Ron Paul will win tonight's GOP debate

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) will win tonight's big Republican debate because he will be the only candidate discussing serious ideas in a Republican field that is one of the weakest in modern presidential politics.

Since most Republican candidates with a chance to win are not participating in tonight's debate, it will be a test of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. My guess is that Pawlenty will be trying to appease various Republicans while Dr. Paul will be clearly advocating his ideas and will win the battle of the sound bites after the formal debate has ended.

Watch for Paul to make headlines calling for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan, in particular, as well as advocating his economic policies with more clarity than any other candidate on the stage. I am not suggesting I agree with him on most issues — I do not — but I respect Paul's clarity and integrity and believe he will shine in the debate and make other candidates look superficial by comparison.

After his triumph over Osama bin Laden, President Obama looks stronger today than at any time since 2008. But this election is far from over. Even in his recent bump in the polls, Obama's economic favorable rating remains very low. There is much more coming from Mitt Romney, and both Jon Huntsman and Mitch Daniels are potentially formidable candidates waiting in the wings.

For tonight's GOP debate my bet is on Dr. Ron Paul, who will have more ideas that will be discussed tomorrow than any other candidate on the stage.