Much has already been written about what to expect at the Sioux City debate tonight, and what each candidate needs to do to build or sustain momentum. Below are some questions that may not have been asked to this point.
1.) How will Iowans react to seeing and hearing Jon Huntsman? This is the last chance Iowa voters will get to dissect Huntsman’s viability as a presidential candidate. Judging by the polls, Iowans may be checking their cell phones or grabbing a late night snack when it is Huntsman’s turn to speak. Maybe he will wear a purple or green tie as a marker to voters, and in contrast to the blue and red ties we normally see at such events.
2.) Will Mitt Romney talk about the “$10,000 bet” he made during the last debate in Iowa? And will other candidates, specifically Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry, make similar, albeit smaller bets, to poke fun at Mitt?
3.) What proportion of the debate will be devoted to morality issues and values? And, as a follow-up, will we see more of Rick Santorum? The debate is sponsored by Fox News and taking place in heavily Republican, socially conservative western Iowa. Rick Santorum is viewed by many as the most socially conservative candidate in the field. This could be a chance for him to make waves going into the final weeks of the (and potentially his) campaign.
4.) Will Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry try to outdo each other as the most conservative candidate on stage? Again, the location of the debate makes this a possibility. If and when this starts to happen, will Gingrich join in and will we see a camera shot of Huntsman rolling his eyes?
5.) Who will be the first to namedrop Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The Family Leader, or U.S. Representative Steve King? Both are huge endorsements for any campaign looking to build momentum going into caucus night.
6.) Will anyone dare to mention a U.S. President other than President Ronald Reagan? Newt Gingrich did evoke President Bill Clinton in the opening moments of last Saturday’s debate in Des Moines as an example of his “bipartisanship.” Doubtful whether any Democrats will be mentioned positively in tonight’s debate.
I will be writing a post-debate analysis as well as a list of memorable quotes from the debate. Look for both blogs late tonight or early tomorrow morning.