Republicans gather for the 18th debate of the nominating battle tonight in Tampa, Florida. Below, three key questions about tonight’s sure-to-be-nasty faceoff, which airs tonight from 9-11 p.m. Eastern Time ahead of the Sunshine State’s January 31 primary:
1. Can Mitt Romney create a YouTube moment? Exit polls showed that Newt Gingrich’s victory in the South Carolina primary was driven in large part by voters won over by his performance in two debates last week. Gingrich had two memorable moments in the debates – both involving sparring with the debate moderators – that went viral among conservatives and earned him standing ovations.
Even when he was earning rave reviews in the early debates, Romney wasn’t creating those kinds of moments – the ones that the voters who don’t actually watch the full debate end up seeing via blogs and social media. If he can find a way to create one tonight, he could potentially both stop Gingrich’s post-South Carolina momentum and rebut Gingrich’s claims that only Gingrich has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with President Obama on the debate stage.
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Florida Republican debate: Where and when to watch – Election 2012
Where can I watch the debate?
Who is participating?
Who will moderate the debate?
Rock Center host Brian Williams will host his second debate of the 2012 cycle. National Journal’s Beth Reinhard and the Tampa Bay Times’s Adam Smith will also question the participants.
What is the official hashtag?
@NBCPolitics is using #FLDebate on Twitter.