I don't know how much impact tonight's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina will have. A foreign policy and national security debate at 8 o'clock on a Saturday night? Even I only intend to watch out of a sense of professional obligation.
Nevertheless, there are some things to watch for. This debate clearly plays to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney's strengths. Rick Perry's campaign is on life support and he desperately needs to avoid any YouTube moments. Herman Cain will be probed for foreign policy details. After a debate that allowed Ron Paul to agree with many of his fellow Republicans for a change, this one will push disagreements -- especially over Iran, where even the next-dovish candidate, Jon Huntsman, is willing to consider military action -- to the forefront.
Huntsman will get to showcase his foreign policy knowledge and presumably contrast his vision with that of the frontrunners. Rick Santorum will be an impassioned hawk. Michele Bachmann will also be challenged to move beyond safe applause lines about Obama and lay out some specifics. So those are your basic plot lines. I'll have more to follow after it's over and will provide some running commentary on Twitter.
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