Tonight will mark the first of two debates this weekend focused on the New Hampshire Republican primary. This evening's debate will take place at Saint Anselm College and is sponsored by ABC News, Yahoo! and WMUR. Sunday morning will feature a GOP debate broadcast on NBC at 9am ET (yes, am) but look for more details on that later today.
Air Time: Saturday, January 7th at 9pm ET / 6pm PT on ABC
Participants: Santorum, Romney, Paul, Perry, Gingrich, Huntsman
Report from WMUR:
MANCHESTER, N.H. — WMUR and ABC News will be teaming up for a prime-time debate this Saturday before the New Hampshire Primary.
The debate will take place at 9 p.m. on Jan. 7 on the campus of St. Anselm College. It will be moderated by ABC's Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos and WMUR's Josh McElveen.
Debate crews are getting the center ready to take center stage. Light rigger Walter Webber is helping out with the spotlight.
"I go up in the light and I focus in on all the candidates and everything," Webber said.
St. Anselm students, meanwhile, stood in for the candidates during debate practice.
"I'm Gov. Jon Huntsman's stand-in, of course. But the moment they gave this to me, I pointed out that they misspelled (the name) with an 'H,' so today when I came to the arena, they put a new one with a correctly spelled 'Jon,'" student Jake Wagner said.
Students impressed the stage manager on loan from “Good Morning America.”
"Everything's going incredibly smooth. The stand-ins we have from this school are so intelligent. They're asking questions that we couldn't even think of, kind of. (They) installed our faith in the future generation," stage manager Scott Kaye said.
Stephanopoulos told News 9 he expects some fireworks.
"We think it's our job to make sure that the differences between and among the candidates are exposed and really hashed out before the voters of N.H., so they can make up their minds and make their decisions, fully informed decisions by Tuesday, and my sense is the candidates are not going to be shy about that,” Stephanopoulos said.
The debate will be broadcast on WMUR and across the nation on ABC.
This debate is certain to offer a Mitt Romney pile-on by the likes of Gingrich, Santorum and Paul. I'd expect Huntsman to come out fairly strong as well since all his eggs are in the New Hampshire basket. Rick Perry will be debating with an eye toward South Carolina since polls show he has little to no chance of making headway in the Granite state.