ABC News Democratic & Republican Debates Tonight

That’s correct, there are 2, count ’em 2 debates tonight (1/5/08), both broadcast nationally on ABC from Manchester, New Hampshire at St. Anselm College.

Here is the deal on how things will go down tonight straight from the source, Saint Anselm College:

Saint Anselm College will host the final presidential primary debates before the New Hampshire primary, Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., college president, has announced. On Saturday, January 5, ABC News, WMUR-TV, and the social networking site, Facebook, will stage back-to-back Democratic and Republican debates at the Dana Center. The nationally televised program will start at 7 p.m., with each debate running for 90 minutes. The Republicans will debate first, followed by the Democrats.

So to sum up, here’s the schedule:

7pm – Republicans – Entire Video

9pm – Democrats

Both on your local ABC station, they will be 90 minutes each.

As always, we’ll have analysis and complete video of each debate once they air.

Update

Neither Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, nor Duncan Hunter will be participating tonight, story from MyWay:

NEW YORK (AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich filed a complaint with the FCC on Friday after ABC News excluded him, fellow Democrat Mike Gravel and Republican Duncan Hunter from its prime-time debates on Saturday.

Kucinich argued that ABC is violating equal-time provisions by keeping him out of the debate and noted that ABC’s parent Walt Disney Co. had contributed to campaigns involving the four Democrats who were invited.

“ABC should not be the first primary,” the Ohio congressman said in papers filed at the Federal Communications Commission.

ABC said the candidates left out of the debates failed to meet benchmarks for their support that were outlined to each campaign prior to the Iowa caucus. Kucinich did not complain about these rules ahead of time, said spokeswoman Cathie Levine, who had no further comment since she hasn’t seen the FCC filing.

Those exclusions are understandable. The line has to be drawn somewhere and all 3 of them have been participating in debates up to this point. However, they placed nowhere in Iowa and the polls have them nowhere in New Hampshire. This is probably the same old nonsense every election cycle, someone gets excluded from the debates but the fact of the matter is, all three candidates have had ample time but their message isn’t resonating with any reasonable amount of voters. Therefore, it’s better to let the people who actually have a chance of winning get more time to speak.

Kucinich was entertaining though, sort of like Ron Paul is at the Republican debates. Perhaps his friends can help him out.

Update @ 2:28pm

So here’s what I’ll be watching for tonight.

For the Dems, whether Hillary Clinton is finally going to call out Obama during the debate by name on some issues and whether Obama actually responds in kind. Up to this point, except for the minor dust up during the Des Moines Register debate in which Obama shined, there have been few times when Clinton has actually called him out on experience or issues. There has been the sense that it’s better to remain positive than to actually go negative on an opponent.

On the GOP side, it will be interesting to see if Romney goes all out on McCain, and Huckabee for that matter. If McCain continues to shine in tonight’s debate, and Sunday’s Fox News debate, as he has thus far, he will go on to win New Hampshire leaving Romney with yet another 2nd place finish.

Another thing to watch will be whether Huckabee plays lighter on the tax reform side considering New Hampshire is an extremely low-tax state. In fact, Huckabee’s adviser even mentioned this fact.

Later I will start a separate post for each debate and try to provide as much analysis and coverage as humanly possible. Cramming 2 debates in one night is rough.

Here’s a story from ABC News on the events tonight:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ten presidential candidates (six Republicans, four Democrats) will pull up swiveling chairs and take to the very same debate stage Saturday night in Manchester for two of those encounters on the presidential calendar that merit circling in bright red (and blue) magic marker.

ABC’s Charles Gibson has a bit of a different format in mind for the evening than we’ve seen in previous encounters — more genial than gotcha, like a very chatty (and very well-lit) kitchen table. But the candidates will surely provide the fireworks: In this excruciatingly brief window between Iowa and New Hampshire, subtly just doesn’t work.

he dynamics would be different even if the format was the same: We have the time crunch, of course, but we also have new frontrunners: “Barack Obama enters Saturday’s Democratic debate as the undisputed front-runner with a bull’s-eye on his back — and a humbled and hobbled Hillary Clinton itching to open fire,” writes the New York Daily News troika of Michael McAuliff, Ken Bazinet, and Michael Saul.

They’re touting the whole “table” format instead of individual podiums. Perhaps it will elicit more passion in their arguments.

We’ll see starting tonight at 7pm for the GOP and 9pm for the Democrats.