SNEAK PEEK:Showdown in the Sunshine State


36 days until the Iowa caucuses

It has been over a month since the last Republican presidential debate, which feels like eons if you have set your watch to campaign time.

Since then we have seen…

-Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani throwing stones, flinging rocks and looking for boulders as the two turn up the heat on the issues of crime, immigration, spending and who most resembles Hillary Clinton.

-A tightening race in Iowa as Mike Huckabee creeps up on the front-tier candidates, raises more money and looks like a force to be reckoned with there.

-Giuliani expand beyond a Feb. 5 only strategy and start to make an active play in New Hampshire, spending more time on the ground and running ads there

-Progress in Iraq allowing John McCain to say he was right about the troop surge

-Ron Paul rake in an impressive $4.3 million online in one day and make GQ's Men of the Year 2007 list.

-Pat Robertson endorse Giuliani, Sam Brownback endorse McCain and Chuck Norris and Ric Flair endorse Huckabee (which one, if any, will actually matter?)

On Wednesday all eight Republican presidential hopefuls get together on one stage to participate in the CNN/YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida at 8:00 pm ET.

The debates will occur more frequently between now and the Iowa caucuses but no candidate can afford a bad night with the race as close and wide open as it is.

Things to look for in Florida:

-How many times is the "H-word" used by Giuliani and Romney against the other?

-Which candidate takes advantage of the sparring between Giuilani and Romney and use it to rise above the fray in a "Can't we all just get along" sort of moment?

-Will Huckabee need to wear his own asbestos suit in anticipation of increased attacks from the frontrunners who may be sweating his surging poll numbers in Iowa?

-What name is mentioned first – Bernard Kerik or Kathe Tuttman?

-Who has a better chance of showing up with a question on YouTube - Richard Florino, Chris Dodd or a snowman? LINK

The Brothers Romney provide a nice little photo op in the morning in St. Petersburg when they hold a belated Turkey Bowl. The brothers invited local supporters and campaign reporters for a friendly game of touch football at 11:00 am ET in St. Petersburg, FL. (This may be just be a thinly disguised opportunity for the campaign to push around a few reporters).

ABC News' Matt Stuart reports that touch football doesn't always end up that way with the Romney boys. Speaking about the family tradition of football on Thanksgiving, Romney said "We call it touch football but somebody ends up getting hurt..."

Last week Mitt Romney took some heat for a comment made by his one of his supporters, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg. Gregg said as a native of the Granite State he "viewed Iowa as being a place where they pick corn and New Hampshire being a place where we pick presidents."

Did Barack Obama take a shot at Iowa voters while wooing others in New Hampshire?

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Nancy Flores report that Obama expressed a mixture of surprise and delight Tuesday that the guys "in overalls" whom he is meeting while campaigning in rural Iowa are asking him about Burma -- not corn.

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