All Eyes On Rick Perry

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 7 2011 @ 2:31pm

Mark McKinnon previews tonight's debate:

Perry has the least and the most to prove. And the stakes are huge. If he does okay, his status as frontrunner will be cemented. If he blows it, he could claw his way to the bottom fast. The game plan for Perry? Just come across as calm, thoughtful, and most of all, reasonable.

Molly Ball reviews old footage:

A close viewing of Perry’s debates — one each in 2002 and 2006, and two in the GOP primary in 2010 — and interviews with some of his past rivals reveal a candidate who is unlikely to be remembered as a great debater, but rarely makes a mistake and almost always manages to win by not losing.

Jonathan Bernstein outlines what to watch for:

[I]f Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum still think they can be the nominee, expect them to attack Perry. If, on the other hand, Bachmann and the rest are really running for the role of Conservative Hero — and not for the nomination — then it makes more sense to just go ahead and attack Romney for his various deviations from the True Faith.

I'll be live-blogging.