Republicans debate, but afterward, handlers offer their ‘spin’

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A series of debates between the Republican presidential contenders have shaped the 2012 election cycle to date more than television ads or traditional campaign appearances.

Herman Cain vaulted to prominence with talk of his “9-9-9’’ tax plan. Rick Perry fell from grace with halting performances, underscored by his failure to list the third of three government agencies he wanted to eliminate as president.

Mitt Romney has delivered steady performances, but he has been eclipsed recently by Newt Gingrich.

The latest debate is tomorrow in Sioux City, Iowa.

With all this in mind, boston.com, BostonGlobe.com, and The Boston Globe have consolidated our debate coverage in one place: a Debates page.

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Everything’s there, from preview stories to in-debate live blogs to post-debate analyses.

Please bookmark the page and share the link.

But much of what is on the page only speaks to what viewers saw on stage, not what occurs behind the scenes.

Over the weekend, “Political Intelligence’’ visited Des Moines to cover yet another GOP debate.

Afterward, we went into the “spin room’’ to hear the candidates and their handlers give their perspective on how they performed.

This video captures that, including Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom comparing his candidate to Gingrich.

We also asked Romney senior strategist Stuart Stevens about the $10,000 bet his candidate offered to Perry, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum about whether the debate clarified or muddied things for undecided voters.

As Santorum spoke, his daughter stood by his side.

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