Tonight may be the last of the Republican presidential primary debates as Santorum, Romney and Paul declined to appear at the March 1st Georgia debate and MSNBC has cancelled its March 5th event.
Santorum has been riding a huge swell of support and funding after his three state sweep almost two weeks ago. The former Senator is still leading Romney in his “home state” of Michigan and Gingrich in his home state of Georgia. With the media pulling out religious comments from 2008 at a religious school and references to Obama’s theology, tonight’s debate may see whether Santorum can stand behind his words and explain to voters what they mean.
Mitt Romney’ support has been steadily fading since his win in New Hampshire. National polls as well as state polls in Ohio, Michigan and Oklahoma are showing the previous front-runner lagging behind Santorum while holding a lead in Arizona. While Romney does fine in debates, he has rarely been considered the winner due to his “just don’t screw up” debate style.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has been struggling to stay in the fight. Tonight viewers are likely to see Newt being Newt as Santorum and Romney trade barbs. Another great debate performance is likely to give Newt a slight bounce.
Ron Paul has been out of the news since the last set of primaries in the mid-west. He is the only remaining candidate that has failed to win a single primary or caucus and is lagging badly in the delegate count. His debate performances have rarely given him any appreciable bounce in polls and much the same can be expected from this event in Arizona.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Republican presidential hopefuls will face-off for the final debate before a dozen states take to the polls on Super Tuesday. CNN anchor and chief national correspondent John King will moderate the two-hour debate, which will air live from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET from the Mesa Performing Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona.
King, Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett will anchor their respective programs live from Mesa on the days surrounding the CNN debate. Anderson Cooper will anchor special, post-debate coverage.
National political correspondent Jim Acosta, senior political correspondent Joe Johns and CNN Radio’s Lisa Desjardins will report from Arizona. In addition, chief political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political analyst David Gergen and CNN political contributors John Avlon, Donna Brazile, Erick Erickson, James Carville and Ari Fleischer will be on site in Arizona to provide insight and analysis across all programming. On the campaign trail covering the candidates leading up to the Arizona and Michigan primaries are reporter-at-large Peter Hamby, political reporter Shannon Travis, and political producers Rachel Streitfeld and Shawna Shepherd.
Where to watch
Internet: Live Stream on CNN or On this page once made available.
Expected twitter tag: #CNNDebate or #AZDebate