First N.H. GOP Debate: Spotlight On Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman Smart To Skip

Tonight’s (6/13/11) Republican presidential debate will air at 8:00 PM ET On CNN.

Without question, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the most to lose tonight in New Hampshire. As the GOP presidential frontrunner (and someone who has polled, at times, ahead of President Obama), Mr. Romney will face six other GOP hopefuls who will be looking to knock him off track so they can squeeze past him.

If Mr. Romney wants to win the nomination, he will need to ignore these jabs from his Republican competitors and keep the conversation confined to President Obama’s executive record. Engaging in a heated back-and-forth with the rest of the field could get Mr. Romney dinged with New Hampshire voters and upset his plan to win big in the Granite State and quickly winnow the field of challengers.

Jon Huntsman’s decision to skip tonight’s debate is smart, for now. Huntsman has a narrow path to the nomination, and he is wise not enter the Republican fray until he has his cards lined up and can jump in as a top-tier candidate (the pack of long-shots is getting a bit crowded lately). In fact, Huntsman should be happy that Romney is the current frontrunner, because it appears that Huntsman’s most compelling argument to win the nomination is: “I am Mitt Romney, only better.”

Read more from Ford O’Connell at Politico‘s Arena

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