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What to expect today in Ames

AMES, Iowa -- Tune into MSNBC for all-day live coverage, including two, two-hour specials hosted from here by NBC's Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell. Andrea Mitchell Reports airs from 4:00 pm ET to 6:00 pm ET, followed by Chuck Todd from 6:00 pm ET to 8:00 pm ET.

Expect straw-poll results after 5:00 pm ET, when voting closes. Speeches start around 1:00 pm ET. Below is a rundown of the schedule, according the Iowa Republican Party, which is hosting the event which doubles as a fundraiser for the party. Below that, our preview of the expectations for Ames from First Thoughts yesterday, as well as the list of guests for the two MSNBC specials.

Iowa Straw Poll Speaking Schedule:
Noon/1:00pET- Program Begins
12:15/1:15pET- Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn delivers remarks
12:20/1:20pET- Governor Terry Branstad delivers remarks
12:30/1:30pET- Chairman Strawn welcomes all candidates on stage (press shot)
12:40/1:40pET- Senator Rick Santorum delivers remarks
1:00/2:00pET- Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds delivers remarks
1:15/2:15pET- Congressman Ron Paul delivers remarks
1:40/2:40pET- Congressman Steve King delivers remarks
1:50/2:50pET- Governor Tim Pawlenty delivers remarks
2:10/3:10pET- Senator Chuck Grassley delivers remarks
2:20/3:20pET- Congresswoman Michele Bachmann delivers remarks
2:40/3:40pET- Congressman Tom Latham delivers remarks
2:50/3:50pET- Congressman Thaddeus McCotter delivers remarks
3:15/4:15pET- Herman Cain delivers remarks

*** The expectations game for Saturday’s straw poll: And now we move from last night’s debate to Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll. Here’s what we wrote when we handicapped the straw poll last week. One, Pawlenty needs a strong showing -- it’s hard to envision him winning the GOP nomination without finishing first or a very strong second on Saturday. Two, if Pawlenty has a lot riding on Ames, so does Bachmann, who’s looking to keep her front-runner status in the Hawkeye State, particularly with Perry now entering the field, too. Three, don’t overlook Romney; even though he’s not making a major play in Ames (in fact, he’s in New Hampshire today), he’s had the ability to pull off strong straw poll showings in past. And four, don’t forget about Ron Paul, who expects to finish no worse than third (Herman Cain also has said he’s expecting a top-three showing). Every major unaffiliated veteran Iowa Republican strategist believes Bachmann, Pawlenty, and Paul will be the top 3, just unclear of order. The chatter we hear out here goes like this: Bachmann's organization may be too Des Moines-centric; Pawlenty has the best organization, but there's been little passion on the trail and he's struggled to get folks to show up at events; Paul's campaign is much more sophisticated than it was four years. Also, many smart Iowa GOPers tell us: keep an eye on Santorum: he's been TIRELESS; If there is a surprise top-3 finisher, it could be him.

*** Our Glengarry Glen Ross rule: But as we also wrote last week, under the Ames Straw Poll’s Glengarry Glen Ross rule, third place isn’t a good place to be: First place gets you a Cadillac El Dorado; second place gets you a set of steak knives; and third place -- you're fired. In fact, per NBC's John Bailey, the last two third-place finishers in Ames (Sam Brownback in '07 and Liddy Dole in '99) dropped out two months after the straw poll. 

*** On Andrea Mitchell Reports...: Pawlenty adviser Phil Musser; DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; Pollster Ann Selzer, whose Iowa Poll is the gold standard of polling here; former RNC Chairman Michael Steele; Chuck Todd; "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough; NBC News campaign embeds and others.