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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Republicans Debate; Interview With Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain

Aired October 18, 2011 - 21:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to a special edition of 360. If you're just joining us, welcome to Las Vegas, where seven Republican presidential hopefuls have just wrapped up their especially fiery debate, their eighth debate so far, their fifth since Labor Day.

In that time, we have seen one from the runner after another. You can see them all right now on the stage. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Rick Perry, they have all had their moments. Tonight was, expected to be Herman Cain's big moment to prove he is more than just a bump in the polls, to show how well he can stand up to serious scrutiny.

He took plenty of it on his tax plan tonight. We're expecting him to join us shortly. Rick Perry had the pressure on him after a string of lackluster performances and debates. And Mitt Romney trying to win over conservatives who, in some cases, cannot seem to fully warm up to him.

So how did they do? What were the key moments? Who had the facts on his or her side? Who played fast and loose with them?

As always, we've got some of sharpest players in the business here tonight, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, CNN contributor and former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. As always, on Twitter, you can join him at @AriFleischer. Also top political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger. Also John King, host of "JOHN KING, USA." They are all with us here as well.

Gloria, what did you make of tonight?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was kind of an angry debate, Anderson. These were -- remember Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment? Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican. I think tonight we he all expected Herman Cain to be on the hot seat, But I must say, Mitt Romney really got it from Rick Perry and also from Rick Santorum.

He was attacked for having no credibility by Santorum on health care. He was attacked for being a hypocrite on immigration by Rick Perry. Perry clearly knew that he had to turn in a sharp debate performance. He clearly had a lot more energy during this debate.

But I'm not quite sure he did what he came to do, which was to kind of land blows, really, against Mitt Romney. COOPER: Ari Fleischer, you have watched a lot of these debate. What did you make of it tonight?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION SPOKESMAN: Well, Anderson, I think the first stage of debates are over. We don't have another for a month. After these half-dozen debates, what has happened in the Republican field is Mitt Romney is in first and he's opening up his lead.

Rick Perry really was good and feisty tonight, but I don't think it was enough. He needs to do even more of it. Herman Cain remains strong. Herman Cain is remaining in contention to be the anti-Romney, the guy who will go mano-a-mano against Mitt Romney if Romney keeps up what's doing.

These debates have definitely played to Mitt Romney's strengths. He is much stronger than he was four years ago. It showed up.

COOPER: David Gergen, your thoughts?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bring boxing took Las Vegas, Anderson, they have got these debates. I think, for a television audience, the fisticuffs I'm sure were quite entertaining. But I have to tell you, I think that Newt Gingrich, right at the end of the debate, had it right. This kind of bickering is not the road to the White House.

Among the people on the stage, I felt that Mitt Romney acquitted himself very well, as he was assaulted from right and left, and that he clearly does not like Rick Perry. There's no love lost between those two. But I thought overall he, again, appeared the most presidential.

But there was another winner tonight. I can tell you that the Obama team, looking at this tonight, would be celebrating.

COOPER: Donna Brazile, your thought?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I thought it was a fiery debate, Anderson. Look, these Republicans know what it takes to win the Republican nomination. They appealed to their base. Herman Cain, who is a front runner in many of the Republican polls, came in to defend his 9-9-9 plan.

He did it by simply not giving us the add and subtraction addition of it, but the vegetable -- the fruit bowl, the apples and oranges.

But I thought Rick Perry, who had a lot to prove tonight, came in ready to defend his policies. He was more robust than ever before. And I think going into what I call the pre-season, when voters are ready to choose a champion on the Republican side, this is going to become a three-man race.

COOPER: Gloria, was -- for you, Gloria, what were some of the key moments tonight? BORGER: Well, first of all, starting out with all the attacks on Herman Cain on 9-9-9. One thing I learned when people were attacking Herman Cain was why voters like him. He responded to all the attacks with a lot of good humor. He talked about apples and oranges an awful lot, Anderson. But he really acquitted himself well.

The interesting attack was from Rick Santorum on Mitt Romney, directly saying to Mitt Romney, you do not have the credibility as a Republican presidential candidate to take on Barack Obama on health care. And then of course, Rick Perry raising the issue again of Mitt Romney's alleged employment of illegal immigrants as part of his lawn care team.

He raised that. That was around in the last campaign. And he called Mitt Romney a hypocrite on illegal immigration. Very, very strong attack and didn't give up on it.

COOPER: Ari Fleischer, for you, what key moments really stand out?

FLEISCHER: Well, what I really liked in this debate was the big focus on fundamental tax reform, Cain's 9-9-9. It sparked a real debate, which, if you're going to have major change in America, you need major scrutiny. And you need major debate. And Cain has to make his case.

We do need, in my opinion, fundamental structural change in Washington. And this is what presidential campaigns should be about, big ideas, big changes, let it out. Let it get vetted. Let it get debated. Let the pros and the cons emerge.

This is really how our democracy is supposed to work. And I love to hear these debates about big, wonky, tough subjects. Because, frankly, this is what defines our economic future. Do we have a tax code that will allow us to have economic growth or that's going to continue to mean we are stagnant in many ways and jobs don't get created?

I like big ideas in campaigns. We're hearing it this cycle.

COOPER: If you miss any key portions of the debate, we are going to be showing you at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on "360," which starts in just a few minutes. We're going to be showing you some of the key exchanges that occurred.

David Gergen, for you, was there a moment that really stood out?

GERGEN: Yes, Anderson, what surprised me throughout was how personal the exchanges became, the insults, the personal insults. The one moment that I think -- to come back to echo something we just said, was when Rick Perry turned on Mitt Romney and accused him of hiring illegal immigrants, said he was a total hypocrite on that.

And then Mitt Romney turned right back to him and said, Rick, you just had a couple of bad debates. That was very personal. That kind of animosity that you see up there I think is a -- can be a real problem down the road trying to run a united Republican campaign.

I think it also diminishes these candidates to a degree in front of the American people watching this. I continue to believe that Cain did not have such a good night tonight. I thought Rick Perry was a lot better. But Mitt Romney stood his ground when he was attacked. Time and time again, he had to stand his ground. I thought did he that well.

COOPER: Donna, for some of these candidates, this may be their last debate. The next debate is not until November. Some of them may drop out by then.

BRAZILE: As you know, Anderson is, several of the candidates are likely to not have the resources necessary to file their papers to get on the ballot or to get their delegates.

So this is clearly going to be a time, crunch time for at least Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and perhaps Newt Gingrich. If they don't have the resources to compete, they may have to step aside. And Jon Huntsman, who decided not to show up tonight, he might also have to take a second look at his one-state strategy of just competing in New Hampshire.

COOPER: It is just past 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast of the United States, 7:00 p.m. here in Las Vegas.

We are inside the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian. Welcome to A.C. 360.

Seven GOP contenders wrapping up their debate just moments ago, the tone this time contentious, personal at times, especially between Herman Cain and other candidates on taxes. As you might have seen, as we have been talking about already, there was also the explosive encounter between a very aggressive Rick Perry and a counterpunching Mitt Romney over illegal immigration.

Our political panel has plenty to talk.

Before bringing them back in, though, I want to play some key from the debate, which began with an all-out assault on Herman Cain's 999 plan. We will talk to him in just a moment. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don't have to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don't have a sales tax, and you're fixing to give them one.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're mixing apples and oranges. You're going to pay --

ROMNEY: I'm -- CAIN: No, no, no, no. You're going to pay the state sales tax, no matter what.

ROMNEY: Right.

CAIN: Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you're still going to pay that. That's apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Fine. And I'm going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it because I'm going to pay both taxes, and the people in Nevada don't want to pay both taxes.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You just don't have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing Obamacare.

ROMNEY: And each chance I have -- I have had to talk about Obamacare, I have made it very clear, and also in my book. And at the time, by the way, I crafted the plan, in the last campaign, I was asked, is this something that you would have the whole nation do? And I said, no, this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.

SANTORUM: That's not what you said.

ROMNEY: You're -- you're shaking -- you're shaking your head.

SANTORUM: Governor, no, that's not what you said.

ROMNEY: That happens -- to happens to be...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: It was in your book that it should be for everybody.

ROMNEY: Guys...

PERRY: You took it out of your book.

SANTORUM: You took it out of your book.

ROMNEY: Hey, his turn. His turn, OK, and mine.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I will tell you what? Why don't you let me speak?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: You're allowed -- you're allowed to change -- you're allowed to change...

ROMNEY: Rick, you had your chance. Let me speak.

SANTORUM: You can't change the facts.

ROMNEY: Rick, you had your chance. Let me speak. SANTORUM: You're out of time. You're out of time.

PERRY: And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized.

And, Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.

ROMNEY: I don't think I have ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I'm afraid -- I'm looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn't --

PERRY: Well, I will tell you what the facts are.

ROMNEY: Rick, again -- Rick, I'm speaking.

PERRY: You had the -- your newspaper -- the newspaper --

ROMNEY: I'm speaking. I'm speaking. I'm speaking.

PERRY: It's time for you to tell the truth, Mitt. It's time for you to tell the truth, Mitt.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds. This is the way -- the rules work here is that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 second to respond. Right?

PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals working at your --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking?

PERRY: Yes, sir.

ROMNEY: Or are you going to let me finish with what I have to say?

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Look, Rick --

COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you're going to get testy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: 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 have got to let both people speak. So, first, let me speak.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this is one night when I hope what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And we're joined now by Herman Cain, who has found himself soaring in the polls.

Congratulations on that. How did you feel about tonight?

CAIN: I felt good about it.

I believe that the questions that I got, I was able to get a very specific answer. And I felt real good about it in terms of how I responded. It was a little frustrating at first, because I was getting attacked so much on our plan, the 999 plan. And I really didn't feel as if I had ample enough time to counter some of it, but I know we had to move on.

COOPER: What do you say to conservatives, a variety of conservative publications, Grover Norquist, among others, who are saying that this 999 plan, the more you look at, it is going to raise taxes on middle-class voters, it is going to raise tax on lower-income Americans as well?

CAIN: Anderson, here's what I say. They haven't read our complete analysis. That's all...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: They say they have done the analysis.

CAIN: No, they have not done the analysis.

Look, we had fiscal associates analyze this whole thing from a static standpoint and a dynamic standpoint. We provide all the analysis, all of the tables. And if they go through it, they will see our assumptions.

What some of these organizations are doing, they are making their own assumption which do not agree with our assumptions. And so this is why I make my appeal to the American people. Sit down and do your own 999 math and see how it affect yours family relative to the taxes you paid last year.

COOPER: I want to show our viewers just some of the exchange that you had with Governor Romney on 999. Let's watch. CAIN: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?

CAIN: No, that's an apple.

ROMNEY: OK.

CAIN: We're replacing a bunch of oranges.

ROMNEY: OK.

So, then Governor Perry was right that --

CAIN: No, he wasn't. He was mixing apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Well, but will the people in Nevada not have to pay Nevada sales tax and in addition pay the 9 percent tax?

CAIN: Governor Romney, you're doing the same thing that they're doing. You're mixing apples and oranges. You're going to pay --

ROMNEY: I'm --

CAIN: No, no, no, no. You're going to pay the state sales tax, no matter what.

ROMNEY: Right.

CAIN: Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you're still going to pay that. That's apples and oranges.

ROMNEY: Fine.

CAIN: Yes.

ROMNEY: And I'm going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it because I have got to pay both taxes, and the people in Nevada don't want to pay both taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Basically, everybody on the stage was saying that this would result in more taxes. There are a number of Americans, 47 percent of Americans, who don't pay taxes right now, don't earn enough, in many case, to pay taxes. They would be paying taxes under your plan.

CAIN: No, for two reasons.

Prices would go down. We take the embedded -- we take the embedded taxes out of the cost of goods and services in that first nine, because businesses are able to deduct those purchases made from U.S. companies. And what will happen is competition will drive document prices and as a result, people won't be paying anymore.

Secondly, because of the new goods/used good rules, if you spend -- if you buy used goods, you don't pay taxes on it because it has been paid. Everything gets taxed once. This is why most people will actually see a tax decrease if they go through the math.

COOPER: Well, earlier in the day, talking to my colleague Wolf Blitzer, you did suggest that you would be willing to possibly entertain the idea of exchanging one American soldier for everybody currently held in Guantanamo if al Qaeda demanded that, if they were holding one American soldier for years.

CAIN: If I said that, I spoke in error. Maybe I didn't understand the question. If I did say that, I would not do that, because I believe in a philosophy we cannot negotiate with terrorists.

COOPER: OK. I just want to play for our viewers the sound bite that you said.

CAIN: Sure.

And I still can't hear it.

COOPER: All right.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Could you imagine if you were president -- and we're almost out of time -- and there were one American soldier who had been held for years, and the demand was al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, you have got to free everyone at Guantanamo Bay, several hundred prisoners at Guantanamo?

Could you see yourself, as president, authorizing that kind of transfer?

CAIN: I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer, but what I would do is, I would make sure that I got all of the information, I got all of the input, considered all of the options. And then the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I could make that call if I had to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: "I could make that call if I had to."

CAIN: I misspoke, because I didn't -- you know, it was moving so fast. I misspoke. I would not do that. I simply would not do that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Because, bottom line, you are saying that would be negotiating with terrorists.

CAIN: That would be negotiating with terrorists, absolutely.

COOPER: You think Israel made a mistake in exchanging -- they got home this prisoner, Gilad Shalit, who has been held for five years by Hamas. They exchanged more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for that. It's very controversial in Israel.

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: Yes.

COOPER: Do you think they made the right move?

CAIN: Well, here is how I probably ended up misspeaking about our situation, because I said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obviously had a lot of things to consider in order to make that decision.

So, what I'm saying is, I can't say that he did the right thing or the wrong thing just looking at it based upon the numbers. That was the point that I was trying to make. And so I probably misspoke when I went from that situation over to this situation. You got to have all the facts.

COOPER: You're -- you have this juggernaut. You're now -- no one probably predicted -- I don't even know if you predicted this early on when you started running, that you would be up in the polls there with Mitt Romney. Do you have the campaign staff you need?

CAIN: Yes.

COOPER: because A lot of folks have been saying, look, you guys are kind of -- you're doing a big book tour. You don't have campaign staff. You only have, you know, a few people here or there in New Hampshire and in Iowa.

Are you hiring people now?

CAIN: Let me correct a few misperceptions.

First of all, we already staff in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, and in several other states.

COOPER: How many people do you have in New Hampshire?

CAIN: We have a staff of about three people in New Hampshire, and we're in the process of adding more people in New Hampshire.

The other thing is, we are raising money. We got money to stay in this race. People are saying we are broke now. About this book tour, we had six days carved out where we combined signing books for the book -- release of the book and mixture of campaign events.

I didn't do a month-long book tour. We did six days, and half the events were signing books, and the other half of the events were camp events. The other thing is, we are hiring people now. We are hiring people for our corporate offices for all of the states. We are ramping up.

And the good news is, there are plenty of good people out there, and we are adding them very rapidly.

COOPER: And you are in this to win it?

CAIN: In it to win it.

COOPER: Herman Cain, thank you, sir.

CAIN: Thanks a lot, Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Again, a lot of well-wishers here who want to talk to you.

All right, take care.

CAIN: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Enjoyed it.

COOPER: Thank you.

A big hour ahead tonight with the panel and more. Let us know what you think. We are on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight.

We're going to talk to our panel, Donna Brazile, and Ari Fleischer, and Gloria Borger, and David Gergen.

We're also going to show you the most electric moments of the night, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry trading blows over illegal immigration, Governor Perry getting personal at times. Erin Burnett is joining us shortly, so is Dana Loesch, as our coverage of the Western Republican presidential debate continues.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to 360 live from Las Vegas.

Fireworks on stage tonight, as Mitt Romney and Rick Perry faced off over immigration, Perry accusing Romney of employing illegal immigrants, which Romney denied multiple times. The exchange got pretty testy. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you're strong on immigration is on its face the height of hypocrisy.

(LAUGHTER)

(BOOING)

COOPER: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Rick, I don't think I have ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I'm afraid -- I'm looking forward to finding your facts on that, because that just doesn't --

PERRY: Well, I will tell you what the facts are.

ROMNEY: Rick, again -- Rick, I'm speaking.

PERRY: You had the -- your newspaper -- the newspaper --

ROMNEY: I'm speaking. I'm speaking. I'm speaking.

PERRY: It's time for you to tell the truth, Mitt. It's time for you to tell the truth, Mitt.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: You get 30 seconds. This is -- the way the rules work here is that I get 60 seconds and then you get 30 second to respond, right?

Anderson?

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illegals working at your --

ROMNEY: Would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking?

PERRY: Yes, sir.

ROMNEY: Or are going to you let me finish with what I have to say?

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Look, Rick --

COOPER: I thought Republicans follow the rules.

ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you're going to get -- you're going to get testy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: But let's let -- I will tell you what, let me take my time, and then you can take your time. All right?

PERRY: Great. Have at it.

ROMNEY: All right.

My time is this, which is, I have in my state -- when I was governor, I took the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws. When you were governor, you said, I don't want to build a fence. You put in place a magnet.

You talked about magnets. You put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which was giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country, and then you have states -- the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years, they have had no increase in illegal immigration.

Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants in Texas. If there's someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn't stand up to muster, it's you, not me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: One of several very contentious moments, a really fascinating night tonight.

Our panel is here to weigh in, Erin Burnett, anchor of "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, CNN contributor and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, political analysts David Gergen, Gloria Borger, John King, host of "JOHN KING, USA." And contributor Dana Loesch, co-organizer of the Saint Louis Tea Party Coalition, joins us via satellite.

John, what did you make of it? You talked to Romney, you talked to Governor Perry right afterward. Was it as personal as it seemed on the stage?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, although they want to say no.

They also both spoke to each other right behind here. They stopped and they talked to each other very briefly. And asked each of them, what was that about? And I got very sort of general answers.

But Governor Perry said, he thought it went very well tonight and he had a lot of fun. And then I said to him, what about the bad blood with Romney? And he pulled his wife over and he said, have you met my wife? And he introduced me to Anita Perry. So he did not, clearly, want to talk about it.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It was interesting because Romney said to me on stage in the middle of the debate, he said, oh, this is a good one. This is really...

KING: Well, and then I asked Governor Romney about it as he was walking off. And he said, it comes with the territory. I get it. I'm fine with it. I had a lot of fun tonight. And I said you two had the death glare. And Ann Romney, his wife, interjected, you mean the animosity. And then she brought that word up. And I said do you think this will continue? And Governor Romney shrugged and said, we will see.

But I think what you saw tonight, those are the two guys. Yes, Herman Cain is a phenomenon right now, and we need to talk about him tonight, but Romney and Perry are the two guys who have the money, the infrastructure, the resources, the campaign team to keep this going in the long haul. You saw them go to a new level tonight.

And so we will watch how this plays. We're going to watch and the morning after if they have any remorse about being so personal and the animosity. You could see it in their eyes, Anderson. You could see it their eyes on television, and people at home saw that. They both have tens of millions of dollars. They will raise tens of millions more. Does that come soon to a TV ad war near you? That is the big question tonight.

BORGER: There is a problem though in this, and it is why people like Herman Cain, because Herman Cain got attacked for his 999 plan, but he was pretty amiable in his responses.

There wasn't this kind of animosity. I think Rick Perry came tonight for a knife fight. He knew he had to do it. He knew he had to attack Mitt Romney. And he did it. And I think the result of this, overall, is going to be to keep the undecideds undecided. This didn't really settle anything tonight. I think it just really keeps this race interesting.

GERGEN: But the other thing, though, was that it was very from Mitt Romney's point of view, a lot of people thought the attention was going to be on Herman Cain and Romney would go after Cain.

In fact, Romney saved his heavy firepower for Perry. And it became clear, I think, that he does not take Cain that seriously in the long run. He thinks Perry is the real opposition and he went after him.

COOPER: Right. The first 10 minutes was roughly about Herman Cain's 999 plan.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: But that faded. It faded off.

COOPER: Yes.

GERGEN: But the other thing is I think that an audience watching that clip you just showed would say, I'm not sure I want either one of those guys in the White House.

BORGER: That's right. That's the appeal of Cain.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I don't know about that.

FLEISCHER: Yes, I think we are all focused on the wrong thing here, frankly.

I survived the Bush/McCain fights of 2000. They didn't care for each other. The voters don't pay attention to whether there is animosity, they don't like each other. They pay attention to whether they like a candidate or not.

Each one has different strengths there. Nothing really changed fundamentally tonight. This is still a Perry/Romney race, for the reasons John said, and because Romney has really upped his game so well. Perry is not a good debater. But you don't win elections on debates alone.

And Cain remains the problem, the one who could step in if Perry stumbles as the anti-Romney. I don't see anything really changing that dynamic.

COOPER: Ari Fleischer, are you holding onto an apple and an orange?

(LAUGHTER)

FLEISCHER: Anderson...

KING: I'm hungry.

FLEISCHER: ... right here is an apple and an orange, because I'm a tax wonk and I love the debate about taxes. And so I want to hear more of the policy debates about taxes.

GERGEN: Romney stuffed him on that. He stuffed Perry -- Cain on that.

BORGER: He did. He got him.

GERGEN: He got him on that.

BORGER: He got him on it because he said, do you add it on top of the state sales tax? Is it a VAT, right?

FLEISCHER: OK. But what you are also hearing from Cain is get rid of the current code. And that's what people are responding to also. So this is -- look, if you are going to have a huge change like this on taxes...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: I think people respond to getting a tax on top of a tax also.

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: They do, but it is both.

(CROSSTALK)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: ... I think is the time that he uses when he talks about the way we currently pay for things.

And there is something to that that he needs to explain. The burden is on him to explain it. He said, I'm ready to sell it to the American people. He needs to do that, to see whether it really can hold up, because it isn't really additive. But what the real number is isn't quite clear.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: And the apples and oranges, I think you are right, he didn't make that case.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Many, many conservatives have come forward in the last couple of days and said these -- the taxes are going to go up if you're on the lower end of the economic scale, if you are even in the middle class.

BRAZILE: That's right.

Herman Cain's 999 plan is actually a tax plan that will raise taxes on the middle class and force people who are currently paying lower taxes to pay more taxes, because the sales tax is a very regressive form of tax.

But what we didn't hear tonight, in a state that has many unemployed Americans, many homes in foreclosure, is a plan to grow the economy. Tonight, we heard, you know, once again, the two front- runners talk about their differences on immigration, on a host of other issues. We really didn't get down to how they will grow the economy. And maybe they will save that for last.

COOPER: I want to bring in Dana Loesch, because, Dana, often how something plays in the hall is very different than how it appears on TV.

I have no idea how this appeared on TV. As you watched it, what did you think?

LOESCH: Very interesting debate.

And Cain obviously is one of front-runners, because of the pile- on. And I think that there was some really good vetting of this plan, because it is a very complex plan. I mean, 999, it's an easy sound bite, but there a lot of questions. There are a lot of conservatives who have asked about the possibility or the potential for this plan to create a value added tax.

There's the point that Rick Santorum made during the debate, that because you're adding another tax stream onto this, taxes would go up for 84 percent of Americans. And so Cain was really put on the hot seat about this. I think that he did well overall, but it really kind of created more questions I think that he is going to have to do a better job of putting in sound bite portions to answer. I mean, this was the time to sell it. And I think did he OK with selling it.

COOPER: Ari?

FLEISCHER: This is the beauty of campaigns. What Cain should do next is take advantage of the focus on his plan, give three major speeches, one on each of the nines, and explain it. Take advantage of it. Just to the...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: In New Hampshire?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: He has to make his case, which is what campaigns are about.

BORGER: Where there's no tax?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Very hard to make a case in a Republican primary about creating a new national tax, because the counterargument will be, well, what if we get a Democratic president? What if he wants to make it 10-10-10 or 12-12-12?

So it is a tough argument. The happiest guy on this stage when the Romney/Perry fisticuffs began was Herman Cain, because to Erin's point, apples and oranges is not going to explain this to everybody. And you could see it in his eyes. He was looking for a way to find a new explanation. And he thought it was going to keep coming.

And then the subject changed. I think he needs explain it better, whether it's through speeches or whatever. He was very happy tonight when the focus moved away from him to give him time to reflect on how to do a better job at that.

GERGEN: I would argue that his 999 plan probably peaked tonight. When you are running on a stage like this and every other candidate in your party says it is a bad idea, you have got a problem with your plan.

COOPER: A lot the more to talk about tonight, including more on the Herman Cain phenomenon.

Back in just a moment -- live from Las Vegas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: None of my distinguished colleagues who have attacked me up here tonight understand the plan. They're wrong about it being a value added tax.

We simply remove the hidden taxes that are in goods and services with our plan and replace it with a single rate, 9 percent. I invite every family to do your own calculations with that arithmetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, we have been talking about Herman Cain's 999 plan. You just heard some of the scrutiny he took on it tonight up on stage, his defense of it.

Tom Foreman joins us now from Washington with a fact-check on the proposal -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The problem, Anderson, is that he says they don't understand his plan. The problem is only he and his team seem to understand his plan.

Let's consider one of the comments that was made tonight as he and Mitt Romney locked heads over this question of whether 999 is revenue-neutral and who will pay for it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: Is a jobs plan, it is revenue-neutral, it does not raise taxes on those that are making the least. All of those are simply not true.

ROMNEY: The analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle income people see higher taxes under your plan.

If it's lower for the middle class, that's great. But that's not what I saw.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: So who is right on this matter here?

Romney says 999 raises taxes on the middle class. Herman Cain says, no, it does not. Let's look at some of the facts here. Just today, the Tax Policy Center came out with the first, most comprehensive analysis we have seen of this. They say that 84 percent of taxpayers would pay more under the 999 plan.

Families making less than $30,000 would be hit the hardest. The highest-income families would get a tax break. Now, this may not be the definitive word, but it's as close as we have come so far.

So, the simple truth, Anderson, is if you look at Mitt Romney's claim here that it would raises taxes on the middle class, that appears to be true, and that makes a lot of the claims that Herman Cain is making about 999, unless he has got a much better explanation than what he has got so far, false -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom Foreman, appreciate that, "Keeping Them Honest" tonight. Let's bring back the panel.

You think the 999, you think it peaked tonight?

KING: David used the word peak.

COOPER: David.

KING: But I do think -- look, with the rise in the polls brings the scrutiny here. Tom just gave the analysis right there.

A., you're creating a new tax. Conservatives won't like that, the national sales tax. Many of them find it anathema. Some would love to go to eventually -- people have talked about in the past. In the current system, it's very hard to sell to conservatives.

Number two, Herman Cain has this great rags-to-riches story, grew up poor. But there's no question this would hit lower-income people the hardest. And you can't go away saying trust me, when groups on the left and groups on the right make the point that it would raise taxes on most middle-class Americans and working-class Americans.

There is a debate about whether it would be revenue-neutral and whether the federal government would take in the same amount of money. But if you are a Republican candidate and you have a centrist group saying you will raise taxes on 84 percent of Americans, that is a very tough argument to sell in a Republican primary.

COOPER: And, I mean, Erin, Grover Norquist, sort of the godfather of the anti-tax movement, called this plan very dangerous.

BURNETT: He did, although it was funny. We had him on. He came on "OUTFRONT" tonight. He talked about it. And he actually said he signs on to it now.

He says, as long as it is revenue-neutral, which he thinks it is, that it is your job to sell it to the American people, if you are going to change the burden as to where you're getting that revenue, but that he actually thinks it is consistent with his pledge, which, to your point, I think is a little bit of shift from what Norquist had said before.

COOPER: Right. And Ron Paul...

BURNETT: And everybody...

COOPER: Ron Paul continues to say it is very dangerous.

BURNETT: That's right.

BORGER: So does Michele Bachmann. Her point is once you open the door and as John was saying, there isn't -- you know if there's Democrats running the White House or Democrats running the Congress, once you open the door, you can -- you can increase that tax. And why would Republicans want to do that or vote for a national sales tax? Hard to get around in the state of New Hampshire where Herman Cain has to run and do well.

FLEISCHER: But here's the point: it's not our plan. It's his. And he is the candidate. The burden is on him to take advantage of this moment, go forward and sell it. That's what you do when you run for president.

BRAZILE: He's a latent Republican candidate now in many of the state polls. His plan will break the bank, will increase the federal deficit and put him -- an even tougher tax burden on the middle class at a time when they can least afford it.

GERGEN: It -- it -- Herman Cain was glowing in popularity in part, because he's feisty and he's interesting, and he has a wonderful life story. But it was also the simplicity of the plan.

And now when you look beneath it, the cover of the plan, you see how complex it is, and realizes, this is a plan that redistributes the tax burden down. It reduces the tax burden on the wealthy, and it redistributes the tax burden down. At a very time this country is having all sorts of questions about income inequality, he comes along and says, "Let's increase income inequality in the country." That is not going to fly. That's why I think he peaked tonight. The more people look at this, they're going to say...

COOPER: You already speak about him in the past tense.

GERGEN: I think he peaked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm willing to keep watching him. I don't think that's the case.

COOPER: He said he -- he says he's hiring staff.

GERGEN: He needs a lot.

BRAZILE: Soundbiting.

BORGER: He needs some policy staff, honestly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true.

KING: I think the plan -- the scrutiny the plan faces will hurt him in the long run. Did he peak tonight? I don't think we can answer that question there, because here's what we don't know. He has a little bit of Ross Perot. He has the Tea Party favor, and some of those people, if we say it's bad, they will think it's good. If another politician says it's bad, they will think it's good.

There is this attitude of don't trust the establishment, don't trust the politicians, as Sarah Palin would say, we in the lame stream media. And so with some people, that everyone's against it will help him.

In the long run, can he last in a two-way race?

COOPER: Dana, do you think he peaked tonight? LOESCH: No, I don't think that he's peaked yet. I think that the fervor surrounding Herman Cain is kind of just getting started. He's one of the most aggressive -- in fact, he is the most aggressive primary candidate. He's out front on so many issues, and he says things that I think other candidates are warned not to say. And it works in Herman Cain's favor. He's very -- he's just very blunt. He's very forthright. And so that does well for him, too.

But I do agree with what's been said. He needs to be a little bit more -- he needs speak a little bit better about this 9-9-9 plan, because there are so many questions. It's so complex. And it seems like there's -- there's always another story behind it. It took ten minutes of the debate just to get into the meat and potatoes of it tonight. So it's very difficult to answer. And he's to get better at that. But I don't think he's peaked yet.

COOPER: It wasn't meat and potatoes; it was apples and oranges. We're going to -- going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to show what you they had to say about the Occupy Wall Street movement, immigration, faith, a lot more ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth that you had illegals working on your property, and the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention. And you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants that were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Rick Perry all but accusing Mitt Romney of lying to the public there. Dana Loesch, you've been critical of Mitt Romney in the past. What did you think of how he did tonight?

LOESCH: I actually thought this was Mitt Romney's worst debate. Because Romney is a very good debater. He has some suave rhetorical skills, but he tonight he did some negative campaigning. He was negative tonight. He's tainted now.

He came across as this do-gooder campaigner guy who didn't have any -- didn't really anything bad to say. He would -- he would condescend in a polite way. But this time he got really dirty, and he started slinging mud. That's going to hurt him, because he came across as rude and condescending. And I don't think people identified with that. That works against a candidate every time. So this was his worst debate.

COOPER: Ari -- Ari, did you see that in Mitt Romney tonight?

FLEISCHER: No, I thought he stood his ground, punched back, and that's what debates are all about. And I think people are going to kind of forget this. This was just a feisty moment in a long debate, one of many debates and many more to come. So, no, I think Romney stays on top.

BORGER: You know, he was attacked, and he fought back. The only chord that he struck that kind of didn't sit with me was when, in a very complicated discussion over immigration and a fence and how to do it, he said, "It's not that difficult. It's easy. It's not hard to do that."

And you listen to that and you think, know what? It is difficult or it would be done.

COOPER: I want to just show a little bit about what some of the candidates had to say about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Herman Cain, I've got to ask you. You said, quote, "Don't blame" -- two weeks ago, you said, "Don't blame Wall Street; don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself." That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I do still say that. And here's why. I still stand by my statement. And here's why. They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they're directing their anger at the wrong place.

Wall Street didn't put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn't spend a trillion dollars that didn't do any good. Wall Street isn't going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Sort of teed it up for him there. I didn't really mean to. But he clearly just knocked that one out of the park. I mean, and it was obviously -- at least for this audience in this hall, that played very well -- Ari.

FLEISCHER: He's still fascinating. He is the fascinating outsider with the business credential. And this is a great year to be that.

I still wish he was a governor, that as much as an outsider, some governing experience. He's got to learn to be more temperate in some of the thins he says, the electrification of the fence, et cetera. He's got to get presidential if he really wants to try to win. COOPER: It's interesting, actually. There was a question in the hall from a Latino voter, registered Republican. He actually changed the question he was going to ask. The question he had planned to ask was that in his -- he was going to say that, in his community, "Republican" is sometimes a dirty word, and what can the people on this stage do to change that?

He kind of backed away from that, actually, in the hall, but that is what he had written down as the question he wanted to ask.

How did you think, Donna, that they responded to the question that was asked about how Republicans can reach out to Latinos?

BRAZILE: I thought they were flat-footed, quite frankly. I thought that, after coming off as being really strident on immigration and not talking about a comprehensive solution and solving the problem, that many of them didn't know what to say, or how to appeal to the fastest growing minority in this country, minority community this country.

And I know from experience, winning states like Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and many others, you really need the Latino vote. That's something that George W. Bush did in 2000. That's something that President Obama did in 2008. And if one of these candidates wish to be president of the United States, they will have to reach out to the Latino community.

COOPER: How do you think the Occupy Wall Street movement -- does it play a role in this upcoming election? I mean, because Democrats seem kind of conflicted about whether to embrace it or, you know, we've heard Nancy Pelosi saying she actually understands the anger of it, President Obama saying, you know, he understands the frustration of it.

BORGER: And tonight, Ron Paul said he understands the anger and frustration of it. And I think that people don't really know how to react to it, because they don't know how it's going to play out.

What I think is true is that Wall Street will be an issue one way or another. You heard tonight on this stage the bailout of Wall Street is going to be an issue among Republicans. And there were charges about whether Rick Perry had, in fact, supported the bailout when he said he didn't.

And so, you know, that -- Wall Street itself and the question of the bailout and why did Wall Street do well and why is Wall Street coming out of this and middle America is not, is going to be a central question in this campaign.

GERGEN: I think a lot depends, Anderson, about Occupy movement, about what happens after the first frost. Do they stay out in there in the parks? Do the demonstrations continue to grow, or do they begin to fade? If they fade, the Occupy movement is not going to be an issue in the campaign.

But they have put on the table, for one of the first times I can remember, this question about the yawning gap between the wealthy and everybody else. And that is an issue Republicans have shied away from. I think they're going to have to come to grips with it.

President -- President Obama is clearly moving to the left on this. He's clearly going to make that part of his campaign strategy. And the Republicans are going to have to, I believe, come to grips with that.

And frankly, if you don't show much sympathy for people at the bottom, and some of these -- there was a mix up there tonight about, you know one of the polls, the one that was showing sympathy. If they don't have much sympathy for that they're going to have some trouble.

COOPER: Well, you do see a lot of anti-Fed signs in the Occupy Wall Street.

KING: It is an anti-establishment protest movement now, anti- greed, anti-big. Anti-big bank, sometimes anti-Washington, because they believe Washington is part of the problem or at least not listening to their concerns.

President Obama today told ABC's Jake Tapper he views it as very much like the Tea Party movement. We don't know that yet.

It's an effective protest movement right now. Will they make the transition to an effective political movement? The Tea Party did that. The Tea Party did that and made a huge impact on the 2010 elections and is influencing all these candidates up here tonight, because they realize the juice it still has in the Republican Party.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, as important as this is -- this is not to bring them down in any way -- we haven't seen the persistence that we saw in the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party targeted specific candidates, including Republican incumbents, and they proved political punch. We don't know that about Occupy Wall Street.

BORGER: We don't know if they vote.

FLEISCHER: I will predict to you, I don't think the issue will be what happens after the first frost. I think they'll get cold, and they won't sleep in parks any more. The issue will be after the first flowers of spring. I think that's when this thing gets big.

I think next summer this Occupy Wall Street movement is going to get big, very big. They can roll prominently at both parties' conventions. We're here a lot (ph). And I hope (ph) they just kind of boomerang in the center over this country, and it's going to largely hurt those who try to associate too closely.

Because right now, it looks too much like a fringe group. If they had more of a focus on poverty and living in difficulties between rich and poor, and policies to affect it, I think they'd have much more credibility between independents in the center. I think right now, think they will turn off the center and independents.

COOPER: Dana, I heard you scoffing when it was compared to the Tea Party.

LOESCH: There's a couple of things. There's a couple of things that I have to say. I disagree with the notion that this is anti- greed. Any movement that protests for a living wage, regardless of whether or not you're employed -- employed, is the epitome of greed, No. 1.

No. 2, there's no -- there's no responsibility given to Washington at all whatsoever. This current administration is propped up by Wall Street. This is the Wall Street president. This president has received more from Goldman Sachs and the very entities that these protesters are out there protesting than any other president.

Three, I think the grassroots element in this has been hijacked already. One of the things that the Tea Party -- the Tea Party had to deal with two fronts. The Tea Party fought against Republican establishment. I was very involved in New York 23. Newt Gingrich and I went round and round over Dede Scozzafava. I was -- the establishment was not of me; still is not a fan of me.

And we also had to fight against progressives and progressive agenda, where you have the Occupy Wall Street, they have the endorsement of the president. They have the blessing of Nancy Pelosi. They're also endorsed by the Nazi Party of the United States. They're also endorsed by communists. These are things that we did not see with the Tea Party movement. So there's another difference. I could go on and on and on, but those are the three major differences that I see between both of these movements.

BRAZILE: I see them as a very organic, you know, down-home movement. They are seeking to educate the American people about the inequality in wages. They're students who feel as though they've played by the rules. They've graduated from schools. And they can't find jobs. They're homeowners who are underwater and cannot afford their mortgages. Ordinary Americans like Tea Party Americans, who are angry about the status quo.

And before we start demonizing them and marginalizing them, we should listen to them. That's something that the Tea Party wanted Washington to do. I think we should also listen to those who are occupying cities across the country.

COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. Coming up, who came out looking the most presidential tonight? We'll break it down when we continue. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight in the western Republican presidential debate, each of the candidates made their case why they should be the nominee. Some have declared they are looking ahead to the general election, and they weren't shy when it came to attacking their opponents. Here's another moment when things got especially heated between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: If you want to know how someone's going to act in the future, look how they act in the past.

I mean, so Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts in that period of time, you were 47th in the nation in job creation. During that same period of time, we created 20 times more jobs. What we need is someone who will draw a bright contrast between themselves and President Obama. And let me tell you one thing, I will draw that bright contrast.

COOPER: I've got to give you 30 seconds. Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: With regards to track record, in the past, Governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore's campaign. All right? And there was a fellow -- there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running. So, if we're looking at the past, I think we know where you were.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Donna Brazile, I saw you chuckling at that.

BRAZILE: I was with Dick Gephardt that year, but I remember Rick Perry fondly. And he's a tough, tough, tough customer.

I thought Rick Perry gave a very robust performance tonight. He came clearly more energized. He was ready to take on Mitt Romney. He was ready to take on Herman Cain. I don't know if this would help but with $15 million in the bank, he can put together an organization in those states.

COOPER: I saw a tweet, I think, from Erick Erickson earlier, saying, "Where has this Rick Perry been before?" Like, that he has actually -- did it seem -- do you think he's just learned from the past debates. Because the last debate, he seemed almost to be kind of just trying to get through it.

FLEISCHER: The last debate, remember, they were all seated at a table. And is a harder environment in which to throw punches, verbal punches at somebody else, I don't know why, but it is. When you are standing it's a little easier. He needed to do it. He's got to do some more of it if he wants to be the nominee.

GERGEN: If he'd been as good in these other debates as he was tonight, this would be a two-man race. And the fact was, he had -- he had weak debate performances. I think he came back from it. I think he came back tonight. He was much better briefed. He hit hard; he hit -- and it did get personal.

But I think he looked at himself tonight, because as I think that I made clear, I think Herman Cain may not have -- may have peaked.

BORGER: I think the attack on immigration, though, against -- against Mitt Romney for hiring -- knowingly hiring illegal immigrants was old and kind of small when you're talking about...

COOPER: From five years ago. GRACE: When you're talking about immigration policy.

KING: However, Romney gave what many Republicans are already calling a Clintonesque answer, saying that "I'm running for office. I found out they were illegal." Well, how about it was wrong to have illegals working on your lawn? So you only did something about it because you're running for office?

BORGER: That's not a good answer. That is going to come back; that part is going to come back.

FLEISCHER: The Perry people said to me they think it's somewhat unfair that Mitt Romney is no longer getting vetted, because these issues were here four years ago, so he's getting a pass. He's right about that. The press has backed off of that. But it's Perry's job to bring those issues back to life.

COOPER: John King, you're saying that nobody -- at this point, no one is going to drop out before Iowa?

KING: I don't think so. You notice tonight Rick Santorum, he's low in the polls, he's inching up a little bit in Iowa, every time he got a chance to answer he returns to the core issues about the family, the social issues.

Why? A, because he believes it. B, because it brings him in enough small contributions to keep going.

Michele Bachmann, you could have asked her the color of the sky. She talks about Moms, women, Moms women, Moms woman . Why? That is the base in personal contributions.

Also, issued had in court. I'm not saying the issues don't matter to her. But the candidates who are struggling understands. They need to come over the sky she talks about moms, women, moms, women, why? Pa thank is the base of her small contribution. Issues important to her. Not saying the issues don't matter her built candidates struggling understand they need to stay viable through Iowa.

After Iowa, one or two of those candidates to the right of the race unlikely have the money to succeed but they are going to stay and fight until Iowa.

BORGER: Can I just say that Newt Gingrich almost seemed like the elder statesman this evening, aside from the last-minute attack on the media, which always happens. But he did seem like somebody who was the voice of reason for a while.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. Up next, did the fireworks work? Will this debate go into the books or -- as a make or break moment or not? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So, this was the last debate until some time in November when there's yet another debate. But was it a make or break night for anyone? Get some quick final thoughts. Donna, make or break for anybody?

BRAZILE: I thought Herman Cain was a little bit on -- played defense a lot, but he's still a very strong and viable candidate in the Republican primary.

FLEISCHER: I think we're down to three. And I still think the race for who is the anti-Romney is an important race in case something goes wrong with Romney and he loses. Whoever is left standing has a chance.

GERGEN: Mitt Romney walked in as a front runner and I think walked out as a stronger front runner. The fisticuffs is bad news for the party. Somebody should take and shake these candidates. When you have got the front runner of your party called a liar by three other candidates on the stage, there is a problem for the party and for the runner.

BORGER: Also a political ad coming down the road for Barack Obama. If I were in the White House right now, I would have enjoyed it.

COOPER: It's interesting, because Newt Gingrich at the end sort of said this was a media tactic, or a tactic of mine or CNN's. But I was surprised by -- I mean, I wasn't -- we weren't setting people up for this kind of personal attack.

KING: They came to do that. And I don't disagree with David. I think there was a flip side. The Obama/Clinton debates weren't always pleasant. The Obama/Clinton campaign wasn't that pleasant. Sometimes you emerge a stronger candidate by being tested and by being kicked around. You said make or break. I do think this was a make night for Rick Perry. I'm not saying it's all problems (ph), but if he had another lousy debate...

BORGER: Right.

KING: ... I think he'd have gone from 30 to 14

COOPER: All right, briefly, Dana Loesch, make or break for anyone?

LOESCH: Yes. Yes, I think Perry showed that he can savor the long haul. And I like the fisticuffs. It's a debate. I want to see more of it. It's really good vetting.

But I think Perry did well, and I think it's Romney, Cain and Perry at this point.

COOPER: Dana Loesch, appreciate you joining us. Donna Brazile, Ari Fleischer, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, John King. I think I got it. The apples, the oranges.

That's it for 360 from Las Vegas. Thanks for joining us. Up next, see for yourself what we've been talking about. The debate from beginning to end.