Things were feisty during last night's Democratic debate in Las Vegas. The big story is how frontrunner Senator Hillary Clinton seemed to hold her ground by going on the attack. The NY Times said she "shifted to a much more assertive tone" and even the NY Post thinks she won the debate, though not by a knockout.

During the October 31 debate, Clinton stumbled while trying to explain her support-nonsupport of Governor Spitzer's driver's license plan, and rivals Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards seized the momentum to call her a flip-flopper and indecisive. So last night, when John Edwards implied that lobbyists owned her, Clinton said, "I've just been personally attacked again. I don't mind taking hits on my record on issues, but when somebody starts throwing mud, at least we can hope that it's both accurate and not right out of the Republican playbook."

And when Obama said, "What the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions, and that is not what we've seen out of Senator Clinton on a host of issues," Clinton parried back, "Well, I hear what Senator Obama is saying, and he talks a lot about stepping up and taking responsibility and taking strong positions. But when it came time to step up and decide whether or not he would support universal health-care coverage, he chose not to do that. His plan would leave 15 million Americans out."

Governor Bill Richardson tried to play the role of, if not peacemaker then, the peace bringer. "It seems that John wants to start a class war. It seems that Barack wants to start a generational war. It seems that Sen. Clinton, with all due respect on her plan on Iraq, doesn't end the war. All I want to do is give peace a chance." Hmm, sounds like he's angling for a cabinet position.

Update: WNBC's Gabe Presman thinks CNN did a terrible job with debate coverage: "Once again, the punditocracy won and the American people are the losers."