Las Vegas will serve as the venue for yet another Republican presidential debate at 8 p.m. tonight, this time on CNN.
Even as you wade through the cheesy gambling metaphors, remember that you’re witnessing what could be a historic shift in the dynamic of American presidential campaigns – a downgrading of the importance of state-by-state referendums on candidates, in favor of a series of national confrontations.
The GOP contenders will meet here Tuesday night for their fifth exchange since Labor Day and their eighth of the year. Once considered forums that only occasionally had a real effect on a nomination battle, the debates this year have been the defining feature of the contest.
“For the first time in decades, primary debates aren’t a sideshow, as candidates are using them as a major platform in lieu of early TV ads to project their ideas, personalities and candidacies,” said Jonathan Collegio, communications director for the GOP group American Crossroads. “Campaigns have been smart to figure out that with all the increasing news coverage, a few strong debate performances are worth more than millions on early TV ads, and a weak appearance is worth more than a book” of opposition research.
Once again, Georgia entrepreneur and former radio talk show host Herman Cain will be on the hot seat, as questioners probe the gravitas of his campaign. From Reid Epstein of Politico.com:
The test Cain is facing is not about gray matter. Cain is a quick-witted, commanding presence on the debate stage, and he never faced doubts about his intelligence while serving as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza or the head of the national restaurant industry’s trade association.
But successfully running the policy gauntlet at a presidential level is less an aptitude test than an organizational feat. Most candidates who become nominees have an infrastructure of paid and outside advisers, who can help a candidate bluster his or her way through, say, a question that touches on the United States’s “three no’s” in the Taiwan Strait — a subject that, as president, could spark an international incident if someone screwed up the answer.
Herman Cain has consistently eschewed detailed answers on foreign policy questions. But that will have to change, and very quickly. CNN announced this morning that, in partnership with the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, it will host a third GOP presidential debate on Nov. 15 – this time with a sole focus on national security and foreign affairs.
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Herman Cain’s statements on solar and wind power as sources of alternative energy.
And if videos released on the same day as a debate are any measure, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will attempt to keep Texas Gov. Rick Perry off-balance, by attacking him as a career politician. Below, Romney compares Perry to President Barack Obama. It’s a favor returned – Perry did the same to Romney last week:
During the breaks in tonight’s debate, click here to check out the results of today’s run-off election between Republicans John Carson and Robert LaMutt, who are vying for the east Cobb County House seat made vacant by the death of state Rep. Bobby Franklin this summer.
Late yesterday, we told you that Bob Barr has confirmed he is contemplating a Republican run against U.S. Rep. Tom Graves of Ranger in 2012. You have to wonder if Barr is picking up signals from House Republican leaders in Washington who are unhappy with the uncompromising tea party favorite. From Politico.com:
When Graves again voted against a short-term government spending bill last month, some members of the House GOP decided that leadership needed to punish one of their mutinous colleagues — the 20 or so who vote against leadership on almost every spending bill — to show that there would be consequences for refusing to back efforts to avert a government shutdown.
Graves, one of the few newcomers with a prime spot on the Appropriations Committee, became the target. Rumors ricocheted around the lower chamber that he would be stripped of his committee assignment.
The Republican Steering Committee, which decides committee appointments, met last week and considered whether to retaliate against Graves and others who oppose the leadership. The decision was made not to do so, said multiple sources, but there will be quieter, more subtle forms of pressure exerted. Graves is not likely to be part of any congressional overseas trips anytime soon.
The Occupy Wall Street movement may have found a friend in Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. On Wednesday, an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Brzezinski spoke of the protests as a result of vast amounts of wealth being collected by a few individuals with no links to society as a whole:
He had this suggestion:
I think it would be increasingly helpful if there was a movement to publish worldwide lists of people who make, largely through speculation, enormous amounts of money almost instantly – and basically hide the fact from their social context.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider