GOP Debate Guide: What the Candidates Have Said this Week

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The Republican candidates have been busy this last week, though political coverage has been dominated by the president’s jobs plan and speech before the U.N. But don’t worry - It’s A Free Country is here to catch you up on the 2012ers again, pre-debate.

With the first caucuses and primaries just a few months away, time is almost up for any more entries into the race.

Mitt Romney – Romney has spent the week accentuating the policy differences between himself and Texas Governor Rick Perry regarding Medicaid and Social Security. He was in Miami this morning getting all wonky on the details, after a visit to Arizona earlier in the week.  Expect: Some criticism of the president’s speech before the UN General Assembly, and further wrestling with Perry over whether Social Security is or is not a Ponzi scheme. 

Rick Perry – Between eating steaks with Rupert Murdoch and hosting a confused Charlie Rangel (“I had no idea it was a Republican event!), Perry has been busy attacking President Obama’s foreign policy regarding Israel and launching a seriously high-drama ad featuring Obama’s face melting off a poster and thundering horse hoofs running through ocean waves.  Expect: A lot of criticism of the president’s speech before the UN General Assembly, and punching back at Romney over Social Security.

Michele Bachmann – Bachmann has been busy. Not only is she dealing with the fall-out from her assertion that someone told her once that the HPV vaccine made their child “retarded”, she still makes time to connect with constituents by wielding a knife in a meat packing plant in Des Moines. Expect: Bachmann will likely spend a lot of time attacking Perry over his HPV vaccination campaign, something she sees as an assault on “innocent little twelve-year-old girls”. The rest of her fight will likely be aimed towards President Obama, if past is precedent.

Gary “the Underdog” Johnson -- This will be Johnson’s first debate since the very first of the GOP debates back in early May.. He squeaked in by polling at least 1% in the five recent major polls. Johnson has been busy planning a 458-mile “Ride for Freedom” bike trip across New Hampshire. Expect: As the lone candidate in support of same-sex marriage and other gay rights, expect the former governor of New Mexico to take some heat from his less-magnanimous colleagues – particularly Bachmann and Santorum.

Herman Cain – Cain is in Philadelphia this week, issuing dire warnings about inftifadahs possibly resulting from U.N. recognition of Palestine. He started the week in Georgia, and has been on a busy bus tour since, shaking hands and eating barbecue across this great nation. Expect: Expect Cain to try to make more of a presence of himself during this debate, and, predictably, to criticize Obama on Israel.

Newt Gingrich -- Gingrich has been all over the airwaves -- on the radio in Atlanta and South Carolina, and on CNN and Bloomberg TV talking about his ideas for job creation. Expect: More of that same stuff.

Jon Huntsman Jr. -- Huntsman will likely be showing up at this debate with a little extra pep to his step. A new poll out from Suffolk University shows Huntsman rising to third place in New Hampshire -- more than doubling his standing a few months ago, plus he received an endorsement from Tom Ridge this week.  Expect: Huntsmen will likely discuss his thoughts on taxing and regulation.

Ron Paul -- Ron Paul's campaign released a new ad this week, starring two white-eyebrowed and lovable looking veteran getting all chocked up as they recount how no one but Ron Paul ever thanked them for their sacrifices.  Paul himself has been working the South, traveling to Louisiana and Florida in search of votes. Expect: Pushback against the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke's latest move on the economy.

Rick Santorum -- Santorum has been busy too. In between slamming Obama's support for Palestinians  he has been fighting a larger menace: his Google problem. Expect: Santorum will likely go after the President on Israel. Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post says watch for a Gingrich/Santorum tag-team attack on Perry.