Tonight, seven challengers to President Obama’s throne will meet in New Hampshire and engage in a rhetorical battle for the heart of America — or at least for the heart of hardcore Republican political watchers who are tuning into presidential coverage so early. Below are 21 questions — three for each candidate participating — that CNN moderator John King should ask. (Well, maybe he shouldn’t ask all of them, at least if he wants to keep his job.)
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann
1) Why should the American people trust a member of Congress who has so little executive experience with the presidency?
2) You have had five chiefs of staff in under five years. What does this say about you and your management style?
3) Are you hypnotized?
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
1) What does your mass staff exodus tell us about your ability to lead an organization?
2) If you were still in the House, would you have voted for Paul Ryan’s budget plan, yes or no?
3) Why Tiffany’s and not Cartier?
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain
1) Earlier today, you compared sending troops into battlefields to sending pizza deliverymen into tough neighborhoods. Were you serious? Really?
2) How are you able to articulate a position on America’s intervention in Libya but when it comes to Afghanistan say you still need to talk to “experts?” Is it possible for a Republican nominee to be taken seriously if they are unable to state a position on a war where 100,000 American troops are currently deployed?
3) If you were such a great pizza CEO, why have we heard of Dominos and Pizza Hut but not Godfather’s?
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
1) If you couldn’t win reelection in Pennsylvania, what makes you think that you could win the presidency?
2) Why should you be seen as anything other than a niche conservative social policy candidate?
3) Do you Google yourself often? Would you suggest others do so? Even minors?
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
1) Do you believe it is important for the president to be able to inspire the country? Do you think you have that ability? If so, when do you plan on demonstrating it?
2) Right now, you are perceived to be the top challenger to Mitt Romney for the nomination. Why are you more suited than Romney to be the nominee?
3) Excuse me, can you repeat what you just said? I momentarily fell asleep.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
1) You defend your health care plan in Massachusetts by citing a federalism argument. But of all the possible plans you could have implemented in your state, why did you choose the plan you did – which, of course, became the model for President Obama’s much derided national health care plan?
2) How would you have handled the revolution in Egypt if you were president when it erupted? Would you have called for Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak’s ousting?
3) If elected president, can foreign leaders be assured that you will allow alcohol to be served at White House state dinners?
Texas Rep. Ron Paul
1) Is there anyone on the stage tonight that you could vote for in the general election should you not be the Republican nominee?
2) You came out against the operation to kill Osama bin Laden, implying America violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by not informing the Pakistani government of the raid beforehand. How could a President Ron Paul be assured that elements of the Pakistani government wouldn’t have tipped bin Laden off if the U.S. informed Pakistan before launching the operation? How would you have gone about getting America’s enemy number one?
3) You voted against the Patriot Act. Why do you hate America?