In a couple hours, the Republican field will gather for a debate in New Hampshire, just the latest of many forums between the candidates, but with a twist — this one’s just about the economy.
Many eyes will be on Rick Perry, who needs a strong performance to help him bounce back from past debates that have left a bad taste in the mouths of Republicans who were once so excited about him.
But the more interesting viewing might be the dynamic between Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, who have had a looong mutual admiration society thing going that could come to and end tonight.
Here’s how far back the mutual shoutouts go. Check out this video from 1994, when a (pro-choice) Romney was running against Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts (the relevant portion comes in around 13 min in).
“I understand that when [President Clinton] was introducing the health care plan to a group of executives, that one of them — I think his name is Herman Cain, the chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, an African-American — stood up and said, ‘President Clinton, who is going to tell my — I think it’s 1,800 workers, why so many of them are going to lose their jobs if this plan is enacted?’” Romney said. “And President Clinton’s response I think is now quite famous, he said, ‘well, this won’t be a problem because we’ll impose this on all businesses and you’ll all just be able to raise your prices so it won’t hurt anybody.’ And [Cain] laughed and recognized that comment goes down with let them eat cake.” (Watch the video below)
As Katrina Trinko reported Tuesday, Romney’s kind words for Cain back in the 1990s were met with an endorsement from Cain in 2008 and a series of mostly supportive comments over the years.
When the 2012 cycle started, it was Romney’s turn to do the praising, as Politico noted in this montage:
We’ll see if Cain kicks it up a notch now that polls show him as Romney’s chief rival for the nomination. Cain has hinted there could be some attacks on Romney coming from him on the debate stage.
So far, Romney’s been unwilling to reciprocate. That could change tonight.