With so many Republicans dissatisfied with the current lineup of their party's 2012 presidential candidates, the participants in Monday night's primary debate will not be showing off their special talents, but proving they can rise above their greatest weaknesses. Tim Pawlenty has to show he's not boring. Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann have to show they're not airheaded flakes. Newt Gingrich has to prove he's not a vanity candidate after he failed to convince even his own staff that he was serious about his candidacy. And Mitt Romney has to show he's not mortally wounded by health care.
Tim Pawlenty: Not That Nice
The former governor has been criticized as uncharismatic, boring, Mr. Minnesota Nice. Pawlenty's been working on seeming less meek by stepping up his attacks on Mitt Romney. On Sunday, Pawlenty tied President Obama's health care overhaul to the Massachusetts law signed by Romney that inspired it--blending the two bills into a nifty portmanteau: "Obamneycare." Although "Pawlenty is Romney's most formidable competitor," Politico's Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman explain, "he is not the most eye-catching one--that distinction likely goes to Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain, two camera-ready tea party candidates beloved by the cable news audience." Pawlenty didn't shine in the first Republican debate, so "If another debate comes and goes without Pawlenty putting serious political points on the board, voters--and more importantly, donors--are going to start wondering if he really has what it takes to play at this level."