7 Republican presidential hopefuls debated in New Hampshire last night, and to the extent that no one landed any direct hits on the frontrunner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he took the top prize. The two-time candidate was poised and calm, and even managed to shake off the wooden, archaic mannerisms he sometimes employed in excess in 2007 and 2008; some might say he was positively charming when he pointed out that the Bruins were well ahead in their Stanley Cup game with the Canucks, an easy applause line for the New England audience. More substantively, Romney managed to deftly handle what (mild) barbs were thrown at the universal healthcare plan he passed in his state in 2006, which conservatives deride as a model for Barack Obama’s national healthcare law. Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, retreated from his previous attacks on “Obamneycare” (an amalgamation of the derisive epithets Obamacare and Romneycare), and in so doing seemed to cede too much space to his opponent. Michele Bachmann, the right-wing firebrand from suburban Minneapolis, showed evidence of having hired consultants and advisors, and seemed more sane and (somewhat) plausibly presidential than usual.
Copyright 2011 The National Memo