The two-hour CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday followed the same plot that the four GOP debates since Labor Day have: contention between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and 9-9-9, Michele Bachmann’s love of Israel, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum not saying too much, and Ron Paul’s cry for liberty.
About midway through the first hour of the debate, the moment which most mainstream media chose to use as a headline occurred. Perry, in an attempt to alleviate scrutiny of hypocrisy that he has been accused of, accused Romney of hiring illegal aliens as landscapers, referencing a news story from the 2008 election cycle. The two continued to quarrel throughout the rest of the night, mostly over personal issues.
Cain, who has enjoyed favorable poll numbers in recent weeks, again came under scrutiny by other candidates over his 9-9-9 plan. When he called the attacks “mixing apples and oranges,” the candidate was attacked by Romney, who noted that some States don’t want the burden of a national sales tax.
“I’m going to be getting a big bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it, because I’m going to be paying both taxes. And the people of Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes,” Romney said in one of the debate’s early lines that drew applause.
Most news reports don’t make mention of Paul’s performance in the Tuesday debate, but on the heels of the release of his “Restore America” plan that announces $1 trillion in proposed budget cuts the candidate had much to say. Many times after Paul answered a question, candidates responding would preface their statements with, “Congressman Paul is right.”
Paul took a hard stance against military spending, but said he believes the cuts he has proposed will actually make the country safer.
“This debt bubble is the thing you better really worry about because it’s imploding on us right now; it’s worldwide,” Paul said. “To cut military spending is a wise thing to do.”
He also said that foreign aid should be the easiest cut to the Federal budget that Americans make, saying that it not only bankrupts this country but makes others dependent and unstable. To his assertion that Israel would be included in the cuts, Bachmann said there is no way the cuts should be made because, “Israel is our greatest ally.”