11.09.11

Best Moments From the CNBC GOP Debate (Video)

From Perry sinking his campaign with an 'oops' to Romney saying he’s no flip-flopper on economic policies and Cain addressing—and completely dismissing—the elephant in the room, WATCH VIDEO. Plus, Daily Beast columnists weigh in on the winners and losers.

Perry’s 'Oops' Heard Round the World

Rick Perry’s presidential candidacy has been a slowly sinking ship, but after tonight, consider it sunk. Perry would do away with three federal agencies when elected president, he says, but he can’t remember the third one. Think think think. He flounders for an agonizing 30 seconds or so, until even Ron Paul tries to throw him a bone. If Perry had any debate skills whatsoever, he would’ve taken it, even though it wasn’t what he was wracking his brain for. Instead, he settles with “oops” after failing to find the answer in his cue cards.

Huntsman Vs. Romney on China

Jon Huntsman doesn’t want to say it, but he thinks Romney’s insistence on “slapping tariffs on Chinese products based on currency manipulation” isn’t only a bad idea, it’s “pandering.” He was on to something, but the fact that moderator John Harwood had to pull it out of him allowed Romney to step in with authority. The former Massachusetts governor's anti-China policies have been consistent and passionate, albeit a bit bizarre. Romney says he's been in business for years and witnessed the kind of “predatory pricing” that he thinks China is guilty of “by holding down the value of their currencies.” If only Huntsman had managed to call Romney out on his strange comment about China stealing American jobs.

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What Happens When Cain isn’t Allowed to Say ‘9-9-9’?

Forget about the sexual harassment allegations. Here’s a much more relevant reason why Herman Cain wouldn’t make a good president: he can’t talk about America’s financial issues without referencing his 9-9-9 plan as the best way to “grow the economy." But as moderator Jim Cramer points out, stocks were still volatile even when the economy was in stellar condition. When it comes to regulating markets, Cain is clueless.

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Gingrich: Occupy Wall Street Doesn't Know Its History

Along with blasting Bernanke, going after the media has been another regular feature in Newt Gingrich’s debate repertoire. But this time he does so with more gusto than ever before, throwing Occupy Wall Street into the mix as well and saying he’s amazed that neither has “a clue about history.” Gingrich says he, on the other hand, has his facts straight, referencing Henry Ford and Bill Gates as people who built their fortunes on nothing. He asks whether that puts them “in the 1 percent or the 99 percent?” With the audience hanging on his words, he delivers a sweeping statement about America “historically” being the richest country in the world “because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs, and it’s sad that the media doesn’t accurately report how the economy works.” Huge applause from the crowd, but Maria Bartiromo doesn’t buy it and momentarily catches Gingrich off-guard when she asks him to elaborate. He eventually does, making a good point and closing out the discussion with a bang.

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Herman Cain Rips 'Unfounded Accusations'

It didn’t take long for Herman Cain to address the elephant in the room—the sexual-harassment scandal that’s been hanging over his campaign. If there’s one thing Cain is good at, it’s speaking with conviction, whether he’s defending his 9-9-9 tax plan or his character. “The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations,” an unblinking Cain said. He added that he values his character and integrity “more than anything else,” and pointed to the polls as proof that Americans do too (his supporters haven’t strayed significantly since the debate). While we thought the harassment allegations would be off-limits in the debate, Cain brought them out front and center—and dismissed them entirely.

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Mitt Romney: I'm No Flip-Flopper

With the spotlight on Mitt Romney, the debate moderators decided to see whether highlighting his occasional flip-flopping on policies like the bailout would make him sweat. He stayed calm at first, saying that he always viewed the bailout as “the wrong way to go,” whether it was President Bush’s idea or President Obama’s. “My plan would have had a private-sector bailout,” he said, explaining that he wouldn’t have allowed the government to have such a heavy-handed role. When the moderators pressed again, Romney ran out of political examples when he hadn’t flip-flopped and turned to his personal life. “I’m a man of steadiness and constancy,” he said, citing his commitment to his church, his wife, and his company, though he had a momentary brain hiccup when he tried to point out the number of years he’s been devoted to his wife: “I’ve been married to the same woman for 25—excuse me, I’ll get myself in trouble—42 years.” Smooth, Romney, very smooth.

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Newt Gingrich Goes After Ben Bernanke …  Again

Leave it to Newt Gingrich to stick with what works. Asked what he would do to create jobs, he pointed to Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke as being “a large part of the problem” and said the first thing he would do as president would be to fire him immediately. He went on to say he’d like to take a look at Bernanke’s decision documents to understand “who he bailed out, why he bailed them out, who he didn’t bail out, and why he didn’t go out.” During the last debate, Gingrich’s criticism of Bernanke for setting the stage for the financial collapse earned cheers from the crowd. The second time around, his attack was received less enthusiastically.

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