Lower-tier candidates like Herman Cain generally get one or two shots to make an impact at debates with a lot of contenders, and Cain may be on the defensive in tonight’s face-off in Tampa sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express.

That’s because this weekend, the former Godfather’s Pizza executive launched a web video commemorating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that some saw as not-quite-tasteful. The video features audio of Cain, an amateur gospel singer, singing "God Bless America" over graphic scenes from the attacks, including the second plane flying into the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers collapsing.

In general, Cain hasn’t been great at responding to criticism of his candidacy. The question is whether, if confronted with the video, he acquits himself well and can move on to other things.

From there, though, it’s hard to see where Cain can make a real impact on the 2012 race.

Cain’s speaking ability has gotten him where he is today, but he has been lost in the shuffle at recent debates.

He needs to change things up somehow. Right now, few see room for him to grow.

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