Cain's calling card is his 9-9-9 economic plan, and his rivals called him on it.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann: "If you give Congress a 9% sales tax, how long will it take a liberal president and a liberal congress to run it up to maybe 90%?"
Gov. Rick Perry: "Go to New Hampshire, where they have no sales tax. You're fixin' to give them one."
Herman Cain: "None of my distinguished colleagues who have attacked me here tonight, understand the plan."
Mitt Romney, of course, was the other major target.
Rick Santorum: "You just don't have credibility Mitt, when it comes to repealing Obamacare. You are- your plan was the basis for Obamacare."
Gov. Rick Perry: "You had illegals working on your property and the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you."
Romney, as usual, was focused on the future:
"We've got to talk about how to get America growing again, how to start adding jobs."
Romney put Rick Perry away with this line:
"You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking, and I suggest if you want to become president of the United States, you've got to let both people speak, so let me speak," Romney said.
Mitt Romney's experience trumped Herman Cain's enthusiasm and Rick Perry's desperation in this debate.
Mitt Romney was the winner. (This is not a recording.) Romney has become a debate machine.
But Herman Cain is still just learning. And in this debate he learned he's not ready yet to defend his 9-9-9 against a full frontal assault. That made him the loser.
I also thought Jon Huntsman was a winner, even though he skipped the debate to campaign in New Hampshire. Huntsman must do well in New Hampshire, so that was a smart move.
This was the eighth Republican debate (if you're counting) and eight have been more than enough for several GOP candidates, particularly Rick Perry.
(Copyright (c) 2011 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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