The Republican candidates for president will debate in Washington, D.C. tonight in a foreign policy debate sponsored by CNN, The Heritage Foundation, and The American Enterprise Institute. Here are eight questions, one for each of the candidates.
Mitt Romney: He is not taking anything for granted by running advertisements in New Hampshire and opening up a campaign office in Iowa; Will Romney have another masterful debate performance that leaves him head and shoulders above the other contenders on stage save Newt Gingrich?
Newt Gingrich: He is surging nationally, leading in a national CNN/Opinion Research poll, and in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Can the former Speaker maintain his momentum and handle success properly and not make unforced and undisciplined errors?
Ron Paul: He has been correct on fiscal issues and the Republican party has come to him during this cycle. On foreign policy matters, many say that Paul sounds like a Democrat. Can Paul articulate his anti-interventionist policy views in a way that does not turn off primary voters and allows him to expand his universe of supporters in states such as Iowa, where he is statistically tied for first place?
Herman Cain: Cain has stumbled on everything from Libya to Cuba. His poll numbers have been sagging. This may be his last chance on the national stage to show competence in the foreign policy arena. If Cain (and it’s a big if) turns in a convincing and commanding performance, will it be enough to assuage voters who have their doubts about him of his foreign policy credentials and competence?
Rick Santorum: He has been strong and forceful on Iran and has been convincing in his foreign policy competence. Will he get questions on the Middle East that will allow him to attract more conservative supporters?
Michele Bachmann: With the publicity she will get from the release of her new book, Bachmann may have one more opportunity to surge, especially in Iowa. Can she have a debate performance like her debut in New Hampshire that will allow her to gain more traction?
Jon Huntsman: This debate may be an opportunity for Huntsman to differentiate himself from the other candidates. Huntsman is bad with 30 second soundbites and, with his low poll numbers, may not be given much time to answer complex foreign policy questions. The question is: Will he be afforded time to discuss important foreign policy matters of the day? One way to judge how well he is doing may be to follow the Twitter feed of his daughters (@Jon2012girls); the less snarky that Twitter feed is throughout the night, the better Huntsman is probably doing.
Rick Perry: Perry can still be the last viable anti-Romney candidate standing. On a national stage, will Perry avoid blunders in the debate and have a consistently strong, energetic, and competent performance that will allow voters to consider giving his candidacy a serious second look?