Sunlight Live to cover first-ever Tea Party hosted debate in Florida


Republican presidential candidates will face off before some of their fiscally conservative, libertarian Tea Party allies on Monday night during a debate in Florida sponsored by the Tea Party Express and CNN. It's the first time the Tea Party has hosted a presidential debate.

GOP candidates Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Herman Cain, whose messages often align with the goals of the Tea Party, might find themselves in good company Monday evening.

The Sunlight Foundation will stream the debate and cover it live at to add context, campaign finance and lobbying information, and real-time fact checking. Meet us online at 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 12 to view the debate and live blogging on our multimedia platform, Sunlight Live. 

In addition to Bachmann, a U.S. representative from Minnesota who founded the House Tea Party Caucus, Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, Cain, former executive of Godfather's Pizza, and Perry, the governor of Texas, there are four more candidates expect to take the stage Monday night: 

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has said he won't run, declined an invitation from CNN to join the debate. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin also received an invite and has yet to respond to it. Although Palin has not announced that she will run for president, she fared better than some of the official candidates in a recent poll

The most recent campaign contribution filings show Romney has raised the most out of any candidate with almost $18.3 million. Paul has about $4.5 million; Bachmann has $3.6 million and Santorum has $582,000. But those figures are only as recent as June 30. No figures are available for Perry and Huntsman, who joined the race after that deadline. The next campaign contribution cycle ends Sept. 30; updated contribution numbers will be released Oct. 15. 

As governor of Texas, Perry has received most of his campaign dollars from the oil and gas, real estate and lobbying industries. Huntsman received most of his money while governor of Utah through self financing, political action committees and the chemical manufacturing industry. 

Topics of interest to Tea Partiers include limiting taxes, shrinking the size of the government, adhering to a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and reducing the national debt, so expect to see candidates touch on those subjects during Monday's debate.

Monday's debate will be moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. It starts at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The debate takes place in Tampa, Fla., which is also the site for the 2012 Republican National Convention.