Tonight's Ames Debate: What to Watch For
Bachmann, Romney, Pawlenty, et al fight for the No. 1 slot
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2011 7:10 AM CDT
A scene from the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

(Newser) – There's plenty riding on Saturday's Ames Straw Poll, but have patience: The Ames debate comes first, and there's more than a little bit riding on that, too. Politico notes that while it's not the most important debate of the campaign, it is one that is likely to have reverberations. Politico lays out eight things to watch for in tonight's 9pm EST meeting of eight candidates:

  • Who will attack Romney first? He's not competing in the straw poll, but he's leading the pack. But don't just watch for "who"—"how" matters, too. Will they do it after a panelist nudges them in that direction, or unprompted?

  • How often does Rick Perry's name come up? He's about to become a major player in the race, and while Politico notes the debaters probably won't want to bring him up, the panelists probably won't be able not to.
  • Can Bachmann wow once again? She was the star of June's New Hampshire debate, and she needs to prove that it wasn't a lucky break. Things to watch for: How she deals with criticism from Pawlenty, and how she handles inevitable questions about those migraines.
  • Will Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich register? Both have been abandoned by staff and suffered recent flaps (Cain on Muslims, Gingrich and Tiffany's). Can they recover?
Click for four more things to watch for.