Five highlights from the GOP debate in New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidates took aim at Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan - and the Federal Reserve - in Tuesday's GOP debate in New Hampshire.

Toni Sandys/The Washington Post/AP
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minn. makse a point as former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Texas Gov. Rick Perry listen, during the presidential debate in Hanover, N.H.

If you missed the GOP presidential debate last night about the economy (hosted by the Washington Post and Bloomberg News), here are five key points from DCDecpder's liveblog coverage with Shortformblog.

1. By and large, the tone of this debate was far different than the others (JVBrewer, too!). The candidates were seated around a large wooden table, giving the entire thing a more intimate feel.

The moderators did a great job of speeding the questions along and while Ron Paul and Rick Santorum were hardly well served, the entire evening did feel serious and engaged where some of the other debates felt shlocky and crusted over with social media doodads.

2. Most memorable quote of the evening: Herman Cain responding to criticism of his “999 plan.” Or was it Jon Huntsman saying the “999 plan” made him think of a pizza deal? Or was it Jon Huntsman’s daughters laying a Twitter smackdown on Mitt Romney over China?

3. There was a ton of talk about the Federal Reserve. Newt Gingrich kicked it all off with a long diatribe about how Ben Bernanke, former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd and Democratic Congressman Barney Frank (Mass.) are all criminals.

Herman Cain also ripped Bernanke then later said he admired Alan Greenspan, which drew immediate rebuke from Ron Paul (“Alan Greenspan was a disaster”) and likely cost Cain with some of the professional, Wall St. Republican set.

4. Everybody is going bananas for “999.” Herman Cain’s tax plan calling for a 9% federal income tax, a 9% sales tax and a 9% corporate income tax was at the center of the debate. There’s are a ton of moving parts here, but if you only know one thing about it from last night let it be everybody is going to be taking shots at 999 in the weeks ahead.

The power of Cain’s plan is its simplicity, as the Washington Post writes this morning. But if the devil is in the details, to paraphrase Michelle Bachmann’s strange criticism, the next few weeks will be about the details. ( already looked into the details, by the way.)

5. Who won and who lost? In Decoder’s view, Romney, Cain and to a lesser extent Santorum all comported themselves well and gained from the debate while Perry, who many thought needed to distinguish himself, looked divinely uncomfortable. Shortformblog noted the primary process has gotten to the point “where the winners and losers are the ones who aren’t necessarily flashy, but well-polished and well-studied. Romney made it look easy; he’s well-polished and well-studied.”

Find all of DC Decoder’s liveblog coverage here and Shortformblog’s here.

The best from around the web:

Romney builds case for inevitability, POLITICO. This story has the quote Decoder noted earlier, reproduced below for your entertainment.

“I just try to get up every day and do my job, and debates are not my strong suit,” the Texas governor told reporters following a post-debate party at a Dartmouth fraternity house.”

Mitt Romney prospers in Republican debate, by Dan Balz, a highly-respected political writer for the Washington Post.

Republicans stretch truth in debate salvos, by Bloomberg.

Rick Perry loses Dartmouth debate, wins Beta house by The Weekly Standard. Apparently, Perry’s best performance of the night was well off camera.

You can find the liveblog of the debate from Andrew Sullivan, of Newsweek/Daily Beast (and formerly of the Atlantic), here.

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