Debate Caps Busy Week In New Hampshire

Seven Republican Presidential Hopefuls Share the Stage
June 9-15, 2011—Many Granite 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 if elected. 

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 activists. 

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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