THE BLOG
08/14/2011 11:17 am ET | Updated Oct 14, 2011

Advice for the Candidates, August 2011 (Special Post-Iowa Straw Poll & Debate Edition)

Headline: One Week Later and it is a Different Field

Wow, it sure is amazing what can happen in one week; the entire Republican Primary race has changed. Perry has entered exactly when he needed to, stealing the spotlight from the rest of the candidates.

The Fox News debate pinned a few candidates against each other and even included a few split screens in doing so. The goal, it seemed, as Gingrich noted (not a direct quote), was to "get the candidates."

Bachmann and Pawlenty went at each other. Bachmann had already been polling high in Iowa and Pawlenty needed to go after her. Ideally, Bachmann should have resisted the temptation to attack Pawlenty but at the same time, she still needed to defend her record.

The results of yesterday's straw poll have confirmed what has started to echo through the media for a few days: a new narrative in the Republican field is taking shape.

Romney is still the frontrunner. Perry is competition. Bachmann won the Straw Poll. Pawlenty performed. But did he perform well enough? Should we now count him out?

A few candidates must go; I list all of the candidates, including which ones must go below:

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Bachmann: you won the Straw Poll. Congrats! But now you need to worry about Perry. He is going to take some of your supporters from you. You also really performed well in the debate but you should have focused more on defending your record than attacking Pawlenty back. With such high polling in the state, no one likes attack dogs. Defense of a record is not synonymous with attacking back.

Cain: some media types seem to think that you performed well by placing in the top five. Let's be honest though. For you to win the nomination you will have to climb past not only Bachmann but also Romney and Perry too. You have enough personal money to continue but I think we both know that you must drop out.

Gingrich: you were the wise experienced man in the debate. Stay in for more of the debates. We can use a wise elder.

Huntsman:you need to keep distinguishing yourself from Romney. The last debate performance was not ideal, a man who wants to take the high road of civility. You are above catfights and always have been. The trouble is that television is all about ratings. Will the American people be able to see past this?

Pawlenty: you performed well in the debate. You turned some people off with your attacks but you also acted tough. you placed in the straw poll, which you needed to do. But it all comes down to Iowa -- and can you win the state in January? Your money is apparently drying up fast.

Paul:you are fun to watch. Your placement in the straw poll was like a good advertising campaign and you have some ardent followers. For entertainment value and for the sake of your followers, you must stay in.

Palin:to political hacks like myself, it seems likely that you will not run but are trying to be the wise party leader. It is clever. At the same time, stick to your plan to make a decision by next month because even your friends in the race will find a decision past then an annoying one.

Perry: thus far, you have done everything right. Who knows how long it will be before you do something wrong? Only time will tell.

Romney: you did not attack anyone in the debate. Taking the high road was exactly what you should have done: using the front-runner approach. Keep doing exactly what you are doing.

Santorum: you set your expectations to perform in the top five and you did. But you simply cannot win the nomination. I expect it only to be a matter of time before you drop out and this is exactly what you must do.

Let me know your own thoughts below. You can also visit www.DavidHelfenbein.com or www.AdvicefortheCandidates.com.