Republican presidential candidate watch

On the eve of tomorrow night’s Republican presidential candidate debate on Fox News (9 pm ET) where the big question is who – if anyone – will stand out, here’s a rundown of some of the latest headlines on the candidates – and potential candidates:

— Newt Gingrich to throw his hat into the ring? ABCNews is quoting the former House Speaker as saying there is a “great possibility” he will run for president. He’ll make his decision in the fall.

— “Leading” Christian conservatives are lining up to show support for a possibile Fred Thompson run. In other news, man bites dog. ;)

— Senator Chuck Hagel is exploring run for president as an independent, and along with that the possibility of NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg as a running mate (video here).

—The NYT publishes a fresh hit piece on former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 9-11 record: Ground Zero Illnesses Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy. Giuliani was also interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News this past weekend where one of the hot topics was his formerly nuanced but now clear position on abortion.

He is, at this point, still polling well in national polls.

The NY Post reports that the Club for Growth gives Rudy better marks on cutting taxes than Senator John McCain.

— Speaking of, here’s MSNBC’s First Read on Senator John McCain’s appearance on Meet the Press this past weekend:

*** Straight Talk Express? While Romney’s and Rudy’s big interviews this weekend (on 60 Minutes and Fox News Sunday, respectively) focused more on social issues, the first half of McCain’s appearance on Meet the Press yesterday was dominated by — you guessed it — Iraq. Yet perhaps most revealing was the second half of the interview, when NBC’s Tim Russert drew attention to McCain’s reversals on taxes and ethanol, which highlighted that this isn’t the same John McCain of 1999 and 2000. Of course, as McCain likes to point out, that McCain lost the nomination.

Whatever it takes to avoid a loss like 2000, eh, Senator?

— His candidacy is going nowhere, but that’s not stopping Rep. Tom Tancredo from calling for a repeal of the gas tax.

— Tommy Thompson is still apologizing for the ‘fire the gay worker’ “gaffe” that he made in the first Republican debate a couple of weeks ago, blaming a ‘dead hearing aid’ and an urgent need to go to the bathroom for the comment. I’m sure he’ll be asked to clarify again in tomorrow night’s debate.

— CBSNews’ Mike Wallace reports that Mitt Romney wants to “re-tool” Washington, DC. How? Click here to find out. The write-up mentions that Romney is 60 years old – he certainly doesn’t look it, does he? Here’s a video clip from that interview (h/t: Matt Lewis):

— And finally, Jim Geraghty spoke with a strategist for one of the GOP candidates and has a ‘pre-game’ for tomorrow night’s debate (which I’ll be liveblogging).

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