Get ready for Round 2.
After what was arguably the best debate of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination Saturday night, the candidates will tee it up again in Iowa Dec. 15.
Although it may be remembered for Mitt Romney’s “bet,” with Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann’s “NewtRomney” taunt and , Newt Gingrich’s career politician comment about Romney, there was a lot of substance in the debate as the candidates mixed it up on economic issues, fidelity and foreign policy issues.
It won’t get any easier for them Thursday when Jon Huntsman joins the debating society. It will be the former Utah governor’s second venture into Iowa. He debated Aug. 11 in Ames ahead of the Iowa GOP Straw Poll.
Huntsman was excluded from the debate Saturday because he didn’t meet the requirement that a candidate must be polling at least 5 percent in Iowa.
Although he’s doing better than that in New Hampshire – 8 percent, Hunstman is polling just 2 percent nationally, according to the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll.
The debate raised the bar for the Fox News/Republican Party of Iowa debate Dec. 15 at the Sioux City Convention Center. On a football-free Saturday night, the debate attracted 7.57 million viewers, more than any of the previous gazillion debates among the Republican hopefuls. And, according to Public Policy Polling, 50 percent of likely voters in Iowa claimed to have watched the debate.
Who’s ahead: We’ll find out just who the Iowa caucusgoers are taking seriously when the UI’s Hawkeye Poll is released this morning.
In October, the Hawkeye Poll found Herman Cain and Romney were the frontrunners with 37 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
However, since then, Cain suspended his campaign after repeated allegations of sexual harassment and a 13-year extra-marital affair, Romney has ramped up his campaign in Iowa and Gingrich has started to catch fire.
Four years ago, it was the Hawkeye Poll that first saw Barack Obama moving closer to then-leader Hillary Clinton among Democratic caucus-goers, and to indicate Mike Huckabee was finding support among Republicans. Obama and Huckabee would go on to win the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus in January 2008.
The Hawkeye Poll results will be announced at a news conference at 9 a.m. at the National Press Club’s Zenger Room in Washington, D.C.
I’ll be talking about the poll results about 11:25 a.m. on KCRG-TV 9’s Midday.
On the calendar:
Rick Santorum, noon, Principal Group, Des Moines; 3 p.m., Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Thomas Commons, Hedges Conference Room; 6:30 p.m., Linn County Republican Christmas Party, Longbranch Hotel and Convention Center, 90 Twixt Town Rd., Cedar Rapids
Rick Santorum, town hall, Lincoln Café, Belle Plaine; 1:30 p.m., meet with employees at VGM & Associates, Waterloo; 4 p.m., town hall, Fireside Pub, Manchester; 6:30 p.m., National Contract Management Association, Campbell Steele Gallery, 1064 7th Ave., Marion
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