Politics and Public Opinion

Expect a Pawlenty-Romney Clash at Next GOP Debate

The New Hampshire Republican debate this week hardly deserved to be called a “debate” since the candidates barely took aim at each other, focusing their attacks instead on President Obama. As I pointed out, the biggest disappointment was when Tim Pawlenty inexplicably backed off his clever “Obamneycare” attack on Mitt Romney and ducked the opportunity to challenge Romney directly on his healthcare law.

Pawlenty now admits that was a mistake, and promises it won’t happen again. The former Minnesota governor apologized for his debate performance on Fox News’s “Hannity” show, and renewed his attack on Romney, declaring: “I don’t think you can prosecute the political case against President Obama if you are a co-conspirator in one of the main charges against the president”—namely, his healthcare law.

Pawlenty also tweeted after the debate: “On seizing debate opportunity re: healthcare: Me 0, Mitt 1. On doing healthcare reform the right way as governor: Me 1, Mitt 0.”

It remains to be seen whether Pawlenty can prosecute the case against Romney as effectively on the debate stage as he does on the TV stage and on Twitter. He has the better case to be sure—but if he can’t take on the author of Romneycare in a debate, how will he take on the author of Obamacare?

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