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In this Jan. 9, 2020, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks with attendees after a campaign event in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Booker has dropped out of the presidential race after failing to qualify for the December primary debate. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Sometimes, I wish sports announcers could be the voice of the political realm, if for no reason other than the emotion they would bring.

Think of Howard Cosell, the all-time, know-it-all-wizard announcer who made "Monday Night Football" the ground-breaking, must-watch program it became in the 1970s.

"Welcome, folks, to the first and all-important Democratic presidential candidate debate of this, the year 2020 of our Lord and, the first step toward grabbing the baton for an entire party in the tireless trek of battling the incumbent, Donald J. Trump for the only title above the heavyweight champ — but the leader of the free world."

Or think if Keith Jackson, the college legend, was describing the acton tonight as six Democratic contenders take the stage.

"Hold the phone, have we got a good one for you tonight. It's going to be a match-up of the 'Big Uglies,' and you never know how that will turn out. You got the favorites, you got the underdogs. You have a chance to see something special — whoa Nelly, this could be the Granddaddy of 'em all."

Or even Brent Musberger, who traded his Hall of Fame microphone for a slide rule and the point spreads of Vegas.

"You are looking live, in Iowa folks, as four hard-charging wannabes try to knock-off their contenders. There's the big-fella, Big Bernie Sanders, who many believe is in a foot race with Liz Warren."

Of course, all of them would have to update the status of Cory Booker, who was ruled out Monday afternoon. Was I the only one who thought, 'Man, no Cory Booker — That's really going to hurt the Titans receivers against Kansas City on Sunday. Oh, wait, that's Corey Davis. Nevermind."

Side note: Man, you have to be a special kind of frivolous with other people's money when you are Cory Booker or any number of the left-by-the-side-of-the-road candidates who spent millions of dollars for thousands of supports. That said, according to open secrets.org, Booker's campaign raised more than $19.3 million and spent a smidge more than $14.1 million, which means his campaign still has $5.19 million on hand. Cue Keith Jackson, "Whoa, Nelly."

As for tonight, the first point to remember is that CNN will co-host the event, which means every question will be followed with the network's mandatory follow-up phrase.

You know, "So Candidate X, how do you feel about issue Y" with the CNN call sign of, "and how is Donald Trump to blame?"

The six folks who step to the mic tonight will have to decide whether to wade into the Cosell-loved "Tell it like it is" or the party-emphasized "Tell it like we want to spin it."

The most interesting angle of tonight's debate among Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer as well as Sanders and Warren will be the angle of attack.

Do they go after the heavyweights and direct questions and accusations to the socialistic shortcomings of front-runners Bernie and Liz? Do they try to batter Joe or Pete? Do they lob stones at the biggest threat not on the stage? (That would be Mike Bloomberg, who has to be growing close to Beetlejuice or Voldemort — don't mention his name — for the Sluggish Six tonight in Iowa. While we're here, Bloomberg's commercials about not taking any money from special interest groups over the weekend greatly appeal to me as a voter. Say what you want about left or right, red or blue, the thought of candidates unbeholden to special interest groups appeals to me. Again, "Whoa, Nelly.")

Here's betting the impeachment comes up. As will Iran.

As they should, being national news and all.

But, as we move closer to Iowa, the Democrats should be looking for which of the six on the stage could mount a winnable campaign against the president. And that may be the biggest question in front of this group.

That, or will the Titans really miss Cory Booker.

"We're looking live indeed — "

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Jay Greeson

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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