WASHINGTON — Key moments in Tuesday night's GOP presidential debate:
Republican presidential contenders forcefully attacked Herman Cain's economic plan as a tax increase waiting to happen. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota led the verbal assault moments after the debate began, saying his call for a 9 percent federal sales tax would only be the beginning, with the rate rising later. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania cited 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.
Cain, former pizza company chief executive, insisted the charges were untrue. Cain's proposal is for a 9 percent personal income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.
Other notable moments:
—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry swapped criticism in unusually personal terms, interrupting one another repeatedly in a clash over immigration. "You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking," Romney shot at the Texas governor. Perry said Romney had no credentials on the issue because he had once hired an illegal worker, the "height of hypocrisy."
—Romney says voters should not choose their president based on the candidate's religious beliefs or the place where they worship, responding to recent comments made by Robert Jeffress, a Dallas minister and supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Jeffress called Mormonism a cult and Romney, who is Mormon, is not a Christian. Perry reiterated that he did not agree with Jeffress' remarks, but stopped short of repudiating Jeffress.
— Santorum says to Romney that "you're allowed to change your position, but you can't change the facts" while sparing over the health care overhaul, which is based on Romney's health care plan for Massachusetts.
—Cain 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.
— Bachman took a swipe at Obama's criticism during the bailout program of companies that spent money on expensive meetings in Las Vegas, saying: "I am thrilled to be able to be with you tonight in Las Vegas. And this is one night when I hope what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas."
— When asked whether cuts should be applied to the defense budget, Gingrich replied, "I'm a hawk, but I'm a cheap hawk."
—Bachmann makes plea to mothers to hold on to their homes.
—Romney placed his hand on Perry's shoulder as the two argued over the issue of immigration.
—Romney scolds Perry for interrupting him, saying, "You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking, and I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you've got to let both people speak."
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