Last night's Republican presidential debate was the first to include nearly all the leading contenders, but as the Washington Post notes "most of them remain largely unknown nationally, a factor that could explain their reluctance to go at one another. At this early stage, they are introducing themselves to a nationwide audience, and testing their competitors' strengths and vulnerabilities."
The New York Times says the candidates "repeatedly passed on the opportunity to seize upon the fissures that have roiled the Republican Party for most of the last two years. They presented a forceful, and nearly unified, attack against Mr. Obama, especially on the economy, the budget deficit and health care."
Walter Shapiro: "The best justification for the debate -- which CNN tried to enliven with
high-tech razzmatazz -- was that it was the kickoff of a TV series that
will run non-stop until next spring. The purpose of the opening episode
was to introduce the characters (six men and a woman marooned behind
identical lecterns) rather than to advance the plot."
So who won? Some reactions follow:
"The mitts were off Mitt. Romney received a pass from a strikingly
timid field of rivals in Monday night's debate... There's a rule of
thumb in political debates: When a front-runner leaves the stage
unscathed, he's still the front-runner. And, thus, regardless of the
sound and fury of the debate itself, he wins."
"Romney seems like the only serious candidate on the stage. In a sense
that's not surprising because he's almost the only serious candidate in
Howard Kurtz: "Michele Bachmann all but stole the show at the Republican presidential debate... Bachmann is relatively new to the national stage, but as anyone who has watched her in action understands, she knows how to play this game."
Dave Weigel: "Pawlenty failed to break out, again. Even his hockey reference was less of an easy applause line than Romney's. Bachmann, who's always underrated, was as poised and quick as she's ever been. Herman Cain suffered from the presence of buzzy candidates and from a lack of new things to say. Gingrich didn't live up to his promise as the guy with the out-of-the-box ideas everyone else has to ponder. And Romney won."
Andrew Sullivan: "Romney is the clear leader here - head and shoulders above the rest. Bachmann wins the expectations game. Cain wasn't outstanding or novel enough to stand out. Pawlenty was just dreadful - failing on almost every level. Gingrich was incoherent and nasty. Santorum was his usual doctrinaire self, and utterly unappealing. Ron Paul had his moments, but the novelty is wearing thin."
Brad Phillips: "Tonight, Michele Bachmann became a star. She successfully reversed her image from one of a scary fringe figure to one of a thoughtful, articulate, and serious contender. The storyline that dismisses Bachmann and Sarah Palin as two women fighting for the same turf ends tonight. There's a clear difference between the two: Michele Bachmann demonstrated the discipline and seriousness to win. Sarah Palin has not."
As I noted
last night, unless you think Rep. Michele Bachmann can win the GOP
nomination, there's still a real opening for another candidate to enter
this race and challenge Mitt Romney.
Taegan D. Goddard is the founder of Political Wire, one of the earliest and most influential political web sites.
Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You
Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political
management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from
both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public
policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country,
including the Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, San Francisco
Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Christian Science
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
PRAISE FOR POLITICAL WIRE
"There are a lot of blogs and news sites claiming to understand
politics, but only a few actually do. Political Wire is one of them."
-- Chuck Todd, NBC News political director
"Concise. Relevant. To the point. Political Wire is the first site I check when I’m looking for the latest political nugget. That pretty much says it all."
-- Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report
"Political Wire is one of only four or five sites that I check every
day and sometimes several times a day, for the latest political news
-- Charlie Cook, editor of the Cook Political Report
"The big news, delicious tidbits, pearls of wisdom -- nicely packaged, constantly updated... What political junkie could ask for more?"
-- Larry Sabato, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
"Political Wire is a great, great site."
-- Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe
"If I were on the proverbial
desert island and had only one web site to access, Political Wire would
-- Dotty Lynch, CBS News political consultant
"Taegan Goddard has a knack for digging out political gems that too
often get passed over by the mainstream press, and for delivering the
latest electoral developments in a sharp, no frills style that makes
his Political Wire an addictive blog habit you don't want to kick."
-- Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post
"Political Wire is one of the absolute must-read sites in the blogosphere."
-- Glenn Reynolds, founder of Instapundit
"I rely on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for straight, fair political news, he gets right to the point. It's an eagerly anticipated part of my news reading."
-- Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.
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