GOP Debate in Las Vegas: CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference
Herman Cain strives to continue his meteoric rise to the front of the GOP pack, while Mitt Romney aims to show he’s not just a bore. Can Rick Perry remind us he's a serious contender? Read live updates from the CNN GOP debate in Las Vegas. Plus, join The Daily Beast’s live chat.
9-9-9 Under Fire
The underdogs wasted no time in piling on Herman Cain, seizing on the first question to attack his 9-9-9 plan. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum accuse Cain of essentially calling for a value-added tax that would raise taxes on low-income Americans. Moderator Anderson Cooper points to new figures from the Tax Policy Center saying 9-9-9 would raise taxes on 84 percent of Americans. Perry joins in, and says, for example, that Cain would be adding a sales tax to New Hampshire. Perry promises a new plan at the end of the week, and tells Cain, “I'll bump plans with you brother” Cain accuses them all of comparing “apples and oranges.” Romney, who has abstained from the frenzy so far, asks whether the state sales tax will go away, Cain says it's an orange. Even Gingrich, after complimenting Cain's attempt to simplify a complex idea, took a jab at the pizza guy. Cain, however, thinks that the others just don't "get" his plan. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, thinks that simplification is the answer.
Border Dispute: Romney Vs. Perry
Perry pivots off a question from Cooper about the state of health care in Texas to talk about border security. He says “those who hire illegals ought to be penalized” and then attacks Romney for hiring illegal immigrants in his home. Romney laughs and the two yell at each other. The audience boos, and Romney appeals to Cooper for order. Romney says he fired the immigrants when he discovered they were here illegally and calls for E-Verify. When Perry tries to speak over him again, he says “you have a problem with letting other people speak.”
Bachmann: Hold on, Moms
Blasting President Obama, Bachmann (who's come to this debate with guns firing) made a point to address all "moms" in the country: “President Obama has failed you on this issue of houses and foreclosures. I will not fail you on these issues.”
Santorum on the attack
Fight! Santorum and Romney go at it over health care. Santorum says Romney “lacks credibility” because his Massachusetts plan was the model for Obama's health-care plan and his advisers helped craft it. Romney dismisses the attack, saying the plan was right for his state but not for others. Santorum interrupts, and they try to talk over each other. The audience begins to boo. Romney, gaining the upper hand, reiterates his intention to repeal Obama's health-care plan if elected.