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Republican presidential candidates pose for a photo before a Republican presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
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Updated: Tuesday, 18 Oct 2011, 8:07 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 18 Oct 2011, 6:03 PM MDT
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Republican presidential contenders attacked Herman Cain's economic plan Tuesday night as a tax increase waiting to happen, moving swiftly in campaign debate to blunt the former businessman's unlikely rise in the race for the party's nomination.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota led the assault moments after the debate began, saying Cain's call for a 9 percent federal sales tax would only be the beginning, with the rate rising later.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum wasn't nearly as gentle, citing one analysis that found that taxes would go up for 84 percent of the nation's households if Cain's proposal went into effect. "We're talking about major increases in taxes," he said, adding that a single person and a couple with children with the same income would pay the same tax under Cain's proposal.
Undeterred, Cain insisted the charges were untrue. He said he was being criticized because lobbyists, accountants and others "want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million- word mess," the current tax code.
Cain's proposal is for a 9 percent personal income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.
The former pizza company CEO is the latest and unlikeliest phenomenon in the race to pick a rival for President Barack Obama. A black man in a party that draws few votes from Africans Americans, he had bumped along with little notice as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sought to fend off one fast-rising rival after another.
That all changed in the past few weeks, after Texas Gov. Rick Perry burst into the race and then struggled. However unlikely Cain's rise, Tuesday night's debate made clear that none of his rivals are willing to let him go unchallenged.
"I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don't have to pay a big analysis to figure this out," Perry said to Cain. "Go to New Hampshire where they don't have an income tax and they don't have any interest in one," he said, referring to the state that will hold the first primary early next year.
Bachmann on taxes: "Everyone should pay something"
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says when it comes to the tax code, "everyone should pay something."
Bachmann says during a Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas that she wants to encourage an "economic miracle" that came about under President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.
But she says every American should pay some amount in taxes "even if it's a dollar."
Bachmann reiterated her calls to repeal a health care plan pushed under President Barack Obama and tighter regulations on the financial industry.
GOP candidates spar on border fence during debate
Republican presidential candidates are debating the merits of a fence along every inch of the United States' border with Mexico, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry saying it isn't the best way to fight illegal immigration.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said Tuesday she would build a double fence along the southern border. She says the country spends $113 billion each year to provide benefits to illegal immigrants.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas says the fence is not the answer, agreeing with Perry. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says a fence would help but the way to cut illegal immigration is to end benefits for them. That was a jab at Perry, who signed a law that provides in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.
GOP candidates oppose Yucca Mountain project
Republican presidential hopefuls say they oppose the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada.
During a Republican presidential debate Tuesday in Las Vegas, Texas Congressman Ron Paul says the other 49 states don't have the right to "put our garbage in your state."
Both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry say they agree with Paul.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says there's a need "to have a safe method of taking care of nuclear waste."
The Obama administration is planning to close a depository for the country's nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The plan has been unpopular in Nevada, and its representatives in Congress have pushed to kill the project.
Cain: Protestors should be in front White House
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain says the Wall Street protestors don't understand the economy and are misdirecting their frustrations.
Cain on Tuesday said the Occupy Wall Street activists should be camped out in front of the White House protesting President Barack Obama, not the bankers and investors in Manhattan. He says Obama and Washington politicians put in place the economic policies that the anti-greed activists dislike.
Cain says he isn't clear what the protestors want and asks whether the protestors expect Wall Street to write them checks.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas says both parties are to blame for the 2008 Wall Street bailouts the activists are protesting. Paul says the middle class suffered in the deal.
The candidates' comments came during a Republican presidential candidates'
debate in Las Vegas.
Romney says religion shouldn't be a factor
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says voters should not choose their president based on the candidate's religious beliefs or the place where they worship.
Romney was responding Tuesday to recent comments made by Robert Jeffress, a Dallas minister and supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Jeffress called Mormonism a cult. Romney is Mormon.
Romney says he was troubled that the minister would imply that people should choose a president based on the candidate's religion. He says it runs counter to the country's principles.
Perry reiterated that he did not agree with Jeffress's remarks. Jeffress introduced Perry at a recent speech and asserted that Romney isn't a Christian and Mormonism is a cult.
Asked about the comments, Romney said he's heard worse, "so I'm not going to lose sleep over that."
Bachmann says cuts to Pentagon budget are possible
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann says cuts to defense spending have to be considered as Washington weighs massive budget cuts, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas says slashing the Pentagon budget needs to start with bringing home U.S. forces from South Korea and Japan.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday says foreign spending needs to be examined, including defunding the United Nations. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says spending abroad needs to make sense and says it is foolish to borrow money from China to give foreign nations.
The Republicans seeking the GOP presidential nomination are debating whether the country can weather cuts to the Pentagon.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania says he wouldn't support cuts to the defense budgets because only the federal government can protect the United States.