Republican Debate Preview
August 11, 2011 Leave a comment
The Republican Presidential candidates will be debating tonight on Fox News at 9pm Eastern. (You can catch my live analysis on Twitter @stevebirnspeaks)
There is a lot to be gained or lost for any candidate in a debate. Tonight’s debate ought to be interesting because of the candidate who will not be in attendance. Rick Perry is allegedly going to announce he’s running on Saturday, just in time to miss this debate.
Perry is a threat to Mitt Romney because of his business background and his ties to social conservatives. Romney needs to make no major gaffes tonight in order to maintain his position as front runner. But he really needs to do more than that. Romney is being threatened by Perry and as a result he will need to move to the right. Romney recently signed a pledge opposing homosexual marriage, a signal that he’s willing to move to the right in order to win the nomination. Look for more of the same tonight. Romney also needs to show a little more enthusiasm otherwise he risks losing to a more enthusiastic conservative candidate when elections start in February.
Michele Bachmann gained the most from May’s debate in New Hampshire. Her candidacy took off and she is now the conservative front runner. Mrs. Bachmann needs to do more of the same tonight. In a lot of ways, this is a make or break debate for Bachmann. If she looks like a star tonight, she’ll stay in the mix as the conservative front runner. But if she flounders, conservatives will start looking elsewhere for a candidate (read: Perry and Cain). I expect Bachmann to do well tonight.
Herman Cain has a lot to gain tonight. If Cain puts on a good performance and Bachmann flounders, he has the opportunity to vault his candidacy into the serious contender realm. I don’t think it will happen though. As much as I like Herman Cain and as smart as he is, the fact is that because he’s never held elected office is going to hurt him. Having a President who has never held an elected office in theory sounds like a terrific idea. In reality, most Americans want someone a little more experienced. After elected Obama, who had very little experience, I suspect the country is going to prefer a candidate with experience. Cain can only overcome his lack of experience with flawless debate performances. I don’t think Cain has flawless in him.
Newt Gingrich is going to have a terrific debate tonight, he always does. But his baggage is going to be to much for him to overcome. Like it or not.
I expect Ron Paul to say the same things he says in every single debate with the same whiney voice. Until Paul can move beyond the same old tired libertarian three or four issues that he’s harped on in every Presidential campaign he will never be able to expand his base of supporters. Paul will give the same debate performance tonight as he always does. His supporters will declare him the clear victor and everyone else will find him annoying.
Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum either need to deliver a clear victory in tonights debate or they need to drop out. Neither one of them have displayed even the smallest ability to capture the hearts of rank and file Republicans. They did a poor job in New Hampshire and if they do a poor job tonight they would be better off bowing out now.
Jon Huntsman, you’re wasting space on stage and taking away from candidates who have an actual shot of winning. We’ll know by 9:15 whether the same can be said for Pawlenty and Santorum.
Once again, you can follow me on twitter (@stevebirnspeaks) during the debate. I’ll post my debate analysis tomorrow.