Matt Miller - The Archives
Cliffs notes from the GOP debate
The Washington Post, September 14, 2011

Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer. I'm usually in the Situation Room, but tonight I'm in the madhouse. We'll start with Governor Rick Perry. Ponzi?

Perry: I was not the first to Ponzi. Many have Ponzied, let's be clear about that. But yes, monstrous lie. Someone has to have the courage. And if that has to be me, well, it is.

Mitt Romney: Wait a minute. Your book! Your book! Your book!

Perry: No, your book!

Romney: Do you repeat or retreat?

Perry: Let me be clear. If you're on Social Security now, or close to retiring, or really, if you're over 18 as of Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012—then Social Security is a sacred trust. If you turn 18 after that date, then there's an adult conversation we've got to have. And I've got the courage to have it.

Jon Huntsman: You want courage? Look at the courage I showed in Utah when I was governor.

Rick Santorum: You want courage? I got beat up by James Carville in a Democratic state and lived to tell the tale. By the way, you want children, too? I've got seven.

Blitzer: Speaking of numbers, what's the square root of 900 million, minus 29,001 ?

Herman Cain: That's 9-9-9, my friends! Cut corporate and personal income taxes to 9 percent, and add a 9 percent sales tax. It doesn't add up, but by the time you figure that out, Roger Ailes will have found a guy named Abel to pair with me as co-host of Fox News's hot new show, "Cain & Abel."

Blitzer: I know I've asked the crowd to hold their applause, but can we just have one roof-raising cheer for the number of remorseless executions they do in Texas? Thank you. Did you want to add something, Congresswoman Bachmann?

Michele Bachmann: Just briefly, Wolf. I'd put Ben Bernanke on such a tight leash he'd squeak. I was a federal tax lawyer for five years, so I know how to do that.

Tea Party questioner: How will you lower health-care costs?

All in unison: Repeal Obamacare.

Blitzer: Just one follow-up: President Obama's Affordable Care Act won't be implemented until 2014. So what would you do to reduce health costs?

All in unison: What is it about "repeal Obamacare" that you don't understand?

Blitzer: Let me come at this in a different way, because this issue is very important to Republican primary voters trying to differentiate between all of you. If Obamacare were an animal, what kind of animal would it be, and how would you kill it?

Romney: It's a varmint, like the kind I've enjoyed hunting since I was a boy. I'd take out my old BB gun and put it out of its misery.

Bachmann: It's one of those liquified morphing aliens like in the "Terminator" movies. I'd shoot it through the heart, melt it down and drink every drop, even at risk to my own life, Wolf, so that there was no chance it could reconstitute itself. I was a federal tax lawyer for five years, so I know how to do that.

Huntsman: I'd jump on my Harley-Davidson and run it over. Just like I did when I was governor of Utah. Kurt Cobain!

Blitzer: Governor Romney, what is the minimum number of aces Governor Perry could have been dealt and still be able to take credit for inventing the Internet?

Perry: Wolf, before he answers that, let's just note that I created more jobs in 10 years than Mitt Romney did in four.

Romney: Did not.

Perry: Did too.

Newt: Excuse me, but Republicans ought to be able to agree that governors don't create jobs, speakers of the House do. Can't everyone see that I'm smarter and have more ideas than all of these bozos put together?

Blizter: Final question. Will your vision for the country require any voter to give up anything, inconvenience them in any way or challenge their current thinking about our collective future?

Perry: No, Wolf. I want to make rational analysis as inconsequential in people's votes as I can.

Romney: No.

Cain: No.

Ron Paul: Well...

Gingrich: No.

Huntsman: No.

Bachmann: No. And Wolf, I've traveled all over this great country, and that's what the American people want. It's nothing to be ashamed of!