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Newt Gingrich was climbing in the polls and was tied for third place nationally until Herman Cain’s candidacy propelled forward. His “21st Century Contract with America” has failed to garner attention. As usual, he won some of the biggest applauses of the night, such as when he called for the firing of Ben Bernanke and said defense spending should not be cut just because the government is “too stupid” to come up with a solution. For the third time in a debate, he criticized the media, including the moderators. This time, he said the media is failing to demand transparency in the Federal Reserve.
He gave his first very gentle jab of his campaign when he asked Romney about why he didn’t want to reduce the capital gains tax for those making over $200,000. This gave an opportunity for Romney to talk about his affection for those making a lower income and to appeal to the middle-class. This exchange worked in Romney’s favor. Gingrich consistently offers detailed solutions and performs well in the debates. He must hope that Cain’s star falls and that he can take his supporters.
Rick Santorum is slowly creeping up in Iowa, with one poll showing him at five percent, only a few points behind Paul, Perry, Gingrich and Bachmann. He is the one that most harshly criticized Herman Cain’s economic plan, flat-out calling it “bad” in an interview before the debate. He asked audience members to raise their hands if they liked the idea of a national sales tax and if they believe the 9-9-9 tax rates would forever remain that low. The audience appreciated it when he linked poverty to the breakdown of the family structure.
Michele Bachmann is making an effort to sound more substantive, and spoke impressively about tax policy, debt and the mortgage crisis. However, she seems to lack the fire she once had and she’s fallen to the bottom of the pack in the polls. Like Gingrich and Santorum, she needs Cain’s numbers to quickly fall in order to have a chance.
Jon Huntsman is making a stand in New Hampshire. One poll showed him in third place at 10 percent, while another had him essentially tied with Gingrich for fourth. He was likeable and spoke well, but is still having trouble differentiating himself from the rest of the field. He delivered a foreign policy speech just before the debate where he emphasized his support for a speedier withdrawal from Afghanistan, but this debate only focused on economic policy. Huntsman’s biggest moment was when he joked that 9-9-9 sounded like the price of a pizza, referencing Domino’s 5-5-5 deal.
Congressman Ron Paul’s moment came when Cain said that Alan Greenspan was his favorite chairman of the Federal Reserve and he responded by calling him a “disaster.” Other than that, Ron Paul didn’t have any memorable moments. His support appears to have hit a ceiling, though his backers are extremely enthusiastic.
The coming days will tell us if Santorum and Bachmann were able to make Cain’s supporters question 9-9-9. If they failed, then Cain will have gone a long way in solidifying the anti-Romney vote around his candidacy. Cain has taken Rick Perry’s old spot in the race, but the fight is not over. The next debate is October 18.
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