The candidates meet in Rochester, Mich., on Wednesday for their ninth face-off of the season after weeks of campaign drama
Aaand we're back! After a 3-week hiatus, the eight-member touring supergroup known as the Republican primary debaters reunites in Michigan Wednesday for an economy-focused debate hosted by CNBC and Oakland University. Five things to watch:
1. Does anyone touch the Herman Cain scandal? The scandal involving Cain's alleged sexual harassment of multiple women -- there are now four, if you're keeping score at home, and two have been named publicly -- has dominated the campaign since it broke a week and a half ago. The other candidates have largely kept their distance, following the general political rule of not standing too close to an exploding opponent lest you be hit by shrapnel. But that started to change this week with the emergence of Sharon Bialek, whose description of a graphic encounter, and apparent lack of ulterior motive, raised qualms even among conservatives. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, in ABC News/Yahoo! interviews Tuesday, began to approach the subject, with Romney calling them "serious allegations" that would "have to be addressed." After Cain's defiant news conference Tuesday, will his rivals seek to press their advantage? It's a toxic subject that has to be handled delicately, if at all. But there's a clear opening for a candidate willing to frame the issue as one of character.