At Tonight's GOP Debate, All Eyes on Herman Cain

While Rick Perry tries to dig out of his hole, Romney tries to get over the hump
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2011 7:55 AM CDT
At Tonight's GOP Debate, Spotlight on Herman Cain
Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are seen during a Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 in Hanover, N.H.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

(Newser) – Herman Cain’s sudden meteoric rise from political novelty to poll-topping candidate should put him in the spotlight at tonight’s debate—which might be a very dangerous place to be. The big question for Cain is “are you serious?” Politico’s Reid Epstein writes, noting that Cain has done “very little” to show he “has a factual command of the issues,” particularly on foreign policy. On Sunday, for example, he said he was “not familiar with the neoconservative movement.”

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No one doubts Cain’s intelligence, but he has a weak infrastructure and few advisers to prep him for debates like this. Still, Cain’s campaign thinks his outsider charm will win out. “We’re just making sure that Herman stays Herman,” his top economic adviser said. Of course, Cain won’t be alone onstage; Mitt Romney will be trying to show he can “be a good, strong conservative,” one Republican strategist tells Reuters, while Rick Perry will be out to upstage his past underwhelming debate showings. Click for more on tonight's debate, which airs at 8pm ET on CNN. (Read more Herman Cain stories.)

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