"It was like LeBron refusing to take the big shot [Sunday] night"

“Debates are competitions – they are alpha dog battles,” explained longtime GOP ad man Alex Castellanos. “To win one, you have to create what I call an ‘MOS,’ a moment of strength. Tim Pawlenty had a chance to get in the ring tonight with the heavyweight champion and create such a moment. He refused to enter the ring. It was like LeBron refusing to take the big shot [Sunday] night.”

“Pawlenty made an odd decision to back away from his health care attack on Romney which made him seem weak or at a minimum uncertain,” said Jim Dyke, a former top Republican National Committee official, adding: “Pawlenty probably should stick to prep and skip the bowling for the next debate.”…

“Republican primary voters are looking for a presidential candidate who’s going to take the fight directly to President Obama,” Miller said. “If you’re not comfortable following through on a criticism of one of your primary opponents in person, why should voters think you’ll be able to man up and follow through on a criticism of the President when you face him in the general election?”