Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 11/21/2011

The week ahead in Election 2012

It’s a short week, but a big week. Here’s what to watch in the week ahead:

Republican presidential candidates former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, left, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, businessman Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, pose before a Republican presidential debate. (Paul Sancya - AP)

1. New Hampshire: Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. who has bet his entire campaign on a win in the Granite State, said last week that he didn’t “care what the rest of the country thinks or feels. That’s not important . . . I do care about what the people of New Hampshire feel, because this is important.”

That pretty much sums up what the entire GOP field is thinking, less than two months away from the Jan. 10 primary. Huntsman, still trailing badly in state polls, and Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich, now surging in polls, will all be in New Hampshire there Monday. Gingrich is set to roll out his entitlement reform program in the state Monday.

And on Tuesday, President Obama heads there to tout his jobs plan. He won New Hampshire’s four electoral votes in 2008, but a new poll shows him trailing in a match-up with Romney. The state is a hotbed of independent voters, a bloc that is steadily turning away from Obama.

2.Supercommittee: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just the "supercommittee" and it looks like it might end up being one big dud. The bi-partisan group of 12 has been steadily working, and steadily lowering expectations in advance of the Wednesday’s deadline to find $1.2 trillion in deficit savings.

Meantime, President Obama has largely taken a hands-off approach, making some recommendations, but most recently telling Congress to get to work.

Mitt Romney speaking in New Hampshire said Sunday that Obama “has not taken personal responsibility.”

“Instead, he set up a trap. He said we’re going to cut military spending by $600 billion.”

Proving that the supercommittee’s work (and possible failure) will be a campaign issue, at least this week, an Obama campaign spokesman shot right back at Romney.

“Mitt Romney rejected asking the wealthiest for a dime to reduce the deficit -- instead, his plan would give them more tax cuts -- and he would leave our troops in Iraq indefinitely,” said Ben LaBolt, Obama’s presidential campaign spokesman. “That’s the approach that led to the recession and created the deficit in the first place. While President Obama laid out a balanced approach to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion, Mitt Romney now wants to absolve Congress of any responsibility to act.”

3.CNN Debate: On Tuesday night, all eight GOP candidates will gather in Washington--the place they have all promised to reform, uproot, and overhaul--for another debate on national security.

Yes, the last debate was also on national security. But that was before Herman Cain’s gaffe on Libya, and before he defended it by saying that the country needs a “leader, not a reader.”

Cain has taken a tumble in the polls, and has seem especially adrift on foreign policy, apparently not knowing, for instance, what the “wet foot-dry foot” policy on Cuba really means. And Perry has done something unusual for a serious Republican contender, by suggesting spending cuts at the Department of Defense. Expect Ron Paul, who got 89 seconds last time, to perhaps get a new stage position given his rise in the polls, and, as a result, more speaking time.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 11/21/2011

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