The Gloves Are Off

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Last night’s Republican presidential debate was the most substantive and the most confrontational. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was attacked by every one of his competitors, and aggressive attacks on Mitt Romney by Rick Perry and Rick Santorum were not received well by the audience. The polls will probably change significantly in the coming days as a result of the event.

Herman Cain was target number one. Every single person on stage ridiculed his 9-9-9 plan in a pile-on that must take a toll on his poll numbers. He repeatedly told viewers to go to his website and evaluate the math themselves. Rick Santorum claimed that 9-9-9 would raise taxes on 84% of taxpayers and criticized its elimination of tax breaks for families. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney said it would raise taxes, hurt the middle class, and unwisely give the government the power to enforce a national sales tax. Ron Paul called 9-9-9 “dangerous” and “regressive.” Newt Gingrich said it isn’t as simple as portrayed.

Cain had some good moments in defending his plan, such as when he said that Americans currently have to pay five invisible taxes on a loaf of bread, and 9-9-9 would replace it with one visible tax. His comment that it would throw out a “10 million word mess” was well-received, as was his criticism of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters. He said his critics were confusing apples and oranges, particularly when Romney asked him if it would add a sales tax on top of a state tax. Audience members enjoyed it when Romney said it would therefore force Americans to pay for apples and oranges.

Cain again stumbled on foreign policy. Anderson Cooper mentioned his statement in an interview that he’d potentially support an exchange of Guantanamo Bay prisoners for an American hostage. He says he misspoke. He did not give an answer about the Israeli prisoner exchange with Hamas for Gilad Shalit, opining that we shouldn’t judge it because we are not in the Israeli Prime Minister’s position. Altogether, it was a rough night for Herman Cain and he is likely to lose some of his support to one of the second-tier candidates.

Mitt Romney was the second most-attacked candidate, but performed better than Cain. None of the criticisms were new, and they have already been part of Republican voters’ evaluations for a long time. In fact, the audience reaction to attacks on him seemed to work in his favor. First, Rick Santorum went after him on health care and when Romney tried to answer, he was incessantly interrupted by Santorum, who then said, “your time is up” before Romney even had time to reply.

Second, Rick Perry was booed when he mentioned Romney’s accidental hiring of a lawn service that employed illegal immigrants, saying he was at the “height of hypocrisy.”  Romney tried to defend himself but Perry repeatedly jumped in. Romney lost his cool and with a red face, raised his voice and put his hand on Perry’s shoulder. In his reply, he knocked Perry for approving in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and the crowd went wild. The audience reaction showed that Romney won the exchange, aided by sympathy caused by the rudeness towards him.

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  • mrbean

    Republicans Romney and Perry were easily manipulated by the twinkie Anderson Cooper whose aim was to create chaos not ask relavent questions because like Chris Mathews, he has a tingle up his leg for Obama.

  • Glenn

    I think the plan of the MSM is to get the candidates to tear each other down as much as possible instead of going after the real opponent which is Obama.

  • 11bravo

    I was hoping Newt would again at some point ask Cooper if he was a moderator, or a troubled child poking confined animals with a stick hoping to get them to fight.
    These GOP candidates have to be smarter than this.
    I am a Cain guy, I do not think he did himself any good, but I also do not think he tanked-he held his own. Lets see where the polls are in a week.

  • Zinnia2

    in the end the repub candidates basically have the same principles and goals and need to get that message out – it's definitely the plan of the dems all the way to the oval office to pit US citizens against each other – from the repub candidates to their plot of ows – truly contemptable…

  • Mike

    Cain is toast. How can anyone defeat even an unpopular incumbant president by telling 84% of Americans that they are not taxed enough?

  • BLJ

    These things are not debates. They are infomercials. Having a tool like Anderson Cooper "moderate" them is a joke. This is same pinhead who got his pants wet with excitement in Egypt.

    I don't need some phony debate to understand where the candidates stand. I also don't need to see our Commie President perform in one to change my opinion of him.

  • StephenD

    Since we the tax payers are paying for this "Bus Tour" the President is on, what say we take Gingrich's proposal to him for ALL the candidates? In other words, since we're paying and have a vested interest, we sanction the President debating each of the candidates on their ideas relative to every area of responsibility that befalls a President; from the Economy and taxes, to foreign policy; military spending to immigration. Every area and let them explain themselves. THAT would speak volumes and it gives the President a distinct advantage since he'll be able to polish up from his "mistakes" in preparation for the next debate. It certainly would serve our interests better than him driving around the country telling us the Republicans must be too stupid to understand his "jobs bill" in one piece so that's why he'll feed it to them a little at a time. What a waste of our money!

  • EyeDuhHoeAn

    The only "leader" out there is Cain. I would follow him into battle. All of the other candidates are a bunch of gurly-boy wimps. I don't have faith in them to even lead a game of "crack the whip"… They are not leaders. They don't have a plan. Cain's 9-9-9 plan probably wouldn't make it through congress should he get eleceted, but no other candidate has offered a viable option. If the republican party wants Romney, a loser who lost to McCain during the last election to be their "boy" now, then I'm through with them. This country needs a third party, a conservative party, the tea party.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      I suppose you are correct if you believe that naivety is a virtue instead of a liability. His sweeping 9,9,9 tax reform proposal is the height of naivety, and once again on foreign policy Cain demonstrated he is a total neophyte pretender when he answered last night and also earlier in the day that he would take into consideration releasing the Guantanamo Bay prisoners in exchange for one American hostage like Netanyahu did with respect to Gilad Shalit, which is almost as bad as when he demonstrated earlier this year on Fox News Sunday that he didn't understand the “right of return” with respect to the perpetual jihad the Islamic world is waging against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel and also all non-Muslim unbelievers around the world. Don't get me wrong, Cain is a very charismatic person, but qualified to be President? Hardly.

      This country needs a third party, a conservative party, the tea party.

      Yeah right…please explain in detail why you believe Cain is more conservative than Romney and never mind the fact that Cain himself supported Romney in 2008.

      • BLJ

        Hell we were dumb enough to elect a unqualfied neophyte with no experience in 2008. This neophyte is still clueless 1000 days into office. At least Cain has been vetted and we know where he grew up, went to school and did in the business world.

        Cain strikes me as the kind of man who would surround himself with competent people who know what they are doing (a sign of a real leader). He also seems to be the type of person who could grow with the job.

        The 2012 election isn't about getting the most conservative person, it is about getting someone who can beat Comrade O and get us out of the economic and big government mess we are in.

        • ObamaYoMoma

          Hell we were dumb enough to elect a unqualfied neophyte with no experience in 2008. This neophyte is still clueless 1000 days into office. At least Cain has been vetted and we know where he grew up, went to school and did in the business world. .

          Please speak for yourself and I'm sorry but being dumb enough to elect a complete neophyte in 2008 is not a rational excuse or justification for electing another complete neophyte in 2012 just because he has been vetted.

          Cain strikes me as the kind of man who would surround himself with competent people who know what they are doing (a sign of a real leader). He also seems to be the type of person who could grow with the job.

          So you acknowledge that Cain is totally unqualified to be President but if we get lucky – according to you – he may surround himself with competent people and hopefully grow into the job. Please forgive me but like most Americans I prefer to elect people that I know beforehand are already qualified for the job. There is entirely too much as stake for America today to continue playing Russian roulette with our future.

          The 2012 election isn't about getting the most conservative person, it is about getting someone who can beat Comrade O and get us out of the economic and big government mess we are in.

          If you think that repeating 9,9,9 as a cure all for our economic woes over and over again ad nauseum like Obama did with respect to “hope and change” in 2008 and continuing to make foreign policy faux pas on a regular and routine basis is sufficient enough to defeat Obama, then you are more than just a little naive to say the least. Indeed, the Obama presidential campaign must be praying that Cain wins the Republican Party nomination.

          • BLJ

            You seem to be in love with yourself. Why don't you run?

            Saying that Cain should surrond himself with competent people makes sense to normal people. It seems to be a sign of a good leader. I guess not everyone is as smart as you.

            I never said that his 9-9-9 idea is the only solution for what ails America. It seems to be an idea that has some merit and at least the man hasn't lived at the government trough his whole life.

            Get off your high horse before you fall off and put another crack in your skull.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    She said that the Iranian terror plot and Iraq’s refusal to grant immunity to American forces were direct consequences of the U.S. not being respected.

    Can anyone imagine an American soldier being tried in a Sharia court in Iraq? Indeed, it would be more than surreal. If anyone believes that the Sharia states of Iraq and Afghanistan the Leftists that hijacked our State Department established with the help of a stealth jihadist, former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, will ever be loyal friends and allies of the USA and the West, then I have a bridge to sell them.

    Bring our troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan ASAP because both misguided nation-building missions in Iraq and Afghanistan couldn't be more fantasy based or counterproductive, as we are in essence strengthening our eternal enemies.

  • Supreme_Galooty

    These so-called debates are a joke – and a pretty sick joke at that. In a country where every imbecile over eighteen years of age can vote for the presidency, the race for that position has devolved into a crass debacle where demagoguery and hucksterism hold sway.

    Mr. Cain's tax proposal has enough going for it that it merits serious debate. (That does not mean that I am for it.) But if it does merit serious debate, it does NOT belong in one of these televised fiascos masquerading as debates. What really stands out here is that Mr. Cain has proffered a serious solution to ONE of the many serious problems facing this nation. Where are the other candidates' solutions to illegal immigration? To feckless, inept "education" run rampant across the land? To insanely weak foreign policy? With the exception of Congressman Paul, I have seen no other serious ideas percolate up through the miasmatic "debates."

    • ObamaYoMoma

      To insanely weak foreign policy? With the exception of Congressman Paul, I have seen no other serious ideas percolate up through the miasmatic "debates."

      Now if you want to talk insane, Paul's anarcho-kook foreign policy along with his ignorance of Islam is beyond weak, gullible, and naïve, as it would inevitably lead to a world dominated by totalitarianism with the destruction of the USA being the end result.

      • Supreme_Galooty

        I think you may have assumed I was referring to Ron Paul's foreign policy ideas. I was not. His greatest "genius" is economic in nature. His foreign policy ideas are as you described.

        Regarding foreign policy, this country should engage in a serious, long-term, broad-based foreign policy debate so that every time a Democrat administration replaces a Republican administration, or vice-versa, American foreign policy would stay relatively stable instead flopping about like a fish on the boardwalk.

        • ObamaYoMoma

          His greatest "genius" is economic in nature. His foreign policy ideas are as you described.

          Yeah well part of his economic genius includes gutting the Defense Department and throwing our most valuable allies under the bus too. With all due respect, Paul is an anarcho-kook and he shouldn't be allowed in the same building much less the same debate with Republicans candidates for President.

          Regarding foreign policy, this country should engage in a serious, long-term, broad-based foreign policy debate so that every time a Democrat administration replaces a Republican administration, or vice-versa, American foreign policy would stay relatively stable instead flopping about like a fish on the boardwalk.

          When has bipartisanship ever worked? Did the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommendations work when it recommended doubling the size, scope, and power of the federal government via the creation of the massive Department of Homeland Security and the enormous National Intelligence Directorate? Only if you believe that growing government is the solution to all that ails us, as even though the size, scope, and power of the federal government was doubled and American citizens heretofore constitutionally protected rights to privacy and freedom of speech and expression were usurped, the reality is we are even more vulnerable today than we were before the 9/11 jihad attacks, as the Fort Hood Massacre, Arkansas jihad attack, Christmas Day Bomber, the Times Square Bomber, etc., etc., etc. all more than demonstrate. All the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommendations managed to accomplish was exploding out of control national federal deficits, the loss of American's constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, and the creation of a false sense of security so that we could continue accommodating mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Anyone remember the look on Perry's face last night after Romney pointed out his two previous piss poor debate performances and then proceeded to detail Perry's miserable record on illegal immigration? I think if Perry had a gun on his body at that time, he would have blown Romney's brains out. He looked downright visceral at that moment.

    Perry has to be the worse candidate ever to perform in Presidential debates, as each time he tangles with Romney his support numbers takes a nose dive. I can understand it happening in one debate, but in the other two debates? Give me a break, he's a glutton for punishment and his own worse enemy.

    Some of the glitter was scraped off of Cain's 9, 9, 9 plan last night and Cain once again demonstrated that he is a complete neophyte when it comes to foreign policy. He is definitely a very charismatic candidate, but qualified to be President is another matter.

    • BLJ

      These poor guys will have to campaign in all 57 states. Oops……I just had an Obama moment. Sorry.

      • Supreme_Galooty

        Actually it's 58. If you remember he remarked that he still had one more to go. But to be kind – not normally in my nature regarding this unAmerican buffoon – I think he was referring to the "lower 48," and simply misspoke. (That there are 57 Islamic states lurking out there is delicious irony.)

  • Reason_For_Life

    "His proposal to cut $1 trillion in spending was cheered, but the fact remains that Ron Paul represents a specific niche that will not grow any further during this campaign."

    Which is why the Republicans will be soundly defeated in 2012. All except Ron Paul represent Obama-Lite.

    Look at what happened to Herman Cain for introducing a radically new tax system. Instead of seeing it's virtues (simplicity, fairness) and trying to improve upon it (perhaps the sales tax should be 5% and the income tax 14% or something along that line) the Republicans, in full suicide mode, attacked Cain like he was an alien fungus.

    The basic theme of all of the debaters was "I am a good leader. My opponents are not. They are a bunch of hypocrites" That's ad hominem raised to a campaign strategy and a very bad and potentially catastrophic strategy since it provided enough video vignettes of Republicans behaving badly to keep Obama in office for 20 years.

    In the name of sanity the debaters should all quit so that we can start over with candidates that actually have something to say beyond "I'm not as bad as Obama".