The Note: Debate Expectations in New Hampshire

VIDEO: Republican Presidential Candidates Prepare for New Hampshire
WATCH Republican Presidential Candidates Prepare for New Hampshire Debate


--IT’S GOP DEBATE-EVE IN THE GRANITE STATE: ABC News has unveiled its candidate lineup for tomorrow night's Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. The network has extended invitations to the following candidates: Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. John Kasich.

--TUNE IN: Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The debate will be moderated by "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir and Chief Global Affairs Correspondent and co-anchor of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Martha Raddatz. ABC News will be hosting the debate with the Independent Journal Review, and in partnership with the Republican National Committee. Additional questions will come from WMUR political director Josh McElveen and conservative journalist Mary Katharine Ham.

--THE LATEST NEW HAMPSHIRE NUMBERS: After a strong third place showing in the Iowa caucuses, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is getting a post-Iowa boost in New Hampshire polling. ABC’s RYAN STRUYK reports Rubio is now in second place in the Granite State, according to two recent polls from CNN/WMUR/UNH and University of Massachusetts Lowell, conducted after Monday's Iowa caucuses. In a University of Massachusetts-Lowell tracking poll released Thursday, Trump sat on top of the pack with 36 percent support, but Rubio had 15 percent support -- up from 8 percent in the same poll released on Monday.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: If Jeb Bush goes down, he won’t go down without his family. Throwback time is in full gear, with former first lady Barbara Bush coming out to a “Beach Boys” song at an event for his son in New Hampshire, and former President George W. Bush appearing in an ad for his brother paid for by his Super PAC. (No “coordination” there, surely.) Beyond the past, though, there’s reason to think New Hampshire isn’t Jeb’s last stand after all. Among the three governors who’ve gone all-in here, he’s the one with the most resources and strongest organization in the states coming up – including South Carolina, where it’s likely that his brother is put into service. John Kasich and Chris Christie need to beat each other, functionally, in addition to Jeb Bush; Bush can most likely afford to just keep it close. That, though, doesn’t account for the Marco Rubio factor. With polls showing Rubio surging late in the Granite State, pressure will build for the establishment to coalesce. It will be master and apprentice battling it out yet again.


THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: Fresh off the ABC News GOP debate, George Stephanopoulos anchors a special edition of “This Week” live from New Hampshire featuring an exclusive interview with Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio. And, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders comes to “This Week” Sunday. Then, the powerhouse roundtable debates the week in politics with Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, Weekly Standard editor and ABC News contributor Bill Kristol, and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts. See the whole political picture Sunday on “This Week.”


DISS OF THE DAY with ABC’s MERIDITH MCGRAW -- SOMETHING FISHY IN IOWA? The Des Moines Register is fishing for answers in Iowa following Monday’s caucuses. In an editorial published yesterday and headlined, “Something Smells in the Democratic Party,” the newspaper said “once again the world is laughing at Iowa. That’s fine. We can take ribbing over our quirky process. But what we can’t stomach is even the whiff of impropriety or error.” After an evening of caucus “chaos” with candidates chosen by coin-flips, the Register called for a complete audit of caucus outcomes and now Bernie Sanders’ campaign is moving forward with checks on individual precinct results. With only two-tenths of one percent separating the final results of Monday’s Democratic caucus, the editorial board warned that such a photo finish would surely trigger a recount in other states. “We need answers to what happened Monday night,” the paper said in its scathing editorial. “The future of the first-in-the-nation caucuses demands it.”



7 MOMENTS THAT MATTERED AT THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. Just five days before New Hampshire voters will have their say in their state’s first-in-the-nation primary, there was another first in the Granite State: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went toe-to-toe on a debate stage, just the two of them. The intimate setting led to some of the most heated exchanges of the campaign so far, reflecting the fierce battle for the Democratic nomination at a crucial moment: Just a few days after Clinton eked out a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses and before Sanders appears poised to claim victory in New Hampshire. The candidates, at times, seemed not just to speak but to shout their answers. After a particularly feisty squabble, co-moderator Rachel Maddow acknowledged, “Obviously we’ve touched a nerve.” ABC’s RYAN STRUYK, SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, LIZ KREUTZ, ANDREA GONZALES and MICHAEL FALCONE look at seven moments that mattered last night:

BEST LINES OF THE DEBATE -- ABC’s PAOLA CHAVEZ highlights some of the best lines of the night.

CLINTON TELLS SANDERS ‘IF YOU GOT SOMETHING TO SAY, SAY IT.’ A feisty exchange at the Democratic debate in New Hampshire happened when Hillary Clinton called out Bernie Sanders for suggesting she’s in the pocket of special interests, ABC’s RICK KLEIN reports. "I really don't think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you and enough is enough,” Clinton said. "If you've got something to say, say it directly." “It’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks,” she continued, drawing some boos from the crowd. “Let’s talk about the issues.”

NOTED: NEW QUINNIPIAC POLL SHOWS CLINTON’S LEAD OVER SANDERS GONE. A national Quinnipiac University poll released today shows Hillary Clinton’s strong lead over Sanders gone, and instead the Democratic race incredibly close. Clinton received 44 percent of support while Sanders can boast about 42 percent -- his highest national number yet. This new poll comes after the Iowa caucuses, when Clinton eked out a win over the Vermont senator. The last Quinnipiac poll conducted showed Clinton with a 31 point lead over Sanders, 61 to 30, ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI notes. For the Republicans, Trump still holds his lead over the rest of the pack with 31 percent. Tied for second, Cruz has 22 percent, while Rubio earned 19 percent. Carson trails with 6 percent and the rest of the field, including Bush, falls at 3 percent or lower.

MEGYN KELLY HOPES DONALD TRUMP SHOWS UP AT NEXT FOX DEBATE. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly called the feud she and her network have with Donald Trump “bizarre." "It was bizarre because I became the story. He was so very focused on me that I became the story and, you know, you never want to be the story when you're a news person,” Kelly said today on "GMA," referencing the frayed relationship she has with the GOP presidential candidate. “You want to be covering the story so it was like an Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience.” Fox News announced it will host a GOP debate March 3. Kelly mentioned that Trump hasn’t committed to that debate, but said she hopes he does. “The bigger question in my mind is whether Donald Trump will be at that one,” he said. “I think he will be.” ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI has more.

MARCO RUBIO: ‘I’D BEAT HILLARY CLINTON IN GENERAL ELECTION’. Marco Rubio said he already knows what the outcome would be in matchup with Hillary Clinton in the general election. “If I run against her, I'd beat her. And they know it too. Hillary Clinton does not want to run against me,” he told ABC News' Jon Karl. Speaking to Karl on a bus ride between campaign events in New Hampshire yesterday, the third-place Iowa caucus finisher took swipes at that state’s winner, his fellow senator Ted Cruz, but he pulled his punches slightly with Donald Trump. ABC’s ALI WEINBERG has more.

BARBARA BUSH CAMPAIGNS FOR HER JEB. Last night, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush felt like a new man. In a packed middle school cafeteria, he was acutely aware of the “looming presence of Barbara Bush” that he often invokes. But this time she was there, ABC’s CANDACE SMITH notes. The former first lady came in with her son, pushing her walker, adorned with her Jeb! sticker to wild applause as the Beach Boys played in the background. “Wow, mom, my crowd sizes normally aren’t this large. I wonder why,” he joked. As she took the microphone, she praised her son. "I didn’t really plan on this, but Jeb is the nicest, wisest, most caring, loyal, disciplined, that’s good,” she said.

NOTED: BUSH CRITICIZES OBAMA FOR NOT VISITING MOSQUE SOONER. President Obama has received criticism from Republicans for visiting a mosque, perhaps unsurprisingly. But Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush appeared surprised by the President’s actions for a different reason, ABC’s CANDACE SMITH reports. "I don’t think it's divisive to go speak in a mosque,” Bush said. "I’m surprised it took his 8th year to do it.”

CHRISTIE’S TRICK TO TRY TO GET A VOTER ON HIS TEAM. Chris Christie jokingly tried to trick a New Hampshire voter who is deciding between Ohio Gov. John Kasich and him into staying in his camp. After Christie laid out his case to the woman, who had asked for him to distinguish himself from Kasich during a Henniker town hall, Christie circled back at the end of the meeting  to see if he had won her vote. The voter demurred that she would report back after attending a Kasich event Monday night, ABC’s JORDYN PHELPS notes. "You know what, really funny, I heard he cancelled the Monday night thing,” Christie then told the woman, the audience erupting into laughter. "Strangest damn thing, I don’t know why he’d do it, I heard he’s got a dinner reservation or something, and so now you’ve just seen me and Rubio and you know I’m so much better than Rubio."

AFTER RAND PAUL DROPS OUT, CANDIDATES VIE FOR HIS VOTES. When Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced Wednesday that he was suspending his 2016 presidential campaign, he became one of four candidates to do so since the Iowa caucuses. Though Paul had roughly 2 percent in the latest New Hampshire polling, and came in fifth in Iowa, those who supported him, many of whom are libertarians, are now up for grabs. And candidates hoping to well in New Hampshire are making a play for them. ABC’s ALANA ABRAMSON has more.



CHRIS CHRISTIE TAKES A BREAK FROM CAMPAIGN TRAIL TO ATTEND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN CONCERT. He's trading the campaign trail for Thunder Road -- at least for a night. Chris Christie is a die-hard Bruce Springsteen superfan. So die-hard, in fact, that the New Jersey governor took a break from the campaign trail just days before the New Hampshire primary upon which the survival of his candidacy hinges to attend a Springsteen concert in Boston. Last night's concert marked the governor’s 136th Springsteen concert, a fact he broadcast on Twitter ago along with a photo of his view from the concert, ABC’s JORYDN PHELPS writes.



@matthewjdowd: As I have said for the a month, @BernieSanders is a stronger general election candidate. Check out new Quinnipiac poll. He beats all GOP.

@EliStokols: Jeanette Rubio, the former cheerleader who avoids the spotlight, tiptoes onto the trail. Via @apalmerdc: …

@bgittleson: John Kasich didn't know Obama went to a mosque, but he doesn't seem to care …

‏@HotlineJosh: Interesting analogy from @stephenfhayes: Rubio running like Obama 2008, Cruz running like Obama 2012 …

@RickSantorum: Looking forward to joining @marthamaccallum on @FoxNews at 10:10am to talk about why we need to elect @marcorubio President #TeamMarco