The CNN debate was really pretty much a replay of the past ones. The main change was that new frontrunner Herman Cain came in for some serious criticism, largely centered on his 9-9-9 tax plan. Since the plan is complicated, it is impossible to say how it would work or if the criticism was fair without a detailed review of it. Since it has zero chance of being passed into law, I choose to save the time. The media were delighted that much of the debate was consumed by pointless back and forth between Romney and Perry. This is getting seriously old, and both men need to heed Newt's comments at the end that such bickering serves the media and obama better than their cause. That said, I really didn't think it was possible for Perry to appear lamer than he did in the past two debates defending the Texas law giving illegals in-state college tuition. Give the man credit, he came up with something even dumber. He attacked Romney for "hiring illegal aliens' and thus lacking credibility on immigration. Romney calmly explained that he hired a lawn care company that was found to have hired illegals, etc. When they persisted, he fired them. What i found interesting was not that Perry mindlessly repeated an old gotcha charge from the leftwing media, but that he was too dumb to realize how easily Romney would rebut it and make him look silly in the process. The audience booed Perry when he stupidly reiterated it. Perry either needs to get new advisors immediately or start listeneing to the ones he has. Otherwise, the candidates all did pretty well. Rick Santorum gave a very thoughtful answer on the role of faith. Ron Paul made his usual good points about the dangers of our reckless overspending and military overextension. Cain actually seemed pretty presidential. He can handle attacks with finesse and good humor, something Perry and Romney need to work on. Newt was sharp. Bachmann was clearly frustrated by her lack of talk time, but she made a long speech about foreclosures that I think really connected with the women listening. The media spin is that Cain got knocked out but I didn't see it that way at all. People trust him and sense that he is totally genuine. He has lived an incredible life and has a sense of wisdom and good judgment about him that may make up for his lack of detailed policy knowledge. Huntsman was a no show. No idea why, but he apparently is going all-in on the NH primary. Seems like two bad decisions. He gave up the opportunity for a lot of free publicity with a friendly moderator. As for NH, I would have thought a better strategy would be to try to hang in there with a low budget campaign in the hope that Romney blew up at some point. I still think Bachmann is the best choice, but her ranting about what a danger Iran is did raise some questions in my mind. The Saudi assasination plot seemed awfully thin to me. It had all the earmarks of either a false flag operation or another FBI wannabe terrorist entrapment. I'm beginning to mull the possibily of a Cain/Romney ticket. Romeny/Christie or Romney/Kasich are also looking like possibilities. Even Romney/Santorum. If the republicans can carry one big NE state, it is all over for the democrats.