Bachmann, Romney Score as Debate's 'Big Winners' Bachmann impressed while Romney held firm, say pundits By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Jun 14, 2011 1:37 AM CDT Updated Jun 14, 2011 7:52 AM CDT 74 comments Comments Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, right, listens during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) (Newser) – Mitt Romney and, more surprisingly, Michele Bachmann looked like the big winners in last night's Republican debate in New Hampshire, analysts say. Bachmann, who announced her candidacy during the debate, was "at ease and forceful without looking at all crazy or out-of-control," writes EJ Dionne Jr. at the Washington Post. Romney, meanwhile, "did not lose anything," he notes, "which means that, since he leads in the polls in New Hampshire, he is a kind of winner." Romney "couldn't have scripted an easier debate for himself, writes Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman at Politico. He went in "looking strong and emerged from it stronger, as his opponents repeatedly passed up opportunities to go on the attack—and even inflicted damage on themselves as they tried to avoid confrontation." The real winner was the Tea Party, concludes Ronald Brownstein at the National Journal. All seven hopefuls appeared to be "operating in a policy framework shaped by the Tea Party push to retrench government," and none of them—not even Newt Gingrich—directly criticized Rep. Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare reform, he notes. Bachmann deserves the "most improved" medal for her performance, but all seven candidates were winners in their own way, according to Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair. Tim Pawlenty deserves the "least willing to insult Mitt Romney" award, while Herman Cain wins "most conspicuously overshadowed by Michele Bachmann," and Rick Santorum scores for "nicest blue tie," she writes.