Seven Republican presidential contenders met onstage tonight in Las Vegas for the feistiest debate yet of the 2012 warmup season.
The gloves came off, as the candidates tried to take advantage of one of their last opportunities to take elbow jabs at their opponents before the Republican primaries begin in January.
Herman Cain, the emergent frontrunner, was the first one to take the heat, with the rest of the field devoting the first 10 minutes of the debate to attacking his “9-9-9” tax plan. Cain’s attempts to defend his proposal fell flat, and the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO was once again relegated to the sidelines for the most of the remainder of the debate.
The attention then turned to frontrunner Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who brought a much more lively game tonight after five dismal-to-mediocre debate performances. The pair sparred over jobs records, healthcare reform, and immigration in a series of exchanges which revealed that, despite Cain’s surge in the polls, Perry is Romney’s only real competition for the Republican nomination next year.
Overall, the debate — punctuated by several near-fist fights and moderated by an implacable Anderson Cooper — made for some amusing television. Check out our live coverage below.
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