Instant reaction: High marks for Romney, Bachmann, but not Pawlenty

WASHINGTON — The political pundits were almost unanimous in their assessment of the debate, giving high marks to Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney, while saying Tim Pawlenty missed the mark, especially on his Obamneycare answer (video here).

Here’s a sample of what they’re saying:

Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza: Lists Bachmann first on his list of “Winners” and Romney second. Of Bachmann, he says: “What Bachmann proved tonight? She’s ready for primetime.” Pawlenty is first on his list of “Losers.” Cillizza called the Obamneycare moment “strange,” and said that while Pawlenty had moments where he shined, “by and large he came across as a bit over-programmed.” More here.

National Journal Insiders Poll: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the winner of the first major presidential debate tonight according to a survey of Republican and Democratic political operatives, campaign consultants, and party strategists, in a special National Journal Political Insiders Poll conducted tonight. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann also had a good evening.” While Pawlenty was ranked third among winners, he was the number one loser in their survey. More here.

Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler leads with a story headlined “Pawlenty’s Big Choke: Won’t Repeat Criticisms to Romney’s Face.” It begins as the headline would suggest: “In one of the most cringe-worthy moments of Monday’s GOP presidential primary debate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty blew his first big chance to draw a distinction between himself and his top rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.” More here.

And lest we forget the Iowa caucuses with all this New Hampshire attention, the Des Moines Register’s William Petroski watched the debate with a group of Tea Partiers. He writes: “In a show of applause after they watched the debate on television at the Elks Club here, the loudest clapping went to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain. No one applauded for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.” More here.

We’ll have a full write-up and analysis in the morning. Good night from D.C.

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