Republican presidential hopefuls, on the heels of a debate that focused squarely on the economy, moved to capitalize on their performance and visibility on the national stage with a string of events Tuesday in critical 2012 territory.
Several of the Republican candidates on the New Hampshire debate stage Monday night were sticking around to meet and greet voters whose support in the first-in-the-nation primary is coveted.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who last week suffered an exodus of top campaign aides, got up early for a breakfast meeting with small businesses in Concord, N.H. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- who went into the debate the de facto front-runner and had little trouble keeping his poise -- planned to start his day at a New Hampshire diner before traveling to Florida.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who took some licks in the press for his performance Monday night, also stayed around for interviews.
Speaking with Fox News Tuesday morning, Pawlenty built on his debate message by going hard after Obama on the economy.
"President Obama is somebody who accepts that anemic level of growth and he doesn't even have a plan," Pawlenty said.
The former governor, who is popular among some GOP insiders but has not gained much traction in early polls, seemed to hesitate Monday when given the chance to directly criticize Romney over the health care plan he helped pass as governor, though he had taken a swipe at Romney during a TV interview the day before. Pawlenty on Sunday tweaked Romney by calling the national overhaul "Obamneycare" but shied away from taking a swipe at his GOP opponent while sharing the stage with him Monday.
Pawlenty downplayed the exchange Tuesday.
"I don't understand what the kerfuffle's about," Pawlenty told Fox News. He claimed his remarks have been consistent -- merely pointing out that Obama looked to Massachusetts' plan in crafting a national plan.
"When you're running against the president of the United States, you're going to have to distinguish yourself. ... I'm going to be able to do that, because I took a different direction in Minnesota. The president's saying his plan is the same as the Massachusetts plan," he said.
Though both plans share a requirement to buy health insurance, Romney argues that each state should be free to craft its own health plan without interference from the national government.
Bachmann stole some of the night's thunder as she used her opening remarks to announce she had filed paperwork to run for president. The statement of candidacy and statement of organization were hand-delivered late Monday afternoon.
By Tuesday morning, her campaign had posted a web video on Facebook and YouTube. In it, Bachmann asks for volunteers and donations, saying, "This is the first day of taking our country back."
During the debate, Bachmann vowed to repeal the federal health care overhaul -- something the rest of the GOP candidates also support. She drew huge applause when she called Obama a "one-term president."
As the candidates used some of their time Monday to praise the Tea Party movement, one faction of that movement claimed its principles were clearly driving the debate. The Tea Party Patriots said Tuesday there were no "standouts" in New Hampshire, but praised Bachmann's performance.
"It seemed that the person with the most to gain, Michele Bachmann, gained the most. This was her first debate appearance, and she seemed comfortable and in command of the issues. It was a solid introduction to the nation," Patriots national coordinator Mark Meckler said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Santorum planned to head straight to Iowa, home of the nation's leadoff caucuses, for a meet-and-greet at a coffee shop. And former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was not allowed to participate in Monday's debate but is a declared candidate, was holding a series of events Tuesday in New Hampshire.
Though the GOP field is far more robust than it was even a month ago, with several candidates formally announcing their campaigns, it is not yet formed.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is said to be seriously considering a run. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani could also take a second shot at the GOP nomination after his campaign fizzled in 2008. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has gone through the motions of setting up a campaign, though he has not yet formally announced.
And former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, despite recently embarking on a high-profile bus tour, still hasn't disclosed her political plans.