Who won? You decide. The media are all over the place. The most telling initial response I saw was in the Rasmussen Reports poll, which as of Thursday (before the debate) had Hillary Clinton ahead nationally with 41 percent among Democrats, then Barack Obama at 22, and John Edwards at 14.
Then as of Friday morning (the poll was taken Thursday night but before the end of the Vegas debate), Clinton's and Edwards's numbers fell, but Obama picked up 2 percentage points.
Is this an indication that Obama gained the most from Thursday's debate? It's not being widely written on the Internet yet, but that is a distinct possibility.
Let's follow the daily tracking numbers for a few more days before we decide.
I thought Clinton held her own and took on her opponents in a strong but not offensive fashion. She had the most to lose and seemed to stem major future losses with her performance.
But Joe Biden won the gold medal on national security and foreign affairs, to the extent that may be some voters' top issue. Dennis Kucinich came off as the union-beholden flamethrower that he is but gets kudos for mouthing the "impeachment" word once again. Bill Richardson won gold for "most likable" and most forceful on the need to turn to alternative fuels in the future. Edwards was, as usual, too angry. And who else was there? Oh yes, Obama. He won the "least impressive" performance medal. Christopher Dodd: not worth discussing.
As for the front-runner's attention in the media, the silliest of the many attacks against Clinton is on the front page of the conservative Townhall.com website. It sports a new "Swift Boat" video ad showing young kids talking trash about Clinton, including the claim that she's really a man. This video is sure to make plain to the public that the Swift Boat crowd never had any credibility and is so behind the times that it's now prepared to sacrifice everything for some attention.