The Washington Post says the debate "was among the liveliest of the year. Once past an opening question about the missing Thompson, the candidates turned on one another. Romney, Giuliani, McCain and Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) sparred over immigration. McCain chastised Romney over his reluctance to say the "surge" policy in Iraq is clearly working. Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) clashed over whether the United States should stay in Iraq or get out."
The Boston Globe's lead is Romney attacking Giuliani on immigration. "But in the first debate of the fall campaign season, both Romney and Giuliani struggled to keep their balance amid sideswipes from Senator John McCain of Arizona, who sharply questioned Romney's assessment of the situation in Iraq and Giuliani's level of experience."
Ron Paul's camp ought to feel good that they made it into AP's lead on the debate.
The Chicago Tribune leads with the barbs at Thompson and highlights the Huckabee-Paul back-and-forth up high in its piece.
The Union Leader is one of the few papers to note -- up high -- the candidates' responses on Larry Craig. "Although candidates were asked their thoughts on the recent scandal, none outright condemned his actions."
The Des Moines Register's Yepsen gave the debate to McCain and Huckabee and called Thompson the big loser.
CBN's Brody joins Yepsen in concluding that McCain and Huckabee came out on top.
Also, McCain won the Luntz focus group that was featured on Fox News.
The American Spectator's Rubin also notes how McCain helped himself by playing the role of "sober" adult.
Despite these positive reviews for McCain, the Union Leader notes that McCain's supporters at the debate "were virtually nonexistent, not one of his signs in sight as he struggles to keep his campaign afloat in a summer rife with staff and budget cuts."