The first major Repub­li­can Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign debate for 2012 to include front-​​runner and for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney will be tele­vised tonight from St. Anselm Col­lege in Man­ches­ter, New Hamp­shire, at 8 pm EDT/​5 pm PDT.

This post is “live” two hours before the debate begins, so if you see it before the start time, come here to post up your pre­dic­tions, make side bets, or taunt (gen­tly!) the oppo­si­tion. As the debate unfolds, pop in here to make snarky com­ments, tell us who you’re really lik­ing, or taunt (gen­tly!) the opposition.

One con­tro­ver­sial aspect is that Sen. Ron John­son, Audio Con­sul­tant, was dis-​​invited to par­tic­i­pate. He and both his sup­port­ers are really angry.

For­mer Gov. and Ambas­sador to China Jon Hunts­man has declined to participate.

For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich will try to put a brave face on after return­ing from a Greek cruise with increas­ingly expen­sive wife Cal­lista only to find his cam­paign staff decamped.

Par­tic­i­pants will include Rom­ney, for­mer Gov. Tim Paw­lenty, Rep. Ron Paul, Her­man Cain, for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum, Rep. Michele Bach­mann and Gin­grich. The debate is spon­sored by CNN, WMUR and the Man­ches­ter (New Hamp­shire) Union Leader. CNN polit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent John King will mod­er­ate. His wife, Dana Bash, will not likely ask ques­tions about Weiners.