Debate: Analyst Says Pawlenty Failed to Land Blow

Monday, 13 Jun 2011 11:37 PM

By Hiram Reisner

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Tim Pawlenty missed the opportunity to make Mitt Romney ‘bleed” over Romneycare during CNN’s Monday GOP New Hampshire debate and he “looked punked” and tentative when given the chance to go on the attack, a former pollster for President Barack Obama said.

“The Pawlenty thing was a big deal because [of] this: As much as we say we don’t like negative campaigns, the truth of the matter is: If someone occupies the space that you want to occupy and their ahead of you, I’m sorry, you’ve got to . . . cut that person and make them bleed,” said Cornell Belcher, who worked for Obama in 2008.

“Now, do you take a hatchet to them the first night of a debate — No. But you have to make them bleed, because you are never going to get ahead of a person unless you cut them and you make them bleed,” Belcher said. “Pawlenty was served up the opportunity to sort of start that bleeding tonight — and he looked punked — he could not back up what he had said aside when he was standing on the stage with Romney — he looked tentative, and he looked weak. I think he missed a prime opportunity to make this guy bleed.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked colleague John King, who moderated the debate, why he thought Pawlenty was tentative when given the opportunity to repeat comments he made on “Fox News Sunday” that Obamacare was basically Obamneycare — as it was an offshoot of Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan.

“He refused to repeat it with Governor Romney a little further apart than we are right now,” King told Cooper, who was standing facing him. “It was a clear calculation — they knew [it] coming in. He wants to make that point because he believes it’s critical, he’s the underdog in New Hampshire. But . . . he was trying to introduce himself to New Hampshire voters and national voters.

“But in this state, Governor Romney is pretty popular, so he made a calculation the first night on television, the first night of a debate — not now,” King said.

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