Can Rick Perry take advantage of Herman Cain’s very bad two weeks?

Much of the Texas governor’s support disappeared after a series of lackluster debate performances, and Cain surged to the top of polls in part because he captured the attention of conservative, tea party voters who had before favored Perry.

But these voters may be looking for a candidate who is not facing several sexual harassment allegations. Can Perry once again become the primary alternative to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney?

This debate will be the first since Perry formally rolled out his economic plan, which calls for huge cuts in federal spending as well as large tax cuts, including an optional flat tax. The challenge for Perry will be to explain these ideas, which independent analyses have suggested would balloon the federal budget deficit. Romney and the moderators are both likely to target Perry’s tax plan, and the governor will have to respond more clearly than he did in September when challenged on his Social Security and immigration stands.

Perry’a economic ideas are pitched directly at the tea party vote, and presented as an example of how he is the most conservative, anti-Washington candidate in the field. But these ideas will turn into another liability for the governor if he can’t explain them on stage.


Herman Cain will be on the hot seat

Mitt Romney must be cool and steady

Does Jon Huntsman have game?

Ron Paul happy to focus on the economy

Newt Gingrich tries to break through

Michele Bachmann ready to attack

Rick Santorum searches for spark