Tales from the Trail

Cain’s ’9-9-9′ plan in focus at Republican debate

The buzz word was definitely “9-9-9″ in Tuesday’s Republican debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that focused on economic issues.

During the debate, the catchphrase 9-9-9 was mentioned 25 times (including 16 times by the man who conceived it — Herman Cain).

“I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it,” said Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and former ambassador to China.

9-9-9 has nothing to do with pizza, even though Cain is best known on the campaign trail as the former CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain.

It’s a tax proposal Cain is promoting as his remedy for what’s ailing the U.S. economy. It would replace the current tax code with a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

Perry speaks about his faith and failings

The subject was faith not policy in Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry’s  speech at Liberty University.

In the 20-minute speech described as “perhaps his most reflective and personal,” the Texas governor made no mention of the biggest issue thus far in the 2012 presidential race – jobs -  or his views on President Barack Obama, The Washington Post reported.

“Instead, the evangelical Christian governor spoke the language of the movement with ease,” the newspaper said.

Perry says stimulus didn’t create jobs; CBO says it did

Texas Governor Rick Perry, front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said on Monday President Barack Obama’s  economic stimulus program  created “zero” jobs.

Not so, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan budget arbiter for lawmakers.

Congress in 2009 passed the $830 billion economic stimulus, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included both spending measures and tax cuts.

Perry vs. rivals in Republican debate

There were eight candidates in the first big Republican debate of the 2012 campaign season.

Two of them dominated the stage from the start in a contest over who has created more jobs.

And the winner is…..  Mitt Romney, according to his campaign.

“Mitt Romney won tonight’s debate because he demonstrated that he is the only candidate in the race who can return the country to economic prosperity. Career politicians got us into the mess and it will take someone with experience in the real economy to get us out,” the campaign’s communication director Gail Gitcho said in a statement released after Wednesday’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley,  California.

Obama focus on policy, not polls – White House

The White House is downplaying several new polls showing President Obama’s job approval ratings plunging to new lows along with rising public concern over high unemployment and the sluggish economy.

“The president is focused on the measures he can take…  to address the urgent need to grow our economy and create jobs; to deal with the fact that economic growth is not fast enough and that job creation is not substantial enough,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at Tuesday’s press briefing when asked how concerned Obama is about the poll numbers.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama’s overall job approval rating at a low of 44 percent, down 3 percentage points since July.  More than half of Americans  now disapprove of Obama’s job performance and one in three say they’re worse off financially since he’s been in the White House, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. And a poll by Politico and George Washington University shows 72 percent of voters believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

2012 candidates woo voters on Labor Day

Labor Day is no day off for President Barack Obama and the Republicans who want his job. The holiday to pay tribute to American workers traditionally marks the start of the general election campaign. And although 15 months remain before the 2012 election, you’ll find the 2012 White House hopefuls on the road Monday hoping to score points with voters.

Democrat Obama travels to Detroit on Labor Day to talk about how to create jobs and strengthen the economy, the White House said. With U.S. unemployment steady at 9.1 percent, Reuters’ Jeff Mason writes  Obama’s on the spot to boost hiring and economic growth as he campaigns for a second term in the White House.

Obama also spoke in Detroit on Labor Day 2008 as his general election race heated up against Republican presidential rival Senator John McCain.

Huntsman in the ‘middle’ in 2012 Republican field

Jon Huntsman is counting on right-of-center politics to give him an advantage  in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,   despite polls showing him trailing far behind  the favorites in a crowded field.

He says Democrat Barack Obama is too far to the left and the president’s other Republican opponents are too far to the right.

“This country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country; I am a center-right candidate,” the former Utah governor said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

Republicans warm up in Iowa debate

Things got a little heated between Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty during the Republican debate in Ames, Iowa.

Early on in the two-hour debate, the former Minnesota governor tried to knock the Minnesota congresswoman down a peg, saying her record of accomplishment and results “is nonexistent.”

Bachmann took aim at his record as governor, blasting his support for a cap and trade environmental plan and individual mandates in healthcare. “That sounds more like Barack Obama if you ask me,” she said.

Bachmann sits out Newsweek photo debate

Sexist, biased or just a bad editorial decision?

Whatever it is,  White House hopeful Michele Bachmann is not engaging in the debate  (at least publicly) over the appropriateness of a Newsweek cover photo of her that has generated a lot of buzz.

The only woman in the crowded field of candidates vying for the 2012   Republican presidential nomination, Bachmann has remained focused on her mission, stomping in  Iowa  ahead of  the state’s Republican Straw Poll on Saturday.  (She  announced more local endorsements on Tuesday.)

When the Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party star — whom even many of her opponents agree is photogenic — was asked about the controversial magazine cover on Monday, she simply said she had not seen it  and moved on.

Palin’s take on S&P downgrade

“Many commonsense Americans like myself  saw this day coming,” Sarah Palin says of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and the fallout in the markets.

In what reads like an economic policy statement, the former Alaska governor and possible presidential candidate says she is “surprised that so many people seem surprised by S&P’s decision.”

“Weren’t people paying attention over the last year or so when we were getting warning after warning from various credit rating agencies that this was coming?” she said in a lengthy posting on her Facebook page.