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Very early thoughts

From NBC's Chuck Todd
For those looking for a contentious debate, they got their wish. This was easily the fight of the year when it comes to the Democrats. Now, who will win the post-debate spin war?

The Clinton camp has an interesting challenge in the spin room tonight. Both the Edwards and Obama camps are convinced that Clinton was off her game tonight. Was she? Eye of the beholder on this; At times, she seemed on her game but she did "let 'em see her sweat" at other times. Obviously, Edwards and Obama have the same goal tonight, make it seem as if Clinton "lost" this debate. Well, it's not clear who won it if she somehow lost it. I'm not convinced anyone has won, but it does appear that both Obama and Edwards have accomplished what THEY wanted to do tonight and Clinton's camp probably is glad that neither Obama nor Edwards outshined the other. Her best asset right now is the fact this is still a 3-way race.  

As for the rest of the field, Biden, once again, had the one-liner of the night re: Giuliani. If Biden wasn't known as a gaffe machine, he'd be a bigger player in this race, I'm convinced of it. I know that sounds like a back-handed compliment but it's the burden of being Biden.

Dodd had, perhaps, his best debate of the cycle. The ending back-n-forth with Clinton on drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants was probably one of his best moments to date. He also got to talk issues he's made key to his campaign, like global warming. He still talks WAY too much about legislation he sponsored rather than talking about solutions he's proposing. The public has such a low approval rating for Congress than I'm guessing they tune out. Richardson did well on a few questions but it's interesting that Biden singled him out tonight which tells us someone is truly playing for that close4th place in Iowa.

Speaking of having better nights, how 'bout 'ol Dennis Kucinich.  He did a great job answering the UFO question and the guy is a machine when it comes to staying on message.

More in the morning and later tonight on cable.