What happened
Barack Obama, John Edwards, and the other contenders for the Democrat presidential nomination stepped up their attacks on front-runner Hillary Clinton in a debate in Las Vegas Thursday, hoping to further erode her momentum 50 days before primary voting begins. But this time Clinton fired back. (The Washington Post, free registration)

What the commentators said
Clinton is back, said David Yepsen in the Des Moines Register. After “two bad weeks” the senator and former first lady has “recovered her footing.” Obama and Edwards had a “chance to trip her up some more” after her widely criticized performance in the last debate, but “they blew it.”

Neither “gentle” Obama nor “harsh” Edwards managed to land “a blow,” said Charles Hurt in the New York Post (free registration). In a feat of political jujitsu, Clinton even managed to turn their “jabs into a debate on health care—possibly her strongest suit.” So much for the stories “predicting Clinton’s near-certain demise.”

The night went to Clinton, said Noam Scheiber in The New Republic Online, but “Obama gave as good as he got with Hillary in exchanges over health care and Social Security.” The Illinois senator was “focused, energized, tough, charismatic,” which shows that he’s gaining steam.

Clinton’s “gut instinct is to respond to a punch with a punch,” said Ronald Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times (free registration), which makes people question whether there’s hope for a bipartisan “truce in Washington” if she wins. “Obama, a silky mediator more respected than feared, faces the opposite question: In an age of extreme partisanship, is he tough enough to make peace?”