Arizona to host GOP debate on Wednesday; WFP to cover

| February 20 2012
Hannah Thoreson

What may be the final GOP debate of this cycle will take place at the Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday at 6:00 PM.  The debate is being hosted by CNN in advance of the Arizona and Michigan primaries to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28.  Between 10 and 15 million viewers are expected to watch.

While normally the 26th debate in any given race would be of little interest, this particular debate is hugely important.  It could be the last debate heading into the ten Super Tuesday primaries.  Other debates have been cancelled after withdrawals from the candidates.

The candidates’ performances could also impact the next two primaries in a way that would be unexpected in a less volatile primary.  Former Senator Rick Santorum has surged in Michigan by emphasizing his blue collar roots and drawing a contrast with the Obama Administration on social issues.  It has generally been expected that Mitt Romney would carry the state very easily, as it is his home state and where his father made a fortune in the auto industry and served as governor.  A loss could be devastating to his campaign after the harsh rebukes in previous primaries where the media had labelled him as the frontrunner.

The AZGOP debate is also important to many at the local level.  Governor Jan Brewer was pivotal in bringing the debate to Arizona, and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith had aggressively sold Mesa as the ideal location to host a Republican debate.  The national media has booked hundreds of hotel rooms in the area to host their on location journalists and crews, and other spending is expected to be a boost to the local economy.

Tickets for the debate are no longer available, but Western Free Press will be on location providing coverage.

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