LAS VEGAS -- The two Republican front-runners set the stage for Tuesday evening's presidential debate by alternately proposing that Americans behind on their mortgages be pushed out of their homes faster, and by defending an exotic tax reform proposal that hews closely to one first enacted in the fantasy world video game "SimCity." Where the debate goes from here will unfold on CNN at 8 p.m. Eastern.
"Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," Romney said when asked by the Las Vegas Review-Journal what he would do to jump-start the floundering housing market. "Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."
The administration, Romney said, "has slow walked the foreclosure process ... that has long existed and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang." Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto sued Bank of America in August, accusing it of foreclosing on homes without proper authority. Nevada is beset by economic turmoil and foreclosures. Last year, one in nine Las Vegas homes received a foreclosure notice.
Former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain, meanwhile, has been vaulted into front-runner status and is battling the increased focus that comes with his new position. The nine in his 999 plan that is garnering the most scrutiny is a nine percent national sales tax that would be applied to all "new goods," he said, and would land atop state sales taxes.
Tuesday's debate will be Cain's first as a full-blown front-runner. Jon Huntsman, meanwhile, is boycotting the debate, attempting to punish the state for threatening to move its vote ahead of New Hampshire's primary.
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