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
Although I am a democrat and will vote for Barack Obama for a second term as president, I was actually smitten by three of the GOP candidates during their debate. I like Ron Paul, Michelle Bachman, and Newt Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich actually gave the most succinct and shortest answers. It was good to have NOT one of these three talk in circles.
As we enter the beginning of another 'lively' presedential election debate, I am appalled at the lack of respect shown to our current president...Do Not call him 'Obama', call him 'President Obama'. He has earned that! Again, the Republican choices we have so far skirt the questions.....President Obama has not been a bad leader, he has an entire staff and cabinet that influence his every move. I think there should be more focus on reforming his healthcare plan than defeating it.....Money has been spent...it's not a horrible plan, let's tweek it! Changes have to be made now! Quit the debating and lets get it done!!!!!!
Our state is facing the worst year of national natural disasters in history...tornadoe's in Joplin, flooding on its way here in St Joseph....we need a country that is unified in its support of our government. To be divided because of political parties is nonsensical! This is 2011...come on!! It all should hinge on the betterment of our country not the betterment of a political parties pocketbook. It is time to voice our opinions and demand that our generation will make The difference.....don't vote by party.....
Yes I agree, that's about all we learned tonight.
Not one of these candidates could ever be president. They offered no realistic solutions on how they would create jobs or on the economy. Furthermore, they blamed President Obama when they couldn't answer the question. when they rightfully didn't know they rambled, blamed Obama and rambled so more. The constant lies regarding President Obama's policies were so obvious the audience was stunned. For 2 1/2 years the Republican party has done nothing to get the country back on its feet. Instead they have chosen to block or vote against every jobs bill President has set forth and has not proposed any reasonable economic legislative of their own. For 2 1/2 years the GOP have never given the president kudos for anything he has accomplished including the killing of Osama bin Ladin. With the kind of immaturity, compounded with profound ignorance, why in the world would anybody vote for a Republican?
It would have been perfect if Obama was also there. He never gives a solution and these other seven did not either. I have a word for both parties, I call them Ratcrats. I have more ideas. I have enclosed 2. Rhetoric from the left and rhetoric from the right. It is all about power not solving the problems. I would like to give 2 small ideas that will have large results. Knowning that we get 300 billion in tax revenue from corporations, I would sugest a 2% tax break for every 1% increase in hiring for each business with a 5% bonus for hiring 10% total new employees.. There would be probably no decrease in revenue because of the taxes collected from the new employees and the circulating extra money through the economy. You would also have an explosion of GDP. Everyone is now employed. Adding drilling will cause a further increase in GDP and taxes to save the social programs. The over turn of the health care that the Democrats rammed through Congess in the dead of night will be a boost to the economy and can be saved by one free market solution. Please remember everyone now can go to any hospital emergency room and get health care free of charge. If we Americans with health care policies had a law passed that allows us to go anywhere for care in the world and reward us 50% of the savings and will make Doctors and hospitals reduce prices to compete. We now have reduced health care prices. The American economy is saved with 6th grade math. Ken Krieger Cape Coral, Florida P.S. Would I have won the debate?
I noticed no one asked Pawlenty about his "balanced" budget in MN where he left the state with 6 Billion in debt claiming he had balanced the budget, how they had to raise taxes to recover for his debt and how they lost their bond rating due to him.
The debaters failed to mention that Republicans were in charge 18 months ago and these issues were not fixed on their watch and were made worse.
Newt is the only one who seems to get the fact that the Ryan plan's giveaway of money that had been going to Medicare as tax breaks for companies is a complete non-starter for 80% of the US populace. Romney just looks two-faced decrying Health Care reform when he is the obvious leader in it from his Mass days. It's an interesting dance the Repub contenders have to work – the party line will sink you like a stone in the general election but you have to toe it a lot to get nominated, and then still toe it some after that to keep the dollars flowing in. All while trying to convince the general public you're not going to sell their Medicare off so you can give money to corporations who are already earning record profits.