Jonathan Garthwaite

Millions of campaign dollars are already flowing in and out of campaigns. The candidates are on the road and maneuvering for endorsements and press coverage. Dozens of mainstream media polls are already anointing front-runners and also-rans, but the real campaign doesn’t get going until the candidates look each other eye to eye and face off in a debate.

“Romney is in.” That’s the word I got late last night as the Democrats were warming up their rhetorical muscles and I sat down to watch their debate -- a 90 minute episode of “Attack the President.” Eight “war-is-lost” Democrats on one stage, more a train wreck of defeatism than must see TV.

The Republicans will get a chance with our planned Salem Radio and Townhall.com debate. It is expected to be Florida's first nationally broadcast presidential debate – and Mitt Romney is in.

Romney is the first candidate to commit to the debate. He and his campaign understand that the road to the nomination goes through the conservative base of freedom loving, family-oriented Americans. The Salem Radio Network and Townhall.com reach millions of these voters each week.

Florida -- with its 27 electoral votes is a must-have state for any Republican candidate trying to win the presidency. And in 2008 it is going to be even more pivotal. The state is moving up its primary election date to January 29 making it the first big state primary of the year and victory will give the winning candidate momentum going into Super Tuesday.

The listeners of conservative talk radio will play a pivotal role in selecting the Republican nominee. Before the internet, talk radio was the only medium for conservative voices to be heard. Townhall.com has combined with talk radio to create a platform for conservative leaders and grassroots activists alike to make their voice heard on the important issues of our day. And that is what our planned debate would be about.

Following the debate, listeners and viewers will vote for their candidate of choice on Townhall.com in the most significant straw poll thus far in the campaign. Online readers will also have the opportunity to connect with their favorite candidate to volunteer and help raise money.

Townhall.com, part of the Salem Web Network, is the largest conservative opinion, news and community site with nearly 2 million unique readers each month. With commentary from more than 200 of the nation's best known conservative writers, over 120 leading conservative organizations, over 3,600 grassroots blogs and the talk radio talent of Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, and Hugh Hewitt, Townhall.com is the center of the conservative world online.


Jonathan Garthwaite

Jonathan Garthwaite is General Manager of Townhall.com/HotAir.com