Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Five things we learned at the debate:
1) Michele Bachmann is now a candidate for president. The congresswoman from Minnesota was the only person on the stage who was not officially a candidate at the start of the debate. That changed minutes into the debate, when Bachmann told CNN's John King, the moderator of the debate that "I just want to make an announcement here for you, John, on CNN tonight. I filed today my paperwork to seek the office of the presidency of the United States today. And I'll very soon be making my formal announcement."
2) Mitt Romney is already running a general election campaign. The former Massachusetts governor, who is the front-runner in the most recent national GOP horserace polls, saved his firepower for President Barack Obama, going as far as saying "I can't wait to debate him." At the same time, Romney passed on criticizing any of his rivals on the stage, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who had in recent days attacked Romney over his Massachusetts health care law.
3) Tim Pawlenty's missed opportunity? The former Minnesota governor, when asked about his use Sunday of the term "Obamneycare," didn't strongly respond. Pawlenty's muted response, and Romney's lack of criticism of Pawlenty, avoided a political World War Three. Instead of taking on Romney, Pawlenty went after the president, saying "President Obama is - is the person who I quoted in saying he looked to Massachusetts for designing his program. He's the one who said it's a blueprint and that he merged the two programs. And so using the term "Obamneycare" was a reflection of the president's comments that he designed Obamacare on the Massachusetts health care plan."
4) Michele Bachmann's successful debate debut: The congresswoman from Minnesota had some of the best lines of the night, and because of that she received some of the loudest applause. But besides some strong one-liners, such as her "take it to the bank" comment on repealing the president's health care law, Bachmann also appeared to have strong responses on policy.
5) Newt Gingrich is still in the race. He wasn't asked about the mass defection of most of his campaign staff, and he didn't bring it up himself, but the former House Speaker did show that he came to play, that he is a serious presidential candidate. And his comment on loyalty to the government may have been the most shocking moment of the evening. He didn't back down from his criticism of House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal, either. Was Gingrich successful or did he dig himself a deeper hole?
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report