Analysis: Herman Cain, Mitt Romney Win GOP Economy Debate

(Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Winners: Mitt Romney and Herman Cain: You can always tell who the frontrunners are at a debate because they are the guys who take all the incoming fire. Tonight, it was clear that Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are seen by their rivals as the men to beat.

In fact, when the candidates were allowed to ask one of their opponents a question, all picked Romney — except for Ron Paul, who picked Cain. Romney didn’t pick himself, but instead threw a nice fat softball to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, asking her: “And I’d like to ask you to expand on your other ideas.  What do you do to help the American people get back to work, be able to make ends meet?” Why did he do this? Because he needs Bachmann to stay in the race and continue to split the Tea Party vote with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Cain.

Losers: Rick Perry. Was he as bad as he was in the last debate? No. There will be no Saturday Night Live skit based on this. But, he was flat. And, tired. And, generally uninspired. The only silver lining for the Texas governor is that given that the only place to watch it was Bloomberg TV, it’s unlikely that many people actually saw this.

The other big loser: the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Ben Bernanke. They took the biggest beating in this debate, drawing fire from all sides table.

Read more about the Republican presidential debate on the economy.

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