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GOP debates strike the Granite State as race heads to first primary




Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) debates with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) (C) listens during the NBC News Facebook Debate on 'Meet the Press' January 8, 2012 at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire.
Republican presidential candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) debates with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R) as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) (C) listens during the NBC News Facebook Debate on 'Meet the Press' January 8, 2012 at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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The Republican field was dramatically altered by the impact of the Iowa caucus. Michelle Bachmann dropped out, Rick Perry decided to hang in despite his poor showing and Rick Santorum surged. But Mitt Romney remained the man to beat.

Over the weekend, Romney faced-off in two pivotal debates, along with rivals, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry. Gingrich, Santorum and Perry all vied to consolidate conservative support and emerge as the top alternative to the mild-mannered front-runner.

Now, the race heads to the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, where independent voters may hold the key. In New Hampshire’s primary, independents – who make up more than 40% of the local electorate – can vote, so this may be the best test yet of electability in the general election. We’ll look at how the GOP presidential hopefuls fared in the weekend debates and the likely impact on the New Hampshire primary.

Guests:

Jonathan Wilcox, Republican Strategist; former speech writer for Governor Pete Wilson

Matt Rodriguez, Democratic strategist; former senior Obama advisor in 2008, who now runs the Los Angeles office for the Dewey Square Group