Tonight's debate is especially important for each candidate as it could shape the next portion of the race, including Super Tuesday. It's the last debate before that delegate deluge. For Mitt Romney, it's his chance to re-emerge in Arizona and Michigan. If he loses in Michigan, by many accounts, the establishment will bail on him. That sounds like mission critical stuff if it is true. For Rick Santorum, attacks have been dredged, or Drudged up against him that makes this debate important for him to establish his credibility and electability. And for Newt Gingrich, this may be his last chance to mount a last surge with a strong, positive debate performance. For Ron Paul - this may be a rare chance to come across better on foreign relations, which is where he most lacks credibility with the Republican mainstream.
The debate may have higher ratings than previous debates I suspect, because of partisan interest and because with growing news coverage of the Republican contests, more people will be tuning in for the first time. That makes this debate all the more critical. Sadly, given the high expectations and the pressure to perform, I suspect 2 if not 3 of the contenders to falter. Ron Paul, with the least pressure to exceed expectations, has the best chance of performing well, depending on the lines of questioning. We shall see. It should be lively.