The Washington Times - June 13, 2011, 08:04PM

Goffstown, New Hampshire is the setting of CNN/WMUR/New Hampshire Union Leader’s GOP presidential primary debate this Monday night, where seven Republican candidates, most of whom are already declared and vying to take on President Barack Obama, will spar each other on various issues. The Water Cooler Blog is covering the debate live.

Mitt Romney


Other than Ron Paul, the former governor of Massachusetts should know the presidential campaign ropes better than any other person on stage tonight, but his buttoned-up performance in 2008 also dogs him as well. Political observers accused him so often of being a flip-flopper on a number of issues, he seems to remain stubborn about denouncing the Massachusetts health care plan he signed into law when he was the state’s governor.  

However, though his GOP opponents will take shots at him, like Governor Tim Pawlenty calling MassCare “Obamneycare,” nevertheless, Romney goes into this debate leading the pack, according to the latest CNN poll

Tim Pawlenty

 Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty looks to overcome branding that he’s too vanilla and if he won the primary, that he would not be willing to go after President Obama hard enough. It looks like his latest attacks on Mr. Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts shows Governor Pawlenty wants to be that tiger. We’ll see if the Minnesota Republican has it in him to be ferocious on other issues as well tonight. 

Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is practically re-starting his campaign from the bottom up at Monday evening’s debate since his original staff abandoned him last week. This is the second pitfall Mr. Gingrich stumbled upon since he was attacked by Republicans for criticism of Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s budget plan. The Georgia Republican will have to do more than just show he professorial. He will have to begin to establish a personal trust between himself and the grassroots conservative movement for one thing. More importantly, he must present himself as a like-able candidate, not a tv pundit, who can really connect with the viewers.

Ron Paul

Congressman Ron Paul, Texas Republican, continues to believe that he is setting the mainstream political agenda for the rest of the GOP pack not the other way around. However, while Mr. Paul has a continual troupe of young college students who follow him to various events, that youthful libertarian buzz around him has not translated into strong polling other than the last two CPAC straw-polls, whose results were controversial anyway. 

Michele Bachmann

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, is tonight’s only woman on stage and has yet to declare her candidacy for the White House. Many wonder if there is enough room for GOP stars like Ms. Bachmann and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be in the race at the same time. It would certainly be a liberal’s dream to pit these two against each other an do not think it has not already been tried.  Ms. Bachmann is already closer to announcing just by being at the debate in New Hampshire. She is upping her name ID among those individuals who watch other programs that are not on MSNBC, so she can speak for herself and not through a cut and splice parody package courtesy of an MSNBC producer.  

Rick Santorum

Former Senator Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, will continue to struggle as long as people remain suspicious as to his candidacy in the race. Conservatives who hold grudges will always remember when Mr. Santorum supported Senator Arlen Specter (when Specter was a Republican) over the more conservative Republican Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey during the George W. Bush years. Mr. Santorum, though, brings staunch pro-life credentials to the table and among all the candidates on the stage at the debate on Monday night, he does have extensive foreign policy experience, considering he was a U.S. Senator. 

Herman Cain

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO performed incredibly well in the last debate in South Carolina. He is a grassroots favorite and the tea party loves him. However, he is criticized for falling short on foreign policy knowledge. What may help him, though, is that he is a quick learner and could very well be a spoiler. Watch Mr. Cain come out with some interesting one-liners in this debate tonight. His radio background helps him in that area.