Tonight’s GOP Debate in Las Vegas

While Obama is campaigning for support of his jobs plan, Americans are analyzing their options for the 2012 election. Tonight, the Republican Presidential candidates will gather in Las Vegas, NV for a CNN debate. Many voters are wondering which of these GOP candidates can offer a real alternative to President Obama? Voters have all but lost faith in Washington D.C. and in politicians to fix the economy. The question is, which candidate can give Americans confidence in America?

The race for the GOP Presidential nomination has been a fascinating spectacle for political junkies given the large candidate field, the fluctuating primary calendar and the unique political environment. The “top-tier” of candidates has been constantly changing as Republican voters struggle to make up their minds. In many ways the 2012 GOP Presidential primary season has always been about two people: Mitt Romney versus the not-Romney candidate.

The last several weeks has cemented Mitt Romney as the GOP frontrunner. Tonight, in the eighth GOP debate, focus will be on Romney as he makes the case that he is the most electable and most likely to beat President Obama. The other focus will be placed on Herman Cain and the one time frontrunner Rick Perry. Even with major mis-steps in past debates, the Texas Governor has been able to hold on to Presidential hopes given his fundraising power.

I spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle about the GOP candidates and specifically if Rick Perry still has a chance to become a top-tier candidate again. I was asked specifically about Perry’s appeal to Latino voters, given that the debate is taking place in Nevada, which has a 26% Latino population.

SF CHRON: “Rick Perry moves to stem immigration backlash

“Bettina Inclan, a California Republican consultant, said Perry still has a chance to differentiate himself from other Republicans as a candidate with a track record on immigration, in contrast to Cain, who joked this week about an “electrified” fence on the border, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who pledges to build a fence the entire length of the border.

‘At the end of the day, Perry is the only presidential candidate who has real experience in dealing with a diverse Latino community,’ Inclan said.”

Things are constantly changing but here some thoughts on what to expect tonight:

Mitt Romney: Expect another great debate performance by the GOP frontrunner.  Romney, who exudes confidence, will try to establish himself as the adult in the room. He will make the point that his unique experience in both the private and pubic sector makes him the only candidate to successfully deal with the economy. Romney’s biggest challenge will be to excite the base and get more conservatives on his side. He will likely poke holes in Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, as well as continue to attack Rick Perry, seeing Perry’s Texas size fundraising skills as one of his biggest hurdles in Romney’s road to the nomination.

Herman Cain: A long time Tea Party favorite, Cain he has used his engaging personality and speaking abilities to skyrocket to the top of the national polls. (Leaving many in the political chattering class scratching their heads.) Yet, Cain has struggled under the scrutiny that comes as a GOP frontrunner. He has grappled to explain his 9-9-9 plan and various policy positions. He has made a series of gaffes that has infuriated Latinos and conservatives. Expect Cain to go after Mitt Romney, making the case that he is the true business leader that can lead America out of this economic disaster. Cain will try to cement his place as the not-Romney option to voters. Expect all other GOP candidates to attack Cain.

Rick Perry: His ride into the GOP Presidential primary has had more twist and turns than a Texas tumbleweed. Perry needs a strong performance at the CNN debate to prove to voters he wants to be President. Perry’s fundraising capabilities will continue making him a top candidate (money talks in politics). He will need to remind voters about his successful economic record and address his Achilles heel, immigration, by focusing on what he has been able to do in Texas. His experience with the U.S.-Mexico border needs to be seen as a positive, positioning himself as the only candidate who has real knowledge on the issue. Expect him to go after Cain and Romney and make the case he is the true conservative candidate.

Ron Paul: Ron Paul will continue to be Ron Paul, “the defender of liberty” …

Rick Santorum: The Pennsylvanian will likely come out punching, continuing his attack on Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, Mitt Romney and everyone else in hopes of gaining some points in the polls. Santorum will always go back to his social conservative agenda.

Michelle Bachmann: The one time GOP frontrunner, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, will attempt to show that she is till in this race. Yet, many feel she is now aiming to be Vice President.

Newt Gingrich: The former U.S. Speaker of the House has acted like the older statesmen. Newt Gingrich has always been a star at these debates, expect more of witty commentary and common sense analysis, yet his political baggage and small fundraising figures doesn’t give him much of a chance at the top political spot. Some are speculating he is also aiming for the VP spot.

NOTE: Jon Huntsman decided not to take part in the debate.

Another major focus of the CNN debate will be Nevada’s economy. Nevadans are facing the highest unemployment rate in the nation – 13.4 percent. Nevada’s real unemployment is likely higher, as many residents have stopped looking for jobs. Over 60% of Nevadans homes are underwater and many citizens have filed in bankruptcy.

Looking forward to the fireworks….


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