Posted by on November 09, 2011 in Blog

Michigan is the next stop in the Republican Presidential candidates’ busy debate schedule.  The debate is co-sponsored by CNBC and the Michigan Republican Party and will be held at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Although there have been many debates already this primary season, each one seems to have the potential to cause major changes in the race, and the Michigan debate this evening at 8:00PM EST is no different. Here are some key stories to watch for:

  • This debate marks the first event at which all the Republican contenders will meet on stage since the revelation of sexual harassment allegations against previously-surging candidate Herman Cain. Nearly every candidate has addressed the issue, though most have done little more than express concern. It will be interesting to see if a moderator asks Cain about the allegations directly, but more interesting still will be whether or not the candidates choose to go after Cain themselves. For the second-tier candidates, going after Cain might be an easy way to make themselves memorable in tonight’s debate. For Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, however, attacking Cain on his allegations could be a risky proposition, as Cain remains well liked by Republican voters.
  • Romney is likely to face tough questions tonight on his auto industry bailout position. Romney has given conflicting statements on the matter that don’t make clear what exactly he would have done as president or whether he supports the policies that Obama adopted in restructuring Chrysler and General Motors. The bailouts were very popular in Michigan, so Romney will have some explaining to do about his editorial entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” The other candidates have unsuccessfully sought to portray Romney as a candidate who changes his positions based on the political winds. Thus, in tonight’s debate Mitt Romney’s rivals will likely try to use this issue in their ongoing quest to label Romney as a flip-flopper.
  • More candidates have revealed tax plans, which will likely be a large focus of CNBC’s economy-centered debate. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was the target for both jokes and legitimate criticism in the last debate. Since then, Rick Perry has unveiled his flat-tax plan, complete with the gimmick of carrying around a postcard to highlight the plan’s simplicity, making it a likely target for both criticism and mockery.

This Republican Presidential primary race has been following a distinct pattern. Candidates have been experiencing brief surges in support, only for that support to shift to another candidate as quickly as it had come. Now that Cain seems on the verge of a similar flameout to those experienced by Bachmann and Perry, will another candidate get a second look? John Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all have potential to be the next “flavor of the month.”

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