Is there anything substantial, in the way of political mettle, that Herman “9-9-9” Cain can offer Americans who don’t have a repetition compulsion? According to this breakdown of Tuesday night’s GOP debate in the hotbed of conservatism that is Las Vegas, not so much.

Although the exchanges got feisty between Cain and his competition — including dueling hairdos Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, populist hero Ron Paul, reluctant meme subject Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich (enough said) and daffy Michele Bachmann — a clear winner didn’t prevail in this round, according to the Los Angeles Times’ analysis, although a couple of the contenders appeared a bit dimmed in the evening’s afterglow. –KA

Los Angeles Times:

The seven Republican presidential candidates on the stage during the CNN debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday slapped, swatted, slashed, jabbed, picked and poked at each other for two hours. As might be expected, most of them emerged bloodier and more ragged than when they walked in.

But then, these things are contests—largely political sporting events. So if a winner must be crowned, make it Rick Perry, who showed some fire in his willingness to go toe-to-toe with Mitt Romney, whose aura of inevitability waxed and waned during the debate. Perry was just about the only candidate who has reason to smile today.

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