8 Dos, Don'ts for Tonight's Debate

Cain needs more substance; Perry just needs a better performance: Politico
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2011 11:44 AM CDT
Herman Cain speaks as Rick Perry looks on during the Republican Presidential debate hosted by Bloomberg and the Washington Post on October 11, 2011 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Tonight’s GOP debate—the last one for three weeks—is one of the few remaining chances for the Republican presidential candidates to change the opinions (for better or worse) of millions of TV viewers before Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses. With that in mind, Maggie Haberman offers some advice to the candidates, via Politico:

  • Hermain Cain: He’s sitting pretty right now, but he needs to prove he deserves to be on top. Cain doesn't exactly hit the ball out of the park when discussing his 9-9-9 plan, but "given his foreign policy weaknesses and his inability to correctly identify a 'neocon' to [David] Gregory, he may want to avoid talking about anything other than '9-9-9.'"
  • Rick Perry: He needs to stop giving canned answers, and keep Mitt Romney from turning all of his attacks back on him. But mostly, “he needs to avoid seeming like the Rick Perry of the last four debates, and more like the confident version who took the stage for the first half-hour at the Reagan Presidential Library face-off.”

  • Mitt Romney: Other than avoiding a RomneyCare "pile-on," the most important—and difficult—task for him will be to avoid "coming off like the smug, overeager class president who’s taking on the football team at a school debate."
  • Michele Bachmann: While it’s tempting for her to focus most of her attacks on “Perry, who initially stole her thunder, and Cain, who stole Perry’s,” she needs to set her sights on Romney—and avoid turning off those who support Perry and Cain.
Click for Haberman's dos and don'ts for the rest of the candidates.

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