Coming Soon, an End to Debate Season in Iowa
DES MOINES -- Iowa voters will get their final chance to see the Republican candidates side by side when they debate this afternoon for the final time before the Jan. 3 caucus kicks off the 2008 presidential voting. The debate will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern time and will be carried by the major cable news networks and C-SPAN.
Attention will be riveted on the two former governors who have emerged as top rivals in the state. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has seized the lead here from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has built his presidential campaign on the idea that he will win Iowa and New Hampshire.
That strategy is now in trouble. Recent polls show Huckabee surging into a wide lead. But that newfound success is attracting much harsher scrutiny for Huckabee from his rivals and from the media, who have begun exploring his gubernatorial record and his past statements about religion, homosexuality and other topics.
Romney on Monday launched his first negative ad, contrasting his own position on immigration with Huckabees. In the ad, which is running only in Iowa, Romney attacks Huckabee for supporting in-state tuition and scholarships for illegal immigrants. Observers say they expect Romney to hammer that theme at the debate.
The debate is being sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television and will be moderated by Carolyn Washburn, the editor of the Register. In addition to Huckabee and Romney, the debate will include: Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and former ambassador Alan Keyes.
A Democratic debate will be held in Iowa on Thursday.
--Michael D. Shear
Web Politics Editor
December 12, 2007; 11:32 AM ET
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