The moderator actually had sent me an email, but unfortunately he sent it after the last time I checked my email the previous night, and I got up very early the next morning and went straight to the con. So I never got the message that I was supposed to come find him before the debate so I could read my question...
In general, I think Obama clearly had the strongest performance, though all the candidates did pretty well.
Edwards was very good, making a lot of points that resonated strongly with the crowd. He did pass up an opportunity to make a powerful point on a currently-popular issue, that was tossed to him by Kucinich. Kucinich asked if, in addition to forswearing lobbying money like he already has, he'd give up hedge-fund managers' contributions; this was an opening to say, "Lobbyists exist solely to influence policy. If you participate in a 401k or other pension plan, you understand that the investment business is important and useful, and I don't think we should look at investment professionals all that differently from people who work in technology, education, or plumbing. Hedge fund managers are admittedly a specialized, and very well-paid, type of investment professional -- but "hedge fund" doesn't mean anything very specific these days, it's really just a high-end mutual fund; some managers are good, some aren't. Every business has its bad actors, and they deserve to be identified and prosecuted; we need to beef up the SEC's investigative arm to make sure fewer bad actors get away with their crimes, and to deter would-be thieves. But let me tell you, even if we're talking about fine, upstanding citizens in this business, their income should be treated the same as everybody else's, and if any of them are donating to me thinking that will keep me from closing the loophole we've heard so much about recently -- they've got another thing coming." I've been told that at his breakout session after the debate, Edwards made exactly this point. I guess maybe in the group session he felt like he didn't have time? In any case, it was overall a good performance -- he continues to be the most forthright in addressing economic issues, especially healthcare -- and he was only second to Obama because Obama was either having a very "on" night, or has learned enough from the past few debates to improve his performance.
Hillary pissed the crowd off with a couple of answers, especially one that I guess maybe she was "sincerely wrong" about: the lobbyist contribution issue. Pretty much everybody else on the panel dissected her, for that one. And deservedly so. She performed considerably better in her breakout session (which Xta and I attended), where she had sharp, well-prepared answers on most issues that got asked about. One exception was that she punted on a question about the Telecommunications Act (come on, you're at a blogger convention!), literally saying, "Ask Al Gore." From what she did say, I was not encouraged to think she'd take as strong a position as I'd like (or as the other candidates would take) on opposing continued media consolidation. On the bright side, she did seem to have good positions on the fair, open auction of radio spectrum, and on net neutrality. (But that's not exactly setting her apart from anyone else.)