The Lincoln/Douglas debate on C-Span was unique. The debate between Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich was very pleasant. This format would be preferred from the standard, boring debate seen in the past year. Each candidate is able to expand and express their views without the constraints of a 30-second time limit. Even though Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich had the opportunity to go for the others jugular, the candidates had very similar views. It was nice to see both candidates share their experience to the issues that affect America. In fact, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich are considered radial visionaries. Unlike other candidates, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich are conservatives, who are outside the mainstream of Washington. If one of these candidates became the GOP presidential nominee, it would be nice to see a Herman Cain/Newt Gingrich GOP ticket in the 2012 election.
(NYTimes) THE WOODLANDS, Texas — The rancor that defined much of the last week on the Republican presidential campaign trail subsided a bit here on Saturday night, as Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain basked in each other’s company and the warm embrace of the Texas Tea Party for what was styled as an old-fashioned issues-focused debate.
The event, formally titled the Cain-Gingrich Debate 2011, was actually a fund-raiser held in a cavernous hotel ballroom north of Houston that was packed with 1,000 people. It felt more like a conservative love-in, with each candidate going out of his way to compliment the other and shower praise on the audience.
After Mr. Gingrich took a few minutes to answer a question on Medicare, saying that there was need for radical change, Mr. Cain was to offer a rebuttal.
“I’m supposed to have a minute to disagree with something that he said, but I don’t,” Mr. Cain said to some chuckles and applause. “I believe, as Speaker Gingrich believes, that we can’t reshuffle Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security; we must restructure.”
When one opportunity for a clash did emerge, it was quickly set aside. “I’m going to sidestep the temptation to talk about ‘9-9-9,’ ” Mr. Gingrich said after Mr. Cain brought up his signature economic plan, which would replace the tax code with a 9 percent flat tax on individuals and corporations while adding a 9 percent national sales tax. They focused more on what they had in common. “We are the two most radical candidates,” Mr. Gingrich said as Mr. Cain looked on, approvingly.
And so it went, for roughly two hours in a style modeled after the legendary Lincoln-Douglas debates during the Illinois Senate campaign of 1858. The meeting was meant to be a departure from the flashy fast-paced format of the candidate encounters so far this campaign season.
Mr. Cain did take some time to take a swipe at the news media when the two men were encouraged by the hosts to ask questions of each other. Mr. Gingrich said he would deliver “a softball”: What has been the biggest surprise Mr. Cain has faced on the campaign trail?
“The nit-pickiness of the media,” Mr. Cain said. “If there is a journalistic standard, a lot of them don’t follow it.”
Over a standing ovation, he continued, “There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest.”
In substance and tone, the meeting could not have been more different from the recent debates among the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, during which sharps attacks have flown in all directions.
The topic on Saturday night was entitlements, and the format was largely unmoderated, with Mr. Cain and Mr. Gingrich seated at a small round table and free to speak as long as they liked.
Both said they favored giving block grants to the states for Medicaid and welfare programs. Mr. Cain said unemployment benefits should shrink over time. Mr. Gingrich said any such benefits should be tied to mandatory training programs.
“We must go from an entitlement society to an empowerment society, which means we help people help themselves,” Mr. Cain said.
Over all, Mr. Gingrich seemed to earn more hearty and spontaneous applause for his answers than did Mr. Cain, who took a pass on one question to let Mr. Gingrich “go first,” as he said. He also used some of his time to take a second shot at answering a question that he acknowledged he did not address well on the first try.
But the most sustained and seemingly heartfelt cheers of the night came when Mr. Cain was urged to ask a question of Mr. Gingrich.
“Mr. Speaker, if you were vice president of the United States,” Mr. Cain said, pausing for effect as the crowd roared. “What would you want the president to assign you to do first?”
Mr. Gingrich smiled broadly, turned red in the face and laughed. The debate ended.
“I thought it was great, and the punch line at the end was fantastic,” said Bob Bailie, 76, a mechanical engineer who said he would love to see a Gingrich-Cain ticket. “I think those two are a great team.”