Phil, maybe the NH Union Leader was reading AmSpec Blog ? Seriously, Fred’s chances of competing successfully in New Hamsphire or Iowa at this point seem limited given the huge head starts his rivals have in organization and time on the ground. Still with the expectations game and concerns whether he has appeal outside the South, can he skip them or make a perfunctory effort while pinning his hopes on Michigan (likely January 15) or South Carolina ( January 19)? All that said, as you suggest, it is far worse both in NH and nationally for him to show up at the debate and do poorly than to miss it and have to deal with fallout in one state with miffed voters. After all, George W. Bush got bashed for skipping Dartmouth’s 1999 debate and lost NH but went on to win the nomination.