Entries in Dartmouth College (1)


Dartmouth Debate Takeaways: What We Learned

Toni Sandys/The Washington Post/Getty Images(HANOVER, N.H.) -- At Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, Herman Cain held his own with a strong performance, no one seemed more unflappable than Mitt Romney, and no one seemed more sidelined than Rick Perry.

Let’s start with the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, whose signature “9-9-9″ economic plan was front and center on the stage at the Bloomberg/Washington Post debate at Dartmouth University. Cain acknowledged that his proposal was the subject of both serious attacks and half-joking derision.

“Because the other candidates could not come up with a compelling proposal to counter 9-9-9, they attacked it, or they tried to make fun of it,” Cain told reporters after the debate. “Yes, the 9-9-9 economic growth and jobs plan drove a lot of the economic growth and discussion tonight.”

Cain managed to defend his proposal, which would impose a flat 9 percent tax rate for corporate and income taxes and a new 9 percent sales tax, but his future in the presidential race may hinge less on 9-9-9 and more on whether he will wither under a microscope of national media attention or rise above it.

Tuesday night’s debate also made it clear that Perry has to shake up the current pace and focus of this race if he is to regain his once front-runner status. Some said he drifted to the background of the field during the debate, instead of charging ahead. Perry plans to roll out a more detailed economic plan in the coming days, but will it be a game changer?

“We’ve always said our biggest impediment and hurdle to doing this successfully is time,” Perry strategist Dave Carney said Tuesday. “The purpose of the campaign is to get better every day. Some of it is trial and error.”

The big question now: When will Perry start to spend some of his multi-million campaign war chest.

In politics, as in tennis, unforced errors are more often the decider of the game than an ace. What’s remarkable about rise and fall of Bachmann and now Perry is how they really only have themselves to blame

Romney is positioning himself as the inevitable nominee.  Romney and Cain are seen by their rivals as the men to beat.

In fact, when the candidates were allowed to ask one of their opponents a question, most picked Romney. Ron Paul picked Cain and Bachmann picked Perry.

Still, we remember another candidate who looked unbeatable around this time of the year in 2007.  Just a couple months later she came in third place in Iowa. Now she’s the secretary of state.

And a senior Romney adviser played down the notion of inevitability to ABC’s John Berman.

“We don’t expect this to end soon,” the adviser said. “We are ready to fight until summer.”

And, as ABC’s Jake Tapper reported on Good Morning America on Wednesday, Romney seems stuck at about 25 percent in the polls -- so far unable to seal the deal -- setting the stage for a more conservative challenger like Cain to pick up even more steam.

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