It would be a mistake to read too much into such an early debate. Some observers have pointed out that it took Barack Obama a while to find his footing against Hillary Clinton in 2007-08. But Tim Pawlenty does need to find a way to criticize Mitt Romney effectively in future debates. If lines like “Obamneycare” aren’t his thing, then his team needs to find a way he can differentiate himself from Romney in his own voice.
Why? Because Pawlenty’s campaign is largely predicated on being a realistic conservative alternative to Romney. But that’s not a role he’s going to get simply because pundits think it makes sense for him to play it. He needs to distinguish himself from Cain, Bachmann, Gingrich, and the rest first.
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