As the Republican debate fast approaches, voters will get a good insight into what each Republican candidate is really about. This will be the first debate Rick Perry participates in and the public is waiting in anticipation. This will be the first debate since Michelle Bachmann ran the show at the Ames Straw Poll. Mitt Romney has been here a time or two before but how will he stack up against Perry since he slid to the number two position? There are a few questions that run through a political nerd’s mind like mine. Will this debate solidify Perry’s position as the front runner? Will he flub and fall in the polls? Who will take jabs at each other and who will take the “high-road”? What about Ron Paul? Wait who?? you know, Ron Paul. Will he finally get the media attention he needs to climb the polls? How about Jon Huntsman? I haven’t heard him squeak in a while? Herman Cain? oh that Pizza Guy? Rick Santorum? He’s still in the race? Thaddeus McCotter? Come on now are you just making up names?

In my opinion, the only players that really matter in this race are Perry, Romney, and Bachmann. But what about the rest? They should save their time and money and quit now. Well, that’s not really fair of me to say. They are all respectable candidates; just not the type of candidates we need right now. So lets break down the top three candidates; their backgrounds, their campaign strategy, and how they will match up against Obama in the generals.

Rick Perry. My personal favorite, but I will try to put my personal bias aside and analyze the line up from an outsider’s prospective. Perry is new to the race; officially announcing the Sunday after the Ames straw Poll. Stealing Bachmann’s thunder? Yes. And what a smart move that was. Who is Rick Perry? Well liberal media likes to point out that he’s just another Bush. For a lot of Republicans I know, that exactly what we want! “Miss me yet?” Yes W! Please come back!. No, let me be real for a second. He is nothing like Bush. While they both do have a lot in common like being gun toting, Jesus praying Republican Texas governors, that is just the surface, and the surface is where the liberal media likes to stop. When you look at Perry’s record however, you realize that he has achieved so much as a governor, most notably the recent surge in job creation which at approximately 850,000 jobs is more than all the other states combined! But liberals love to point out that those jobs are low paying jobs. Well the facts and figures don’t lie. In the State of Texas, by law, the minimum wage must be equal to the Federal minimum wage. Now I ask a question back. What is worse, a low paying job or no job at all? Most people would say a low paying job. Money is money, and in a bad economy, people are happy with whatever jobs they can get. Now that I briefly touched on Perry’s background, I will turn to campaign strategy. There are only a few candidates that can appeal to the umbrella Republican; that is there are only a few that can pull support from the social conservative group, the fiscally conservative group, and the conservative national security and foreign policy group. Yes, I know what you are thinking, what about those that overlap multiple groups? For the sake of this discussion lets keep them separate. As I mentioned before, only a few candidates can appeal to all. Ronald Reagan was one of them. Any guess as to who the other candidate I see doing this is? Drum-roll please……RICK PERRY. If we look just at the right side of the political spectrum Rick Perry falls right in the middle with Bachmann to his right and Romney to his far left. I will explain why the others cannot appeal to the umbrella republican later on in their respective sections. Because he has followers of all types of Republicans, he has surged to the top of the polls since his announcement and has become a target for the other candidates. Perry is in a position which allows him to target multiple Republican groups. A good position to be in. Is Perry just a shiny new bobble toy in cowboy boots? We will see. Only time and upcoming debates will tell. Which brings me to some challenges he will have to face. Because he is the front runner, he has to sustain jabs and blows from all other candidates. In Iowa, Perry has stolen the Evangelical Christian hearts that have formerly belonged to Bachmann. Of course, this will not sit well with her. The fight for Iowans is officially on! In New Hampshire, Perry has stolen the business mindset away from Romney. Can he hold on to them? Suppose Perry wins the Republican nomination, how will he stand up to Obama? Well, with the all the other candidates who tore him apart in the primaries, Perry had to move further and further right. Can he move back to the center to win over independents? Recent polls are looking good for him. They have Perry at 44% to Obama at 41%.

Mitt Romney. Where have I heard that name before? Oh that’s right, he is in the same exact position he was in the last election we had. Why is he running again? Well traditionally the Republican party has always nominated the second place candidate in the previous election as the nominee in the following election. So this is Romney’s year right? It would have seemed so until Perry joined the race. Who is Romney and what does he stand for? To be honest, I actually don’t know. Pro-life? No, I think he’s pro-choice. Pro gay marriage or anti? I think he’s anti right now. Or maybe I am mistaken. I guess those answers depend on the time and day and Romney’s mood. So why is Romney a Republican? I guess the only thing that really puts him in the right are his fiscal policies. With his business experience at Bain & co., his fiscal position is that growth and development in the private sector is as a direct result of lower taxes and regulations on businesses and that is the position of the Republican party. What is his strategy keeping his background in mind? As Bachmann and Perry duel it out in Iowa, Romney is going strong in New Hampshire hoping to save the pro-business backing he has. Given that Romney already has the name recognition, he has decided not to participate in bashing the other candidates. Rather, he is sitting back and enjoying watching them rip each other apart. What are his challenges? Well during the primaries, his main challenge is to pick up some of the votes on the right. He definitely has the center and all the pseudo Republicans, but will he gain enough real conservative Republican votes to push him to the top? Unlike his main competitor, gaining support from the umbrella republican, Romney only has the fiscal conservative vote. Let’s now say that Romney is the Republican nominee. How will he stand up to Obama? What are the challenges he will face? Recent polls have shown that Romney versus Obama show that they would be about even. Of course there will need to be a strong push from the Romney camp for a win to happen. The main challenge for him is to excite the right enough to actually come out to vote for him on election day.

Let me know turn my attention to Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann was riding high after the Ames Straw Poll until that is Perry made his announcement the next day. Who is Michelle Bachmann; the real Michelle Bachmann not the one portrayed in the media? Well this one is tough too. My mind is clouded with sound bites of her saying “What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love of liberty…You’re the state where the shot heard round the world in Lexington and Concord” and unflattering pictures of her eating corn dogs. In all seriousness though, Bachmann is a viable candidate. Why you ask? Because she has the “Tea Party” movement behind her. She already has the votes of the social conservatives. All she needs to do now is stick to the ideology of small government and less taxes and stop speaking off script and she’s golden. Can she win the nomination? She has high potential but with all the competitor bashing, she is moving too far right that the Republicans in the center and the left of the right side of the spectrum are left basically forgotten. She is not gaining support from the whole right side of the spectrum and instead only focusing on social conservatives. So now lets say she somehow surges in the polls and wins the the nomination. How will she stand up to Obama? Polls show that she is slightly down from a week ago. The challenge that she will have to face is how to pull herself back to the middle, at least enough to win over some independents.

Now that I have broken down each of the candidates that matter in the primaries we will see if the upcoming debates will be game changers. For now though, Perry, despite all of his off-script, brash and bold remarks, is looking pretty good. The nominations is really his to lose. I can see no current or potential candidate stealing his thunder. If Perry continues to do what he is doing he will do well in the primaries. He will have to change strategies in the generals, but we will cross that road when we have to.