Herman Cain surprises many and becomes the darling of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. He wins Iowa, South Carolina, and eventually Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Ohio to make it a 2 man race between himself and Romney. Romney is hammered by Cain about healthcare, and his flop on Abortion. In the end, Romney drops out after losing Indiana and North Carolina, along with finishing only slightly ahead of Cain in California and New York on Super Tuesday.
Cain picks up and coming congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin to be his VP to balance the ticket.
On the other side, Obama drops Biden from the ticket for a moderate from a swing state, Evan Bayh from Indiana.
The first debate is on Domestic Policy, and Cain hammers Obama on the Economy, with unemployment at 8.2% and healthcare. It is seen that Cain is passionate about his positions, and Obama is defensive the entire time. Cain wins the debate in the eyes of many moderates, and even some liberals.
The second debate is on foreign policy, and Cain tries to pin Obama as a reckless commander in chief who demands too much from the military without giving it adequate funding. Obama rebukes with the successes of the assassination of Bin Laden, the removal of troops from Iraq, the draw down in Afghanistan, and the successful removal of Ghadaffy as leader of Libya. He also slams Cain on his utter lack of any foreign credentials, to which Cain returns that Obama himself had no foreign experience when he ran for President. Many people feel Obama was confident, and steady, while Cain seemed to be reaching on many of his points about funding, and commitment to previous promises.
The VP debate, covering all topics, saw Ryan promote his economic plan, to which Bayh points out is completely unrealistic, and idealistic. Bayh even says that economists say his projected unemployment under 3% is bad for the economy and business. Kaine continually calls Ryan’s Medicare program a voucher program. Ryan rebuffs this and explains the actual aspects of the overhaul. Ryan gaffs when he says “the poor need our help, they will get a larger voucher, and the rich do not. They can pay for it themselves,” to which Bayh says, “First you say it’s not a voucher, and now it is. And if you say the rich don’t need the governments help, then why give them tax breaks deeper than the Bush cuts, and why continue to call for cuts in programs that the poor use the most?” Most people see the debate as a hands down win for Bayh who calmly demolished all of Ryan’s proposals, and gave a picture of a candidate out of touch with American values.
Before the final debate, September jobless reports come out, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.0%. Over 650,000 jobs were added in that month.
The final debate encompasses all topics, economic, social, and foreign each for half an hour. On the economic topics, Obama points to the job growth, and the still miniscule inflation. Cain pounds the same points, and even goes as far as to say that the US should withdraw from NAFTA. Obama calls this reckless and not a proposal that is in the best interest of America. On the social issues, Obama says that his evolving opinion of same sex marriage has come to the point where after meeting with hundreds of committed homosexual couples decides that it does no damage to the moral integrity of America to allow them to marry. He defends his end of DADT, and his refusal to defend DOMA. Cain flatly states marriage is between one man and one woman. On foreign issues, the debate remains about the same. However Cain implies that Obama is weak on terrorism, and is too helpful with humanitarian assistance to dictator countries, to which Obama retorts, “We stopped Bin Laden, Al Qaeda is now dead. There have been no attacks on America under my watch. And I would rather give assistance to people who happen to live in a country where a leader is oppressing them, then to forget them like you suggest, and leave their well being up to that tyrant. Your plans make as much sense as refusing to feed a kid a school because his parents refuse to at home. Now in America, we can protect that kid, but with foreign policy you cannot just take millions of people away from an oppressor.” Obama is seen to have put a body blow to Cain’s foreign policy attack. However many think Cain is stronger economically, and that may decide the election.
On the Friday before the election, the October job numbers come in. The unemployment rate has fallen to 7.9%, with the economy adding 500,000 new jobs, of which 80% are private sector.