UPDATE: Arizona CNN Republican Presidential Debate Tonight
The first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary Debate will be held tonight, January 7, 2012, at 9 p.m. E.S.T. in Manchester, New Hampshire. The debate is will air on ABC.
Since the Iowa Caucus, the number of candidates in the debates has dwindled down to six: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman.
This will be the first debate where Newt Gingrich will have the opportunity to go after Mitt Romney for the negative ad campaign which was sponsored by Romney's Super PAC. The personal banter between Gingrich and Romney should make for an interesting debate tonight.
This first New Hampshire debate will be vital to Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum.
Jon Huntsman essentially skipped Iowa and focused all of his campaign resources in New Hampshire. If he does not make a strong showing in New Hampshire, Huntsman's campaign will wind up D.O.A.
Rick Santorum, who was neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney, and who may have actually been the real winner in Iowa, will have to show that he can keep his momentum going in New Hampshire. This will be the first debate where Rick Santorum is considered a top tier candidate.
Undoubtedly, Santorum will come under fire from the other candidates regarding his political background, including charges that Santorum is a Washington insider just like Newt Gingrich who personally received millions from lobbying interests under the guise of being employed as an "advisor."
Although the Ron Paul 2012 campaign is polling second to Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, expect the other candidates to go after Romney and Santorum more than trying to go after Paul. The political reality is that it is much easier to sway a Romney or Santorum likely voter to another candidate than it is to sway those die hard Paul supporters who are too ideologically distant to be swayed.
And if you can't stay up tonight to watch the debate, you can always watch a second live debate with the same candidate lineup Sunday morning, January 8, 2012, at 9 AM on NBC.