The Note: GOP Candidates Sharpen Their Knives For Debate Night In Des Moines

Chalian: First and foremost, I expect to see an inherent tension within Gingrich on stage. He has had such great success trying to stay above the fray and has made his pledge to promise only positive campaigning. It seems to me that will be in direct conflict with being the frontrunner and the likely target of nearly everyone else on that stage. Watching how he navigates through that tension will be fascinating, don’t you think?

Walter: Absolutely. And, then there’s the fact that Gingrich has, in the past, been his own worst enemy. Staying on message has never been his strong suit. But, his opponents have to be careful too. As we’ve seen in past debates, the candidate who stays above the fray — whether that’s Cain or Gingrich—has benefitted. So, I’m just as fascinated to see what Romney does. Does he try to let the other candidates take their shots at Newt or will he have to do it himself?

AMY WALTER’S BOTTOM LINE: “In the end, the candidate who ‘wins’ the debate will be the one who is able to not only engage and energize the Republican base, but one who also looks like he/she is able to translate that success beyond the primary season and into the general election. Today, polls show that Gingrich is that guy. But, will he still be that guy on Sunday morning?” More from the political brain trust of Walter and Chalian in their debate night preview:



ABC’s Jake Tapper rounds up yesterday’s action on the presidential campaign trail in Iowa. WATCH:


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Don’t miss our ABC/Yahoo! special live debate coverage at and beginning at 8:45 pm ET. ABC’s Terry Moran anchors from Washington, DC and is joined by Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian from the spin room in Des Moines.

The Yahoo! News and ABC News team will once again join forces in live blogging the debate.  You can follow along and weigh in with your thoughts here:


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