Tonight is the first debate after for­mer House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s dozen-​​point win over for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney in South Car­olina. This debate, hosted by MSNBC, NBC News, National Jour­nal, Tampa Bay Times, and the Florida Coun­cil of 100, will be held at the Uni­ver­sity of South Florida in Tampa. It will be broad­cast on NBC start­ing at 9:00PM EST (6:00PM PST).

Despite ear­lier state­ments from Mitt Rom­ney, he will be in atten­dance. We still have four can­di­dates, but only two of them have a rea­son­able chance of win­ning Florida.

But, on the other hand, I have five fingers.”


For­mer House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Gin­grich has pulled into the lead in the lat­est Florida polls. And he’s found his debate rhythm. We should expect him to be his usual Newty self, but will that help him keep his lead?

I have five fin­gers too, see? One, two three four…”


For­mer Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­er­nor Mitt Romney

Now that his inevitabil­ity is not so inevitable, what will Rom­ney do tonight to come out fight­ing? Or has he writ­ten Florida off already?

Who cares about fin­gers? It’s just a dis­trac­tion from the real issues.”


Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ron Paul (R-​​Lake Jack­son, TX)

Now that Gin­grich has snatched defeat from the jaws of Romney’s vic­tory, Ron Paul has a chance to step in and work a bro­kered con­ven­tion. What might he do tonight to help that cause?

Look for your­self. I have fin­gers, too!”

For­mer Sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum (R-​​PA)

San­to­rum also has lit­tle hope beyond a bro­kered con­ven­tion. For­tu­nately for him, he has the bless­ing of the evan­ge­lis­tic reli­gious lead­ers. Pre­sum­ably, that means he really has to appeal to them, rather than to Florida vot­ers, if he wants to stand a chance at a bro­kered convention.

So what do you expect tonight? And what should be tonight’s drink­ing phrases?