MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Besides differences on immigration, the 10 candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination did little to distinguish themselves in what shaped up to be a largely collegial affair.
They might have opened the door for former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's entry into the race, according to two Granite State journalists.
"If these guys continue to keep this tone in the Republican primary, it may take the candidacy of Fred Thompson to shake things up," said Scott Spradling, the political reporter for WMUR-TV. "For a party that is looking for a leader, it was hard for voters to distinguish major differences."
Spradling and Tom Fahey, a political reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader, questioned the 10 candidates in the first half of the Republican debate sponsored by CNN, WMUR and the Union Leader. CNN's Wolf Blitzer moderated the two-hour debate.
"It was interesting to hear what they think on the issues ... they all think the same thing," Fahey said. "Unfortunately, they are not running for president of a mutual admiration society."
– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston