Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Debate

The elections are nearing and today the first debate of the 2012 cycle is taking place. It is hosted by the Republican Party of South Carolina and Fox News.

It is still early in the season and only a few of the candidates will be there. In fact, to participate in the debate you have to be official and have paid the $25,000 filing fee to be on the South Carolina ballot. Of the candidates who have official campaign structures only Romney and Roemer will not take part in the debate (I guess it is has something to do with the R last names).

Other candidates either do not have the campaign structure or have not decided to run.

Those, however, who are participating in the debate are:

Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico
Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas
Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota
Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania

Now here is my list of what to watch for, campaign analysis, and break down of what their key positions are.

Tim Pawlenty: He is first because he is my favorite. He also has the most to lose in this debate. He is the only candidate who is in the top tier. That means that he may end up as a target of the other candidates (it is a small chance because they will likely take most of their shots at Romney, Huckabee, and Trump). He is a conservative from a hard state, but his record is impressive to most Republicans. Any attacks on his record are likely to be that he is too green, but do voters care? I'm guessing that most of us like a healthy planet, and as long as he doesn't start sounding like Al Gore, he'll be fine. Expect him to work hard to appeal to the whole party with a strong statement on life, an appeal to the Tea Party, and something about dealing with entitlements. His executive experience as Governor is a huge plus, but being Minnesota Nice isn't likely to pay off in the deep South.

Rick Santorum: He has the most to gain. This is his chance to break from the third tier to the second. He will call on his record of strong social values in the senate and then talk about American Exceptionalism. This is likely to have a strong appeal in South Carolina, but if his lack of executive experience shows, then he will falter. He is the most likely to attack the top tier candidates. If he remembers that his advantage is foreign policy, he might be formidable in this debate. If he plays his cards right, he can drive away support from the two isolationists and show up Pawlenty and Cain.

Herman Cain: He is a communicator.He is likely to be the best speaker on stage. He has a talk radio background and he took on Pres Clinton in a public town hall in the 1990s. With no political experience, however, it is going to be hard for him to be taken seriously. In this debate he will choose to either hold on to the Tea Party and hope that he can leverage that out of the third tier or he will step out and show himself to be a team player and try to start building a broader appeal.

Now for the two candidates that I have not met.

Ron Paul: This Libertarian hero will likely be riding the high from ben Laden's death and start pushing his message of "Ok, now we are done. Pull out all the troops." One thing to watch for is his presentation. In 2008 he was on message and connected with like-minded voters with his complex, but focused message. We will see tonight, if he can keep that up. The last few speeches I've seen him give, have left me wondering if he is going to need to pass the mantel soon.

Gary Johnson: My least favorite of this crew. He is openly pro-choice, pro-drugs, and isolationist. These positions will not play well in South Carolina and he will have a hard time convincing the crowd coming from that angle. If he is smart what he will do is not bring up those issues, but rather focus on shrinking the size of government. If he brags about being on marijuana for 2 years, his goose is cooked. But I think he is in the race to spread his message anyway, so it will not surprise me if he does.

Would you support a green president? If you were Rick what other candidate would you attack? Have you heard of Cain? Is Ron Paul too old? And would you support a pro-abortion Republican?
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