May 3, 2007
The Democrats had their chance last week, and the Republicans have their chance this week.
The 10 Republican candidates for president will square off Thursday night in their first debate of the season at the Ronald Reagan Library in California.
In the 90-minute debate, viewers will see the three front runners, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney, play up their accomplishments and set out to start establishing their plans on the main issues.
The other seven candidates, including former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, are looking to prove that they deserve a seat at the table.
According to Matt Smyth from the UVa Center for Politics, all these candidates will be walking the tight rope on the issue of Iraq.
Although moderator Chris Matthews may try to pin them on whether they favor a troop withdrawal, they will most likely stick to the talking point that they want to save American lives, but do not want to leave the country in a vulnerable position. Essentially, these candidates will argue that it is better to fight them there than here.
Gilmore will be looking to set himself apart by saying that he is the 'true conservative' in this race.
In a recent poll by Quinnipiac University, Giuliani is on top with 27 percent. McCain is inching towards him with 19 percent. Fred Thompson, who is not officially in the race yet, has 14 percent, and Romney has 8 percent.
With 10 candidates and only 90 minutes, it is doubtful any single front runner will emerge, but it is a good chance for someone like Gilmore to get noticed.
Politico.com is streaming the debate live, at 8 p.m. with an exclusive opportunity for viewers to question the candidates via the Internet.