New Hampshire Debate

January 7, 2012 by staff 

New Hampshire DebateNew Hampshire Debate, After 16 Republican presidential debates so far, a pair of nationally televised encounters this weekend in New Hampshire may be the most pivotal since Rick Perry’s “oops” moment as candidates move to block front-runner Mitt Romney and the Texas governor tries to salvage his campaign after a feeble finish in Iowa.

With the former Massachusetts governor running far ahead of the field in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, three candidates – Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Perry – are desperate to consolidate conservative support and emerge as the top alternative to Romney when the presidential race heads south.

While the Granite State debates are taking place days before its first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday, Perry and Gingrich will be aiming their remarks at voters in South Carolina, which holds its first-in-the-South primary Jan. 21.

“I think the debates are more important than the actual (New Hampshire) vote,” said Dick Bennett, president of American Research Group, a New Hampshire-based polling firm. “Even if it does not alter the race in New Hampshire, I think it will have some impact in South Carolina and beyond.”

Each candidate has high hopes for the ABC/Yahoo! debate at St. Anselm College Saturday at 8 p.m. and the NBC Meet the Press debate Sunday morning.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who finished just eight votes out of the lead in the Iowa caucuses, is hoping to convince voters he is an alternative to Romney.

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who has focused his entire presidential campaign on New Hampshire, is hoping to convince voters that he is a viable moderate alternative to Romney.

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