From NBC's Chuck Todd
Some quick thoughts before the morning (it's going to be a LOOONNNGGG night).
Clinton seemed a bit testy tonight, particularly on Social Security... She allowed her "laughter" tick to kick in for a few questions, particularly on the various criticisms other candidates made in press releases that those same candidates didn't have the, well, you know, to verbalize those attacks.
Overall, though, no one landed a blow on her and at this point in the game, that's how these debates have to be judged. As my colleague Mark Murray put it in the control room tonight, she reminds him of Dean Smith in that she's always playing "four corners" or "stall ball." This is what a frontrunner gets to do, protect a lead and Clinton appears to be protecting her lead. BTW, she continues to show command on the stage; it's subtle things but there's no doubting who's in charge of this campaign right now, it's Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps the surprising thing to me was Obama's decision to not overtly go after Clinton. He didn't seem to change his tone or game even as it appears he's stalled both in the national polls and in this state of New Hampshire. Of the candidates chasing Clinton, Edwards stood out to me. He seemed to realize he needed to prove contrast with Clinton on just about every answer he gave. It was one of his better performances. The guy is getting his William Jennings Bryan schtick down pat. How will he get past Obama, that's the problem for him.
As for the second half of the field, Biden, once again, did well. The guy just needs resources and he just might get some traction. Then again, maybe it's just us Beltway types who think he's shooting straighter from the hip than any of the other candidates. Of course, when you've got nothing left in the bank, you got nothing left to lose. At a minimum, I think he's earned a spot on the VP short list, forget Sec./State.
Dodd seemed a bit better tonight but just can't seem to stop from speaking like a senator and that hurts him at these debates.
Then there's Richardson. What is there to say; I think he's getting smaller and smaller at these debates. He's trying too hard on some questions and it shows. I'll have more thoughts tomorrow.