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Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty makes his debut on the national political stage this evening. He will face off against former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain in Greenville, S.C. for the first GOP presidential primary debate, sponsored by Fox News.Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels and Newt Gingrich have all decided to skip tonight’s debate, to the dismay of South Carolina Republican Party officials. Mr. Pawlenty is hoping that by showing up, he can make a favourable first impression on South Carolina Republican primary voters.
Pawlenty previews his pitch in an op-ed piece in today’s edition of the Daily Caller:
Some candidates are skipping tonight’s Republican debate in South Carolina because they believe it’s “too soon” to begin the presidential campaign against Barack Obama. I only hope that it’s not too late.
After two and a half years of Barack Obama’s presidency, nearly one in five American workers are consistently unable to find full employment, our national debt continues to skyrocket, and inflating energy and food prices are eating away at families’ budgets.
We can do better. But first we need a new president — which is why tonight’s Republican debate is so important.
This, in a nutshell, is Pawlenty’s problem. He speaks in political boilerplate. Tonight, he’s on a platform with people who are comfortable speaking their mind and who know what they think. In the main, they don’t hedge and they don’t trim. And because they’re willing to say what they think, Pawlenty’s boilerplate — in the context of what the others are saying — may come off as….tinny and lame.
We’ll see. The debate begins at 9 and will last 90 minutes. ABC News reports that candidates will have 1 minute to answer questions on the domestic and foreign policy news of the day and 30 seconds for rebuttals. There will be no opening statements.
We’ll have an insta-analysis shortly after the debate is over.
But can any of the GOP hopefuls beat President Obama? Click here to see the likely candidates.