Herman Cain, facing a rising tide of sexual harassment allegations, caught two big breaks at Wednesday’s presidential debate.
First, CNBC moderator Maria Bartiromo failed to follow up when he charged that he is the victim of “character assassination”—neglecting even to point out that the trade group he headed paid $80,000 in settlements to two of his accusers.
Second, the crowd booed the Money Honey’s question—and cheered Cain’s defiant answer.
That hardly means the controversy is fading, but it allowed the former pizza executive to spend the rest of his time fielding economic questions without journalistic harassment.
The only knockout punch in the CNBC debate was the one Rick Perry administered to himself. His tiny Texas Aggie brain froze when he tried to repeat his talking point about the three federal agencies he would close. "Commerce," he began authoritatively. "Education." Then . . . crickets. Someone called out "EPA.” No, Perry said. It was as dramatic and cringe-worthy a self-immolation as I've ever seen. I was in the room, ten feet from Howard Dean when he screamed in Iowa. I was in the hall in Richmond when George H.W. Bush looked at his watch in the middle of a debate. But I have never seen a more devastating moment of self-destruction. What's next, Perry endorsing Cain's 9-9...ummm, what's the third number?
The embattled Republican fielded the one debate question about sexual harassment brilliantly. Michelle Cottle on the Herminator’s artful messaging.
Was it just me, or did anyone else feel a flutter of concern that Wednesday night’s live audience was going to storm the moderators’ table and dismember Maria and John for bringing up Herman Cain’s lady troubles?
CNBC’s Bartiromo had barely uttered the word “character” when the crowd started booing. A lesser journalist would have stumbled or stuttered or, like Rick Perry, completely forgotten what she was talking about. Bartiromo just plowed ahead, reminding Cain that “shareholders are reluctant to hire CEOs when there are character issues,” so why should voters pick a president with character baggage?
There will be no resurrection for the Texas governor after his fatal ‘oops’ moment—the only story from the CNBC debate, says Mark McKinnon.
On Wednesday night we witnessed a political suicide live on national television.
Rick Perry is now the official Charlie Brown of presidential candidates. He reminds me of the kid who got held back in high school. Even though he’s been there longer than the rest of the class (or governor for 10 years), he still doesn’t know the answers.
In a debate filled with sloganeering and stupidity, one moment stood out as especially deceptive, says Michael Tomasky: the demagogic discussion of Social Security.
The great emblematic moment of a debate filled with demagogic sloganeering and stupidity came when Mr. Tea Party, Rick Santelli, asked about the Social Security “deficit”—that is, the fact that in 2011 Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it’s collecting in revenue. This “issue” is a pretty pure encapsulation of three pestilential problems: Republican scare-mongering; media stupidity in the face of it; and, and, and, uh... let’s see... I’ll think of it...
The Minnesota congresswoman once again failed to break through in the GOP debate.
Michele Bachmann did little tonight to resurrect her drifting campaign, delivering a passable performance with the same tired sound bites. And she’s running out of time.
She recycled her new favorite attack line, accusing the President Obama of taking direction from “Gen. Axelrod in Chicago,” referring to political adviser David Axelrod. Someone should tell the congresswoman that most Americans have no idea what she’s talking about.
Jon Huntsman had a golden opportunity to blast Mitt Romney on China at the CNBC debate, but he failed to land the blow. McKay Coppins on Huntsman’s lack of killer instinct.
When you’re a margin-of-error candidate, you spend the majority of the primary debates standing at the end of the row in silence, waiting for the moderators to give you a modicum of attention. So when you get a chance to take a (principled, informed) swipe at the frontrunner, you swing for the fences.
Unless, of course, you’re Jon Huntsman.