The CNN GOP Presidential debate will take place from the Mesa Performing Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona tonight. The debate will be broadcast by CNN at 8pm ET. All four remaining candidates will be on the stage. Rick Santorum has recently emerged as the front runner in national polls and is in a tight race with Mitt Romney in Michigan and Arizona. Those primaries will take place on February 28th.
For the past few weeks GOP candidates have been beating each other up, with many wondering if this will play into the hands of the Obama campaign. While the economy should be the major issue to be discussed, the Obama campaign has been successful into steering the national conversation to social issues. To this end Rick Santorum has provided plenty of talking points for democrats.
While CNN moderators will want to ask Santorum about his stance on social issues, including contraception, abortion and prenatal issues, Rick Santorum must clearly describe his values and how those values will be affected by a Santorum presidency. He needs to clear the air, assure Americans that this is not about social issues and that he has just honestly described his personal values, without any intentions of imposing those values on Americans.
The remaining candidates, although the urge will be there to hammer the others on the stage, must concentrate on their vision
of America, lay out their plans and concentrate on the economy and the dismal record of Obama’ presidency. Job creation, prices at the pumps, unemployment and stimulation of the economy must
be on the agenda. In other words, they must concentrate on their plans of America and show the difference between themselves and the present occupant of the oval office.
Newt Gingrich, who is an excellent debater, must also concentrate on his vision for America. He will be tempted to give a knockout punch to Rick Santorum, but negativity probably won’t fly with voters.
Mitt Romney, who sees Michigan as a must win state, will also be tempted to have at it with Rick Santorum. Santorum will get a lot more air time during tonight’s debate, the reward for front runner status. Santorum must try keep his foot out of his mouth. The Obama campaign would like nothing better than to face a Rick Santorum on social issues. Those issues are just not winners in a general election.
In summary, “It’s the economy stupid”, hopefully GOP contenders keep that foremost in their minds.