Tim Pawlenty explained Tuesday morning that he refused to attack Mitt Romney on healthcare at the debate Monday evening because the race was about beating President Obama, not beating up on other Republicans. But, he said, doing that required distinguishing one’s record from the President’s, the implication being that Romney would have trouble doing that when it came to healthcare.

On Sunday, Pawlenty coined the term ‘ObamneyCare,’ and many expected that he would follow up on that attack during the debate. But Pawlenty declined to directly attack Romney on healthcare, even when pushed, drawing criticism that he was backing down from his earlier remarks. Pawlenty said that was not the case.