There was no circular firing squad last night at St. Anselm's College in Manchester, New Hampshire, to the disappointment of many in the media who love GOP infighting. President Obama's mishandling of the economy was the focus of criticism. Which makes perfect sense, because that is what the election will be all about.
Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times summed it up best: "A bunch of GOP colleagues get together to criticize President Obama"
Despite media expectations that front-runner Mitt Romney would be attacked by Tim Pawlenty and others over what the Minnesotan called "Obamneycare" on Fox News Sunday, the governor declined to press the attack face-to-face. Expect to hear much chatter today about the fabled "Minnesota nice" level of politeness in my native state. But if anyone lost momentum last night it was he.
Michele Bachmann, the other Minnesotan in the race, formally announced her candidacy, and had a rather flawless performance, at least compared to the expectations of many in the liberal press that she would prove to live up to their negative characterization of any conservative woman as brainless, shallow, and harsh. If anyone moved up a notch last night, it was she.
The format, with 60 second answers, and 30 second responses, was annoying, and moderator John King's intrusive approach did not help. There will be many more debates. The media tend to obscure the fact that we have almost a year and a half to go in the election process. Last night was no earthshaking event.