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Debate Preview: Mike's Moment

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Tonight's YouTube Republican debate is a must-win for Mike Huckabee.

The former Arkansas governor is now the front-runner in Iowa, beating Mitt 28-to-25 percent in the latest Rasmussen poll. The heat's going to be coming his way tonight and he's got both the opportunity and the obligation to show he's got the stuff front-runners are made of.

I reckon he'll do well tonight. He's always funny in these debates, and dishes one-liners with the kind of aplomb that gets them picked up by the nightly news, the Daily Show, and the blogosphere alike.

And he damn well better ride that free media for all its worth: Huckabee's shoe-string campaign can't make a huge paid TV splash. And don't think for a second Mitt's not going to Willie Horton-ize the former Arkansas governor over that unfortunate parolee in an ad any day now.

Tonight's challenge for Huckabee is simply to keep doing what got him here. Be the funniest, sharpest, warmest, most self-assured guy on stage. In this field of RuPaul McRompson, Huckabee's the only guy with nothing to apologize for to the base. And the built-in off-kilterness of this YouTube encounter gives him an opportunity to shine.

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