We will be covering the Republican presidential debate tonight live starting at 8 p.m., so join us here for our live coverage as the debate gets underway in New Hampshire.
We'll feature live updates and twitter commentary from myself and Phil Klein, Mark Tapscott, Barbara Hollingsworth, and Timothy P. Carney.
It’s going to be a very important event.
For Mitt Romney, it’s a critical debut. He’ll have to provide a convincing answer to charges that he was President Obama’s silent partner in creating Obamacare – or “ObmamneyCare.” If he can parry this one effectively and to the satisfaction of enough conservatives, he remains a contender. If he cannot, then it will just keep eating him, and it’s just a matter of time before someone overtakes him in a late New Hampshire finish.
Even at this early stage, it could be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s last chance to convince conservatives that he’s the electable alternative to Romney, and that they should stop longing for someone else (probably named “Rick Perry”) to enter the race. Pawlenty needs to land a few punches, and he needs to avoid getting upstaged by his fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Michele Bachmann, who will also be on hand.
There’s also Herman Cain, who has surprisingly amassed a large and loyal following already. For him, this is his chance to show that he’s a serious, well-studied candidate who understands issues. After a bit of ill-informed commentary on his part (particularly his discussions on Israel and Iran), he’s going to have to prove that he knows what he’s talking about.
Rick Santorum: Can he convince anyone he has a reason for running?
If he’s wise, Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be talking about Libya, and starting fights with anyone on stage he can engage. He’s not the best debater, but he’s a much worse orator.
Finally, it’s probably worth letting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich occupy space on the stage just to see his answer to the inevitable question about disarray within his campaign. (Correct answer: “What campaign?”)
Our live debate coverage will begin below at 8:00pm; in the meantime, follow our list of political writers on Twitter and please share your expectations in the comments below. We'll be featuring the best comments during our live coverage.