Cain vs. Gingrich: Live Blogging from Texas

By Kevin Price, Publisher and Editor in Chief, US Daily Review.

LSU v. Alabama or Gingrich vs. Cain.  This was a tough one, but as I type this, I am in the media room for the latter.  It has been billed as a “substantive” discussion on the issues of the day.  The theory is that, with only two participants and an hour and a half discussion, there should be a significant amount of serious discussions on the major issues of the day.  What could cloud this debate is the looming accusations of sexual harassment that are surrounding Herman Cain.  Rumor has it, that topic is off the table.  I will certainly let the reader know if that changes.

The in-depth debate will allow Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich to engage in lengthier policy discussions. Rice University Political Science Department Chair Mark Jones says both campaigns are relatively underfunded compared to other candidates, so they both stand to benefit from the additional exposure. “Also to date, both have done very well on the debate stage. And therefore, it’s a venue where they are likely to have a positive impact on their campaign, not a negative one,” Jones said.

The debates focus is suppose to be heavily on entitlements.  “‘Entitlements'”, according to TexasPatriotsPac.com (which are the sponsors of the event) press release, “have been avoided by political campaigns for almost thirty years.  Getting involved with this topic brings much political peril to these courageous participants.  However they have decided we as a nation can no longer dodge this confrontation. Whatever your ‘political persuasion,” their leadership is admirable.”

I have attended more debates than I wish to admit over the years, but there always seem to be scenarios or personalities that add intrigue to such events.  With that, I will be keeping an eye out for the following:

  • Will any journalists breach the sexual harassment accusations against Herman Cain?  I noticed that Politico, which broke the story on Cain, has sent a reporter.  Emily Schultheis, who described herself as very new to the website, is representing it here.  It certain adds to the drama.
  • Will this event do anything to bolster either candidates financial situation?  Both candidates are cash strapped, and Gingrich is said to be heavily in debt.  Before Cain joined the top tier a little over a month ago, his campaign measured its financial support in hundreds of thousands of dollars (versus millions, as seen in the Romney, Perry, and Paul camps).  There is a great deal of money in Texas, many assuming that in the GOP it was going to Perry.  However, after Perry’s short stint as front runner, some might be interested in supporting someone else.  Since Texas received little political attention until near the end of the primary process, this might be a great time for Texans to find a new candidate and these two candidates to find new supporters.
  • Will this event improve either of the candidates visibility?  As far as visibility, there are certainly some media here, but it does not compare to other debates we have seen.  We will have to assess the larger impact on tomorrow’s news

I will be providing live updates through out the debate and responding to questions and comments at #caingingrich at Twitter.com/KevinPriceLive.

The debate finally begins with introductions of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who is as serving something of a moderator at tonight’s debate (I do not want to say “moderator” because it is a misnomer, in the words of the organizers, this event is being “driven” by those debating.)
First question to Gingrich: Medicare. What impact would”doing nothing” have on the budget.  Gingrich says that the US is following a path of Greece and then gingerly steps around Rep. Paul Ryan’s solution (mentioned by the moderator), which he came out vehemently opposing and later modified his position.  He does argue that Ryan’s plan, which is being described as a “voucher” system should be a “choice” made to Americans rather than being the only option.  He then went on to do talk about the consequences of doing nothing, which would have the US on the brink of financial ruin like much of Europe.
Cain responds to the Medicare question by stating that, since he agreed entirely with the former Speaker’s assessment, he was going to add historic perspective, since participants can “change the rules” as they desire.  Cain points out that government projections on costs are always wrong and he believes that the Medicare system should not simply be reformed, but restructured and that consumers must be forced to be more responsible for their choices.
The debaters are focusing heavily on strong, market oriented reforms.  These two know exactly who they are speaking to and are answering the questions accordingly.  Gingrich is winning the one liner department, concisely showing the ridiculous nature of government and the brilliant simplicity of government.
Great example of the waste and abuse in government is the governments capacity to collect.  Gingrich notes that American Express will collect over 99 percent of what it is due, where as government has rampant waste and abuse in collections.  Get government to privatize these functions.
A “Kumbayah” moment when Cain notes Gingrich’s distinguished career in government and then his years in private sector, which provides him a unique perspective.  Cain could not have teed it up better for the speaker to talk about the brilliance of the private sector and the folly of government.  There seems to be a great deal of “love” shared by this candidate.  They give the impression that they are extremely cordial and it appears their choice as participants was far from coincidental.
Gingrich and Cain both praise policy wonk extraordinaire Peter Ferrara, who helped to develop Chile’s private based retirement system, and they both argued that the system needs market oriented solutions.  Gingrich points to Galveston, Texas as an example of how market solutions work.  Galveston got out of the Social Security system, charged participants half as much and are paying retirees twice as much as the federal government’s program.  Peter Ferrara has been a guest on my radio show, the Price of BusinessListen to my interview with Ferrara here.
Gingrich is brilliant at one liners and most of those are geared towards the government in general and Obama in particular.  My favorite was his comparison of Obama and Bernie Madoff, in which he says both are equally honest when it comes to their assessment of the retirement programs they represent.
Gingrich is now being described in the “top 3” among the GOP candidates (he refers to himself as such as well).  The other two are Romney and Cain.  Tonight I think many will begin to see Gingrich as the best “anti-Romney.”
Two themes that brought huge crowd support and applause were the need for serious Voter ID rules (Cain) and the need of dealing with illegal aliens (Gingrich).  The longest — and most noted — applause first came from Cain who said that the single most important thing a citizen can do is vote and the integrity of the process must be protected.  As a black conservative, Cain seems to be one of the few that can breach this subject without being projected a racist.  This applause was followed by a longer, louder (and a standing ovation by many) applause for Gingrich when he discussed the importance of locating illegal aliens and getting them out of the country.  In Texas, these themes play very well.
Gingrich now has an opportunity to ask Cain a question, “what is the biggest surprise about running for President?”  Cain’s answer, “the ‘nit-pickiness” of the media.  He went on to say that the media has not served the public well.  This led to a large ovation by the crowd.  It was a perfect note for an event like this to end on.   Both candidates received a standing ovation.
Following the event, each candidate had a press conference that was around five minutes in length each.
Herman Cain’s was asked about block grants and why should the federal government have access to state dollars at all?  Cain argues that the first step would be for block grants to slowly transition back to the states and that the next stage would be keeping the money in the states in the first place.

Asked about his week, Cain said “It was a great week.”  Definitely showing a strong upper lip.  This was probably true, considering that his poll numbers are stable, in spite of a vicious media attack.

There was an interesting question, clearly intended to be “gotcha” in nature, about Social Security He was asked about Social Security and whether it was “racist” because minorities live fewer years than whites.  Therefore blacks are subsidizing whites, who live longer (research indicated it is about five years).  This was in reference to an article Cain wrote in 2005 on the subject.  He said he stood by the article and that he believes the best solution would be personal retirement accounts.

When asked why he spends so much time in the Lone Star state, Cain noted that he’s in Texas because “money is here” and he is not a “gizillionaire” (sic).  He is running an unconventional campaign and, if he had done what the pundits said he should have, he would have been out of the race in late August.

Both Cain and Gingrich were asked if they would “legislate” from the White House like Obama, and they both said “no,” and that it was an abuse of power.  Gingrich went further and said that, instead of being frustrated, Obama should make an appeal to the American people for support of his agenda. He doesn’t do this because the support is not there, he argues. Which is why he is looking at governing by edict.

Gingrich was asked what he would have to do to get in the top 2 of GOP contenders?  He said that he is now consistently in the top three in most polls and is tied with Romney for the second spot, nationally. He said he was “very happy” at where he is in the polls.

When asked if he could win “without money,” he said “I am proving that you can.”  He went on to say that he was the “substantive candidate” and was “moving up: in spite of the lack of funds.  He went on to say that “I have more followers than MSNBC have viewers” and that social media was a huge equalizer in his campaign.

Maybe the most interesting comment from either individual was when Gingrich called Romney’s touching of Perry in a debate, “weird.”  He went on to say that presidential debates need a new era of civility.

In my assessment, it was an interesting exchange and really a valuable lesson in civics.  I believe Gingrich won this debate and he, at least, affected my view of him.  He proves in these forums that he understands how big the problems are that he would face and he has an understanding of the idea leaders who can put this country back on path.  He is strongly positioning himself as the alternative to Romeny.

Twitter comments:
@Flatwalk @KevinPriceLive I love Cain, but can’t imagine anyone holding a candle to Newt’s debating skills.  My favorite ticket would be Gingrich /Cain for 2012. (Rubio 1st choice for VP but doubt he’d accept.).
@RJGrace Cain-Gingrich Debate on C-SPAN 5:00PM Pacific TimeWarner Cable Channel 201 in Antelope Valley #cainGingrich #Cain #Gingrich #CainGrich. This answers .  This is just one of the media sources at the event, also saw Washington Post, Fox News, and many others.
@junerenner: – MT – NEWT is one smart statesmen!
@TPNNEWS Either Cain or Gingrich would be such an improvement over the party of treason! #caingingrich #teapartynation #tcot #gop2012
@nachofiesta: LOL Cain gets a question about defined benefit plans, punts to Newt because he doesn’t know what those are. #CainGingrich.  I’m not sure if that is the case, but it certainly came across that way.  This is the kind of freshman move that only a person who never ran for office (let alone president) would do.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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