By Robert D. Novak
The Washington Post
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney and Sen. Hillary Clinton wanted to use Saturday night’s televised presidential debates to further their respective goals: keep Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama from winning Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Neither accomplished that mission, but the failure is much more damaging for Romney than for Clinton.
Romney looks like a clear loser of the state’s Republican primary to McCain, which his once-promising campaign can hardly afford on top of his decisive loss in Iowa‘s caucuses last week. While Clinton cannot come close to matching the fervor of Obama’s supporters, polls still show a close race on the Democratic side. Despite her embarrassing third-place finish in Iowa, Clinton can withstand another defeat without dooming her once-certain procession to the nomination.