Las Vegas (CNN) - Former Godfather's Pizza executive Herman Cain was at the center of a pile-on Tuesday night at the presidential debate hosted by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference, as his GOP rivals took turns picking apart his "9-9-9" plan to reform the United States tax code.
Cain's plan would throw out the current tax system and install a 9% corporate income tax rate, a 9% income tax rate and a 9% national sales tax
The other six Republicans on stage at the Venetian resort in Las Vegas, who have watched Cain soar to the top of the polls in recent weeks thanks to his straightforward message and outsider image, were united in calling the tax plan simplistic and risky.
"There are much more complexities than Herman let's on," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul called the plan "dangerous" and said it would increase taxes on low-income citizens.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned to Cain directly and told him 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," Perry said. "It's not going to fly."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Cain's plan would add federal taxes on top of state taxes.
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 (the) current tax code and replace (it) with something that's simple and fair," Cain responded.
They were joined on the stage by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who also attacked the Cain plan.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman chose to boycott the debate because of a dispute between Nevada and New Hampshire over the GOP primary calendar. Huntsman is staking his campaign on a win in New Hampshire and held a town hall there Tuesday night instead.
–CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.
everything about this debate is hilarious.
Why has Rick Santorum not had the same speaking time/questions posed as the others candidates?
The candidates keep referring to "let the free market take care of it", BUT, according to basic economic premises, free markets are designed to be functional with equal knowledge on both the buyer and seller sides. This has not been the case in the last 20 years. For example, the very secretive and unregulated derivatives markets.
As a small business owner it is almost impossible for me to hire new people due to the tax costs associated with additional highers. As president what would you do to make it simple for small businesses to hire new employees thus driving the economy.
The people are all trying to hold on to the same old policies that got us here. This country didn't fall on it's knees under a Democratic president.
If you were President, how would bring jobs back to America? How would you stop the "made in China" label from appearing on more products now then ever before? Our industrial revolution of the early 1900s is now China's of the 21st century. Are we past our prime?
Ask the candidates about the tobin tax
the pentagon budget needs to be cut.
My question is, how come non of you candidates have seen any positive thing that Obama government have done? Are you too pessimist?
Why did congress give our jobs away with NAFTA and then "learn" that nothing is made in America and unimployment is so high. We need congress to lead and not just react. Fire all of them.
mr cain aren't you worried that you views on demonstrators in wall street is going to alienate some voters from you?
Hi.. i am from Massachusetts..and i think Mitt Romney..is Fabricating the truth about alien working for him...
Cut Foreign aid to Israel Makes sense. Stop the insanity.......
Perry was totally out of line in telling Anderson Cooper that Anderson asked the questions, but he had the right to answer the way he chose when Anderson was trying to redirect him to the question asked of Perry? Very arrogant and rude!!!! Can you imagine him in a conversation with another world leader? I will never vote for him.
This Republican debate was better than watching a bunch of stand up comedians. I don't see a single man or one woman who could intellectually govern this USA. Except for Cain, they all are ME-ME-ME, I have the better record, and possibly the better liar. Newt made more sense than all of them put together,"stop the bickering and arguing." Mitt Romney might as well throw in the towel because the Tea Party, Tea Baggers, will never vote for a Morman as our President. Rick Perry is the one to really laugh at, because his head is so far up his rear end, one wonders how in this world did he ever get elected Governor of Texas. He just doesn't have many smarts. Michelle Backman is a no winner, so why can't the Republicans find a man or woman who would represent this country as our President. I personally don't think President Obama has done such a bad job considering all that he inherited from the Bushes.
debate-sounded like anderson visits a loonie bin
Nothing new: Major Press makes no mention of Ron Paul during debates. Another instance of media censoring by omission: One must search the web to find out if he was even part of the debate. NY Times, CNN, MSNBC pretend he doesn't exist
Congressman Dr. Ron Paul is the only one that understands how to get this country back to how it was before big government. Check the way he voted in the past. He was one of 17 people that didn't vote for the banker bailout.
No poll ? Don't want Ron Paul to be shown as the winner?
This is like one big joke. Republicans are a joke. They WILL lose. And Herman Munster – as much as it pains you, you are still black.
Amazing how people can post so much (anonymously) about how NO ONE on that stage could be President, and then name them individually but conveniently leave out Ron Paul. It seriously feels like there's some sort of conspiracy in the media to ignore him. But conspiracies are far too complex for the media to figure out. It must be straight up ignorance.