Open Thread: Iowa GOP Debate

August 11th, 2011 9:55 AM

Just days before the Iowa Straw Poll, Republican presidential candidates face off tonight to debate at the Iowa State Fair. Absent from the debate are two rumored candidates, Gov. Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.

Included is the still wide field of GOP contenders, Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman. Will you be watching tonight?

Fox News, which is co-hosting the debate with the Washington Examiner, broke down the best strategies each candidate can follow tonight.

MITT ROMNEY ...Romney should "relentlessly contrast himself with Obama on the economy and jobs," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, "only indirectly jabbing the others." [...] REP.

MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN. ...The Tea Party favorite and Iowa native has consistently stayed at the top of the polls since announcing her candidacy in June. Sabato said she should embrace her conservativism - "I'm the new mainstream and I can win in November." [...]

TIM PAWLENTY ..."Roll the dice and confront both Romney and Bachmann," Sabato said, "explaining why you'd be a better president." [...]

NEWT GINGRICH ...Gingrich stressed the importance of the Iowa straw poll Thursday, telling Fox News that the outcome was "the start of a national conversation." Sabato said Gingrich should seize the opportunity to connect with a national audience. "Come across as likeable," would be Newt's best bet, he said, "not just knowledgeable." [...]

REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS ..."He may be the biggest winner from the events of the last week, because it shows that his very unconventional theories that differ sharply from the conventional wisdom in Washington, really might develop some sport," Morris said. "What he needs to do is to capitalize on those developments to show how his policies that differed from everybody else's in Washington, really could make the difference." [...]

HERMAN CAIN ..."What Cain's got to do is to really distinguish himself," said Morris. "He's got to make clear how his performance as a businessman, his perspective, differs from the conventional wisdom in Washington." Sabato adds that Cain must "explain convincingly why his lack of office experience will help and not hurt running against Obama." [...]

RICK SANTORUM ...The conservative candidate has lingered in the shadows of higher-profile candidates like Bachmann. In his best night, Santorum would "excite the Christian base in Iowa by going hardcore right on abortion and gay rights," said Sabato. "It's his only shot to surge." [...]

JON HUNTSMAN ...One of Huntsman's biggest challenges is distancing himself from his former boss - President Obama. He needs to "convince Republicans that, despite what they've read and heard, he's a strong conservative," said Sabato. [...]

Have you seen any other good pre-debate analyses? Do you think the debate will be worth watching without Perry and Palin?