WASHINGTON (AP) — Key moments in Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate:


Big moment:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a frontrunner among the Republican contenders, defended the 2008 bank bailout under President George W. Bush — a position that will put him starkly at odds with the tea party.

The $700 billion Wall Street rescue package, Romney said, “was designed to keep not just a collapse of individual banking institutions, but to keep the entire currency of the country worth something.”

To be sure, Romney conceded the bailout’s problems: “Was it perfect? No. Was it well-implemented? No, not particularly. Were there some institutions that should not have been bailed out? Absolutely.”

Herman Cain, who wrote in 2008 that the bailout was a win-win for the taxpayer, said the bailout’s implementation “is where it got off track.”


Other notable moments:

— In the spotlight: Businessman Herman Cain did more of the talking, touting often his so-called 9-9-9 flat-tax plan. That didn’t stop a retort from Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tax lawyer by profession, who told Cain, “when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil’s in the details.”

— Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich brought out his fierce intellectual demeanor, assailing Congress for adopting “a truly stupid bill” that would impose automatic spending cuts if budget compromises can’t be met by late November. Gingrich said: “We’re either going to shoot ourselves in the head or cut off our right leg. And we’ll come in — around Thanksgiving — and we’ll show you how we’re going to cut off the right leg. And the alternative will be shooting ourselves in the head.”

— None of the candidates brought up cap-and-trade, a practice aimed at tamping down pollution by giving economic incentives — and one usually attacked by Republicans.


On China:

— “I’m afraid that people who’ve looked at this in the past have been played like a fiddle by the Chinese. And the Chinese are smiling all the way to the bank, taking our currency and taking our jobs and taking a lot of our future.” — Mitt Romney.

— “We have to get used to the fact that as far as the eye can see into the 21st century, it’s going to be the United States and China on the world stage.” — Jon Huntsman.

— “I want to beat China. I want to go to war with China and make America the most attractive place in the world to do business.” — Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.


Laugh lines:

— Huntsman, when asked if he favored Cain’s 9-9-9 flat tax program, replied: “I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was a price of a pizza when I first heard about it, Herman.” Cain, the former chairman and chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, later fought back: “It didn’t come off a pizza box, no. It was well-studied and well-developed.”

— On Cain and his flat-tax plan: “Explain why, under your plan, all Americans should be paying more for milk, for a loaf of bread and beer?” asked one questioner. “I don’t buy beer,” Cain replied.

“Pennsylvania is not the gas capital of the country; Washington, D.C., is the gas capital of the country.” — Jon Huntsman, responding to quibbling among candidates over whose state was indeed the gas capital — the petroleum kind, that is.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (4)
  1. james2 says:

    A round table of bigots, and yes the black one is too. blah blah blah a lot of flapping lips.

    Not one of them thinks that ALL of us are citizens except for tax purposes.

    Is there anybody else please?

  2. Citizen says:

    In Today’s blog the Dismal Political Economist talks about the right-wing president of Chile. Lest you think this quote is irrelevant, DPE strongly likens Chile’s president to Mitt Romney. And Chile’s economy is growing over 5% a year with no debt::

    “And the President whose center-right government took office 19th has just a 22% approval rating. Why, well maybe this is a clue

    even though poverty has fallen, it is also one of the most unequal economies in the world: more than half of national income is earned by the richest 20 per cent of the population, according to OECD figures

    And the President is right out of the Mitt Romney casting company

    The billionaire ex-businessman is widely recognised as intelligent, driven, hard working and technically competent.

    Yet even allies admit his hyperactive managerial style, while it may be appropriate in the business world, can mean he comes across as lacking emotional intelligence and charisma.

    To run the country like a company is to fail to recognise that “a state and a business are very different,” says Eugenio Tironi, a sociologist and author of a new book on Mr Piñera: Why don’t they love me?

    At the same time, his personal fortune, put at more than $2bn by Forbes, combined with a cabinet packed with other wealthy businessmen, has made his government seem out of touch.

    When, for example, he first confronted the students’ demands for free education. Mr Piñera said: “nothing in life is free”.

    Anyone see a Mr. Romney in that description and a possible forecast of the U. S. in 2013-16?”

  3. A Reasonable Person says:

    999 = 666, apparently everything IS upside-down in Bachmann’s world! I hurt myself laughing after she said that. Literally laughed until it was painful.

    Not that the plan itself isn’t laughable. Try this logic on for size folks:
    “Production is down because taxes are too high”
    Ok, I suppose that makes sense following the Friedman model.
    “Taxes on consumption won’t cause consumption to go down”
    Wait a second, what? So taxes are evil because they reduce the incentive to produce, but somehow they have no effect on the opposite side of the spectrum?

    Here’s a better way to state that plan:
    “We don’t want to tax the business side because they pay for our campaigns, but we certainly don’t mind soaking the individual and increasing their costs of life.”

    If you read anything else into that, you’re suffering from Cognitive Dissonance and might need to start drinking heavily until you fall down, hit your head really hard and rejoin the rest of us in reality.

  4. Murph says:

    Hmmm, not a problem of interpretaion for German immigrants!! 999 when spoken means no no no!Interesting enough tho that the U.S. political party that most resembles the fascist German Nazi party should make such a mistake and leave such an obvious political opening for the opposition! Obviously redneck stupid is the REAL GOP and not just a put on for ignorent voters after all.They really are rednecked fascists and borderline morons completely under the control of big oil and industry moguls interests!!!.Judging by the incredibly gullible voters whose finances and freedoms have been and will continue to be under assault by this brainwashing phenomena. I find it quite disturbing that people who went to the same public schools and grew up in similar neighborhoods could be so viciously separated from the realities of the moment!Old P.T. Barnum was right ,there really is one born every minute! Not to mention the FOX converts,hoodwinked by an elderly Australian millionaire with delusions and aspirations of becoming king of America!

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