James Forsyth

The winners: McCain and Obama

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John McCain and Barack Obama won tonight’s debates here in New Hampshire not because of what they did but because of what others did for them. The mass Republican assault on Mitt Romney, which McCain joined in, ensured that McCain’s chief rival in the state left the debate bloodied and bruised.

At this point, the stars seem to be aligning for McCain in New Hampshire. If McCain does win here, the other candidates might regret doing him such a favour tonight as the momentum he gains might carry him all the way to the nomination—but you get the impression that the other candidates wouldn’t mind that too much.

Logic had little to do with the collective beating administered to Romney, who is no longer the front runner, tonight. In the spin room, surrogates for the other Republican candidates admitted that they all share a mutual dislike of the former Massachusetts governor.

Obama benefited from Edwards’s unceasing attacks on Hillary as part of the problem. In her frustration, Senator Clinton at times came across as a defender of the status quo—the worst thing to be in a change election. However, to Hillary’s credit she avoided a melt down moment as she came under relentless, and at times personal, attack. Her campaign, though, has not yet come up with a convincing push back against the Obama surge. If they don’t do so before Tuesday, then the Clinton campaign could find itself 0 for 2 and on life support.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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