Panic or denial for the left? “Former Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are virtually tied among likely voters, a new Gallup daily tracking poll will show, according to USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.”

“Historic” or just a disaster? “President Obama’s healthcare law won’t erode employer-based health insurance — but it will raise some companies’ costs by nearly 10 percent, according to a new analysis from the Urban Institute. Although the law’s critics usually focus on small businesses, the new paper says medium-sized firms will see the biggest cost increase.”

Centrist or hardline? “Romney’s speech offers a new Republican articulation of the Bush doctrine of moral clarity, wielded — as Romney said — ‘wisely, with solemnity and without false pride’ to ‘make the world better — not perfect, but better.’”

Politico or National Review? “Romney is in the best position he’s been in for weeks, and the Obama team is giving off the appearance of a team looking to staunch someone else’s momentum.”

Outlier or foreshadowing? “Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s strong performance in his first debate with President Barack Obama helped him trim Obama’s lead in Michigan to three percentage points, a poll released Monday to the Detroit Free Press shows.”

New or old? “All along, [Romney] has proposed tax reform, not merely tax cuts. He never opposed all federal financial regulations — though this is not the kind of thing a Republican emphasizes in the primaries. In these cases, Romney hasn’t changed his plans. He has merely refuted caricatures of his plans. You can hardly blame a man for refusing to be a straw man.”

Goat or role model? “In this face-to-face matchup, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney overrode moderator Jim Lehrer whenever they wanted to say something while he was trying to call time. Even if it was simple serendipity, the debate it yielded is something ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN’s Candy Crowley and CBS’s Bob Schieffer would do well to emulate as they prepare for their own role as moderators in the remaining vice-presidential and presidential debates.”