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Post Debate Analysis

I have no doubt Frank Luntz will come on TV in a few minutes and contradict all this, but here are my initial thoughts.

The big winner tonight was Fred Thompson.  He got his name out there, while also avoiding a fairly boring debate.  I don't think this hurt him one bit, and, in fact, I think not being here turned out to be smart.

The only memorable exchange I can recall from tonight was the spat between Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. 

Speaking of Ron Paul, he got a lot more face time tonight than ever before.  He made his case well.  Look, either you agree with him, or you don't.  But at least he got to make his case tonight.  He had more opportunities than Brownback, Tancredo, or Hunter.  Clearly, he has many supporters in the room.  The question is whether getting his message out helps him or hurts him ...

John McCain did well tonight.  It wasn't an amazingly great night for McCain, but he seemed more energetic than in some of the previous debates.  New Hampshire is McCain country, and I am one of the few analysts out there who still believes he can win the Granite State.

Rudy, Romney, and Huckabee just held firm tonight, not gaining or losing ground.  Rudy and Huckabee have had great performances on other nights, so in that respect, tonight was a step backwards.

But the bottom line is that tonight's debate lacked truly great moments.

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