Given South Carolina’s social conservatism and Rudy Giuliani’s struggle in the last debate over abortion, you can expect that to be a significant focus of the debate tonight, or, at least, the press’s handling of it.
Today in South Carolina, the State Senate will be voting on an ultrasound bill that I have discussed previously. I suspect that this issue has been pushed at this time to foreground abortion as an issue.This is going to create several pressures on candidates in the debate.
First, Rudy Giuliani will need to express a position that is clear. I think that he settled on that last week, but he has to take it "live" tonight. With clarity, I suspect that he will do fine.
Second, Mitt Romney is in a position to trip over the ultrasound issue. His last public statement on the bill was almost identical with Giuliani’s. Obviously, this is a salient issue for South Carolina pro-lifers, and it could be the next big pro-life issue nationwide. (imagine this getting pushed in state legislatures around the country) Sharing a position on a "live" issue on abortion with Rudy Giuliani is hardly a good place for a "pro-life champion."
John McCain and most of the second tier candidates probably won’t struggle too much with the abortion issue, as such.
It would be interesting to see a new question about "conservative Christians" like there was in the last debate. Obviously, South Carolina is the place to do it.
I will be live-blogging the debate again.