Discuss as:

2012: Recapping last night's debate

Much of the focus was on Romney and his performance. The New Hampshire Union Leader: “After reestablishing himself as the frontrunner in the polls, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney resumed attacks on President Barack Obama and, for the most part, avoided direct confrontations with his rivals at Tuesday night's debate at Dartmouth College.”

The Washington Post: “A comfortable and confident Mitt Romney solidified his front-runner status on Tuesday night in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, navigating 90 minutes of tough questions on the economy from his rivals and debate moderators.”

So does the New York Times. “Mitt Romney offered a robust defense of the health care plan he signed as governor of Massachusetts and sought to look beyond his Republican presidential rivals at a debate here Tuesday night by presenting himself as the leader who is best prepared to take on President Obama.”

More: “With a fresh air of confidence in his candidacy, Mr. Romney set out to diminish Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and all but ignored him, a different approach from the last three debates, where he repeatedly tangled with Mr. Perry. Given a chance to question a fellow candidate, Mr. Romney selected Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.”

Politico: “Hours after Chris Christie signaled he believes Mitt Romney is the Republican party’s inevitable nominee, Romney and the rest of the GOP field went about proving him right. Romney again outclassed the opposition in Tuesday’s Bloomberg/Washington Post debate. Again, none of the other GOP contenders laid a glove on him. And in a telling move that seemed to acknowledge the limits of Rick Perry’s candidacy, the Texas governor effectively tried to survive the debate by not losing it.”

But other news organizations focus on Cain. The Hill’s lead: “Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain was the center of attention at Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry faded into the background.”

The New York Post adds, “Republican presidential contenders turned up the heat on former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain and his 9-9-9 tax plan at a televised debate last night, ganging up on the surging candidate who has vaulted from obscurity to near the top of the polls.”

BACHMANN: NBC’s Jamie Novogrod and Jo Ling Kent report from the Spin Room at the debate: Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart picked up where her boss left off during the debate and was critical of the Cain 9-9-9 plan: “There are some problems,” she said of it, adding that Bloomberg economists say it doesn’t add up. State tax will be necessary too, so it will eventually become “15-15-15.”

Politico on last night’s debate: “The Michele Bachmann conservatives fell in love with during the campaign’s early debates returned Tuesday night."

Yesterday, Bachmann introduced her economic plan. The AP: Her "American Jobs, Right Now" framework calls for tax accommodations that would give companies incentive to re-invest at home money that presently is earned abroad. She also would decrease government worker salaries, eliminate an inheritance tax and roll back a slate of federal regulations. That includes repeal of President Barack Obama's signature health law.” Bachmann said in a press release: "My solutions are simple. We need to cut government spending, legalize America's God-given natural resources and stop taxing investment and productivity."

Bachmann will address the New Hampshire state legislature at 11:30 am today. She begins a three-day Iowa tour Thursday.

CAIN: Gingrich had praise for the way Cain handled the debate last night: “You know, Herman has been seeing a lot of fastball pitching. This is the first time someone threw it at his head. He did a pretty good job dealing with it.”

After the debate new Romney supporter Chris Christie was on FOX and hit Cain, per GOP 12: "I think he's certainly a credible candidate, but I don't think he brings the breadth of experience that Gov. Romney has, and I do think there is something different about running a private business and being an executive in government. That's what is so good about Mitt Romney's experience."

NBC’s Andrew Rafferty caught up with Cain after the debate. On why he’s keeping his economic advisers secret for the most part: "The voters are just going to have to wait until my secret advisers want me to put their name out."

On taking a lot of incoming from opponents: "So I expected to be the target; I just didn’t realize that I was going to be that big a target, but I take it as a compliment.”

On his newfound “top tier” status: "I’ve noticed that since I’ve moved up into what they call the top tier, (turns around) I’ve got a lot of arrows stuck in my back, back here. But you know what? It’s to be expected."

GINGRICH: Roll Call has this headline for the former Speaker of the House: “Newt Gingrich Suggests Prison for Barney Frank, Chris Dodd Over Wall Street Crisis.”

GIULIANI: He announced yesterday he’s also not running for president, Politico reports.

PERRY: Here’s quite the admission from Perry, per Politico, which caught up with him at a post-debate party: "I just try to get up every day and do my job, and debates are not my strong suit." (Hat tip: Political Wire.)

After the debate, during a stop at a fraternity that has a reputation for recruiting Christian athletes and “professional personalities,” Perry made a historical gaffe. In answering a young woman's question about states’ rights, Perry said that one of the "reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th Century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown." The Revolutionary War was fought in the 18th century.

At the beginning of his remarks, Perry told NBC News that the debate was "awesome." "It was an awesome debate," he said.

ROMNEY: “Mitt Romney, who has proven to be a consistent presence at the top of the polls, did little to damage the momentum his campaign has gotten in recent weeks, bolstered yesterday with the prized endorsement of New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie,” the Boston Globe reports, adding, “When they got a chance to question one another, most chose to lob their queries at Romney, allowing him to show the debate skills he has honed over several campaigns.”

S.E. Cupp praised Romney in her column in the New York Daily News: “After months of treading water as the play-it-safe candidate who has neither enjoyed nor suffered any big campaign moments, Mitt Romney is finally having the best week ever.”

Still, will this be acceptable to GOP primary voters? A DNC YouTube channel laying out all of Romney’s flip flops.

Scott Lehigh, of the Boston Globe, who has praised Romney recently, wasn’t impressed with his debate performance, but also noted the comparatively lackluster performances from the other candidates: “Last night’s debate was on Mitt Romney’s geographic and thematic home turf. That is, New Hampshire and the economy. And yet, the debate highlighted the gap between the real problems Washington decision-makers face and Romney’s rhetorical nostrums.”

Christie on Romney: “I know Mitt Romney believes the American pie can be grown bigger,’’ he said. “That it can be an infinite size because of the infinite nature of American ingenuity and effort and character.”

Responding to NBC’s Michael Isikoff’s reporting that President Obama met with Romney advisers to formulate its health-care plan, in particular Obama meeting with MIT professor John Gruber, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said after the debate that Gruber was "someone we hired to run a model" and "not an adviser." He added that Romney’s team consulted with "hundreds" of people.