Now that the dust has settled, Dear Readers, thought I’d recall a few memorable moments from last night’s CNN debate at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas:
My pick for the best one-liner of the night:
In his self-introductory remarks, Perry said he was was “an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience.”
(Yes, he was talking to you, Mitt.)
For the first 25 minutes of the debate, it was Pick on Herman Cain night, as follows:
Rep. Michele Bachman: “Anytime you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away.”
Sen. Rick Santorum: “Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness. I give him credit for — for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families.”
Gov. Rick Perry: “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don’t need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one.”
Rep. Ron Paul: “Herman. It’s not going to fly.” And: “It’s very, very dangerous. And it will raise more revenues.”
Gov. Mitt Romney: “The analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle-income people see higher taxes under your plan.”
Cain repeatedly defended his plan, insisting that it was being misrepresented and would not raise taxes on poor people.
“The reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians — they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair,” responded Cain.
Team Cain’s spin room take? The attacks proved he’s considered the frontrunner. They also said he would be releasing more details in the near future.
Romney and Santorum got into a shouting match over the Massachusetts health care measure passed when Romney was governor of the Bay State.
Santorum: “You just don’t have credibility. Your consultants helped craft Obamacare.”
Attacks on “RomneyCare” aren’t going away, as much as the former Massachusetts governor might wish they would.
Romney’s best defense is probably the one he’s lately been sticking with and did again last night: What he did in MA was good for that state given the situation. And states, not the federal government, should be legislating health care solutions tailored to the needs of their residents.
Perry attacked Romney on a story that recently surfaced: “Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.”
A shouting match ensued as the two governors took turns interrupting and talking over one another.
At one point, Romney condescendingly said to Perry, “This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you’re going to get testy.”
(Romney did acknowledge that a landscaping company he hired employed illegal immigrants, but he said he fired the company when he found out.)
Also notable: During an exchange of barbs, Romney at one point put his hand on Perry’s shoulder. Aggressive.
There are 12 more Republican debates scheduled in the upcoming months (yes, really).
Most of the campaigns have not started running a full menu of TV ads. Once the field is culled (a factor of campaign dollars), the remaining contenders will have many more chances to rip their opponents on these and other issues.