Leave it to CNN to milk Monday night's Republican presidential debate for every bit of drama.
In a walk-thru of the 8 p.m. forum at St. Anselm College in Manchester, CNN officials unveiled how candidates will be arranged on stage. Not surprisingly, frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is dead center among the seven Republican contenders.
From left to right: Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Romney, Rep. Ron Paul ot Texas, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and businessman Herman Cain of Georgia.
CNN producers said the setup was dictated by polling in the Granite State, where Romney, a favored son of New England, is polling well ahead of the rest of the Republican field.
Romney is likely to face the brunt of attacks Monday night, as he defends his Massachusetts health care plan — linked by conservatives to President Obama's health care overhaul.
Debate organizers are anticipating a free-flowing debate. CNN won't generally place a time limit on answers in hopes that it produces less canned responses. They also expect that half the questions will come from reporters, with the rest slated for audience members, social media sites and viewers from three locations in New Hampshire.