The GOP field isn’t taking Columbus Day off, instead the candidates are taking their message to voters mostly in New Hamphire in advance of Tuesday’s Washington Post/Bloomberg debate which will focus on the economy.

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Has Cain painted himself into a corner on race issues?

Herman Cain, top-tier candidate of the moment, won’t exactly be on the campaign trail, instead he will be selling his new book “This Is Herman Cain!” at a bookstore in Tennessee, which is where the former pizza CEO was born.

As he has made the media rounds over the last few days to sell his book, he has often addressed the racial themes that emerge in the book, specifically the role segregation and the civil rights movement played in his life.

In some ways, Cain, the only black GOP candidate, has assumed a role that might be difficult for him to shake in the days and weeks ahead. He has become the GOP’s de facto spokesman on race. In almost every interview, he gets a race question, most recently on CNN’s Sunday show, “State of the Union,” where he downplayed the role of racism in economic disparity.

“They weren’t held back because of racism,” Cain said. “People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”

A self-described “American Black Conservative,” Cain recently labeled blacks as “brainwashed” for their support of the Democratic party and has waded into (and in some ways been pulled into) racial conversations in a way that most prominent African-American conservative political figures have studiously avoided.

“Former Rep. J.C. Watts’ (R-Ok.a) approach was to say, it’s not a black issue or a white issue, it’s an American issue,” said Ron Bonjean, an unaffiliated Republican strategist who used to work for Watts. “Race is a very slippery slope and once you get talking about it, it’s very hard to get away from it.”

“ The goal is to never touch the race card unless you are backed into a corner. The best way to appeal to different demographics is to talk about what everyone has in common. When you start to try to define a whole race, it’s not really helpful. ”

Huntsman foreign policy sneak peek

Meanwhile, Jon M. Huntsman Jr will kick of this week in New Hampshire, where he has pumped all of his time and resources--he has pulled back considerably from his initial three-state strategy and is struggling with fundraising. In an afternoon speech, Huntsman will try to play to his strength, focusing on foreign policy in the wake of Mitt Romney’s foray into international issues with a speech last Friday. According to excerpts, Huntsman will say:

The world needs American leadership now more than ever. Yet we are struggling to provide it. President Obama’s policies have weakened America, and thus diminished America’s presence on the global stage. We must correct our course.

I believe the United States has a generational opportunity to redefine its place in the world, and reclaim the mantle of global leadership.

We will establish a foreign policy doctrine that reflects our modern world. Simply advocating more ships, more troops, and more weapons is not a viable path forward. We need more agility, more intelligence, and more economic engagement with the world.

How will we do this?

In short, erase the old map. End nation-building, engage our allies, and fix our core. This is how we will fight the enemy we have and renew American exceptionalism.

Huntsman will also call for a reduced footprint in Afghanistan and a “reexamination of our military and defense infrastructure.”

“It may surprise some people to learn that we spend more on defense today than at the height of the Cold War. Indeed, we spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined,” according to prepared remarks. “We still have remnants of a top-heavy, post-Cold War infrastructure. It needs to be transformed to reflect the 21st Century world, and the growing asymmetric threats we face.”

Bachmann to N.H.

Romney and Michele Bachmann will also appear in the Granite State at separate town halls. Rick Perry has no public schedule, but one of his backers, Texas pastor Robert Jeffress, remains in the spotlight after his comments about Romney’s Mormon faith--the evangelical pastor again called Mormonism a “cult”.from his pulpit Sunday, as Perry has disavowed Jeffress’ statements.