The seventh debate was conducted by Bloomberg TV in New Hampshire, October 11, 2011. Charlie Rose was the moderator. Karen Tumulty and Juliana Goldberg also asked questions.
Participating candidates were Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and John Huntsman. The candidates sat around a large, round table, which provided an intimate format.
Unfair distribution of speaking time: Once again, as in prior debates, there was only a minimal effort to ensure that each candidate received an equal amount of speaking time. However, Herman Cain, as a new leader, received more time than in prior debates. Romney, Cain, and Perry seemed to receive the most time; Gingrich and Bachman were in the middle; Paul, Huntsman, and Santorum probably received the least.
Cain: his 9-9-9 plan was attacked, with several candidates commenting that a 9% sales tax could be exploited by future politicians, that paying sales tax on food would harm the poor, and Juliana inferred that independent analysis claimed it would not raise enough money. Cain defended it strongly. My comment: Cain would only charge sales tax on new purchases – I think the new car market would be largely destroyed. As always, the devil is in the details. See his website, at Herman Cain’s website. He actually assumes that the Fair Tax, H.R. 25 from the 112th Congress (2011-2012), is the sales tax component, except he proposes a 9% tax while H.R. 25 imposes 23%. The objections to this sales tax are legion.
Cain – continued. when asked about health care, he advocates the Chilean model. Looking up Health Care in Chile, you find a combination of free or subsidized care for the poorer contingent, the disabled, and those over 60, and private insurance for those who can pay. The government-provided portion would be like putting everyone on Medicare/Medicaid. If you think our Medicare and Medicaid are unsustainable, they are. The Chilean model looks much worse to me.
After actually looking at the Fair Tax and health care in Chile, I conclude that Cain doesn’t have any real grasp of these problems. In my view, he isn’t intellectually strong enough to be president. No one has attacked his Chilean model yet, but when they do . . . he should begin to fade away.
Perry: when asked for specifics on what he would do, Perry’s only specific was that he would release the constraints on energy production (as did everyone else.) I think he hurt himself by appearing evasive and unprepared.
Romney was teflon personified. He continues to win by not losing. No one scored a serious hit on him.
Gingrich’s remarks received high marks from several people, and he has moved into third place in two recent polls, the Rasmussen poll of 1000 likely voters, and the PPP poll of registered voters. It’s a distant third, however, behind Cain and Romney. Perry slipped into 4th place. Other polls are all over the spectrum. Only the Rasmussen poll is current — taken after the debate.
One feature of the poll was a session in which each candidate asked a question of another candidate of his choice. Most questions were asked of Romney. Only Romney, Cain, Perry, and Bachman were questioned. This seemed arbitrary and unfair to me.
Overall, I’d rate this debate as a win for Romney, positive for Cain, Gingrich, and Bachman, and weak for everyone else.