There are two other issues that Cain will be criticized for tonight. Of course, 9-9-9 will come under scrutiny. Every single candidate stomped on it during the last debate and his answers were weak, yet his poll numbers did not drop. They would be wise to focus on his confusing non-answers on abortion, which caused John Stossel to become frustrated in an interview. Rick Santorum has released a video alleging that Cain is pro-choice. Most likely, the candidates will wait to see if the harassment allegations do their job for them, and they’ll restrain themselves from an all-out assault.
Mitt Romney’s strategy will be the same as it always has been. He will count on other candidates trashing each other, and offer polished rebuttals to the criticisms of him that he has grown accustomed to answering. He can be encouraged by some polls showing him at the top in Iowa, although others show him in third. It actually benefits him to not be ahead in Iowa so that the right-of-Romney competitors tear each other down.
Newt Gingrich continues to rise. Two polls have him statistically tied with Romney for second place in Iowa. We Ask America has him at 18%, only four behind Cain and three ahead of Romney. InsiderAdvantage has Herman Cain with a wide lead at 30%, Romney with 15% and Gingrich at 12%. In South Carolina, Gingrich is putting together the biggest operation of any candidate.
Nationally, Rasmussen finds Cain with 26%, Romney with 23% and Gingrich with 14%. Polls have shown Gingrich in third nationally for awhile now, but Jeffrey H. Anderson makes some important observations. Since October 12, Romney’s lead over Gingrich has decreased by 10 points. Support for Romney fell 6 points, Cain by 3, Bachmann by 2 and Perry and Santorum by 1 each. Only Gingrich and Ron Paul rose by 4 and 2 points respectively. This means that Gingrich is pulling support from Romney and is the one who benefits the most from attacks on him, and he may also be getting support from the right-of-Romney candidates as well.
Gingrich has no compelling reason to change his strategy. It’s clearly working for him, and he can sit and wait to see what happens to Cain’s campaign. If Cain’s numbers drop, Gingrich is well-placed to win his supporters. Gingrich should specifically call-out his opponents to one-on-one debates like he and Cain had on Saturday, making it difficult for them to say no.
Next: Another opportunity to pounce on Ron Paul?