ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) The 10 Republicans who want to be president have taken the stage for their first debate in New Hampshire.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer opened the night with a given, asking each candidate for a brief introduction.
Just minutes in, the Fred Thompson effect is already being felt.
"My name is Thompson - Tommy. I'm the candidate, and not the actor," said the former governor of Wisconsin, alluding to Sen. Thompson, who is not on stage with the other candidates but whose moves toward entering the race have created a buzz.
Blitzer and other journalists will ask questions for the first hour, and then voters in the audience will address the hopefuls during the second half of the debate.
The stage on the campus of St. Anselm College is slightly more crowded than it was for Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, which featured eight contenders, but with two hours to go, there's plenty of room for conversation, competition and controversy.
–CNN.com writer Kristi Keck
Who is Thompson? Is he the Dr. Ron Paul wannabee? There's nothing like the real thing. The Champion of the U.S. Constitution! Why are the moderaters ignoring the Champion of the first two debates?
ONE MORE FOR THE GIPPER!!
I believe Fred Thompson is the right person to succeed in the White House. Among the candidates, his conservatism is the closest to Ronnie. Fred will bring all back with honor and dignity!
Like ronald reagan, fred thompson is a class "D" actor or worse and also like reagan he is lazy and would probabably fall asleep at the helm and let the reptilian repukelicans run the show which is probably why the repukelican hierarchy like him so much.
I predicted that Fred Thompson will be the Republican candidate before the Debates even started...he is the only choice that they can make to defeat a Dem in 08, especially Hillary. Unfortunately, the Prez election is about "feelings" not facts, and the GOP knows that most of America wants someone who they can "trust" in the Oval Office. Fred Thompson (not Tommy) has always been their candidate because the only "history" Thompson has with the American people is as the wise and tough DA on Law and Order. Which is why I am also predicting that there is a good chance the Dems will bring Al Gore out of retirement.
Fred Thompson = CFR He is not wanted.