Tonight’s debate will begin at 8PM EST at the Reagan Library and will air on MSNBC. The candidates on stage will be: Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney, and Santorum.
The following are my predictions
1) With another debate occurring five days from now (a CNN debate in Orlando), this debate will not be the smackdown that pundits believe will (and want to) happen. There will be nothing like the Bachmann-Pawlenty bitch-off in the last debate. In fact, if the non-Perry candidates collude to lay off Perry tonight, they could let him “win” the debate on purpose so that expectations for him in five days would be insurmountably high. Then they’d pounce and draw blood.
2) Santorum will use one of these words tonight: “sodomy” “polygamy” “finger-banging” or “taxes”
3) Perry’s criticism (desire to cut its budget) of FEMA will be brought up to contrast with his willingness to take FEMA assistance for the Texas wildfires. He will pivot well and come off as a strong leader.
4a) Romney will land at least one respectable punch on Perry during the debate. Failure to do so would have the entire media labeling him a Pawlenty-light-weight tomorrow.
4b) Romney can “win” by holding his own against Perry.
4c) The entire discussion tomorrow will be about whether Perry or Romney appeared more Presidential/strong/relaxed/good looking/confident/etc.
5) Huntsman does better than expected.