Can Perry recover? Can anyone put a dent in Romney? And what new attacks will the other candidates unleash?
Some dynamics to watch for as you follow the debate Bloomberg-Washington Post economic GOP presidential primary debate, moderated by Charlie Rose, with questions posed by the Post's Karen Tumulty and Bloomberg TV's Julianna Goldman:
1. Can Rick Perry regain his footing? From his verbal stumbles at previous debates to his apparent lack of deep preparation on basic foreign policy questions to his ties to the Lone Star State's complicated racial history to his awkward embrace at the Values Voter Summit by Robert Jeffress, who has questioned rival Mitt Romney's Christian bona fides as a member of the Mormon "cult," it has a been an uncomfortable couple of weeks on the stump for the Texas governor. He's raised a huge sum of money -- $17 million -- and begun dribbling out negative ads against Romney, but so far Perry's won nothing that involved actual voters casting actual ballots, which suggests he's as yet no more a darling of the GOP base than Romney, who at least won the straw poll in Michigan.
The Jeffress situation isn't going away any time soon, and while Perry reportedly wants to hone in the economy and Romney's record during this debate, I'd be surprised if he doesn't also get questions about repudiating Jeffress, at the very least. He might also be asked to repudiate the Confederate license plate Texas Department of Motor Vehicle authorities are considering approving -- as per a complaint by Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee -- and about the Washington Post report on the Texas ranch he frequented, which was long named after a racial slur for African-Americans.