News today is that Herman Cain's architect for 9-9-9 is now advising him to drop the sales tax component. I guess after Bachmann and others pointed out that it's an open line of revenue for Congress and opens the door to a VAT, well, it could be problematic.
Ed Morrissey has his eye on Newt, and as much as I hate to say it, he might be on to something:
Of all the other candidates on the stage, Newt Gingrich might be the one to watch. He has slowly gained momentum by being among the most positive on stage (except to moderators) and demonstrating his encyclopedic knowledge and quick wit. If it wasn’t for his personal baggage, he might already be the front-runner — and if both Cain and Perry stumble late, Republicans might be inclined to take on his baggage rather than hand Mitt Romney the nomination virtually unchallenged.While you're waiting for the debate, be sure to catch Stacy McCain's American Spectator article today. He's at the top of his game, AND he's in Vegas.
Debate begins at 7 CT. C'mon back.
Added: Bumping this back to the top.
Michelle Malkin's handicapping of the field. It's not pretty.
Also Added: Ooops. Is Herman Cain done? This is a terrible answer. This combined with the electrified fence theory of border control is pretty hard to overcome.
The beginning: At least Huntsman isn't in this one. Bachmann is sporting her up-do tonight.
Candidate intros. His daughter had surgery today. Shout out. Awwww. Ron Paul: "I'm the champion of liberty." Alrighty now.
Herman Cain: Married 43 years. Wow. That's a nice record. He "solves problems for a livin'."
Mitt: Touts his Olympic creds. Rick Perry: "A proven job creator. A man who is about economic growth. An authentic conservative, not a man who is a conservative for convenience."
Newt: "Unlike President Obama, I'm glad to be in Vegas. I think it's a great place to have a convention." Heh!
Bachmann: "This is one night when I hope what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas."
Cain responds. "Read our analysis." He says politicians don't want to throw out the tax code and put in something simple. He says his plan will liberate American workers and businesses.
Santorum likes Cain's boldness, but Americans will pay more in taxes under Cain's plan, he says.
Perry says "go to New Hampshire where they don't have a sales tax and you're fixin' to give 'em one." He's got a strong answer here. "Get Americans Workin' Again" count is one.
Cain talking about apples and oranges and loaves of bread now. He's on the defensive.
Ron Paul calls 9-9-9 dangerous and regressive. Ron Paul likes that a lot of people aren't paying taxes. Ugh. He says replace the income tax with "nothing." Applause.
Romney is articulate in decimating the 9-9-9 plan.
Newt: "I think Herman Cain deserves a lot of credit" for taking a risk with a big idea. "He has us talking about something that at least matters," instead of the usual junk. Newt says, however, it's much more complex than Herman lets on.
Newt favors zero capital gains and other focused cuts. Something you can do very fast; 9-9-9 would take years to think through and do right.
Bachmann likes Reagan's "economic miracle." She thinks every single American ought to pay something "even if it's a dollar." She plugs her website.
Perry says "the nine we ought to be concentrating on" is the 9% unemployment. This administration is blocking energy creation, he says. "Let's have American energy independence!" Applause.
Romney says energy is all well and good but manufacturing is important too.
Romney insists that RomneyCare is popular and works in his state but is not what he wants for the nation. Santorum is still coming unglued.
Newt tries to restore order. "Candidly, Mitt, your plan is essentially one more big government, bureaucratic" mess. "There's a lot of big government behind" RomneyCare. Romney says they got the idea of an individual mandate from you [Newt]. Not true, says Newt.
Bachmann is screaming "Anderson, Anderson, Anderson!" wanting some time.
He gives her some time. She wants to point out the CLASS Act was thrown out because "Obamacare is so flat out unpopular." Applause.
First commerical. Whew.
Best commercial break Tweet:
Update 7:45: To Cain, would you keep any part of Obamacare? "No." It's a disaster, he says.
HR3400, says Cain. It passes market centered reforms to allow association health plans.
To Perry a question about the high rate of uninsured kids in Texas. He says heath insurance in TX is just fine, thank you. "We have a 1200 mile border with Mexico and a huge number of illegals." He pivots the whole question to illegals. He's screwed up here by talking about a magnet that draws illegals when his own tuition exemption is a pretty big magnet. Perry attacks Romney and calls him a hypocrite for hiring illegals.
Perry is "breaking the rules" and gets boo'd.
"It's been a tough couple of debates for Rick" and he's getting "testy" says Romney.
Perry says he's against amnesty. Perry is done. He keeps interrupting Mitt who schools Perry on interrupting. "If you want to be president of the United States you've got to listen" better. Boy!
Mitt promises to put in place E-Verify ("which YOU opposed" he says to Perry). He gets applause.
Anderson Cooper calls out Cain on the electric fence. "Allow me to give a serious answer," says Cain. Build a fence and boots on the ground in the more dangerous areas. "We must shut the back door so people can come in the front door." Enforce current immigration laws. "Empower the states to do what the federal government is NOT doing in enforcing those laws."
Bachmann takes the high road and points to Obama's aunt and uncle who are allowed to stay in the country. She says she can build a fence across the entire border. Perry says yeah, you can do that but again, there's a better way.
Mitt says "turn off the magnets." He lobs a shot at Perry that gets boo'd.
Perry: "We have a federal government that has failed." Perry says Mitt hired illegals when he had a lawn service that had an illegal working for them. Perry is making a much bigger deal of that than it is or that Romney is actually responsible for and he's getting boo'd for it. It's not working for him.
Mitt is killing Perry on the immigration issue. His weakness so far has been on health care.
Ron Paul. No fence.
Perry gets the 14th amendment question. He, too, pivots. "You get to ask the questions and I get to answer like I want to." Booo's. "Get this country workin'" count is two. Perry is blathering about mining and green energy boondoggles. "Get Americans workin" double hit. Up to four.
Perry does not support repealing the 14th Amendment.
Bachmann gets the same question. Anchor babies. Deal with it legislatively.
Santorum: Nobody's talking about family, faith and marriage! Latinos understand about families!
8:05: Audience question is about the Yucca mountain repository: Newt says we have to find a safe method of taking care of nuclear waste; the way we're doing it now is vastly more dangerous than Yucca mountain would be.
Ron Paul says 49 states shouldn't be able to dump their garbage in one state and Romney agrees with him.
A housing question: Santorum points out everyone who supported TARP and points out Perry who shouts: "WRONG" and Cain who mutters "Not ALL of it...". Santorum calls them flip floppers.
Santorum says let the market work.
Perry rebuts: "We wrote a letter to Congress acting them to act," not necessarily supporting TARP. Santorum disagrees. Perry says "I wasn't for TARP."
Cain says he supported the concept of TARP but didn't like "all the other things."
Bachmann's response to the housing question is something about women at the end of their ropes losing their houses. She wants to talk to moms. "Obama has failed you!"
Discussion on OWS: Romney "Obama has failed you." Where have I heard that before? "Americans are hurting across this country and the president is out campaigning! Why isn't he governing?!"
Commercial break. Sam Adams break.
8:40: I was checking Twitter during the break. Ed Morrissey notes that Perry has improved significantly which is not really saying much.
Cooper barrels right in with a Mormon question. Santorum points out that he's a Catholic himself but that people should look at the character of the person.
Newt says "If the question is 'does faith matter' then absolutely." He points out that this country was founded on religious principles. "None of us should rush in judgment on others" in the way they approach God. Newt says he'd really be concerned about someone who said faith wouldn't affect their judgment but basically it's nobody's business what your relationship with god is.
Question Bachmann: Should defense be cut? She points out the thwarted Iranian attack on the U.S. and Obama engaging American troops "in a fourth conflict" in Uganda. She says the U.S. is disrespected in the world today because of Obama's failed policies. "The president of Iran is a genocidal maniac!" Great!
Defense spending is on the table, she says, but the president has spread us too thin. We cannot cut it by 500 billion dollars.
Newt: Washington is broken; look at the super-committee. "We'll have to shoot ourselves in the head so when they come back with the idea to cut off our right leg we'll simply be grateful." OMG.
Newt says, "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk." He will not put the defense of the US next to some arbitrary budget number. Applause.
Ok here's the hostage question to Cain. Will he clear this up? Cain says "you would have to consider the entire situation. I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists," but you have to look at all of the facts. Not much better.
Anderson: Isn't that negotiating?
Cain: "We cannot negotiate with terrorists" which is where we have to start as a fundamental principle. Hmmm.
Santorum: No defense spending cuts. "It is the first duty of the President of the United States to protect us." This administration has had political objectives rather than objectives for success. Bachmann is right, he says, Iran does disrespect us.
Discussion about foreign aid. Paul wants it cut. "Would you cut aid to Israel," Cooper asks. Yep. It doesn't help them, Paul said. It makes them dependent.
Bachmann says she'd "never" cut aid to Israel; they're our great ally!
Cain says he'd never let Gitmo terrorists go, "that was not the intent at all."
Ron Paul brings up Reagan negotiating with hostages (Iran) and Santorum wants to say apples and oranges but he doesn't. He says it was totally different. Newt points out that Reagan thought the Iranian deal "was a terrible mistake."
Is Perry still here?
Last round: Who can beat Obama is the new topic. Romney has the best chance, according to polls, says Cooper. Santorum: Less than 50% of Americans can even name one of us, so it's irrelevant. "No one in this field has won a swing state." I have, he says. I won Pennsylvania. No one has defeated a Democrat in a major race - "I have." Santorum is firing at all of them. He has a sense of desperation about him.
Romney gets a rebuttal: People are looking for someone to beat Obama and it's me! I've spent my life in the private sector!
Perry: " If you wanna know how someone is gonna act in the future look at how they acted in the past." Compares his jobs record to Romneys and says his record is much better.
Romney rebuts: "You were the chairman of Al Gore's campaign" and GWB was running. Ouch. Half the jobs in Texas, says Mitt, were created for illegal aliens. "Incorrect!" says Perry. Perry rebuts and names big companies that came to Texas and gets boo'd. This audience is NOT Perry friendly.
Ooooo and Romney steals the "Get America workin' again" line.
Cain: I should be president! Cain says Romney's experience is Wall Street and his own is Main Street. Cain says he is a problem solver "who fixes stuff."
Romney: "We both have a private sector background. I've been CEO four times."
Bachmann with the cake thing again: "The cake is baked. Obama will be a one-term president!"
Newt blasts Cooper for "maximizing bickering." Newt wants 7 three hour debates with Obama. Cool! I'd watch that!
Well Anderson cut it off before everyone got to answer much to everyone's ire.
Who won? Nobody. Seriously. It was full of fire and bickering and much more interesting. The audience was set against everything Perry said and boo'd him at every turn. Romney took some hits, I think, on RomneyCare but Perry brow beat him with the illegal lawn service guy. Overdone. Herman Cain backed off from saying he'd release Gitmo terrorists but I think damage was done already on that. The video lives. Bachmann stayed steady and had a few good moments. Newt remains quick witted and smart and bribes us all with a promise to mop the floor with Obama in 21 hours of debates.
Oh would I love to see that.
Cull the herd.