If the duel between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney during last week’s Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in California wasn’t enough to signify that the nation has entered a faster and more furious stage of the race, then the simple fact that yet another debate will be held tonight, five days after the last, should hammer that home.
The candidates have barely had time to campaign (or raise money) in between the two events.
This evening’s contest will be held some 2,500 miles away from the Reagan one—in Tampa. The wrinkle this time is that it will be co-sponsored by the Tea Party Express, an advocacy group affiliated with the small-government movement.
As part of the format, the participants will take questions from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, along with questions from members of the audience and “tea party” groups across the country. While that may not move the combatants off their talking points, it may provide a different flavor to the event.
Here are some story lines to watch during the debate, which will be broadcast live from the Florida State Fairgrounds on CNN.
1. Will Perry try to walk back his remarks on Social Security?
2. Will Romney try to court the tea party vote?
3. Can Bachmann get a word in edgewise?
4. Can Huntsman (and others) stay relevant?
5. Will the GOP risk alienating moderate voters?
Y’all are are your own. I’ll be getting drunk and watching the Raiders-Broncos game. Have fun.