Staters were watching the Bruins-Canucks hockey game, but some did tune
in to watch seven Republican candidates participate in the first New
Hampshire debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester on Monday.
As is often the case in these affairs, there was no clear winner.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) took the opportunity to announce that she
will be a candidate, and earned generally good reviews for her
performance. Former Gov. Mitt Romney (MA), the perceived
frontrunner, was expected to be a target, but avoided damaging attacks
and generally boosted his cause; he also managed to announce that the
Bruins were ahead 4 to 0. Pundits
did find fault with the performance of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty
(MN). The day before
he had spoken of Obamneycare, yet when offered the chance during
the debate to pursue that line with his opponent present on stage, he
demurred. Herman Cain, who had
claimed victory in the South Carolina debate, got tangled up in a
question about whether he would appoint Muslims to his administration
Several candidates and near candidates were missing
from the stage. Former Gov. and Amb. Jon Huntsman (UT) declined
to participate; he is not yet a candidate, although he was in state
days earlier. Former Gov. Gary Johnson (NM), a declared
candidate, was excluded for failing to meet polling criteria set by
CNN, as were exploratory candidate former Gov. Buddy Roemer (LA) and
longshot Fred Karger.
Rich Killion, a senior advisor to Pawlenty, observed that, in a sense
the debate marks the end of the beginning. In other words, the
field of candidates is becoming much clearer, and the campaign is
starting to get to broader audience, beyond the dedicated
Surrounding the debate, many of the candidates did
events in the state. At house parties in living rooms and on back
lawns, New Hampshirites are forming and solidifying their impressions.
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