40% of candidates in Thursday’s GOP debate will be ‘libertarians’?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

The lineup is all set for Thursday night’s debate in Greenville, South Carolina.  According to CNN, the debate will include:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and businessman Herman Cain.

Assuming this is correct, it is worth noting that 40 percent of the debate participants (Johnson and Paul) will be libertarian-leaning Republicans.

This would be a dramatic shift from the 2008 debates where Ron Paul was often at odds with the rest of the field (such as McCain, Huckabee, Romney, and Giuliani) over various issues, including Iraq.

As I previously noted, if this trend were to continue, it could change how issues are framed, and ultimately how the GOP’s “brand” is perceived by the public.