Tonight, the GOP will be holding a major debate in New Hampshire. Tonight, at least to a limited extent, the gloves are coming off.
Politics is a fascinating spectator sport and tonight is like the opening game for the NFL season. How will everyone turn out tonight? Here are some predictions.
The first question is what about Mitt Romney? Romney is clearly the front-runner. He has the most to lose and the least to gain. His strategy is to be the last man standing. He wants everyone else to slice and dice each other and he wants to be the one remaining. In order to do that, he has to avoid screwing up. That means laying low must of the time and jumping up occasionally with a few well-placed punches. Since most members of the Tea Party movement are not supportive of Romney, most of us are hoping for a number of screw-ups on his part. While we hope for it, whatever else you want to say, Romney is disciplined. Don’t expect a major mistake.
Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty needs a win. He has got to come out of Romney’s shadow. Pawlenty needs to come out strong hitting Romney on his many flip-flops. Pawlenty needs a good showing and needs to avoid a major mistake. Pawlenty comes in with the luxury of being able to make a mistake or two, as long as they are not epic mistakes and still being able to survive.
Michele Bachmann. Bachmann is one of the two Tea Party favorites. Tea Party members want to see her succeed in this debate. Bachmann, among all of the leading candidates is the best at staying on message. Look for her to do that and do that well. Expect to see Bachmann do very well tonight.
Herman Cain. Cain was a big surprise in the South Carolina debate. He was unknown and accomplished much in the first debate. People now know Cain. He will deliver a good solid performance. Eventually, assuming no one else gets into the race, either Bachmann or Cain is going to have to claim the Tea Party mantle to win the nomination.
Ron Paul. Four years ago, Ron Paul was considered a fringe candidate. His stature has increased over the last four years. His ability to raise money is incredible, but his following remains limited. Ron Paul’s role will be to keep the party focused the fiscal issues of spending. He won’t win the debate but I predict the line of the night will come from Ron Paul.
Rick Santorum’s lackluster campaign will lurch into the debate hoping for a major punch for him that will get him into the public eye. Don’t count on it. Santorum will appeal to the social conservatives, which is an important group. However, this is the year for fiscal issues.
Finally, there is Newt Gingrich. Tonight, he is the anti-Romney. If Romney has little to gain and a lot to lose, Gingrich has almost nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Gingrich, if he would just be conservative, is actually the one I would like to see the most out of. No, I haven’t gone liberal. Gingrich has one quality I wish some of the other candidates had. He has an incredible ability to look at the big picture and make amazing things happen. When Gingrich first ran for Congress, the Democrats controlled Congress, sometimes not even telling Republicans when votes would be scheduled. The GOP at the time was just happy to have a softball team. Gingrich was the one who believed the Republicans could take the majority. He was the visionary who made much of today possible. Unfortunately, he has come down with the brain rot that seems to affect so many who stay in Washington too long.
We need a conservative with the ability to envision and execute how we dismantle socialism. If Gingrich actually went back to his conservative roots, he could be the one. Unfortunately, he is not.
The debate begins at 8 Eastern, 7 Central, on CNN. I will be live blogging the debate, here on Tea Party Nation.
Although Rick Perry did not participate in last night's debate, here is important news about him regarding who will support him in 2012: