PGH Quick Take – Previewing the New Hampshire Republican Debate
Tonight is the first (real) Republican debate for the 2012 candidates for the GOP nomination. [There was a previous debate, but given that no one with a chance showed up it doesn't really count] In any case, tonight New Hampshire will host the first of what could be many Republican debates. And all the big names are there:
- Mitt Romney: Barring a Gingrich-esque meltdown, Romney will win the New Hampshire primary in early 2012. His job tonight is to look and sound like the adult in the room, which really shouldn’t be too much trouble given the rest of the field.
- Tim Pawlenty: Probably the second most adult person in the room, though no one seems to be noticing. Perhaps because he’s trying too hard to be the conservative alternative to Romney, thus eliminating any chance he’ll have of getting moderates. Which is ironic.
- Newt Gingrich: He should make the debate interesting. I actually hope he manages to un-implode his campaign long enough to contribute his flowery rhetoric (which is often contradictory, but always pretty).
- Michele Bachmann: Though technically she hasn’t announced that she is running (ssshhhh, it’s a secret), she should be good for some entertainment. Likely she will say something that will make the lead sound bite on tomorrow’s news. In fact, she’ll probably plan on it. [PGH will explain shortly why Bachmann may very well win the Iowa straw poll in August]
- Rick Santorum: Likely he will work hard to violate the Reagan 11th commandment just to get attention.
- Ron Paul: See “Rand Paul,” only older. Paul has a following and usually says something interesting, if not viable.
- Herman Cain: The former Godfather’s pizza magnate “won” the earlier non-debate, which is both a credit to him and a discredit to the other participants. It will be interesting to see if debate moderator John King will ask Cain to elaborate on his recent anti-Muslim bigotry. That should be fun.
Not participating in person but likely on the mind of several of the participants (especially Mitt Romney) is Jon Huntsman. Huntsman hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet but unlike Bachmann, who just wants to be seen and heard, Huntsman has chosen not to play his hand until he has to. Huntsman could give Romney a run for his money in the adult department. Ironically, both Romney and Huntsman face the same hurdles to get the Republican nomination – they are both Mormon, both have perfect hair, both are positively associated with the Obama administration, and both appeal to the same type of campaign funders. They could conceivably cancel each other out.
So with the tea party actively working against their most likely nominees, the Republican party has to a choice to make. Do they go more mainstream, or shift so far out to the right wing that they ensure that Obama wins in a landslide next year?
PGH will do a postmortem after the debate.