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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Campaign 2012

Live Analysis: GOP Presidential Debate

November 9, 2011

Eight candidates are debating in Michigan tonight. We'll use this space to provide instant analysis throughout the evening.

9:56 Kathy Kiely: Is Perry saying we should get rid of regulations but have tougher regulators?

9:38 Kathy Kiely: The most memorable moment of this debate: a memory lapse. Rick Perry’s senior moment was cringe-inducing. The fact that a Texan forgot energy is going to be hard to explain.

 

9:19: Julie Sobel: Perry was well on his way (quietly) to a gaffe-free debate -- until he took what seemed like forever to come up with "the EPA" as the third agency he'd eliminate.

9:04 Tim Alberta: Unlike previous debates, tonight's discussion has been noticeably absent of candidate-on-candidate attacks. In fact, after an hour of debate, there hasn't been a single memorable exchange or confrontation between two candidates -- a dynamic that favors the front-runner, Mitt Romney. The only way to knock Romney off-message is to put him on the defensive, yet no one appears eager to play offense.

8:57 Kathy Kiely: This is a change of tone. Instead of attacking Romney, as he has done at almost every opportunity in past debates, Perry just showed some solidarity with him, saying they both know the importance of letting states control health care. Are his focus groups telling him the bully-boy tactics don't work?

8:55 Kathy Kiely: Cain's turning in a strong performance – buoyed by the support of a crowd that booed the questions on the sex harassment – and able to talk about economic issues. Too bad for him he can't take the audience with him when he goes back out on the campaign trail. The questions aren't likely to stop.

8:47 Kathy Kiely: Has Rick Perry lost his voice? Romney may be on the spot but at least he’s got viewers’ attention. A debate is not a spectator sport.

8:43 Julie Sobel: When given the opportunity to address Cain's sexual harassment allegations, Romney didn't touch it. It's a smart move: he gets to stay above the fray, and issue will continue without any help from him or any of the other candidates.

8:38 Kathy Kiely: Whereas Huntsman is looking for donors. He said he wants to be president of “the one percent” – along with the 99.

8:36 Sean Sullivan: Romney looking to the general election here. Focuses on “middle income Americans” as others are focusing on a flat tax.

8:17 p.m.: Kathy Kiely: Who would have thought a man from the state of big everything would be against big? “If you are too big to fail, you are too big,” says Lone Star State Gov. Rick Perry.

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