Republican Presidential Hopefuls Debate Twice This Weekend In New Hampshire

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a Republican Party candidate for president, from his website.

Debates on Saturday night and Sunday morning will highlight the disparate views of the top six Republican Party candidates for president. Below, we provide links to several on-line sources of information to examine the candidates and their sources of money, and to view some of their TV ads.


NEW HAMPSHIRE—The 2012 presidential primary season kicks into high gear with next week’s Granite State primary and, for those interested in watching the Republican Party hopefuls face off, there are two debates this weekend.

The first debate, which starts at nine p.m., is sponsored by ABC News and the Manchester, N.H.-based WMUR-TV. ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will pose questions; candidates Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Jon Huntsman will respond.

On Sunday, the same six candidates will appear in a 9 a.m. debate, sponsored by NBC News and Facebook, re-broadcast on NBC at 11 a.m. locally and live-streamed on Facebook. “Meet The Press” host David Gregory will moderate the event, and citizens are encouraged to submit questions online through NBC or Facebook. Good luck with that, though, since more than 3,000 people had already posted comments by Saturday afternoon on the Facebook link.

No candidates from the Green Party of the United States, the Libertarian Party, or other registered parties are invited to attend either debate.

Where To Go for Information and a Few Laughs

There are plenty of enlightening websites to help formulate your opinions about this field of Republican presidential candidates, one of whom will emerge to run on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

Former Mass. governor Mitt Romney, Republican Party front-runner for the presidential nomination, from his website.

Among places to go: the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee (and President Barack Obama’s own website).

At the website for “Mad Money: Tracking TV campaign ads in the 2012 presidential campaign,” you can view a few dozen of the most recent TV ads from all the remaining candidates for president, and see an analysis of television ad spending. The site, which features maps and graphs, states that $31.6 million has already been spent on TV ads, with $2.2 million from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2.

At “The 2012 Money Race, Compare the Candidates,” the New York Times tracks quarterly campaign finance reports by the candidates, and allows viewers to compare candidate fundraising. Through last September, President Obama had raised $99 million, as much as all the Republican candidates together, with Romney second with over $32 million. (The next reports are due to be filed with the Federal Election Commission at the end of January.)

The impact of “super PACs” (political action committees) in the race so far is hard to track, since outside sources of funds from these groups are not fully reported. But The Center for Public Integrity’s “i Watch News” team reports that corporations and wealthy individuals in these early contests spent more than $13 million on advertising, direct mail and other expenditures so far.

OpenSecrets.com,  from the Center for Responsive Politics, is another great source of information about money in politics. It tracks campaign spending, personal finances and contributions for all presidential candidates, and for elected officials at every level.

On the C-SPAN website there is a video library of presidential candidate coverage, from town hall speeches to sit-down interviews. The site also gives short bios and provides taped interviews or appearances on C-SPAN going back several years. The amount of material is quite impressive.

President Barack Obama's website.

And don’t forget Comedy Central’s coverage of the Republican Party’s race for president, “Indecision 2012.” Some of the most irreverent analysis of the race anywhere comes from John Stewart on “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Report,” both of which poke edgy fun at the Republican candidates. (Try Google-ing “Santorum.”) In one clip, Stewart compares the current field of Republican candidates to a box of chocolates.

If Massachusetts voters are lucky, this Republican battle for the White House will still be worth watching by the time our state’s presidential primary is held on March 6, “Super Tuesday.” (For a calendar of all 50 state presidential primaries, click here.)

Until then, all those TV ads will be running in other media markets, which is a blessing in disguise. That will change after the Aug. 27-30 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 3-6. After that, it will be mano-a-mano, with President Obama facing off against . . . someone.

© 2011 Northampton Media

David Reid can be reached at dreid@northamptonmedia.com


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