The Fast Fix

The Fast Fix: Perry v. Romney – Round 2

Chris Cillizza
The Fast Fix

As the race for the GOP presidential nomination continues, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney battle to lead the crowded field of candidates.

Get ready for Rick Perry versus Mitt Romney, round two.

Tonight in Florida, the Republican candidates will gather on a debate stage for the second time in five days.  And the focus will be on the budding rivalry between Rick and Mitt.

In the days following last week's California debate, Romney's campaign has hammered Perry for calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme," arguing that language like that endangers the party's chances of beating President Obama next November.

Said Romney last week: "If we nominate someone who the Democrats could correctly characterize as being against Social Security, we would be obliterated as a party."

Expect Romney to hit Perry hard on Social Security tonight. The real question is how Perry will react. Does he reiterate his belief that the retirement system was flawed from the get-go?  Or does he try to moderate or at least better explain his position?

Everything -- and every one -- else will revolve around the Perry-Romney dynamic.  The more those two are willing to go at one another, the more likely all of the other candidates -- the Michele Bachmanns, Ron Pauls and Jon Huntsmans of the world -- will struggle for attention.

The race is a two-man affair right now. Tonight's debate might tell us who's in the lead.

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