While Crowley Political Report and others have long noted Florida will be the key to victory in the Republican presidential primary and in next year's election, it is now becoming, heaven help us, conventional wisdom.
Washington Post, The Fix - For the next 12 days, Florida will stand at the center of the 2012 Republican race, playing host to two debates — one tonight and a second on Sept. 22 — as well as a straw poll that will help shape the presidential nomination fight.
The next week and a half will also serve as the precursor to the Sunshine State primary early next year — a contest that many people believe could decide the identity of the party’s nominee.
In conversations with a handful of unaligned strategists, however, there was broad agreement that if the race comes down to Romney and Perry — as almost everyone expects it to — Florida will likely be decisive.
Houston Chronicle - The Tea Party movement is officially welcomed into the Republican mainstream today as the first presidential debate sponsored by a Tea Party group takes place in Tampa, Fla.
In many ways, the Tea Party Express involvement in the debate works to Perry's benefit. He was an early supporter of the movement in 2009 and made headlines at an April 15, 2009, Tea Party event when he suggested that Texas could secede from the Union.
The Daily Beast - the candidate with the most at stake is the Tea Party queen herself, Michele Bachmann, who badly needs to capitalize on the sympathetic audience. The congresswoman’s luster has clearly faded since her Iowa straw-poll victory last month, and she was practically invisible in last week’s MSNBC-Politico debate
No single debate is as important as the storyline that emerges from it. Perry must show that he can stop the bleeding on a sensitive issue (Social Security). Romney, who scored few points by attacking Perry’s jobs record, needs to prove he is nimble enough to stay on offense. And Bachmann, after being relegated to the sidelines, has to get into the arena.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer - I want potential voters out there to have a better appreciation of these candidates – their strengths and weaknesses. I want to make sure we can drill down on where they agree and where they differ. When the candidates dodge the questions, I will follow up and press. That’s what the voters want, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity.
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