Per NBC/National Journal's Aswini Anburajan, here's Obama strategist David Axelrod responding to questions that Obama was too soft: "Let me make something clear. He didn't come here to attack anybody. He came here to talk about leadership, for the future of leadership, for change is and what that would be. And, yes, there are contrasts to be drawn and he drew them. But, yes, I know it's the fascination of the news media to see a steel cage match. That was not his goal."
And he even acknowledged that Edwards had a good night, an opinion shared with many in the Chattering Class. "Well, I think people are going to have to make a decision on who represents, uh what the most authentic change. I think Senator Edwards did a good job tonight, but I think people ugh have to look at what is the history over a period of time. When Barack Obama talks about lobbyists he talks about it as someone who has passed significant legislation. I'm not aware of what Senator Edwards did on this issue."
Clinton strategist Ann Lewis said, per NBC/NJ's Athena Jones: "I think anyone watching this debate would have seen six candidates spend a lot of their time attacking Hillary Clinton." More: "She, in turn, was using her time to talk about what she was for, to talk about her differences with George Bush, to talk about how we had to go in a different direction, so I think she was talking to people about what was on their minds. I would have to say as a matter of strategy when you have so many candidates out there swinging at her, some of whom had advertised for several days that they were really going to go after her. Well, they took their best hits and missed. Nobody connected."
Politico's Allen quotes a Clinton official: "The other campaigns came in needing to take us down - they failed."
Just asking: Does a campaign that believes it WON a debate spin this way?
Finally, keep this in mind as you see the press and opponents pounce on Clinton for her non-position on drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants. Obama gave a similar answer as Clinton.
Obama: "Well, I was confused on Senator Clinton's answer. I can't tell whether she was for it or against it, and I do think that is important. You know, one of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face." Pressed to answer whether he was for/against the Eliot Spitzer proposal: "I think that it is a -- the right idea. And I disagree with Chris, because there is a public safety concern. We can make sure that drivers who are illegal come out of the shadows, that they can be tracked, that they are properly trained, and that will make our roads safer. That doesn't negate the need for us to reform illegal immigration." So Obama pounced on Clinton, but gave a remarkably similar answer.