Tonight’s debate, for all intents and purposes, should be considered the start of the regular season for the 2008 campaign. Now that the summer is over, voters in early states will begin to pay more attention, and so what more fitting way to start things off than a debate in New Hampshire? Fred Thompson, in this context, should be viewed as a preseason contract hold-out who misses the Opening Day. He’s at a disadvantage because he hasn’t spent months honing his message, working out kinks, and building his organization. There are plenty of stars who miss the training camp and the start of the season and still are able to scrape off the rust and turn out great seasons, and Thompson is no exception. So, we shall see.
As for the participants in the debate, I’ll be looking to see if Rudy and Romney mix it up on immigration in each others presence. In the past, Romney has criticized McCain and Rudy in interviews, speeches, or through surrogates, but backed off when given the oppourtunity to criticize them directly in the debates. I’ll be blogging he debate live (though not giving a blow by blow of each question in rough transcript form).