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McKinstry: Barack Obama gets narrow win over Mitt Romney according to morning pundits

"Fox and Friends" host Gretchen Carlson

"Fox and Friends" host Gretchen Carlson Credit: Gretchen Carlson (Getty Images)

Just hours after President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney exchanged blows at Hofstra University on Tuesday, the conventional wisdom among the morning talk-show set was that the debate was no game-changer.

There were new soundbites on Libya, gender equality, immigration, jobs and the economy. But the morning spin was that the debate didn’t change the needle, even if many gave an edge to Obama -- a turnaround over his dismal showing in Denver two weeks ago.

Speaking on "Morning Joe," Mark Halperin of Time Magazine and co-author of “Game Change” said he hasn’t heard “anything compelling” on what this debate does for the race or for moving undecided voters one way or another.

Halperin added that a tie at Hofstra wouldn’t knock Romney off his stride and ripped the president for not laying out a second-term agenda.

Opportunity lost.

Absent the knock-out blow for either team, it makes you wonder what will actually move the coveted undecides to pick a side. Advertising? Stump speeches? A Mars landing?

One of the hosts of "Fox and Friends" characterized the debate as a tie. Then the Fox trio of Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade hammered Obama on Libya, and focused on segments where Romney had the edge: the economy.

Obama senior adviser Robert Gibbs appeared on the show and called it an "interesting debate” where the president clearly did well. The hosts pressed him on the president’s response to a question on Libya and the so-called terror timeline, which was one of the debate's more aggressively fought issues.

Going forward, “We’re going to see the Hofstra Barack Obama” – commanding and engaging, Gibbs said.

If he wants to win, the president certainly had better be more Hofstra Obama than Denver Obama; there’s now just under three weeks until Election Day.

Back on "Morning Joe," John Meacham of Random House said the debate was “closer on the substance” than people think and said Romney consistently scored on the economy.

But CNBC’s "Squawk Box" needled the former Massachusetts governor for not giving specifics on his tax cut proposal. The way the show's hosts – Andrew Ross Sorkin, Joe Kernen and Becky Quick – see it, that’s because the numbers still aren’t clear.

What is clear, however, is that there will be plenty of spin today – and for the next 20.