Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada — October 18, 2011 (01:42:00)

Posted: Oct 19, 2011

October 18, 2011 — Seven Republican presidential candidates clashed sharply over issues such as illegal immigration, taxes and health care Tuesday night at the Western Republican Presidential Debate co-hosted and co-sponsored by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC) and broadcast live by CNN from the Sands Expo and Convention Center at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. GOP contenders participating in the event included Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was invited to participate in the debate, but boycotted due to a dispute between New Hampshire and Nevada election officials over the date of Nevada's Republican presidential primary. He is staking his campaign on a win in New Hampshire, and held a town hall there Tuesday night. Moderated by CNN's Anderson Cooper, the debate took place on the first night of the Western Republican Leadership Conference, an event aimed at "educating, empowering and mobilizing" Western Republicans. Voters from the 16 states and territories that make up the Western region of the United States were in the audience with the opportunity to pose questions directly to the candidates. Longstanding tensions between Romney and Perry boiled over in the debate's first hour as the two GOP candidates traded harsh accusations and showed flashes of anger. Romney laughed at Perry's criticism of hiring illegal immigrants to work on his lawn, a controversy uncovered by The Boston Globe during Romney's first presidential bid in 2008. "Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year," Perry said, turning straight to Romney. "And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy." Romney fired back that Perry failed to secure the Texas border and again raised questions about his support for a law that granted in-state college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. "Texas has had 60% increase in illegal immigrants in Texas," Romney charged. "If there's someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn't stand up to muster, it's you, not me." Tuesday night's event came in the wake of polls showing Cain rising toward the top of the primary pack. A recent CNN survey polled Cain running one point behind Romney. However, according to the same poll, two-thirds of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents remain undecided. Cain was at the center of a pile-on as the debate began. His GOP rivals took turns picking apart his 9-9-9 plan set forth to replace the current United States tax code with a 9% corporate income tax rate, a 9% income tax rate and a 9% national sales tax. Romney stated that Cain's plan would add federal taxes on top of state taxes. Bachmann said it would create a de facto value added tax. Paul called the plan "dangerous" and said it would increase taxes on low-income citizens. "There are much more complexities than Herman lets on," added Gingrich. Perry told Cain that voters "are not interested in 9-9-9. What they are interested in is flatter and fairer. I will bump plans with you, brother, and we will see who has the best idea about getting this country working again." Cain said his plan would not raise taxes on poor people, and said his opponents were misrepresenting his plan. "The reason my plan is being attacked so much is the lobbyists accountants and politicians, they don't want to throw out current tax code and replace with something that's simple and fair," Cain responded. Just hours after telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he would consider negotiating a prisoner swap with Al Qaeda, Cain denied that he had said any such thing. He changed his answer after the debate in a follow-up interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, saying that he would not negotiate with terrorists. "I misspoke," Cain said. "Because I didn't, you know, things are moving so fast, I misspoke. I would not do that, I simply would not do that." Tagged: CNN Western Republican debate 2012 presidential election Las Vegas, Nevada Sands Expo and Convention Center Venetian Resort Hotel Casino Western Republican Leadership Conference WRLC Republican Party GOP Republicans candidates Michele Bachmann Herman Cain Newt Gingrich Ron Paul Rick Perry Mitt Romney Rick Santorum primaries President of the United States of America POTUS campaigns nominations Election 2012 Jon Huntsman boycott 999 Plan Barack Obama Obamacare health care reform economy immigration Occupy Wall Street October 18, 2011 Las Vegas, NV Anderson Cooper News Politics October 2011 HeroOfChristArchives