At last night's N.H. debate, the GOP candidates largely stayed away from attacking each other and went after Barack Obama instead. Here's Jim O'Toole:
Other candidates, including Mr. Romney, agreed on the need to repeal the national law. But none of the contenders used the two-hour encounter to highlight the similar Massachusetts law signed by Mr. Romney and widely perceived as an Achilles heel for him with the party's base.
Mr. Romney returned the favor when asked about an economic plan advanced by Mr. Pawlenty, a proposal criticized in some quarters as resting on unrealistic projections for growth. "Look, Tim has the right instincts, which is he recognizes that what this president has done has slowed the economy.
"He didn't create the recession, but he made it worse and longer," Mr. Romney said of Mr. Obama. "... This president has failed. And he's failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy going. And instead of doing that, he delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."
"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."