The New York Times called the November 5 "debate" between Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain — supposedly styled on the Lincoln-Douglas debates — "congenial." That was an understatement. The Los Angeles Times came a little closer, calling it a "Vulcan mind meld."
Go ahead, ask this commentator: What was the main difference between the 1858 Illinois Senate debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas and the Gingrich-Cain "debate"?
The main difference was that Lincoln and Douglas actually disagreed about a few principles, such as the expansion of slavery into the U.S. territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The tone of the entire Gingrich-Cain "debate" was ably summed up by Herman Cain in his first statement after Newt Gingrich's opening remarks: "At this particular juncture, I'm supposed to have a minute to disagree with something that he said, but I don't." And it didn't get any more testy than that.
As a debate, this event — so fervently sought by Gingrich since the race began — was a real snoozer. The point of debates is to draw out the differences between candidates. Cain and Gingrich hardly disagreed on anything. They might as well have called it a joint press conference. Cain actually hinted that Gingrich would be his vice presidential choice, asking Gingrich (in what was probably the toughest question of the night): "Mr. Speaker, if you were the Vice President of the United States, what would you want the President to assign you to do first?"
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