Herman Cain outperformed his Republican opponents again Monday night in the CNN/Tea Party debate by presenting concrete proposals while the other presidential candidates engaged in a contest of talking points.
Front-runner Rick Perry performed poorly, and Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota, shined whenever she put the Texas governor under attack.
The CNN/Tea Party debate in Tampa, Florida, went well for Cain, so-so for Bachmann, OK for Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, and great for debate winner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
As for Perry, the high and mighty Tea Party favorite failed to excite and connect with his base. Cain was solid, offering solutions to our national problems and refusing to bow to the petty banter of his opponents.
While Bachmann is a true conservative, her background as a congresswoman with no executive experience may have hurt her chances. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Bachmann about her solution to the problems of our economy, she responded with an attack on President Barack Obama, as if without him all would fall into place. By contrast, Cain, when asked about our economy’s problems, stated, “We need a bold solution, not one that tinkers around the edges, not one that allows politicians to continue to pick winners and losers. I believe we throw out the entire tax code and put in my 9-9-9 Plan: 9-9-9 — a 9-percent business flat tax, a 9-percent personal income tax and a 9-national sales tax. “
It was through late entry and media hype that Perry surged to the top of the polls with little need to prove himself. With his Southern drawl and Texas kicker personality, Perry leads the pack, but he has a tough row to hoe.
While Perry and Romney sparred over Social Security and Perry’s “ponzi scheme” characterization of the program, Cain stepped in. “I don’t care what you call it, it’s broken,” he said, “and here’s my solution. Start with optional personal retirement accounts. In 1981, the Galveston County employees, they opted out because that was a very short window of opportunity. They took it. Today, when people retire in Galveston County, Texas, they retire making at least 50 percent more than they would ever get out of Social Security.” Front-runner Perry offered no such solution.
Monday night’s performance suggested that Perry might have reached his pinnacle in the previous debate.
While Bachmann and Santorum nailed Perry to his 2007 version of what is being termed by GOP presidential candidates as a “state-mandated health care” plan, Cain continued to offer more than his opponents on health care. He received huge applause as he listed his proposed solutions: “Pass market-driven, patient-centered reforms such as, under the current code, deductibility of health insurance premiums regardless of who pays for it…. The other thing that we can do in order to help bring down the costs is pass ‘loser pay’ laws…. Restructure Medicare, another big cost that’s passed on to us as consumers related to all the bureaucracy associated with that…. Another market-driven idea, allow association health plans.”
Expect Cain to keep it coming. By offering more tangible solutions than his opponents, he is distinguishing himself from the crowded field and gaining the attention of those voters weary of hype, hyperbole and finger-pointing.