The national television audience for tonight's GOP presidential debate may not be huge, but no one is dismissing its importance with the Iowa Caucus only a month away.
An increasing rivalry between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney is expected to garner the most attention, even though four other White House contenders will also be on the stage. This will be the first debate since Gingrich passed Romney to take a big leads in Republican polling in Iowa and New Hampshire. Gringrich has not had to participate rigorously in previous debates because he was trailing badly in polling, but things are expected to change in tonight's debate from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
This is also the first debate since Herman Cain dropped by the wayside a week ago, wallowing in charges that he had conducted an extramarital affair. Former Utah Gov. John Huntsman is not expected to to participate this evening.
The debate, to be televised by ABC, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Mountain Time