Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sioux City Me, Sioux City You Blues

 - Preview of the Fox News Sioux City GOP Debate - 

I'll be blogging tonight's Fox News GOP debate; watching for political blood and gore. Sioux City, Iowa, is hosting the event which will likely need ring girls, a referee, a ring and a house doctor. I will be surprised if it does not get ugly. I've made a few notes on what I will be watching for during the debate and thought I would share them with you.

After the debate, I'll open up the online poll on who you believe won the debate with civil comments welcome. Then, I'll add my after-debate opinions to the mix.

Things to watch:

English: "Historic 4th Street" in do...
Historic downtown Sioux City, Iowa
Image via Wikipedia
Michele Bachmann: Bachmann is one of two candidates who must do well here to be taken seriously for the remainder of the campaign. Her campaign has trumpeted her Iowa ties and organization too loudly and too broadly for her to fail and mount a comeback later. Whether she realizes it or not, this is make or break for her. She does not have to win, but anything less than third in the Iowa caucuses is a major problem and less than fourth is a death knell for her campaign. She is likely to be very aggressive and should self-monitor to ensure she does not sound shrill.

Herman Cain: Most regular debate watchers may be surprised at how much they miss Cain's presence.

Newt Gingrich: As the current poll leader, Newt will again be the focal point of his fellow candidates. Look to see if he handles attacks with calm, rational ripostes or if he looks mean. The manner, rather than the substance of his remarks will be more important. Look for attacks on Gingrich's past moves to the left. Critics want you to see them as revelatory; Newt wants you to see them as anomalies. If he is smart, Gingrich will point out how he differs from President Obama rather than his fellow Republicans.

Jon Huntsman: Listen carefully to Huntsman's answers in all foreign policy areas. He still sounds like an ambassador rather than an potential candidate for President. He rambles and has a tendency to not make declaratory statements. See if he will again reference the Ottoman Empire in response to a question about modern Iran. Afterward, watch for the media to be amazed that he has not been coronated.
Aerial view of Sioux City, Iowa, USA, at the c...
Aerial view of Sioux City, Iowa
Image via Wikipedia

Gary Johnson: Johnson should be in this debate, but will not be.

Ron Paul: Look for a much more pointed approach to Ron Paul tonight by the other candidates. He has a strong Iowa organization and should be taken seriously here. He is especially threatening to Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum who desperately need to do well in Iowa. I would not be surprised to see him take some shots from Mitt Romney, as well. Watch for questions on foreign policy, because this is his weakest area with most GOP voters. The topics of Israel and Iran are poison for Paul unless he can find a better way to address them. Iowa is not a deal-breaker for Paul, but the media has raised expectations for him and that could have long-term repercussions. Look for counter-attacks from Romney in the area of foreign policy, especially national defense, to increase his claims as a conservative and diminish Paul simultaneously.

Rick Perry: The good news for Rick Perry is that the continued, and viscerally stupid, attacks between the Gingrich and Romney camps make him look more presidential while driving down their poll numbers. The other good news is that he has money and can afford to be patient. If he continues to be calm and carefully choose his opportunities to make points with the voters, he will do well. He is not out of this even if he does poorly in the Iowa caucuses. He could turn this into a disaster if he appears desperate or overly aggressive.

Mitt Romney: Mitt should sound more conservative, but this would be a break from his "everything is perfect" approach to the campaign. He has admitted to his decisions, but has not apologized for what most conservatives see as a checkered record. This is the opposite of Gingrich's approach which has been to apologize and make self-deprecating remarks. Instead, look for Romney to stress his electability, possibly couched in terms of "broad appeal" or "appeal to independents as well as Republicans" and the need to defeat President Obama at all costs.

Rick Santorum: Santorum is the only candidate who needs to do well in Iowa more than Michele Bachmann. Santorum, as I have said before, is a great conservative candidate on paper, but his delivery has been as lacking as his campaign contributions. He has; however, made great strides since the early South Carolina debate. He looks less stressed and more in command of the issues. See if he continues the approach of saying he can beat Democrats in Blue states even though he lost his most recent US Senate race to a Democrat in his home state of Pennsylvania. This was a poor strategy, yet he has insisted on continuing its use. Look for Santorum to be more aggressive during the debate, but if he does it with a grimace rather than a smile, write him off.

Don't forget the poll after the debate.

by Ken Carroll
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