Former pizza executive Herman Cain sought to capitalize on his rise in opinion polls by repeatedly promoting his 9-9-9 tax plan at a debate focused on the economy, as other Republican presidential candidates derided it as impractical and criticized each other’s credentials.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is the party’s frontrunner, navigated through repeated attacks from his opponents, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is struggling to reignite his candidacy.
The debate tonight showcased disputes among the candidates on a range of economic issues, including Chinese currency, housing loans,job creation and the possibility of future bailouts should the nation face another economic crisis.
The session was viewed as especially important for Cain, 65, and Perry, 61. Cain’s polling gains have reshaped the primary race and created a new challenge for Perry as he tries to regain ground he has lost to Romney.
The debate moderated by Charlie Rose at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post put the candidates in direct conflict over their plans for turning around an economy with an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
Cain proposes to replace the tax system with 9 percent corporate and individual taxes and a 9 percent sales tax. Cain challenged a Bloomberg analysis of his tax plan that found it short in needed revenue. He has not publicly released his own campaign’s analysis and the assumptions used in the plan.