Thursday, May 5, 2011

Five reasons why tonight's GOP debate matters

GREENVILLE, S.C.-- Outside this pivotal presidential primary state, there's been one reaction to tonight's presidential debate.
It was supposed to be the first major debate, the first time the top Republican contenders would square off on stage and on television before a national audience.
But as it turns out, there's not a whole lot that's major about it -- at least if you're looking at the contenders who are participating. Where are the big names, or at least the names you've heard of? Mitt Romney? Newt Gingrich? Michele Bachmann? Mike Huckabee? Sarah Palin?
For different reasons, they're all staying away -- leaving the stage to one top tier-candidate and four other names you still probably won't be talking about a year from now.
Here in Greenville, where those five will take the stage tonight, it feels a little like high school, when the cool kids have decided they aren't going to the party and so everyone starts trying to figure out what they're doing instead.
Why, for example, was former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee meeting with fundraisers and operatives in Washington yesterday? Why did his former campaign manager give a power-point presentation to about 100 people -- including some big-time conservative names -- at one of those meetings last night? Is that all a sign Huckabee's actually going to shake up the race and run?

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