In the early going, the big story is Tim Pawlenty coming out punching with strong criticisms of Obama, a class warfare attack on Mitt Romney, and a harsh criticism of Michele Bachmann (her record in Congress is “nonexistent”). Of course, Bachmann comes back over the top by claiming that he supports cap and trade and an individual health insurance mandate. The exchange ends with Pawlenty saying that if letting Obamacare and TARP pass is Bachmann’s idea of leadership, “please stop.” Very personal, Bachmann looks legitimately hurt. The storyline that Pawlenty is afraid to attack his opponents seems to be dead after this intense argument with Bachmann.
The segment closes with Romney capably fielding a pointed question from Chris Wallace about jobs he cut as a private equity manager. In the early going, Romney is again able to appear competent and unruffled, while the others squabble amongst themselves.