Mitt Romney won big tonight. President Obama got digs in on the former governor over the lack of detail of his proposals, but Romney clearly came out to play hard. The other big winner was the American people. This was a real debate with real differences, real clarity. Too bad voters have had to be assaulted by attack ads and hyper-emotion.

Romney displayed a mastery of the economy, of small business, of health care, of taxes -- of all issues. He was aggressive, something that was deemed risky beforehand, but he did not get personal or mean. He was respectful to the sitting President, but in no way awed by his presence.

While Obama took it to the GOP candidate (Where's the beef? Where are details on tax cuts, on health care?), Romney handled it deftly -- this debate was about principles and style. Romney reminded the President and voters that he was a bipartisan leader who sought and achieved consensus and legislation by working with the other side in Massachusetts.

Romney also showed his differences on Obamacare. This was a difficult task because this could have opened him up to charges of hypocrisy. He is a seasoned debater and this was the discussion on health care we should have had all along.

Obama scored a major point on pre-existing conditions. But Romney came right back to argue that no insurance company would deny service. We will have to see how that plays out but at least the discussion was held and it was civil.

Finally, I had said before the debate that Romney would have to show a command of the economy and put it in personal terms -- a tough task. He did that tonight. The President was uncomfortable, stammering at times. Romney won.