Tim Pawlenty Admits Missed Chance In GOP Debate

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is knocking his Republican debate performance in his personal scorebook while getting in another dig at rival Mitt Romney's health care record.

The former Minnesota governor conceded Thursday in a Twitter post that he failed to capitalize during the New Hampshire debate. Pawlenty declined to back up his pre-debate description of a Romney health care program as "Obamneycare" -- a suggestion Massachusetts supplied the model for the maligned federal law pushed by President Barack Obama.

HuffPost's Jason Linkins wrote on the GOP primary forum earlier this week:

Watching Tim Pawlenty refuse to stand behind the term he coined, "Obamneycare," was a wrenching thing to watch! John King sunk in the skewers, pointing out that he was willing to call the Affordable Care Act "Obamneycare" to Chris Wallace, so why not say it to Romney's face? Pawlenty evaded, unconvincingly, at length.

HuffPost's Jon Ward reported the same night:

Pawlenty campaign manager Nick Ayers blamed CNN's King for making the moment a difficult one.

"The answer that he gave was not what John King wanted," Ayers told reporters afterwards. "Opening up the ObamneyCare, I know that's what CNN wanted. It would have made for great political and cable news, but the American voters want solutions and that's what our candidate spent the last three weeks promoting and it's resonating here in New Hampshire."

Pawlenty's comment on Twitter gave Romney one point and himself zero for "seizing debate opportunity." But Pawlenty reverses the score for "doing healthcare reform the right way as governor."

A Pawlenty spokesman says the post was written by Pawlenty himself, not staff. A Romney aide didn't immediately offer reaction.