Michele Bachmann is the Republican to beat among the eight candidates who will appear on an Iowa stage for tonight’s nationally televised debate, according to campaign strategists and Iowa politics watchers.
Tim Pawlenty has the most to lose, while Mitt Romney just needs to cruise through without a mistake, they said.
Just 36 hours after the debate, Iowans start to vote at the Iowa straw poll, where success hinges on self-motivated voters either hopping on a campaign bus at the crack of dawn or driving themselves across the state to Ames.
“It puts so much pressure on these candidates to perform well,” said Chuck Laudner, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “A bad performance has the real chance of sinking their straw poll numbers.”
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