Republican presidential contender Herman Cain faced attacks on his tax reform plan from nearly all of his competitors at the party’s latest debate on Tuesday at a Las Vegas casino.
The heated discussion Tuesday evening in Nevada highlights Cain’s recent rise as one of the leading candidates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Cain, a former pizza company executive who has never held political office, has gained attention for his “9-9-9″ plan that replaces current federal taxes with nine percent corporate, income, and sales taxes. Many of his opponents criticized the plan on Tuesday, saying it will increase the tax burden on lower-income Americans.
The candidates also discussed foreign aid, with Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas Representative Ron Paul both calling for deep cuts in foreign development spending. Perry said that it is time for America to “have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations.”
Meanwhile, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has faced questions about his Mormon faith, defended his religious views, saying that Americans should choose a president based on his political views and not his religious beliefs.
A CNN poll taken before the debate suggested that Romney holds a slight lead for the Republican nomination with 26 percent, while Cain is close behind at 25 percent.
The debate was the fifth in six weeks and covered familiar topics such as the economy, illegal immigration, and border security.
Also participating in the debate were Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman did not participate in the debate in protest of Nevada’s decision to move up the date of its caucus to January 14.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Republican Party has set January 3, 2012, as the date for the first state contest to select a party presidential candidate.