From NBC's Chuck Todd
This has been a hard debate to evaluate; it's part pep rally and it's part debate. There were some GREAT moments that we desperately wanted to keep going, like everyone vs. Obama and Biden vs. Edwards.
VIDEO: Watch the entire Democratic forumIf this debate is remembered for anything, it will be for the moment that Joe Biden turned into Hillary Clinton's surrogate. He went after Obama on foreign policy and targeted Edwards on how sincere his labor stances are.
In fact, Dodd seemed to also take part in the attacks on Obama (less so on Edwards). But clearly, the old guard of Washington are not taking kindly to either Obama and Edwards. The problem for the two chief Clinton challengers, though, is that they are fighting to be the same person, the anti-Hillary. And Clinton, now, has a lot of supporters on stage with her, including Dodd and Biden. It's a fascinating dynamic that I think is developing in this primary. But how long can Edwards and Obama be allies and how comfortable will Dodd and Biden be carrying Clinton's water?
Let's get to some candidate-by-candidate thoughts:
-- Clinton had a good night, if only because she didn't have to level the attacks on Obama and Edwards; she got to stay above the fray.
-- Obama clearly knew what he wanted to say tonight and stayed on his message; But he seemed unsure if he wanted to be a cheerleader on stage or a debater. And, frankly, blame the audience, every time a debate started to break out, the crowd got in the way.
-- Edwards tried to be aggressive tonight and he's definitely the angry populist but, wow, he seems to have drawn the ire of more of his foes tonight than even Obama.
-- Biden does crowds well; I bet if the members believed he could get the nomination, they'd be more enthusiastic.
-- Dodd was hot tonight as well... but he yells a bit too much for TV... surprisingly more so than Biden.
-- Richardson is going to be the under-the-radar candidate; it's obvious; he's not getting involved in the bashing of Obama, Edwards and Clinton and that could pay dividends in Iowa.
-- Kucinich: Easily his best debate; Having no Gravel helped him big time.
I'll have more after the spin room dance.