Tonight’s Debate: The Big One?

Romney needs to be prepared to be confronted with a video of him that is making the rounds on the Internet. It is from 2002, and shows him saying that his “views are progressive.” Gingrich may also bring up Romney’s admission that he was wrong to oppose the original Contract with America. Gingrich may use that position to claim that he ran to the left of Ted Kennedy during his race for the Senate.

Ron Paul is now a major threat to those on stage, and tonight’s debate should reflect that. There is a distinct possibility of him winning Iowa. The latest PPP poll has him virtually tied with Gingrich for first. In New Hampshire, he is only about three points behind Gingrich for second place in New Hampshire. Suddenly, Ron Paul has become Romney’s best friend, which explains why Romney chose him when asked which candidate he has learned from. Gingrich is bidding for Paul’s supporters by emphasizing their commonalities and by adopting his positions on auditing the Federal Reserve and reestablishing the gold standard.

Expect some major tussling between Perry, Bachmann, and Santorum tonight. Of course, all three will target Gingrich, as they gain from his loss. A recent survey determined that Gingrich, unlike Romney, is “highly vulnerable to attack” and his support is soft. As previously stated, it is imperative for each of these three that they take the third or fourth spot in Iowa. Those who don’t will probably drop out. And it’s very unclear who is winning among the three. The latest InsiderAdvantage poll has Perry in third (13%), Bachmann in fifth (10%) and Santorum in sixth (7%). PPP has Bachmann in fourth (11%), Perry in fifth (9%) and Santorum in sixth (3%).

It looks like Santorum’s number one target will be Bachmann. He is repeatedly emphasizing that he won fights in Congress, whereas she has lost. He points out that she has only served four years in the House and argues that he’s more electable: “Michele represents one of the most Republican districts in the state of Minnesota. She’s had a tough time winning those districts every time. It’s not like she’s ever had any record of success of attracting the kind of voters we need if we’re going to win this,” he recently said.

Jon Huntsman will probably focus most of his fire on Romney and possibly Paul, as those three are competing for independents and moderates in New Hampshire. He can count on the others to bring down Gingrich. He’s taken a more negative turn lately, claiming that Romney and Gingrich are no better than Obama.

The media tonight is focusing on what will happen between Gingrich and Romney, but both will survive Iowa. The real fight will be between Perry, Bachmann, and Santorum.