Herman Cain opens GOP debate with pitch for ‘9-9-9’ plan

The new dynamic in the Republican race for president was evident from the get-go in tonight’s New Hampshire debate: Herman Cain got the very first question.

The former Godfather’s Pizza executive, surging in national polls, wasted no time promoting his “9-9-9" plan as a cure for the nation’s economic ills.

“We must grow this economy with a bold solution, which is why I’ve proposed 9-9-9,” Cain said, in response to a question about ending “paralysis” in Washington. “At [the] same time, get serious about not creating annual deficits, so we can bring the national debt. That will reestablish confidence in our system, and I believe we could get our credit rating back.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, looking to rebound after a pair of uneven debate performances, argued that the nation needed another “declaration of independence” -- new jobs in the energy industry. A proposal to create 1.2 million jobs is coming in his soon-to-be-announced economic plan.

“You don’t need Congress to do that; you need a president with a plan,” Perry said. “The intent [is] to open up this treasure trove that America’s sitting on and getting America independent on the domestic energy side.”


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney focused on President Obama in his initial turn, after having directed his barbs at Perry in the last debates.

“You can’t get the country to go in the right direction and get Washington to work if you don’t have a president that’s a leader,” Romney said. Joking that in Massachusetts he was forced to work with Democrats, he said that as president he “will be able to find common ground.”

Tuesday’s debate, co-sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post, is meant to focus exclusively on economic issues. In a departure from the past debates, all the candidates are seated in the round, which in the early stages has minimized the kind of direct confrontation viewers have seen in the past six contests.