Do CNN and the Tea Party Express not like pro football? The media giant and the political group have joined forces to sponsor a Republican presidential debate tonight at 8 o’clock in Tampa, Florida. The debate is scheduled to run two hours. The problem is that the forty-second season of Monday Night Football kicks off at 7:15. It is not just any game. It’s an AFC Eastern Division rivalry game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. As a die-hard Patriots fan, I am miffed. At least my television has a picture-within-a-picture feature.
The lineup is the same as last week’s GOP get together at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Gary Johnson, Thaddeus McCotter, and Buddy Roemer are still on the outside looking in.
The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and Politico all have stories previewing tonight’s debate. Given Perry’s complaint that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme,” much of the pre-debate coverage is focused on how Romney may use the issue against the Texas governor. (Perry has an op-ed today in USA Today on Social Security.) A secondary theme is whether Bachmann can get back in the race. Foreign policy? Well, journalists aren’t particularly interested in it right now, even with yesterday being the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Perhaps the wall-to-wall coverage of the anniversary will persuade the debate moderators to draw the candidates out a bit more on foreign policy. It would be nice to see Rick Perry take another crack at his answer about what constitutes “military adventurism,” have Mitt Romney explain why his plan to punish China for currency manipulation would not prompt Beijing to stop buying U.S. treasuries, or have Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul respond to Rick Santorum’s charge that they are embracing “isolationism.” Hearing some sustained discussion about foreign policy would make me feel a little better about missing Tom Brady (proud Michigan grad) marching the Patriots up and down the field against the Dolphins.