The nebulous 2012 GOP field shaped up a little bit more Monday night with the New Hampshire debate. Rep. Michele Bachmann made news by announcing she’d officially filed for candidacy, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney—the presumed frontrunner who was expected to take some hits from his fellow Republicans—left the debate unscathed.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took heat for backing off of his “Obamneycare” criticism of Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan. “It was a bad storyline for Tim Pawlenty,” the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza said on MSNBC Tuesday, suggesting Pawlenty had missed an opportunity. “If you’re going to attack Mitt Romney on healthcare on Sunday, you should do it on Monday too.” [See a slide show of GOP 2012 contenders.]
So who won? Romney for “projecting an air of control,” as NPR’s Morning Edition reported? Bachmann for commanding the crowd? Someone else?
Or was the debate too bland to even produce a winner? U.S. News blogger Susan Milligan thought the participants gave away little about who they will be as candidates, focusing instead on their main point of agreement: that President Obama is a failure. “It’s normal for primary candidates to avoid saying anything too specific in early debates,” she writes. “No such details came from the panel of Republicans last night on the testy issues of the day—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, debt. Never mind the issues that were not raised—homelessness, poverty, a rethink of No Child Left Behind.” [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
What do you think? Who won Monday night’s GOP 2012 debate? Take the poll and post your thoughts below.
Previously: Will Rep. Anthony Weiner come back after rehab?