Republican presidential candidates will participate in their third debate Thursday night in Orlando, Fla. And Politico has put together a list of five things to watch for, ranging from the performance of Rick Perry to the presence of Gary Johnson. Here’s the list:
- “Which Rick Perry will show up? The frontrunner said he felt a bit ‘like a piñata’ during the Sept. 7 debate. But a week later, Perry was pummeled again by his rivals. He seemed ill-prepared, and something close to fatigued. Veteran GOP strategist Alex Castellanos suggested going on offense Thursday won’t be a problem for Perry.
- “Does Romney pin Perry down on Social Security and illegal immigration? They are the two hot topics in Florida, and Romney previewed on Wednesday that he’ll be hitting at least one of those issues hard at the Orlando debate — [Social Security]. Romney will have his lines teed up. Perry knows it’s coming and is poised to push back hard.
- “Can Bachmann recover from her self-generated HPV vaccine controversy?
- She scored a major point off Perry on the HPV vaccine mandate during the CNN debate — only to squander it a day later by making herself the story by repeating a dubious claim she said she was told about a young girl who suffered “mental retardation” from the injection.
- “Do Rick Santorum and Ron Paul chip away at the frontrunner? Both Santorum and Paul were part of the slugfest that left Perry reeling at the last debate. And neither man is showing much sign of backing off. Paul clearly gets under his fellow Texan’s skin. The Texas congressman has proved to be a deft and reliable critic of Perry’s record, something that isn’t likely to change tonight.
- “Why is Gary Johnson on stage? It’s still not totally clear why the former New Mexico governor was given late entrance to this debate after [it was denied] to others.
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