In the aftermath of the GOP Presidential debate in New Hampshire, the DC and establishment-centric bloggers have all pronounced the winners and the loser. They have all decided that Romney, Bachmann, and Gingrich won. The biggest loser of the night was Pawlenty. I am going to listen to Rush for his take on this later today. Here are my morning after reflections.

I do not believe any of the candidates hurt themselves last night. For me, the biggest losers of the event were the sponsors and moderators; their agenda – to advance a negative narrative about the GOP – failed. The narrative being…GOP candidates are far right wing nut jobs that can be made to argue with each other over who is the most conservative. This agenda started with who they invited. Gary Johnson does not fit their narrative and so he was not invited.

The obvious pushing of the moderators own agenda was easily seen in their  attempts to start arguments between the GOP candidates. They tried to get Pawlenty into a fight with Romney over individual mandates for health care. Pawlenty didn’t fall for the bait, and simply said that it is Obama who has said he used what Romney did in MA to create Obama care. They tried to get Romney into a fight with Cain about hiring a Muslim to work for you. Cain refused to allow them to misconstrue what he  was saying, and no fight occurred. They tried to get a fight started between Bachmann and Pawlenty, and a fight between Santorum and Romney over who was more pro life. Each time they failed.

The event did help me to discern some differences the candidates have on same sex marriage.  I also observed variations on leadership styles. On same sex marriage, Herman Cain and Ron Paul favored the decision on same sex marriage to be made state by state, and the rest of the candidates favored a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. Michelle Bachmann tried to be on both sides of this issue by saying she did not want to fight a state over this issue and she supports a constitutional amendment. On commander-in-chief  leadership questions, I thought that Pawlenty, Paul, Bachmann, and Santorum came across strong.  Cain, Romney, and Gingrich were cautious in giving their answers without first getting information from the generals in the field. While there are major differences between Santorum and Paul on military policy, they were both strong about what they envision.

Two of the most enjoyable moments of the night for me were when they tried to have Pawlenty be critical of Sarah Palin. He did not take the bait, and instead he praised Sarah and slammed vice-president Biden as being wrong and in error on everything he said and did. On another occasion Pawlenty reflected on how his friends and family from the blue collar town he grew up in were Reagan Democrats who are Rush listeners nowadays.

I believe the 2012 group of GOP contenders are stronger than the 2008 candidate offerings.  This group knows how to confront what Andrew Breitbart calls the Democrat Media Complex.  They also know the means by which the Left is going to try and create dissension, divisions, and chaos among the candidates. So far the candidates have refused to allow that to happen.

Cross-posted at Unified Patriots