The Los Angeles Times notes the candidates "presented a largely united front." The report called the Biden-Obama AIDS test moment the liveliest exchange, and observes that both Obama and Rev. Al Sharpton seemed perplexed about Biden's remark. "At that, Obama shot Biden a you've-got-to-be-kidding glance. A television camera caught the Rev. Al Sharpton in the audience looking appalled."
The Washington Post: "The forum at Howard University seemed to be a guaranteed fit for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the only black candidate in the race… But the audience largely embraced the other seven Democrats on stage as well."
The New York Times adds: "The foreign policy flash points that had produced conflict between the Democrats at their earlier debates — in particular, the war in Iraq — were largely absent as the candidates spoke easily, finishing one another's sentences and offering jokes and compliments… None of the candidates appeared to stand out, and each of the best-known ones drew relatively similar reactions from the audience."
The Boston Globe: "The gathering allowed the Democrats to highlight the relative diversity of their candidates compared with the 10 candidates for the Republican nomination, all of whom are white men."
The New York Daily News says Clinton and Obama came out of last night's debate "the way they went in -- co-leaders in the race for the African-American vote." The crowd may have shouted "Obama!" during introductions, but "Clinton scored repeated points by acknowledging the pervasiveness of racism and inequality more forcefully than the other candidates."
The Politico's Simon also says that Clinton and Obama came out on top.
Bloomberg -- the news organization, not the possible candidate -- has the following headline that will make the RNC research department salivate: "Clinton, Obama, Democrats Back Higher Taxes on Wealthy at Forum."
Democratic strategist/Gore '00 manager Donna Brazile on Obama: "'He didn't knock it out of the park,' Brazile said, adding that Clinton was a standout.
Des Moines Register's Yepsen also scored the debate for Clinton. "Clinton was crisp, cogent and methodical in her answers. She understood better than any of the other candidates the need for terse answers when so many candidates are given so little time in which to answer questions… Obama held his own, but at this stage in the race, he needed something more stellar to show he's got some depth on issues."
The Chicago Sun-Times' Mitchell leads, "For a presidential candidate who has refused to be pigeon-holed as the "black candidate," Sen. Barack Obama found himself fading in a staged battle for the hearts of black voters."
And dial-testing analyst Rich Thau oversaw a group of 15 Democrats in Iowa who watched the debate last night and found Clinton and Obama scoring highest on the presidential "comfort" scale. The three candidates who saw their pre- and post-debate "comfort" scores move the highest: Kucinich (who moved the most), followed by Clinton and Dodd.
***Update*** We forgot to include that Edwards actually had the highest score on this -- although his post-debate score dropped slightly from his pre-debate one.