LIVE Open Thread and South Carolina Debate Preview

Katie Pavlich

1/19/2012 7:00:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

It's fight night for the second time this week in South Carolina and you can bet the gloves are coming off with the primary in the Palmetto State just two days away. We're down to the final four in the race for the GOP nomination. Here is a preview of tonight's debaters:

Gingrich: Newt Gingrich has been on a roller coaster ride this week. Yesterday he was gaining in the polls, nearly reaching frontrunner Mitt Romney, but with Newt's ex-wife Marianne re-hashing old wounds of infidelity, revealing today Newt asked her for an "open marriage," the few evangelical votes he was hoping to reap from Perry's exit and endorsement, may actually end up going to Rick Santorum or even Mitt Romney. He'll be sure to go after the media should questions about Marianne's most recent comments come up tonight. Regardless, despite his record and personal history, Newt is a professional debater. He proved that earlier in the week during the Fox News Myrtle Beach debate when he stole the show by speaking candidly about Obama being a food stamp president and the reality of poverty in America.

Romney: Mitt Romney needs to do well tonight. If he wins South Carolina on Saturday, clinching the GOP nomination for him is pretty much a done deal, especially since he is leading in the polls in Florida. The issue of releasing his tax returns is sure to come up again tonight and I'm sure debate moderators will push for a more clear answer on whether he actually will release them. There is no doubt he'll also be asked about accusations that he parks his investments in the Cayman Islands in order to avoid high tax rates in American.

Santorum: If CNN moderators decide to ask about faith, family and socially conservative values tonight, Rick Santorum has a real chance to shine with value votes up for grabs. Hopefully he'll focus his answers around promoting the private sector, rather than citing a piece of legislation or government program as a solution to a problem. If questions about entitlement spending are asked, Santorum is going to have to explain what he said on Monday, which was that Social Security payments should be used to pay down the national debt.

Paul: Ron Paul as usual will do well on economic topics, his belief in a 0 percent income tax was popular in Monday's debate however, I'm hoping he will give more coherent answers when it comes to foreign policy and avoid defending the Taliban tonight.

Key topics to look for: Keystone pipeline, clean energy, jobs and economy, immigration, collective bargaining rights, tax reform, value voters

Topics that would be nice to hear about: Operation Fast and Furious, gun control, youth voters/issues, Barack Obama and his failed policies

We'll be live Tweeting the debate below. We encourage you to join in on the conversation in the comment section. Be sure to check back on the Tipsheet after the debate for analysis by Kevin Glass.