What’s the consensus on Monday’s Republican presidential debate? Mitt Romney established himself as the frontrunner; Michele Bachmann emerged as his most serious challenger; and Tim Pawlenty floundered, especially after he backed away from his attacks on Romney’s Massachusetts health-care plan.. The debate was, all in all, relatively civil, with few candidates taking Romney to task over issues. “This was a very very very premature event. But it will cement Romney's solidifying position as the leader of the pack—and reveal how few of the people on this stage will be much of a danger to him,” Andrew Sullivan writes at The Dish.