By Tim Kiska

All eight Republican presidential candidates are debating Wednesday night at Oakland University. What will they talk about?

Hot Potato Number One: The Herminator, Herman Cain. As of last week, three women accused Cain of sexual harassment. The Right Wing Noise Machine stridently defended Cain against their favorite punching bag, the so-called Liberal Mainstream Media. They point out that these claims have been anonymous, and aren’t to be believed.

This week, however, we’re dealing with a different situation. Sharon Bialek came forward Monday, pit bull lawyer in tow. Not only was Bialek not anonymous, she had dates, places and a seemingly clear memory about what allegedly happened.  Cain said Tuesday afternoon that he doesn’t remember a thing.

The Cain campaign is blaming Rick Perry’s campaign for leaking the original story to

Although the debate is supposedly restricted to economic issues, will Perry say anything about this? What about the other candidates? All have longer records of government experience than Cain.

They are probably muttering, behind closed doors, that Cain’s upstart candidacy is sucking up all of the oxygen out of the race. Will anybody bring up the sexual harassment topic? Or will the elephant merely sit in the room, unnoticed?

Hot Potato Number Two: The auto industry. Candidate Mitt Romney is on record in a New York Times op-ed piece as saying the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler was a bad idea. Rick Perry consistently says he would like to make Washington D.C. “as inconsequential as possible.” But they’re coming to a state where many people think the bailout was an excellent idea.

Tens of thousands of people have jobs today because of Washington and the bailout. Two EPIC-MRA polls show that two-thirds of the voters in the state thought it was a good idea.

The Republican presidential field is going into a state which went for candidate Barack Obama three years ago by 57 percent, and for Al Gore and John Kerry before that—but by much smaller margins.

How they handle the bailout question may have an influence on how the state votes next year.


Comments (3)
  1. Alan Stamm says:

    Good context on Hot Potato #2, virtually certain to be in play.

    But Spud No. 1, though even hotter, right now, will not be brought up by moderators Maria Bartiromo and John Harwood in an economic issues-only debate with the theme of “Your Money, Your Vote.”

    Though Cain would be foolhardy to raise it, that can’t be ruled out as a preemptive move. Anyone else going there would look mighty churlish and cheap. (Oh, I’m sorry . . . did I just define ‘political candidate’?)

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