The GOP's White House hopefuls met for their latest televised debate in a state that epitomizes America's struggling economy
As the Republican presidential candidates gathered Wednesday in Michigan, the day's market slide - the Dow Jones closing down 389 points - offered a sharp reminder of the local economic backdrop.
General Motors stock fell nearly 11 percent during the day. Ford Motor Company dropped almost 5 percent. Expect plenty of blame for the plight of industrial America to land tonight on President Obama.
It's the first time the Republican candidates have met since Oct. 18 in Las Vegas, a debate memorable for the testy exchange between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney over Romney's extended employment of a landscaping firm that employed illegal immigrants. Since, Perry has launched ads in Iowa but failed to recover significantly in the polls, and allegations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain have dominated political news for the last 10 days.
Cain got the first question but it was about the economy. Moderator Maria Bartiromo set the stage, asked about the Italian debt crisis and potential repercussions on the U.S.
The bellicosity of the last Republican presidential debate, three weeks ago in Las Vegas appears to have given way to a much more congenial session in Michigan. Gone are the acrid exchanges between candidates, replaced with statements of agreement on policy. No shoulder touches, either. If the emotional quotient injected into the race by the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain has altered anything among the candidates, it appears to have provided a caution flag against combustibility. Rick Santorum lightly dinged Mitt Romney over the latter's Massachusetts health care law, but other than the only tension during the debate's first 75 minutes erupted between the candidates and their reporter questioners.