Every day we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation inside and outside Washington.
RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:
– I'm home in Louisiana for the next several days. The Republican Leadership Conference starts in New Orleans. Most of the major presidential candidates will be there sounding out their themes for the election year. It'll be good additional exposure for people like Michele Bachmann. One person not speaking? Tim Pawlenty. One last-minute addition? Rick Perry.
– The CNN New Hampshire debate last night gave a lot of people their first impressions of the candidates. That's why I don't think Tim Pawlenty's retreat on "Obamney care" will have a lasting impact, but Rick Santorum and Herman Cain both seemed outpaced. Bachmann really stole the spotlight, reflected in the number of people searching for info on her today on Google.
– It was nice to see the candidates gang up on Barack Obama instead of each other last night. I think Mitt Romney won, not just because he held his own, but because he had great answers to most every question, though he was defensive on the Afghan question. Michele Bachmann really impressed a lot of people. Newt Gingrich showed he is great at giving a speech and debating, but then Republicans say Barack Obama is the same way and his management is bad. Kind of like Newt's management of his campaign.
Senior Political Columnist for TheDailyBeast.com John Avlon:
– Mitt Wins by Default – The front-runner took no incoming shots and therefore remains the front-runner. A weak and uninspiring front-runner but the most responsible and presidential guy on the stage.
– Pawlenty Ducks And Bachmann Exceeds Expectations – Our own JK teed it up for T-Paw, asking why he wouldn't use his great “Obamney care” line face to face with its intended target. Maybe its just a measure of his nice-guy-ness, but Pawlenty looked weak. Bachmann, by contrast, exceeded expectations.
– Policy-palooza – Beneath the horserace analysis, there was some policy news in the debate. Romney and Pawlenty both support the federal marriage amendment, banning same-sex marriage states. There is deep internal dissension about the Bush Doctrine and Afghanistan/Libya. And apparently no Republicans running for president think that we need to raise the debt ceiling. That's partisanship over both principle and problem solving.
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