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Daily View: Winners and losers in Republican debate

Megan Lane | 10:54 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The first major debate of the 2012 campaign allowed voters to weigh up the Republican hopefuls vying for a shot at the White House. But how did the debaters fare?

All came out of it fairly well, says Carl M Cannon in Real Clear Politics.

"All seven managed to express their differences on public policy without being uncivil to one another, or even disagreeing directly with their fellow candidates. This was made easier by their shared antipathy for the Obama administration - and because their differences are pretty nuanced."

Chris Cillizza says in the Washington Post that Mitt Romney did nothing in his 120 minutes on stage to undermine his frontrunner status.

"Romney was serious and well informed - in a word: presidential. His debate experience from 2008 clearly paid off as he stayed focused on President Obama and the economy to the exclusion of almost everything else. Romney also benefited from the fact that none of his rivals seemed to have the stomach to attack him directly."

So who else had a good night? Michele Bachmann is the common consensus.

  • "Bachmann dominated the stage with quotable lines galore and an audience hanging on her every word" - Chris Cillizza again
  • "She managed to tell viewers that she was a tax lawyer and that she raised three children and provided homes for 23 foster children - I don't care how cynical you are; that's impressive" - Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner
  • "Bachmann's strong showing ought to further discourage Sarah Palin whose populist mantle is now being seized by the congresswoman from Minnesota" - Jonathan S Tobin in Commentary

Which serves to remind Elspeth Reeve in The Atlantic Daily of a parallel in pop culture - a 2004 teen film penned by comedian Tina Fey.

"It's like that moment in Mean Girls, when Lindsay Lohan's character ousts Rachel McAdams' to become queen of the Plastics. There's only room for one female bomb-thrower in this campaign!"

So a good night for Romney and Bachmann. Who had a bad night? Tim Pawlenty, says Jonathan S Tobin in Commentary, who fluffed a chance to attack key rival Mitt Romney.

"Offered an opportunity to hit his main opponent hard on Obamneycare as he called it just a few days ago, Pawlenty whiffed. In the end, it really doesn't matter whether it was because he was too nice or not courageous enough to call out Romney to his face. Either way he failed. It was a key moment in this race and one that Pawlenty will rue in the months to come."

Why do these debate matter? As well as votes, it's about the money, says John Dickerson in Slate.

"[A] common fundraising tactic is to call donors afterward and brag about your candidate's great performance or send around a clip of a pundit praising a big moment. It's ephemeral and sometimes silly, but it gets checks."

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