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Less-than-shining debate moments from Cain, Romney, Perry et al.

October 19, 2011 |  8:18 am

GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas
Some lowlights from Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate:

1) Herman Cain offered a convoluted apples-oranges explanation of the relationship between his proposed 9% sales tax and state sales taxes. It took what seemed like an eternity for him to admit that state taxes would remain on the books if his 9-9-9 plan were enacted. He hadn't explicitly said otherwise, but listening to his evangelizing for the proposal, unwary voters could be excused for thinking that 9-9-9 would be all the taxes they would pay.

2) Mitt Romney again tried to reconcile his Massachusetts healthcare plan with his promise to repeal "Obamacare," with the unconvincing argument that the Massachusetts plan was a state plan and that he doesn't want to impose a state plan on the entire nation. But if the individual mandate was good for Massachusetts, why not?

3) Rick Perry resuscitated an "issue" from 2008: the fact that a company hired by Romney to do lawn work employed illegal immigrants. That, Perry said, made Romney a hypocrite unfit to discuss immigration. A cheap shot, and a recycled one.

4) Rick Santorum's swiveled on a question about Latinos to his pet theme of moral breakdown and threats to the American family. The connective tissue was the fact that Latinos are strong on family values. Probably the best example of being asked one question and answering another.

5) Newt Gingrich complained that moderator Anderson Cooper was encouraging bickering among the candidates by (gasp) having them respond to their rivals' statements. Isn't that what a debate is all
about?

-- Michael McGough

Credit: Reuters / Richard Brian

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