Things to Expect at the National Security Debate Tonight

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Republican presidential debate with candidates sponsored by the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas and held in the Venetian Hotel's Sands Expo and Convention Center.
The stage is set ... LITERALLY! Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After a couple of weekend debates that nobody saw or paid attention to, the endless parade of GOP primary debates returns to the work week tonight in Washington. The 8 p.m. debate, which will air on CNN, is co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, two conservative think tanks, and will focus on national security issues. So expect the following:

• Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, et al, telling us that we need to stay in Afghanistan until every last general unanimously agrees it's time to go.

• Jon Huntsman differentiating himself from the rest of the field's interventionists, but in an utterly emotionless and unmemorable way.

• Ron Paul being being asked, every so often, whether he agrees with the over-the-top hawkish thing another candidate just said.

• Herman Cain making up dubious excuses for why it took him 45 minutes to answer a basic question about the war in Libya

• Lots of unspecific critiques of President Obama's handling of Libya. 

• Rick Perry being asked to elaborate on his support, voiced last night on Fox News, for the unilateral creation of a no-fly zone over Syria.

• Unanimous assertions that President Obama is "soft on terror," despite everything.

• Newt Gingrich castigating the moderators because they asked him about something he'd rather not talk about.