It was fascinating to have a ringside seat at last night's debate. I got to meet all of the candidates and make some remarks in the pre-program, which was televised only on NECN but not MSNBC. NECN has some clips here, and the New York Times has this interesting transcript analyzer. For local coverage, see the story in The Dartmouth and this image gallery.
The Rockefeller Center ran a focus group, some results of which are reported here. The headline is right--it was hard to see any positive outcome for Senator Obama:
Laughing at the candidates’ skirmishes and one-liners but engaging in serious discourse on the their merits, Dartmouth students identified Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as the biggest loser of Wednesday’s debate — but couldn’t agree on a winner — in a focus group moderated by government professor Ron Shaiko, a senior fellow and associate director of the Rockefeller Center.
Given how much I enjoyed his trip to Dartmouth in May and seeing his campaign's visibility yesterday morning (to say nothing of the generally favorable things I've written about him), I was astonished to find myself wondering during the event whether he was still campaigning for the top spot. I initially thought that he was suffering from simply less airtime than in previous events, but the Dodd-clock shows that he still got as much as anyone but Senator Clinton.
In general, I think that Senator Biden and Congressman Kucinich did the best for themselves, but Senator Clinton simply won by not losing. The greatest irony of the night was Senator Gravel accusing other folks of living in Fantasy Land. That's rich. My biggest lesson of the day was that Tim Russert is an extremely talented moderator. With him at the podium, there was no need for gimmicks.
For the best write-up I've read, see this piece by Reid Wilson at Real Clear Politics, my first interview in the Spin Room.