Okay, a few random thoughts on the debate, just finishing up now in the 9 PM replay. My main reaction is that there are just too many candidates to follow any of them through the debate, any real themes, how they’re doing, anything like that. The candidates who stood out to me were Clark, Dean and Kerry (and the order there is intentionally alphabetical). I thought each had a good debate.
Clark had some good moments, his opening statement was very good. Mainly he just didn’t make any mistakes and, to my mind, showed a lot of energy. As with the rest, there just wasn’t enough time hearing him talk.
The same for Dean. I can see why his supporters like him. He was strong, with those moments of sparkle-in-the-eye candor and wit. At the same time, he was on the receiving end of a lot of attacks, which is the sign of a front runner, but also took some of the edge off his game.
Kerry was sharp, strong and smart.
Many of the other candidates gave good answers and came off well — Lieberman, Graham, etc. (Lieberman had one extremely funny moment.) But on balance the others just felt irrelevant to the race. That may be unfair to Gephardt who was definitely all over the debate. But on balance that was my impression.